My husband and I picked Encore for our 15 year wedding anniversary getaway. The first one without kids. We were so looking forward to poolside relaxation and sunshine. The promise and allure of a shiny new ship seemed wonderful. After we started reading reviews after its initial voyages, we could tell there were going to be problems.
I contacted customer support in advance of my cruise to see if there was something we could do- anticipating this ship would not be conducive to the romantic getaway I planned (go on another ship, get access to the Haven or Vibe). No one ever responded . I called, and he assured me someone would be calling me back. No one ever did.
We went on the trip, crossing our fingers to have a different experience- but the problems reported online were more severe than we had even read about because it was school vacation week.
- Food and bar service was actually better than expected. We were unable to get a reservation at Cagney's until the last minute on the last day, however.
- Our favorite bar/ bartender was Clarence at Mojito Bar.
-Entertainment was top notch. We thoroughly enjoyed Choir of Man, Kinky Boots, Guns and Rojas and more.
-Excursions were great. We were really disappointed when Bahamas was cancelled though (we needed to get off that ship).
- Decor and rooms were well appointed and although small- worked fine.
- While most customer service on board the ship was really non-responsive (after walking around the pool deck for 2 hours unable to find a chair- I went to guest services only to wait an hour to speak to a manager- who proceeded to offer me a chair in the shade, and then another manager offered to come walk around with me to look. This is hardly resolution). Candy finally came through for us on the last days- meeting me on deck 17 at 7 am with reserved chairs after all of my challenges.
-The ship was SEVERELY deficient of pool space, hot tub space and lounge chairs- just general access to the sun. For a ship with 5000 people, one adult pool seems absurd. There were literally 3 layers of people around the pool at all times- we never even tried to get in. There were 4 small hot tubs that were always teeming with people. The 2 times I got in, kids started piling in swimming over and under my legs.
- More regulation is needed. There is a 15 minute chair reservation policy, but every morning I'd go out at 7 am, and women with large ziplock bags with clips were already setting up long rows of chairs. I finally started taking time stamped pictures and showing them to the staff to get chairs freed up- it shouldn't have been on me to regulate ship rules. There also should be regulation of kids in the hot tubs. The kids have their own pool, water park, waterslides- there should be at least a few hottubs that are adult only. Most times I couldn't even get in the hot tubs because they were full of kids swimming around.
-Chairs were literally RIGHT next to each other. It was impossible to maneuver. Chairs were also on top of the jogging track, which made for an utter cluster in the morning when joggers/ walkers and lounge chair seekers were colliding into eachother all morning.
-The ship was the rockiest we've ever been on. It felt like you were rolling in bed, as you listened to the hangers banging the walls. It seems the top heavy ship caused it to be rockier than most.
-Flights were the most inconvenient as could be possible. We had a 5 am departure with a connection the first day and then we docked at 7 am the last day and didn't have a flight out until 8 pm. You are not allowed to change them because they are bulk purchased.
-Our package came with a $50 shore excursion credit per port. It was only in the fine print that it stated it was only for the 1st person.
-Our package came with 250 minutes of wifi. THey don't tell you that after you go online you need to go to "logout.com" to end your session. And the wifi is so poor, it literally took 20 minutes just to check e-mail. We had to go to the communications desk to reset minutes twice because it was so buggy.
- We were NOT the only people that felt this way. This was the common theme in all discussions of the patrons of the ship.
This will be our last NCL voyage.