Norwegian Encore Review

4.5 / 5.0
436 reviews

Good but not great

Review for the Panama Canal & Central America Cruise on Norwegian Encore
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First Time Cruiser • Age 50s

Rating by category

Value for Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation

Additional details

Sail Date: Apr 2023
Cabin: Mid-ship Mini-Suite with Balcony

We chose the Norwegian Encore Panama Canal Cruise as we were looking for a longer cruise. The cruise was 15 days and started in Miami, ending in LA. I really really wanted to love this cruise. We went in with a really positive attitude and decided to ignore all the naysayers from the various reviews and Facebook groups that we had seen. The cruise ended up being rather mediocre.

Food service is hit and miss on this ship. Some venues are better than others. Los Lobos has great food but terrible service and the staff does not know how to work together. Ocean Blue has good food overall, but it was inconsistent. The Cioppino was incredibly bland and the asparagus was both woody on the outside and liquid on the inside. The sea bass and chutney was wonderful. They really should switch the locations of these two venues as the noise from the atrium takes over in Ocean Blue and makes it hard to enjoy a meal. Room service is just not great. The menu is incredibly limited. The food we got was incorrect most of the time, or missing something, or just not good. One time I got a tiny little portion of fries so I asked for a few extra. The next time they gave me an entire extra plate but they weren't cooked all the way. I asked for extra ketchup and got less than a quarter inch across the bottom of a small bowl. I asked to add mayonnaise to a sandwich and then they skipped adding the mustard. One time we didn't even get half of our meal. Another time I ordered the kids mac and cheese as my stomach was bothering me, and they sent something that tasted like nacho cheese sauce from 7-Eleven. Cagney's was okay. Le bistro was our best experience except for the Russian mob contingent (not kidding) that was obnoxiously loud and ruining the environment. The staff was clearly afraid to say anything, as were we.

Choir of man was excellent and the Beatles show was pretty good though it lacked energy and enthusiasm. Some of the comics were good, some didn't seem to know their audience. The band, royal flush, was good overall and we enjoyed them on the pool deck. Other venues had entertainment that was mediocre.

Cabin Review

Mid-ship Mini-Suite with Balcony

Cabin 158** was it a great location. It's no bigger than any of the non-club balcony suites except for in the bathroom where you have two sinks and a bigger shower area. The bed is near the glass slider and the couch is closer to the bathroom. There's plenty of storage. A designer needs to take a look at the area they designate for women to get ready. There are no plugins in the bathroom so you can only plug a curling iron in on the little desk area by the couch. This would be better if the lighting was decent. Or if maybe they had a close-up mirror. There's a little seat where you can sit, but if you sit there you can barely see your face in the mirror unless you are a super tall person. The hair dryer doesn't have a long enough cord to use while fully standing up. Again, I'm sure they assumed that people would sit at the little seat and use it, but I don't dry my hair sitting down. It's not set up well. It was a great idea but poorly executed. The air conditioning is not great. We were in the Caribbean so of course it was hot. We would turn the AC on and set it to its lowest temperature every night. And about every couple of hours, it would get too hot in there. I would get up and find that the air conditioning had kicked off. So I would turn it back on manually. Between my husband and I, we reset it multiple times every single night. It was really frustrating. I did bring our own fan and hang it over the bed and that helped a little, but the bedding is very heavy. You get a sheet and a super thick comforter. I'm sure it works better when you're in Alaska and it's cold, but in tropical temperatures, it's just not the right mix. You're too cold with a sheet and too hot with a comforter.

If we were to do this again, I think we'd skip the club balcony seat and go with a regular balcony. There isn't enough value to justify the increase in cost. We did get a bottle of prosecco and some treats, but again not enough to justify the cost. And I don't even like prosecco.

Port Reviews


Acapulco is dirty, hot, overcrowded and lacking in things to do. We won't come back here.

Cartagena (Colombia)

Lots of great history here and our tour was okay, but the city is dirty and the vendors are obnoxious. I said, no gracias, more times in one day than I have in my entire life and travels combined. It was just frustrating to feel like every moment was a hassle.


Miami has a lot to do and we found a great place to stay at the bricknell. There's a great Argentinian restaurant kitty corner from it. That was phenomenal. We would definitely go back. The port itself was a bit of a mess. Norwegian told everybody we were in B but the ship was actually in d. The only reason we knew is that someone posted in our Facebook group and I got an alert. Lots of other people got dropped off at b and then had to walk all the way to d, which if you consider the length of the ships, is a very long walk with all your luggage. With everyone coming off and getting on at the same time and in the same space, it's really difficult to figure out where the lines are. We got in line and then realized that was people getting off. Waiting for taxis. Once we figured out where to go in it went really quickly.

Panama Canal

The Panama Canal crossing was interesting though. I missed a lot of that because I was laying in bed sick with covid. They brought an expert on the ship to talk about the history of the canal, but the audio system was so poor we had trouble understanding them.

Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

This was our favorite port visit. The people of Guatemala were incredibly welcoming and positive. The poverty here is tremendous, yet. There were lots of smiles and clear happiness. We really enjoyed our visit to old antigua despite the long bus ride. The old city is beautiful to walk around though challenging on your ankles if you're not careful due to the old cobblestones. My only complaint here was that the restaurant that followed the tour of the Jade factory was a mess. The food was dried out and not great. They had lines going two directions but they also met in the middle at the salsa which slowed everybody down. Our table had no silverware and we had to ask four different people before we got any. I would have rather just found a place to eat on my own.

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta has changed a lot through the years and there's a lot of construction. It looks like they're working hard to improve. Our cab drivers were both very polite, though. There's no air conditioning unless you count the 440 version. For Windows down and 40 mph. We were pretty well sweated through by the time we got where we were going. We found a lovely little shop called Roberto's silver and found some wonderful gifts there. Roberto is a true gem.

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