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Norwegian Encore Review

4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating
303 reviews
1 Award

Fantastic ship but Alaska itinerary needs work!

Review for Norwegian Encore to Alaska
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BCN2010
2-5 Cruises • Age 50s

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Sail Date: Sep 2022
Cabin: Mid-ship Balcony Stateroom

My husband and I sailed on the Encore in Sept to Alaska. This was the best cruise ship we sailed on, and previously we have traveled on Disney and Princess and NCL. The ship is modern and sleek, guestrooms are nice and clean, shows are amazing and the staff is outstanding! There are multiple dining options. We went to several of the specialty restaurants which were very good. Surprisingly, the buffet was fantastic, and we must say we really enjoyed the Indian food and the Asian offerings on the buffet. Hands down the best food we have ever had on a cruise or all-inclusive! We really enjoyed seeing two broadway level productions of Choir of Man and Kinky Boots, and watched every Beatles Show because they were so good! We purchased the 7-day spa pass and it was the best deal on the cruise. Floor to ceiling windows with great views while we enjoyed the hot tub, therapy pool, steam room, saunas, salt room and thermal beds. This is particularly enjoyable on the Alaskan itinerary where port times are limited and the weather is cool. The gym was never crowded and had all the basic equipment you would want with great views! They need a water dispenser in the gym though. The observation lounge is beautiful but there are lots of passengers playing the "save your seats" game for the window-side loungers, so if you want them, you must go there early. There is bar service, coffee/tea and light snacks there all the time. I loved the scones.

The one thing we did NOT like on the cruise was the port times. We did not disembark in Juneau until 3 pm and got back on at 8 pm. We had enough time in Sitka (noon - 8 pm) but it rained heavily. Glacier Bay National Park was breathtaking and we had the park ranger on board providing commentary which was great. We were in the park from 8 am to 1 pm. Ketchikan is very beautiful but we were only there from 7 am to 12:45 pm and we really would've appreciated a few more hours there, particularly because the last shuttle leaves town at 11 am. Keep in mind that NCL never docks in town but provides free shuttles to all the towns. The ride is 5-15 min but you do have to wait in line once you get off the ship to board the shuttle bus. Victoria is as stop that many did not get off the ship for, as we get there at 8 pm at night. It is really just to satisfy the requirement for NCL to cruise outside of the US but I wish they would stop there at a time when passengers could truly experience the beauty of Victoria. Plus Canadian authorities will only allow one bar to open on each deck while the ship is in Victoria. Also, NCL needs to have a better way to disembark passengers systematically at the ports. It was like a stampede getting off the ship in Juneau and this seemed dangerous to those using wheelchairs and walkers, not to mention having thousands of passengers trying to cram out through the atrium lobby and down two flights of stairs at once.

The staff is outstanding on this ship. Our room steward Daniel was fantastic- he was in and out twice a day and the room was spotless. We asked for bath robes and he had them in our room right after boarding. We had great service in restaurants (Rakesh in Savor, Arjun in Onda and Christine in Ocean Blue) and I cannot say enough about the head chef Frances and GM Deepak, who rounded the ship daily and spoke with passengers like friends. Chef sent chocolate covered strawberries to our room when he learned we were celebrating our anniversary! There are not enough good words to express our appreciation to the hardworking staff on the NCL Encore!

Cabin Review

Mid-ship Balcony Stateroom

Compared to Disney, the cabins are definitely smaller. For two people, we had enough storage space for all our things. The rooms are modern and sleek with enough lighting, comfortable bedding and an airy balcony. We wish there were better toiletries in the bathrooms (only dispensers of body wash and shampoo in the shower, and hand soap by the sink). My husband (6 feet tall) found the shower cabin to be small. He showered at the spa most days. We were hardly in the cabin so we did not feel cramped at all.

Port Reviews

Juneau

Times: 3 pm to 9:30 pm. We did the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watching excursion offered by NCL. This was convenient as the tour bus picks you up right at the port so you don't have to ride into town. We did not get to experience the town. We did a 2 mile hike to see the waterfall and the glacier at the national park. If you are a fast walker you can get them both in as only 1 hour is allotted at the park. The whale watching is great but takes about 3 hours. We saw orcas and several groups of humpback whales. It is cold on the water so wear a warm jacked, gloves, hat and take your binoculars. We returned to the ship at almost 9 pm and luckily they kept the buffet open until 9:30 pm that night for all the returning passengers! Wish the ship could have gotten to Juneau earlier in the day but enjoyed it nonetheless.

Sitka

We had arranged our own whale watching excursion here, which got canceled because of the rain. We were able to walk about 1/2 mile out of town to see the salmon ladder and watch the salmon jumping out of the water and spawning. It was quite interesting. The town is small and we did not find it that interesting but we walked around for a little bit.

Glacier Bay

Just breathtaking! My advice would be to get a good spot on the top deck or in the observation lounge if you do not have a balcony cabin. The park ranger boards the ship at 8 am and providers ongoing narrative about the sites. Since the seals were done mating, we were allowed to get up close to several glaciers. The water was teal blue and we had a glorious sunny day to see the sites. You can see everything from your balcony as well since you go into and out of the park so both sides of the ship can see everything. The staff were serving hot chocolate and drinks on the top deck which was a nice touch!

Ketchikan

Cute little town with a lot of shopping, interesting creek to see salmon and bears and a great totem park. You will need to take a shuttle bus from Ward Cove which is about a 15 min drive so that's a little annoying. (Holland America ship docks right in town). We were able to arrange a small tour right where the bus stops for $50 pp which shows you all the sites (the waterfalls, bears, salmon, Dolly's house, creek street and the main town). My advice to others would be to get off the ship quickly as there is not much time in this port and the last shuttle comes back to port leaving at 11 am even though "all aboard time" is not until 12:45 pm. We stayed on our tour past noon and he dropped our whole group back after 12 pm.

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