This is my first review on Cruise Critic (pardon the length - I hope this is helpful for those who are interested). Encore was my 7th cruise - sixth with NCL. This was Encore’s last voyage before the major cruise industry shut down due to COVID-19.
On that note, kudos and appreciation to the crew who worked tirelessly to keep passengers and crew safe and healthy. Each day, we noticed additional measures were put in place, including the cancellation of some events, crew serving passengers at the buffet instead of each grabbing the utensils themselves, tables in the dining room only being set once seated, paper menus, crew not handling keycards, and, of course, additional hand washing and sanitizing, to name just a few. Embarkation for this cruise took much longer than any previous cruise; partly because we couldn’t get to the port until the busiest time, but mostly because the additional screening (taking temperature and checking passports) to ensure ill people did not board.
Once on board, my wife, 7 year old daughter and I marvelled at the “new-ness,” the size and the beauty of Encore. I quickly went to make reservations for dining and some of the activities. The lines for this were shorter than I expected and I was able to get most of my reservations quickly and easily. Do this on your first day on board. We ate at the Local (what is called O’Sheehan’s on most other NCL ships). There’s more space for The Local on this ship, and the food is just as good - though I missed the meat loaf this time. We looked to get our keycards hole-punched for our lanyards and were told these new keycards cannot be punched. The use a tap-system rather than a swipe-system and a hole-punch renders them useless. Conveniently - for NCL - they sell lanyards with a plastic pouch for your card for $10 - $12 on board. (And you can’t buy the plastic pouch separately.) Save the $ and just bring your own.
We were placed in an accessible room (not requested nor required but happily accepted). It was at least 1.5 x bigger than a typical interior cabin and we appreciated the extra space.
Happy to actually get there this time. Great day at the beach!