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After reading all the negative reviews, I felt we were adequately prepared for the short comings that we read about and had a good attitude going in. The good: The ship is beautiful we loved the the decor of all the common areas, bars, restaurants. There was lots of activities to do throughout the day and service was great. The bad: The pool deck area is every bit as bad as the reviews say. When someone posted a picture of the top deck showing the front 1/3 is pay for (vibe/haven) and the back 1/3 is pay of (racetrack and laser tag) and everyone else is crammed in the middle third to try to enjoy. On the one day we tried to sit up there we were able to find a couple of chairs in the sun but it's so crammed together people can barely walk past. Which brings me to the next design flaw: the running track. It's one lane THROUGH the sun deck. They have it posted to use for running before 9am and after 6pm but it was a joke. It's like they designed the whole ship and then thought "shoot, we forgot the jogging track." It actually goes by the hot tubs so there is water on it all hours of the day and I felt bad for people actually trying to use it because it's impossible with everyone walking and standing on it. I usually use the track on a cruise several times through the week and this was not an option here. Also, the tube slide has huge design flaws because even with a minimum weight requirement of 120lbs, people kept getting stuck in it and then have to be pulled out of a hatch because they didn't have enough momentum to make it up and over the loop. We did try the other slide and it was fun. Even on a sea day we just went up when there wasn't much of a line. Good: We found that the best place to enjoy the sun in a better atmosphere was on deck 8. Lots of chairs and loungers to enjoy outside with bars readily available. The observation Lounge was really great too but I think they missed the mark where they could have made a portion of it open to the outdoors or adults only. As a side note - it was FREEZING in there everyday and I always wore long pants and sweater. It's really odd because you are really relegated to the only the middle third of the ship most the time. There is no place to be outside in the front or back at all. A couple of other design flaws: To operate the doors to go outside you have to physically touch a sensor. This is a germ gathering spot when it should just be motion sensor-ed. (I was on a norovirus cruise so I'm sensitive to this stuff). Also, in all the public women's restrooms the toilet does not flush when you get up and there is no way to make it flush manually. There is a long delay and wouldn't flush until you left the stall and were washing your hands. We also heard from the staff that all the motion sensor pieces like paper towel, soap, etc. were battery operated instead of hard wired so many were not working a lot of the time because they go through the batteries too quick. A good design piece is the addition of actual hand washing stations in the entry to the buffet. Hand sanitizer does NOT protect against norovirus so I was very glad to see hand washing stations. We used the laser tag, go karts, escape room, and VR each once during the cruise. It was fine and we expected the extra cost, but because of all these things they took away any of the free options available on other ships that we'd use way more than once like basketball, golf, rock climbing, aqua deck, etc. It seems odd to take up a full third of the top decks with something you use once and have to pay extra for. The casino was the best we've seen on a ship. As non-smoking gamblers, it was such a pleasant surprise to have a great deal of it non-smoking and open to other areas. Our balcony room was wonderful. Because of where we were on deck 9 it was extended a couple of feet from the rooms above us. We had the package that allowed us to do three dining places. We did the Q BBQ, Ocean Blue and Le Bistro. The Q was ok, Ocean Blue we felt was very subpar both in food and service, and the Le Bistro was excellent. I probably wouldn't pay for a dining package again. I was also disappointed to learn that there is no way to use the thermal suite unless you buy it for the entire week. They do not do day passes and you cannot add it onto your spa treatment. We did not do any of the main shows as they didn't really interest us (kinky boots and choir of men). The only one we would go to, the prohibition one, you have to pay extra for. Another design flaw: You have to book everything quickly (restaurants, shows, activities) but the app doesn't show you all your planned activities so it was hard to keep straight what time we had booked for each without overlapping. And yes, having to schedule everything does NOT feel Freestyle in my vacation book. Ports: Puerto Rico: Odd timing 5pm-12am, couldn't visit main sites or do much of anything except walk around and do dinner. St Thomas: Took a cab to Magen's Bay and really enjoyed even though it was pretty crowded. Tortola: Did The Baths. They opened a second tour time of 7am and it wasn't as crowded as later times. Enjoyed very much despite the crowds. Bahamas: Required a tender which took an hour each direction and then the amenities were really underwhelming. Packed beaches, long drink lines.I wish we would have just stayed on the ship. Overall, we had a great cruise but I do agree that the ship could have had some improvements in the design and the fact that such large portions of the ship are completely off limits unless you pay (and no day passes) really leave you with a much smaller offering than other similar sized cruise ships.

A good cruise ship with some design and operational flaws

Norwegian Encore Cruise Review by rljrdn

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2020
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom
After reading all the negative reviews, I felt we were adequately prepared for the short comings that we read about and had a good attitude going in.

