Norwegian Encore - A First Impression
Wow she is a beautiful but huge ship!
I have a lovely balcony cabin right at the front, so I’m doing a lot of walking to get around the place! It’s hard to know where to start.
The next few blogs I post are a bit rambling - they are notes I made as I was "on the go" whilst on the Norwegian Encore - it was such a short time but so much to see.
The rooms are all very tastefully decorated with subtle palettes of blues and browns. USB ports near the beds to charge devices overnight, US and Euro power points. The coffee machine in the room a nice touch that many may like (but not in all cabins so choose carefully if this appeals to you). The bathroom is plenty big enough especially by cruise ship standards. I think I would have like more wall mounted cupboards for unpacking into rather than shelves.... seas can rock and roll, and I feelbetter when things are stored away. The only cupboard is under the basin. The hair dryer is mounted under the desk in the room and the cord not quite long enough to be comfortable to use standing up. Sit down on the stool and it’s fine.
The sofa is really close to the bed and when you get up you must be cautious to not stub your toes on the sofa frame.All these things are minor detail though. The air con works well the beds are divine and the pillows very comfortable. The seat at the desk has a fitted timber top so can double as a coffee table if you are having in room drinks/snacks etc.At the flick of a switch inside the door you can turn on your exterior light to indicate “do not disturb” or “please make up my room”.
The Haven - the luxury "ship within a ship concept" - is amazing as you would expect. There are 80 suites in total - 50 in The Haven enclave and 30 mid ship -catering to those who like the mid ship location. The Haven has its own Horizon Lounge, own restaurant and bar, it’s own concierge desk and pool area. If you bring in a non Haven guest they are only allowed in your suite or the dining room (and will pay a small cover charge)
The TV is your interactive device in your room to book your shows (no charge but ensures the theatres are not overcrowded) and activities like laser tag, speedway etc as well as dining reservations.
Explorations so far have included the Observation lounge.... a bar area right up front with a commanding view afforded by floor to ceiling glass. A comfortable area for casual gathering or pre dinner drinks with the best view in the house.
The Waves and Surf are 2 pool bars on the main pool deck. The Atrium bar... well you can guess that one.The rest of the bars all have different characters to them and unique decor. I think the most comfortable chairs were in the District Brewhouse and as a sign of the times and our social habits, the lounge chairs in the forward Observation Lounge have USB ports so you can charge devices as you drink and chat. Not sure how I feel about that. Are they necessary? Apparently the majority must think so.
There are so many options for dining, where to start? I experienced Los Lobos Mexican and Teppanyaki for my 2 onboard dinners. Both were good. Teppanyaki a fixed fee USD39pp but most specialty offerings are a la carte with prices on the menus. Drink and dining packages can be pre purchased before sailing.
Entertainment on board was also great. For the young and young at heart there is plenty to get the heart pumping, but remember that they are pay per use.
Galaxy Pavilion USD29pp for 90mins
Laser Tag USD10
Water slides free but min height 40inches
For the younger ones there is a water park and the kids clubs facilities which are massive. Kind of a shame that I could not work out how to make the movies be on demand - they seem to just run and you would have to work out the right time to catch it from the start.
Usage of the internet is at a fee depending on what you want access to, and it was very very good. We never lost signal, only occasionally had to re-connect and it was super fast.
This sailing had just under half of the ships full capacity on board so more users may have an impact, but judging by the rest of the tech standard on board I doubt it would be noticeable.
A la carte specialty dining included Cagney’s Steakhouse, Bistro, OceanBlue seafood, American Diner (burgers, pizza and comfort food) Q Texas and Food Republic. It was very different with each table having its own iPad so you order your own meal yourself. A cute gimmick.
Noticed a few nods to the environmental awareness of cruising’s impact. I hung my towels and they were not changed. My in room water bottles were not plastic and were fully recyclable material, there was not a single straw or plastic adornment in any cocktail. Little things but if you multiply just those few things by 4000 people per sailing per day, it all adds up.
Room service is included but with USD7.95 service charge excluding continental breakfast prior to 10am
As our cruise was an educational, some of the usual day time activities were not on offer, but we did get a sneak peek at Day One for the boarding passengers.
Sign up for painting classes
Solo travellers meet and greet
Art and spa raffles
Camera help lesson at photo shop (free)
Free daily liquor tasting at the duty free shopa
Photo booth fun
Majority Rules game show
Lots of music
ATM in casino
A highlight for me was the features on the ship that have now made NCL (expecially the newer ships) myfirst choice for wheelchair bound passengers and those with mobility issues.
Every swimming pool on the entire NCL fleet has the facility to put in place a pole with hoist to allow the less mobile traveller access in and out of every pool on board.
The accesssible rooms on this ship were huge - with a touchpad inside the cabin door to allow you to open the door (with room for it to swing inwards) from the comfort of your chair.
There was a lever on the clothes rail of the wardrobe so that from a seated position you can reach out and pull down on it, and hte entire rack of clothes swings down to chair level so you can reach everything in your standard hanging spae wardrobe.
The usual bathroom conveniences to make life cofortable, including a tilted mirror so that you do no have to crane your neck to look up.
Touchpads to open the sliding doors onto the deck - no more heavy swinging doors to get caught in the wind and struggle with to be able to open.
The little touches and conveniences just kept coming. Some very thoughtful design elements.
Would I sail on her again? Of course!
Would I recommend her to my clients - definitely. The range of different room types and the option for hte luxury upgrade to The Haven means that there can be something for almost everyone on this ship. She is a big ship - up to 4000 people can be accommodated comfortably, so this does mean a lot of walking from one end to the other. For regular sailors of small ship cruise lines, this may not appeal. But for those who like variety, choice and the experience of something shiney and new, definitely put Norwegian Encore on your wish list!!
As for the ports?
Bremerhaven was certainly an easy port to get to - just a 10min drive from the train station. Modern with limited food and beverage facilities it was super easy to negotiate.
Bremerhaven itself was an easy train journey from Hamburg via Bremen. About a 90 minute trip in total.
Although the crossing to Southampton threatened to be a bit wild and windy, the size and construction of the ship kept her as steady as a rock. I was up high on Deck 11 and as far forward as you could get, and I barely even knew that the ship was moving until I looked out of the window. For this sailor with a queasy stomach, it was a godsend and I was so grateful. Big ships do have their advantages!
Southampton port was like arriving into a huge tin shed. It was a massive structure with not a lot aesthetically pleasing to it, but the flow of people was smooth, there were local publications and tourist literature to grab on the way out and it was less than 10min drive to the train station. I would not advise trying to walk from town to the port... you head through too much industrial area. There is an Enterprise car hire depot right there though so that would be an easy choice of company if you are driving in.
My next instalment of #MummasTravellingSolo adveture will be about the rail travel I experienced, and my time in London. Watch this space!