Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
brandi0727

New to NCL and could use some tips or advice please.

Recommended Posts

I just canceled a cruise with Carnival after realizing it wasn't what we thought it would be. So we started looking at NCL and found the Encore. We booked it for June, 2020, but could use some advice or tips. It appears that information is different for the various NCL ships. Being new to this line, I would like to have as much helpful info I could get to plan for a smooth sailing. If there is anything else that would be useful besides answers to the questions below please let me know. Thanks!:)

 

-Do we have to wait until we board to buy and reserve times for the Go-Kart weekly rate package and the Laser Tag or does it become available online closer to embarkation?

 

-Freestyle dining, is it just show up and wait for an available table or do we still have to book reservations when we know when we want to arrive? 

 

-When booking specialty dining is that available online closer to embarkation or do we have to do that on board and is dress code more elegant for these restaurants?

 

-We received the "Take All Offers" with the "Free at Sea" promotion booked for 7 nights. We received the "Unlimited Open Bar" for two adults, but we aren't big drinkers. Could we use that for soda and juices moreso than alcohol? Do we have to purchase our two teens a beverage package too or do they just purchase sodas as they go, since we are all in the cabin together?

 

-Do shows and comedy acts have to be booked ahead of time online or once on board, or is it first come-first serve in those venues?

 

Thanks for any info you can offer!:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, brandi0727 said:

I just canceled a cruise with Carnival after realizing it wasn't what we thought it would be. So we started looking at NCL and found the Encore. We booked it for June, 2020, but could use some advice or tips. It appears that information is different for the various NCL ships. Being new to this line, I would like to have as much helpful info I could get to plan for a smooth sailing. If there is anything else that would be useful besides answers to the questions below please let me know. Thanks!:)

 

-Do we have to wait until we board to buy and reserve times for the Go-Kart weekly rate package and the Laser Tag or does it become available online closer to embarkation?

You can book as soon as you board. You can go to the Encore Theater boxoffice (Deck 7 Forward, Starboard entrance to the theater) or use one of the touch screen kiosks around elevator lobbies and in the Atrium. 

 

-Freestyle dining, is it just show up and wait for an available table or do we still have to book reservations when we know when we want to arrive? 

You can do either. Most people show up when they are hungry or when it fits their schedule. There are three main dining rooms all serving the same menu each night. Just like a restaurant at home, you will get a table for your party (no sharing of tables, no set dining times). Other complimentary options include the 7/24 pub-like dining room in the Local and the Garden Cafe buffet. 

 

-When booking specialty dining is that available online closer to embarkation or do we have to do that on board and is dress code more elegant for these restaurants?

Dining reservations open 120 days prior to departure (130 for suites). For the best time, you should book at the 120 day mark. And book your entertainment at the same time (Kinky Boots and Choir of Man). Other shows including the comedy club and Prohibition the Musical (extra charge) can be booked as soon as your board. 

 

Best guess is that you can wear shorts in all restaurants for all meals EXCEPT Ocean Blue and Le Bistro where gents are asked to wear long pants (jeans, dockers). Freestyle dining is all about being on vacation and being comfortable. Many people do dress up a little (like going to a restaurant at home), but you will not see any tuxes and very few ties onthe ship. 

 

-We received the "Take All Offers" with the "Free at Sea" promotion booked for 7 nights. We received the "Unlimited Open Bar" for two adults, but we aren't big drinkers. Could we use that for soda and juices moreso than alcohol? Do we have to purchase our two teens a beverage package too or do they just purchase sodas as they go, since we are all in the cabin together?

You are not obligated to take the beverage package if you do not want it. You can use it for sodas, and virgin drinks (we do that a lot since a virgin strawberry daiquiri is just as good as one with alcohol if you don't want to walk around tipsy. The kids can get a soda package. The adult beverage package does NOT include specialty coffees, fresh squeezed juices, bottled water, and energy drinks. 

 

-Do shows and comedy acts have to be booked ahead of time online or once on board, or is it first come-first serve in those venues?

Per the not above, you book them once you board. The shows are in a small venue and sell out fast. Early comedy shows are family oriented. Late shows are 18+

 

Thanks for any info you can offer!:)

Enjoy the Encore!!!!  More information will be available once the ship sets sail for the first time.

 

Edited by BirdTravels

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, BirdTravels said:

Enjoy the Encore!!!!  More information will be available once the ship sets sail for the first time.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! I'm looking forward to researching all the reviews once they get sailing. I usually do all the Google searches myself, but the fact that the ship is not complete or sailing yet makes it difficult to really know what to expect, especially never having sailed with NCL before and not knowing how they do things. Thanks again!:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, brandi0727 said:

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! I'm looking forward to researching all the reviews once they get sailing. I usually do all the Google searches myself, but the fact that the ship is not complete or sailing yet makes it difficult to really know what to expect, especially never having sailed with NCL before and not knowing how they do things. Thanks again!:)

Watch for a BirdTravels live post from the Encore once the ship starts sailing from Miami later this year. 

 

The Encore, Bliss, Joy and Escape are sister ships. And the Encore is first cousin to the Breakaway and Getaway. The questions you asked are the same for all of these ships (if you are looking for reviews and comments). From a features perspective (go karts, laser tag, galaxy pavilion - another thing to book as soon as you board), it is closest to the Joy, then the Bliss. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At $4+ for a cupful, you definitely want to buy the soda package for your kids.  Pepsi products only on board.  "Juice" is free at the buffet, but it's just sugary artificial juice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, BirdTravels said:

Watch for a BirdTravels live post from the Encore once the ship starts sailing from Miami later this year. 

 

The Encore, Bliss, Joy and Escape are sister ships. And the Encore is first cousin to the Breakaway and Getaway. The questions you asked are the same for all of these ships (if you are looking for reviews and comments). From a features perspective (go karts, laser tag, galaxy pavilion - another thing to book as soon as you board), it is closest to the Joy, then the Bliss. 

  I will certainly look for the live post! I will check out the ships you mentioned as well to get an idea about what to expect. Thank you!:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, FLAHAM said:

At $4+ for a cupful, you definitely want to buy the soda package for your kids.  Pepsi products only on board.  "Juice" is free at the buffet, but it's just sugary artificial juice.

I think that would be a great idea.  They'd probably appreciate some variety with their beverages. Thank you!:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep in mind that by accepting the beverage package that you have been or will be charged gratuity on them. If you’re only going to drink soda, you might be better off financially to buy that package with the money you save by not paying that alcohol gratuity. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Clay Clayton said:

Keep in mind that by accepting the beverage package that you have been or will be charged gratuity on them. If you’re only going to drink soda, you might be better off financially to buy that package with the money you save by not paying that alcohol gratuity. 

That was what my travel agent was informing me of too. She tried to get the cabin booked without all of that, but it actually came out cheaper with it even with including the gratuities for the beverage package. Additionally, the TA company that I used offered me a cash card for $400 to spend at their warehouse and it will be sent to me after the cruise. So we are ok with it. We will buy the soda package for the two teens so they can have drinks as well. But we did try the opt out option first. It just wasn't as favorable. Thank you for bringing that up though, it's always a good idea to try and figure out the best option. 😊

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Q&A with the Coral Expeditions Team
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...