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Phaedrus78

Still More Encore Thoughts - 1/12/20 to 1/19/20 - Eastern Caribbean

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Obviously we have had a few people sharing their thoughts on NCL’s latest and greatest. I’m not sure we need another perspective, but I seem to have a different take than most. 
 

I think background is important, because everyone wants something different from their cruise. Me, I’m 41 years old, working in the tech industry. My wife is 35, and we were on this trip with friends, a younger couple in their mid 20’s. We’re fairly simple people, not looking for anything fancy. We like good drink, good food, lounging by the pool or on the beach and relaxing. We’re not Haven people, can’t imagine paying for more than a balcony room. Oh, and I smoke. That’ll be important later. 
 

I won’t get into thoughts about the ports or itinerary. People know about those. What’s new is the ship. And it’s quite a ship. I’ll break it down with pros and cons. 
 

PROS

 

* The Encore is a BEAUTIFUL ship. I mean, stunning. I found all of the art to be extremely tasteful and the overall design aesthetics pleasing. 
 

* We stayed in a balcony room with an angled balcony (requested specifically, thanks for the heads up CC) and I had zero complaints. Storage is good, bed is comfortable, everything clean and well appointed. 
 

* The observation lounge is amazing. Gorgeous. I didn’t note a ton of people in there sleeping like others have, but I wasn’t in there much during the day. 
 

* Main dining room food was good to great. 
 

* Service was mostly on point everywhere. Exceptions around the pool area due to sheer number of people more so than fault of the staff. 
 

* Specialty dining was excellent. Cagney’s was on par with most high-end steakhouses I’ve ever visited on land, Food Republic was STUNNINGLY good. Q was all right, but I can honestly think of at least 3 or 4 better barbecue joints here in Indianapolis. 
 

* Buffet food was pretty meh as usual, but the layout of the buffet is really good. We never had any problem finding seats even in the middle of the lunch rush. 
 

CONS

 

* There is so much valuable space wasted on this ship. The go-kart track and laser tag are cute diversions, but they’re eating a ton of valuable outdoor space that could be put to better use. American Diner is absolutely useless. I never saw a soul in there other than crew standing around waiting for something to do.

 

* Because of the wasted space, the pool deck is crazy. Yes, it’s possible to find a couple of loungers. But they very well could be tucked away somewhere, and they are stacked right on top of each other. There’s not even a proper jogging track. 
 

* If you’re a smoker, you’re screwed. The only smoking area on the entire ship that doesn’t require you to be gambling is the smoker box on the Waterfront, and that thing is miserable.  Many people would stand on the rail outside the box and smoke to not be in the box, and balcony smoking was pretty rampant. I understand people not wanting to be around cigarette smoke. But you have to provide some outdoor space for smokers somewhere. The loss of Spice H2O and the typical smoking corner that comes with it is glaring on Encore. 
 

* Speaking of which, this was enough of a con to stand on its own: The loss of Spice was an absolute killer for me on this ship. Say what you will about the faults of the Epic, but the Spice area on Epic is awesome, and I spent most of my Epic cruise back there. I never found anywhere on Encore to regularly hang out.  And no, I’m not paying for Vibe. $420 to get a sun deck and to have to wear an annoying bracelet all week isn’t worth it to me. 
 

OVERALL VERDICT

 

I enjoyed the hell out of my cruise on the Encore. It’s a fantastic ship. But the decisions NCL has made over how to allocate the space, especially the outdoor space, have me unwilling to ever sail on it again. Other people may have different priorities and fall in love with it, but I now have an NCL ship I will actively avoid in the future. 

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Thanks for sharing your very honest thoughts with us.    Glad you enjoyed your cruise but it's totally understandable that anyone who smokes would not be looking to book this ship.   Also agree it's strange that so much prime deck space is taken for activities that just a few will want to pay for.    I was surprised they put another go-kart track on this ship.  Not sure why the NCL fleet needs more than one ship with that!

 

We are looking forward to seeing the new shows on this ship, plus try Onda and some of the other 'newer' restaurants like Food Republic & Q.   We also loved the Observation Lounge on Bliss so I'm happy they have decided to add another to Encore. 

 

Thanks for your review

 

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On 1/20/2020 at 10:33 PM, Phaedrus78 said:

If you’re a smoker, you’re screwed. The only smoking area on the entire ship that doesn’t require you to be gambling is the smoker box on the Waterfront, and that thing is miserable.

Well that is disturbing.  My husband and I were gifted an Encore cruise and we set sail in April.  It will be our very first cruise.
Had we known about these Encore smoking restrictions beforehand, we would have graciously declined the gift and stayed home.  We are old and stuck in our ways. Smoking is a bad habit but it is one of the few pleasures we have left in life.    

Edited by small_world

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7 minutes ago, small_world said:

Well that is disturbing.  My husband and I were gifted an Encore cruise and we set sail in April.  It will be our very first cruise.
Had we known about these Encore smoking restrictions beforehand, we would have graciously declined the gift and stayed home.    

 

I wouldn't let it stop you, especially from accepting a gift.  The Encore is a beautiful ship, and I definitely don't regret what we spent for a great week.  I just know that other ships in the NCL line have an area outdoors on the top deck, so I'd rather book on them.  

 

A week on the Encore sure beats the hell out a week at home, though.  At least for me.  

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7 minutes ago, Phaedrus78 said:

 I wouldn't let it stop you, especially from accepting a gift.

Yes, it would be rude I suppose.  We will be acknowledging our 54th anniversary. After a week of no/limited cigarettes though, I sincerely doubt there will be a 55th!  😄  😄  😄  

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On 1/20/2020 at 10:33 PM, Phaedrus78 said:

Obviously we have had a few people sharing their thoughts on NCL’s latest and greatest. I’m not sure we need another perspective, but I seem to have a different take than most. 
 

