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NCL Encore Daily Review "LIVE" With Freestyle Dailies

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11 hours ago, tx121 said:

Day 2 - at Sea continued...

 

Today could of been a challenging day if I let it get to me, but why stress? Sure things don't always go the way you want it to, but you're on vacation...make the most of what you can, even if it wasn't your plan A. 

We all know from the threads and reviews that the big issue on this ship is the pool deck /sun deck.  The reason why there are so many complaints is not because there are not enough loungers or deck space. The complaints are more about getting a lounger that is in the sun. You can find chairs/ loungers in the shaded area just fine during peak times. The problem is the lack of loungers in the sun. The expansion of Vibe, the elimination of Spice H20 and the addition of laser tag, the Galaxy Pavillion, and Go Karts is the reason why there is a issue. I checked out the laser tag and the galaxy pavillion during peak sunbathing times. These areas were almost empty and underutilized. Most of the kids were out enjoying the sun and the water park. 

My plan B was to go back to the pool deck later in the afternoon and enjoy some indoor activities until that time. We decided to go to the observation lounge where I caught up on some reading. This area is very relaxing and it offers some great views of the sea. 

Afterwards, we decided to head to the atrium area to play trivia and watch the Deal or No Deal game while eating at The Local Bar and Grill. The food is good, especially the wings with the Korean BBQ sauce! Both activities we saw/participated in were entertaining. 

We decided to see what the pool deck situation was after lunch. At 3:30pm, the pool deck started to clear out. We were able to get a nice seat in the sun and use the pool without the crowds. After 2.5 hours, we decided to get ready for dinner. This is how I prefer to relax by the pool.20200203_170946.thumb.jpg.a828f0c8a582331d739f06e79277c1f4.jpg

 

Tonight we ate in the buffet again since we had the Choir of Man show at 7:30pm. It was Steak and Shrimp night. The shrimp was grilled and still had the head and shell still on them. It was also not cleaned. What a waste. The steak they advertised did not look like it did in picture. It was minute steak. I think we agreed on not eating at the buffet for dinner after tonight. First reason, we havent been that impressed with the food and the second reason is because we have our 3 nights in the specialty restaurants coming up!

After dinner we went to the Encore Theater to see the Choir of Man show. This was for sure one of the top HIGHLIGHTS of the cruise! This show is a MUST see! Besides some of the broadway shows I have see on several ships, this is the best show I have seen on any cruise ship on any line! This is the type of show that will keep your attention throughout. I have been saying that cruise lines need to stop the trend of Cirque de Soleil type shows and artsy shows that don't make sense! I'm looking at you Royal Caribbean! Lol! 

Again I thoroughly enjoyed Choir of Man and it is NOT to be missed! Oh yeh 15 minutes before the show, they give out free beer. They invite the audience to come on stage to grab a beer with the cast.

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After the show we got a drink at the Local and watched the activities in the Atrium which included a Game show and Guns and Rojas Band. Originally we wanted to goto the Cavern to see the Beatles group, but it was already filled up by the time we left the show. Tomorrow night they will have the Beatles group playing in the theater, so we will catch it then. 

We had another great day! Sure there were hiccups in plans, but we just adapted and still had a fun day! 

Tomorrow is San Juan. Clocks go forward 1 hour tonight! 

 

Spot on review. Pool area will be empty when you dock in St. Thomas and Tortola

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Thanks for sharing!!! Take good care of her, we board on Sunday!! 😃

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was there just a huge rush for vibe passes or did you not plan on ever getting them.. appreciate you doing this, hope you are enjoying it!!

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1 hour ago, jfio1021 said:

was there just a huge rush for vibe passes or did you not plan on ever getting them.. appreciate you doing this, hope you are enjoying it!!

 

There was a rush to get the vibe passes. When we arrived at Q, the room was filled with people trying to get passes. We went back and forth and contemplated about getting the passes. By the time we went back to Q, we were told that the passes were sold out. So if you want to get the passes, make sure you do it first thing when you get onboard.

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Day 3- San Juan

 

Last night the clocks went forward one hour so we would be on San Juan time. I don't know if we were just so tired, but we slept in until 12pm! Good thing it was a late arrival in to San Juan! 

