The 3,998-passenger Norwegian Encore is a modern and sophisticated ship, with decor and public spaces that could rival a more luxury-oriented cruise line. It's a ship that aims to give everyone vacation choices, with multiple bars and restaurants, indoor and outdoor activities and plenty of evening entertainment.
In many ways, Encore is the "big city" of cruising. Its 20-plus restaurants let passengers dine in a different venue every night (though not without a cost) and its Deck 8 indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar area makes an evening out feel more like a night on the town. The live entertainment is some of the best we've ever seen at sea -- with Broadway-caliber performers in "Kinky Boots" and "Choir of Man" -- and the bars mix it up with signature cocktails and unique vibes.
Thrilling activities run the gamut from freefall waterslides to go-karts, laser tag and virtual-reality play spaces. Those looking to avoid the crowds can escape to the spa's thermal suite or adults-only Vibe Beach Club, or cozy up with a book in the breathtaking Observation Lounge with two-deck high windows at the front of the ship. And passengers who want the utmost in tranquility can book into the Haven suite complex, where they can luxuriate in exclusive enclaves including a pool, sun deck, restaurant and lounge.
However, while Norwegian Encore is big enough to offer something for everyone, it clearly caters more to some people than others. Sun worshippers might be disappointed in the compressed pool and complimentary sun deck spaces, with outdoor thrill rides and extra-fee sun decks spanning a huge chunk of the ship's top decks. Families with young children are stuck with windowless kids club areas in the bowels of the ship, a small water play area and restaurants and shows that are very much geared toward adults.
Travelers on a budget will find, even with promotional booking freebies, that there are a lot of surprise fees and pay-to-play areas; you definitely don't get the full wow factor of this ship by keeping your onboard bill to a minimum.
Overall, Norwegian Encore is a sophisticated ship, there's tons going on and you'll be wowed by the quality -- and quantity -- of the dining and entertainment. Yet because of this, a vacation here can cost more than on other "small-town" ships, and even if you do pony up for the fun, you simply won't have enough time to do everything. Make sure you budget accordingly, and be prepared to book another cruise to experience everything you missed.
Norwegian Encore attracts cruisers of all ages, as the sheer diversity of the ship's cabin types, from luxury rooms in The Haven to family cabins and solo studios priced for single travelers mean there is room for a wide breadth of travelers. Norwegian Encore carries numerous families during the summer as well as winter and spring holidays. Most cruisers hail from North America, but you'll also meet people from the UK and beyond.
Daytime: Casual all the way, with most people wearing shorts and T-shirts inside the ship and bathing suits and cover-ups outside on the pool deck. Some activities, such as the racetrack and laser tag, require closed-toe shoes.
Evening: Anything goes at night on Norwegian, which carries an all-day casual dress code. You'll see people wearing any range of outfits, from capris and blouses to maxi dresses and going-out attire. In the Manhattan Room main dining venue and in the upscale specialty restaurants (Onda, Le Bistro, Cagney's, Ocean Blue), you'll need to dress up a bit -- slacks, nice jeans, dresses, skirts and tops for women, and nice jeans, slacks, collared shirts and closed-toe shoes for men.
Norwegian Encore has no formal night, but there is Norwegian's Night Out, where men usually wear long pants (dark jeans are fine) and collared shirts, and women put on dresses or nice skirt-and-blouse combos. Norwegian does also have some themed events -- popular ones include the glow party, country night and various decade-themed parties.
Not permitted: Bathing suits are allowed in the buffet and outdoor venues, as long as you have a cover-up and shoes on. Tank tops for men, flip-flops, baseball caps, visors and jeans that are overly faded, with holes or tears and worn below the hips are not permitted in the main dining rooms or specialty restaurants. Kids under 12 can wear nice shorts into all restaurants.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Norwegian Cruise Line
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BirdTravels on the Inaugural Voyage of the Encore to the Eastern Caribbean