I think background is important, because everyone wants something different from their cruise. Me, I’m 41 years old, working in the tech industry. My wife is 35, and we were on this trip with friends, a younger couple in their mid 20’s. We’re fairly simple people, not looking for anything fancy. We like good drink, good food, lounging by the pool or on the beach and relaxing. We’re not Haven people, can’t imagine paying for more than a balcony room. Oh, and I smoke. That’ll be important later. 
 

I won’t get into thoughts about the ports or itinerary. People know about those. What’s new is the ship. And it’s quite a ship. I’ll break it down with pros and cons. 
 

PROS

 

* The Encore is a BEAUTIFUL ship. I mean, stunning. I found all of the art to be extremely tasteful and the overall design aesthetics pleasing. 
 

* We stayed in a balcony room with an angled balcony (requested specifically, thanks for the heads up CC) and I had zero complaints. Storage is good, bed is comfortable, everything clean and well appointed. 
 

* The observation lounge is amazing. Gorgeous. I didn’t note a ton of people in there sleeping like others have, but I wasn’t in there much during the day. 
 

* Main dining room food was good to great. 
 

* Service was mostly on point everywhere. Exceptions around the pool area due to sheer number of people more so than fault of the staff. 
 

* Specialty dining was excellent. Cagney’s was on par with most high-end steakhouses I’ve ever visited on land, Food Republic was STUNNINGLY good. Q was all right, but I can honestly think of at least 3 or 4 better barbecue joints here in Indianapolis. 
 

* Buffet food was pretty meh as usual, but the layout of the buffet is really good. We never had any problem finding seats even in the middle of the lunch rush. 
 

CONS

 

* There is so much valuable space wasted on this ship. The go-kart track and laser tag are cute diversions, but they’re eating a ton of valuable outdoor space that could be put to better use. American Diner is absolutely useless. I never saw a soul in there other than crew standing around waiting for something to do.

 

* Because of the wasted space, the pool deck is crazy. Yes, it’s possible to find a couple of loungers. But they very well could be tucked away somewhere, and they are stacked right on top of each other. There’s not even a proper jogging track. 
 

* If you’re a smoker, you’re screwed. The only smoking area on the entire ship that doesn’t require you to be gambling is the smoker box on the Waterfront, and that thing is miserable.  Many people would stand on the rail outside the box and smoke to not be in the box, and balcony smoking was pretty rampant. I understand people not wanting to be around cigarette smoke. But you have to provide some outdoor space for smokers somewhere. The loss of Spice H2O and the typical smoking corner that comes with it is glaring on Encore. 
 

* Speaking of which, this was enough of a con to stand on its own: The loss of Spice was an absolute killer for me on this ship. Say what you will about the faults of the Epic, but the Spice area on Epic is awesome, and I spent most of my Epic cruise back there. I never found anywhere on Encore to regularly hang out.  And no, I’m not paying for Vibe. $420 to get a sun deck and to have to wear an annoying bracelet all week isn’t worth it to me. 
 

OVERALL VERDICT

 

I enjoyed the hell out of my cruise on the Encore. It’s a fantastic ship. But the decisions NCL has made over how to allocate the space, especially the outdoor space, have me unwilling to ever sail on it again. Other people may have different priorities and fall in love with it, but I now have an NCL ship I will actively avoid in the future. 

Totally agree with you about the American Diner. What a waste of space. Nobody is paying to have an upscale burger on a ship when you can get it in The Local for free. They could have extended the pool area. My wife and 16 yo daughter loved the Go Kart track. A lot of people were using it all week. Laser Tag, too was busy. They needed to put a small pool on the top deck of Vibe, which is worth every penny.

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Great review!  All your cons are exactly the reasons I won't be sailing ENCORE.  I'm the type that enjoys hanging out by the pool and getting some sun in a quiet spot most afternoons.  For me all the "attractions" have ruined that on ENCORE for me.  Converting Spice H20 to laser tag was the nail in the coffin for me.  Done.   I shouldn't have to pay for a decent spot to sit on deck.  

 

Here's hoping NCL takes a different approach with Project Leonardo.  

Edited by eroller

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After reading all the pros and cons, just curious if NCL would change anything with the Encore if they keep getting complaints about the same things (lack of space, no one eating at American Diner,  overcrowding in Atrium so spread out activities somewhere else, etc.).   We're sailing over a year from now and can only hope some things improve.  

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On 1/25/2020 at 12:32 AM, small_world said:

Well that is disturbing.  My husband and I were gifted an Encore cruise and we set sail in April.  It will be our very first cruise.
Had we known about these Encore smoking restrictions beforehand, we would have graciously declined the gift and stayed home.  We are old and stuck in our ways. Smoking is a bad habit but it is one of the few pleasures we have left in life.    

The smoking lounge is enclosed with beautiful views of the ocean. Other similar areas of the Waterfront are used for dining, so it ain't that bad. On the Encore's sister ship, the Joy, the only smoking area is a tiny, uncovered area at the stern of the ship. Better to be inside than out in the elements. 

 

image.png.7356be3951c043f4092ce149362bf3e6.png

image.png.1f205a46722227d7d9385baef7e11d40.png

(Smoking Lounge is about double the size of the picture above)

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Thanks for an honest and great review. I'm sailing Encore in August and was worried about the lack of deck space, my wife and I love spiceH20 and do spend most of our time during the day on the waterfront so at least we'll have that. We'll miss the parties at night in spice though.

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Just returned from a cruise on the Encore.  I don't smoke but when walking by one outside area there were lots of smokers.  I think it was near the pool or above it.  Maybe too many complaints about the limited smoking area?

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