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  1. Deck 18 Features: Encore Speedway: Before leaving on our cruise, this is the top thing everyone asked us about when they learned which ship we were on. "Isn't that the one with the go-karts on top?" (Never mind that the Bliss also has go-karts...). Originally I thought we weren't going to end up doing the go-karts. From the added expense ($15 per person) to the fact that early reports had the go-karts selling out immediately, and the fact that we had to deal with Vibe passes and restaurant reservations when we boarded, I thought there was no way. So we didn't sign up and everyone a
  2. Yes, I remember reading some older reviews of the Breakaway/Getaway and seeing the space being used as you described. It's especially a shame on this ship, that has so little top deck space that is free to use. We'll get to the laser tag soon but this was another area that, for all the prime real estate on, I never saw anyone actually USING it. I'm sure people were playing laser tag, but for the amount of time it sat empty it made the decision to put it there instead of Spice especially painful. Thanks so much for your kind words! I forgot to shout out @TheDougOut because his inaugural
  3. Deck 17 Features: The Haven: Deck 17 begins the Haven complex, including the Horizon Lounge and Haven Pool. I am not really going to go over this area since I didn't have access to it, but know that it starts here and its amenities extend all the way up to Deck 19. Jogging Track: Much like the gym onboard, the jogging track is not on most people's agenda for vacation but it's good to know it's there. That said, because of the crowded lounger situation on Decks 16 and 17, you will often find the jogging track partially obscured during the day by loungers. This probably g
  4. Deck 16 (continued): Mandara Spa and Thermal Suite: As I've been teasing for 2 pages now, we were upgraded to a spa balcony about 50 days out from our sailing date and so got a chance to sample the Thermal Suite on the Encore. We were particularly excited about getting this upgrade knowing the top deck situation on the Encore, so having access to dedicated loungers, pool, and hot tub in addition to the steam room, sauna, and others was an extra special treat. The spa is located on the starboard side of the aft staircase, across from the fitness center. There are often s
  5. Deck 16 (continued): The Pool Deck: As many people predicted based on the deck plans prior to the Encore completing construction, Deck 16 is probably the weakest feature of this particular ship. The Breakaway/Breakaway Plus ships already have a reputation for having too small a pool area for the 4000+ passengers they are capable of holding, but areas such as Spice H2O, the sports courts, and other top-deck activities included in the cruise fare give passengers a way to enjoy these decks without necessarily crowding the pool deck. Unfortunately, on the Encore, most of the top deck s
  6. Deck 16 Features: Garden Cafe: On the Encore, the Garden Cafe is located forward on Deck 16. It has seating that wraps around the entire area, as well as two sections of outside seating just outside the buffet area. At the very front of the ship, there are windows that look down into the Observation Lounge below on Deck 15. There are so many sections of the buffet that I can't begin to describe them all, but trust that there is something here for everyone. Like any buffet, there are some dishes that are hits and some that are misses - the good news is that it's all comp
  7. Glad I could help! Myself and L both got the $9.95/person messenger plan so that we could coordinate between the two couples - we could've gotten the guys on there, too but there weren't too many times where T and I were apart. If we were, I wrote a note for him in the room about where I would be and when I would be back. If you've got kids, grandparents, etc. all roaming around the ship it's definitely worth it for everyone to have for the peace of mind! Hi there! The package that comes with the Free at Sea perks (Premium Beverage Package, formerly known as the Ultimate Beverage Packa
  8. Quick Note: FYI to everyone that the Medical Center on this ship is located on Deck 13 near the forward elevators. No one usually reads up on this because (hopefully!) you never have to use it, but I was trying to kill time before meeting up with my group one night and decided to go look for it. Deck 15 Feature - Observation Lounge The Encore is only the third NCL ship with an Observation Lounge, so I was most curious about this feature of the ship because I've never experienced anything like it before. I've read that on an Alaskan cruise, the observation lounge is really
  9. We had the regular 250 free minutes that came with the Free at Sea perks, and while I wouldn't use it for any kind of video streaming the speed was decent and we had more than enough time for our needs (brief check-ins at home, check-in to our flight home from Miami). T had the unlimited Wifi package on the Escape, he didn't report any issues but I didn't use it whatsoever. I think even with the unlimited package, you can only have one device logged in at a time so if you and your husband can be logged in at different times, you could probably just pay for one package and switch off. If your k
  10. Cabin Report: Spa Balcony #15256 Originally, T and I booked a mid-ship balcony on Deck 10 back in June - I actually originally selected Deck 9, until I realized the cabin was directly above the Cavern Club and decided to move up a deck to provide some cushion from the noise. But of course, we can't resist the Upgrade Advantage email when it comes, so we decided to place bids on a spa minisuite, a spa balcony, and a regular minisuite. We were upgraded to a minisuite on the Escape and loved the bathroom. At about 50 days out, we got the email that our bid for $200 per person for a sp
  11. Deck 8 Features (continued again!): Smoking Lounge: Somewhere on Deck 8 along the Waterfront, there is an enclosed smoking lounge for those who smoke cigarettes. I don't think it is right next to the Humidor and it's not at the door at Sugarcane, but I can't for the life of me recall where it is and the deck plans are not helping me. But suffice it to say that it's somewhere along the Waterfront and fairly easily accessible. This is the Encore's answer to the elimination of the smoking area (and, let's face it, the entire area) of Spice H2O. Unfortunately, the door to D
  12. Deck 8 Features (continued): Tradewinds Shops: I didn't, and don't ever, do any shopping here but this is pretty much par for the course on any other NCL ships - there's a shop for watches, jewelry, handbags, fashion items, NCL and Encore merchandise, beauty products, liquor, cigarettes, etc. The Sandbar shop also has essentials for a huge markup - over-the-counter medications, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. Personally, everything here is more expensive than I want to pay for, but the opportunity certainly exists if you're seeking it. Photo Gallery: This is where you can vie
  13. Thanks for your detailed explanation! Finance was by far my most difficult class, so I'm not surprised I failed to grasp that. 😂 That does make sense when broken down that way. I won't get anywhere near the CruiseNext desk unless I know I want to book something because I hate a hard sales pitch and have a hard time with the word "no", but having a neutral third party explain it was helpful. That said, we're booked on the Getaway for next January but unsure of whether or not I'll buy certificates. I'd really like to get back to Europe for a land vacation, and this last time around I also looked
  14. Good news is that we had spa passes so a fairly thorough report about the spa on this ship is coming soon! With regards to the lounge shows, there were some pretty incredible performers on this ship that I haven't really gotten into yet (but will some more once we get to other areas of the ship). I'd say the live music available rated similar to what we experienced on the Escape, except for the fact that I didn't like the guy playing in District on this ship much (he reminded me too much of Ed Sheeran and I felt he did too much talking and not enough singing).
  15. Guys, I forgot to mention that on Deck 7 there is a Lifeboat Deck that runs up and down both sides of Deck 7 and is open to the public as long as they're not doing drills or cleaning. I didn't get to check this out until our last night, but it's pretty cool. If you've sailed a ship like the Escape, you know that her lifeboats hang over the edge of the ship - and this actually makes her too wide to pass through the Panama Canal. Kind of a shame, because that limits her itineraries and probably means that the Pacific is unlikely to see the Escape any time soon. Since then, all of the Breakaway P
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