The good:

The ship is beautiful we loved the the decor of all the common areas, bars, restaurants. There was lots of activities to do throughout the day and service was great.

The bad:

The pool deck area is every bit as bad as the reviews say. When someone posted a picture of the top deck showing the front 1/3 is pay for (vibe/haven) and the back 1/3 is pay of (racetrack and laser tag) and everyone else is crammed in the middle third to try to enjoy. On the one day we tried to sit up there we were able to find a couple of chairs in the sun but it's so crammed together people can barely walk past. Which brings me to the next design flaw: the running track. It's one lane THROUGH the sun deck. They have it posted to use for running before 9am and after 6pm but it was a joke. It's like they designed the whole ship and then thought "shoot, we forgot the jogging track." It actually goes by the hot tubs so there is water on it all hours of the day and I felt bad for people actually trying to use it because it's impossible with everyone walking and standing on it. I usually use the track on a cruise several times through the week and this was not an option here. Also, the tube slide has huge design flaws because even with a minimum weight requirement of 120lbs, people kept getting stuck in it and then have to be pulled out of a hatch because they didn't have enough momentum to make it up and over the loop. We did try the other slide and it was fun. Even on a sea day we just went up when there wasn't much of a line.

Good: We found that the best place to enjoy the sun in a better atmosphere was on deck 8. Lots of chairs and loungers to enjoy outside with bars readily available. The observation Lounge was really great too but I think they missed the mark where they could have made a portion of it open to the outdoors or adults only. As a side note - it was FREEZING in there everyday and I always wore long pants and sweater.

It's really odd because you are really relegated to the only the middle third of the ship most the time. There is no place to be outside in the front or back at all.

A couple of other design flaws: To operate the doors to go outside you have to physically touch a sensor. This is a germ gathering spot when it should just be motion sensor-ed. (I was on a norovirus cruise so I'm sensitive to this stuff). Also, in all the public women's restrooms the toilet does not flush when you get up and there is no way to make it flush manually. There is a long delay and wouldn't flush until you left the stall and were washing your hands. We also heard from the staff that all the motion sensor pieces like paper towel, soap, etc. were battery operated instead of hard wired so many were not working a lot of the time because they go through the batteries too quick. A good design piece is the addition of actual hand washing stations in the entry to the buffet. Hand sanitizer does NOT protect against norovirus so I was very glad to see hand washing stations.

We used the laser tag, go karts, escape room, and VR each once during the cruise. It was fine and we expected the extra cost, but because of all these things they took away any of the free options available on other ships that we'd use way more than once like basketball, golf, rock climbing, aqua deck, etc. It seems odd to take up a full third of the top decks with something you use once and have to pay extra for.

The casino was the best we've seen on a ship. As non-smoking gamblers, it was such a pleasant surprise to have a great deal of it non-smoking and open to other areas.

Our balcony room was wonderful. Because of where we were on deck 9 it was extended a couple of feet from the rooms above us.

We had the package that allowed us to do three dining places. We did the Q BBQ, Ocean Blue and Le Bistro. The Q was ok, Ocean Blue we felt was very subpar both in food and service, and the Le Bistro was excellent. I probably wouldn't pay for a dining package again.

I was also disappointed to learn that there is no way to use the thermal suite unless you buy it for the entire week. They do not do day passes and you cannot add it onto your spa treatment.

We did not do any of the main shows as they didn't really interest us (kinky boots and choir of men). The only one we would go to, the prohibition one, you have to pay extra for.

Another design flaw: You have to book everything quickly (restaurants, shows, activities) but the app doesn't show you all your planned activities so it was hard to keep straight what time we had booked for each without overlapping. And yes, having to schedule everything does NOT feel Freestyle in my vacation book.

Ports:

Puerto Rico: Odd timing 5pm-12am, couldn't visit main sites or do much of anything except walk around and do dinner.

St Thomas: Took a cab to Magen's Bay and really enjoyed even though it was pretty crowded.

Tortola: Did The Baths. They opened a second tour time of 7am and it wasn't as crowded as later times. Enjoyed very much despite the crowds.

Bahamas: Required a tender which took an hour each direction and then the amenities were really underwhelming. Packed beaches, long drink lines.I wish we would have just stayed on the ship.

Overall, we had a great cruise but I do agree that the ship could have had some improvements in the design and the fact that such large portions of the ship are completely off limits unless you pay (and no day passes) really leave you with a much smaller offering than other similar sized cruise ships.
rljrdn’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony Stateroom
Cabin BX
Our balcony room was wonderful. Because of where we were on deck 9 it was extended a couple of feet from the rooms above us. It was in a great location close to, but not too close, to the forward stairs.
Deck 8 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins