A great inaugural cruise for “Norwegian Encore” – World Meanderings (n°75)
By Annick Dournes
I had the privilege to attend the inaugural cruise of “Norwegian Encore”, the brand new cruise ship launched by Norwegian Cruise Line. With its undeniable know-how the American company does its utmost to offer its guests an unforgettable experience on board as well as a wide choice of cruises’ itineraries around the world. “Norwegian Encore” is the new jewel of the fleet and a complete success. Let’s discover this new palace of the seas.
“Norwegian Encore” is the 17th ship of the NCL fleet and the 4th and last one of the “Breakaway-Plus Class” following the Norwegian Joy, Escape and Bliss, each one at a cost of one billion dollars.
All of them were built in the renowned Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, a pledge of quality and safety.
“Norwegian Encore” is slightly smaller than the recently launched new cruise ships of other companies but, and this is a major difference, it welcomes less than 4,000 passengers (3998 at the most) when its competitors host 6,000 or so passengers. This means that on board the “Norwegian Encore”, each guest has significantly more space available, whether in the staterooms, the restaurants and bars, the sundecks and the entertainment areas. Here space rhymes with luxury.
NCL 17 ships can take their guests to 300 different destinations around the world including to the company’s private island in the Bahamas, Great Stirrup Cay and to its private resort in Belize, Harvest Caye. Two dream destinations!
After the three-day inaugural cruise that took us from Bremen harbour in Germany to Southampton, the “Norwegian Encore” will head west to Miami. From November 24 she will travel through the Caribbean Islands for 7-day cruises. Then from April 2020 she will sail from New York City to New England and Canada. During the winter 2020/21 she will be back in the Caribbean before heading to the US west coast for 7-day cruises from Seattle to Alaska.
NCL also proposes thematic cruises such as “wine cruises” during which guests can attend wine tasting cessions or learn the art of pairing food and wine with sommelier and wine makers from the whole world. Three different wine cruises are already scheduled onboard the Norwegian Encore, this year on December 1st and next year on January 26 and February 16. Three great opportunities to discover the great cuisine made by the onboard chefs and by prestigious invited ones.
The “Sail and Sustain Environmental Program” has been created by NCL to develop new ways to protect our environment. Thus, since 2018 all plastic straw have been banished from all the ships. This means that each year 50 millions straws are not used anymore.
In 2020 all plastic bottles will be replaced by recycled carton bottles made by JUST Goods Inc., a company founded by actor Will Smith family. It will help spare six million bottles each year.
And of course NCL develops new technologies to keep the CO2 and other pollutants output as low as possible in order to preserve our oceans and air.
Since its creation in 1966 NCL has always been at the forefront of innovation. In 1977 it was the first cruise company to own its own private island, Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. The island is a key destination for many passengers. The company has recently invested 15 million dollars to completely renovate it.
In 1988 NCL was the first cruise company to create a speciality restaurant, the Palm Tree aboard the M/S Seaward.
In the early 2000’s NCL created the Freestyle Cruising, to allow its passengers to live on board and enjoy their holidays without timetables obligations for meals, entertainment activities or shows.
In 2010 NCL created “The Haven”, an exclusive luxury complex designed for passengers who were expecting and could afford an even more luxurious experience onboard. With its vast and elegant staterooms, exclusive restaurant, bar, lounge, an indoor swimming pool, sun decks or jacuzzis, The Haven is like a ship within the ship.
In 2010 NCL created the “Solo Suites”. These are staterooms especially designed for single passengers, plus a lounge exclusively dedicated to them. Even more these cabins are proposed with a special price without any supplement. Travelling alone is perfectly OK with NCL.
Pity is that during a 7-day cruise you won’t be able to attend all the restaurants bars and activities available aboard the Norwegian Encore! You’ll have to make choices… There are no less than 16 restaurants with cuisines from the whole world (7 are included in the cruise price and 9 are proposed with an extra cost), 14 bars, plus a Starbucks, a cake and candy shop and an ice cream corner (freshly made on board). In the evening till late at night live bands entertain the guests in several bars and restaurants.
The high quality of the shows in all NCL ships is renowned in the world of cruise’s travellers. Thus on board the Norwegian Encore you will be able to enjoy “Kinky Boots” the successful Broadway musical created by Cindi Lauper. The show was rewarded with no less than 6 Tony Awards and it will be played on a cruise ship for the very first time.
You will also have the opportunity to applaud “The Choir of Man”, a group of nine artists both great dancers and singers who revisit famous songs in their own talented way.
Another musical, Happy Hour Prohibition” will take you to New Orleans’ speakeasy in the early years of Prohibition.
No way to get bored on board! Why not test your driver’s skill along the longest kart track ever built on a cruise ship? It even has a loop that goes out of the ship to overlook the ocean 50 metres down below!
You can also immerse yourself in virtual reality at the “Galaxy Pavillion”. NCL has created this VR indoor space where wearing goggles you will hang glide, race in a Formula One car or drive a jeep in a Jurassic Park like world avoiding dangerous dinosaurs!
The Laser Tag game will take you to the lost Atlantis mixing impressive decors and augmented reality. Not to forget the Water Park for kids and adults and its huge slide, the Ocean Loop, that has a double loop overlooking the ocean. Will you dare?
Norwegian Encore well deserves its name and you will feel like asking Again! Again! (encore means again in French), just the way I felt when I had to leave the ships after this too short 3-day inaugural cruise!
More info and booking at www.ncl.com
Text & Photos ©Annick Dournes