We decided to get a quick snack in the observation lounge before heading to the outer decks. We found some loungers on deck 17 under a shaded area. I noticed we were heading in to some rain clouds and I smirked a little because I knew what was about to come. Sure enough 10 minutes later, the rain had come and some people ran for cover with their belongings. It only rained for about 5 minutes. Veteran cruisers stood their ground and weathered the "storm". But 1/3 of the people (probably new cruisers)on the pool deck scattered and abandoned their chairs! There was some prime real estate available and I chose wisely. Lol! I was able to get these seats!👍20200204_121050.thumb.jpg.a0ecc83e56b77c857ef1958d9dbbda01.jpg

 

We enjoyed our time sunbathing, listening to the Caribbean band and using the pool for about 3 hours. We were approaching San Juan earlier than expected so we went back to the room to get ready to go ashore. 

Since San Juan is on a different time zone, our early arrival allowed us to have more daylight time. We had time to walk around old San Juan and visit the fort just in time for the sunset. It was so peaceful and tranquil. 

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After visiting the fort, we walked downtown to see some shops and have a pina colada at Barrachina which is supposedly where this drink was invented.  It was good but of course needed more alcohol! Lol! Our waiter recommended us to try a authentic puerto Rican dish called Monfongo which is mashed plantains with pork. It was good and I'm glad I had it even though we had reservations at Ocean Blue tonight back on the ship! Don't judge! Lol 🤣

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As we were on our way back to the ship, we saw some outdoor markets and cafes open with many cruise ship passengers. 

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One of the benefits of having a late departure is that you are able to get nice pictures at night with the cruise ship all lit up! Usually ships leave before sunset so seeing a ship at night was a treat! 

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Once we got back to the ship, we cleaned up and then went to Ocean Blue for dinner. The ambiance of the restaurant was very nice but I wish the quality of food matched the decor. Let's just say I was happy that we were using the dining package than paying al a carte. The food although passable, it did not impress. For anyone who is considering going here, do not pay al a carte for this restaurant. You will pay a pretty penny for food that does not match the price. If you have the dining package, then it may be worth your time. I have to say this restaurant is comparable to the "Bonefish Grill" chain restaurant back home. 

I started with the scallop and pork belly appetizer as it was recommended by the waitress. It was "ok"...a weird combination which I dont think works.

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I then had the clam chowder soup which was actually very good.

My entree Cipponi,  which was also recommended by the waitress was not good at all. It had a foul smell to it and I believe one of the items in the soup/stew went bad. The waitress asked if I liked it and I said actually I don't. With no questions asked, she said let me get you something else which I thought was very accommodating.  I decided to get the Halibut with a white wine garlic sauce. This dish was better and the fish seemed to be very fresh. 

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We skipped dessert because we were so full and we also had to get to our Comedy show at The Social Club.

 

Side Note:

By the way, be careful if you buy any drinks or eat at a specialty restaurant on the ship while in port especially in San Juan. They will charge you 11.5% tax on your bill! We did not know this and surprised they charge tax while in port! So if you decide to eat a specialty restaurant while in San Juan port, be prepared to pay 31.5% extra in tips (20%) and tax (11.5%)! In my opinion that will be one hefty bill if you ate somewhere al a carte! I ordered a double grey goose on the rocks which came out to a whopping $39.45?!! I am all for tipping my bartender / bar server, but I feel like $6 for them to pour vodka over ice is a bit generous for a automatic tip. Grey goose is not part of the package, so it is $15 a shot. For a double with tip and tax, I could have bought a nice large bottle of grey goose! Lol! All I'm saying is Buyer Beware while in port in San Juan.

 

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Anyways, back to the show!

We thoroughly enjoyed the Comedy show. This was a 18+ adults only show, so the comedians could say whatever they wanted. We saw the same comedian at the First Night  welcome aboard show, but we didnt think he was funny because he had to watch what he said because there was kids in the audience. 

Overall, we had a very nice day! We are looking forward to our very first time in Tortola! 

Edited by tx121

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On 2/3/2020 at 12:33 PM, tx121 said:

You're welcome! There is no lobster served in the main Dining Rooms. If you want lobster, you will need to book a specialty restaurant that serves lobster.

Go karts are $9.95 for a single ride, $29.95 for a unlimited daily pass and $99.95 for unlimited pass good for the whole cruise. Laser tag and Galaxy Pavillion (Virtual Reality Games) also cost extra.

 Go karts are $15 per ride. I haven't been on Encore yet but I've seen a picture of the price board. Laser tag is $9.95.

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On 2/3/2020 at 9:31 PM, HowardK said:

So it seems then one should try for vibe first and then do the go karts next? Are there approximate times the karts are open every day? 

The open times are written in the daily planners that he has been so kindly posting for us.

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5 hours ago, mdchachi said:

 Go karts are $15 per ride. I haven't been on Encore yet but I've seen a picture of the price board. Laser tag is $9.95.

 

Yes sorry my mistake, those prices were for laser tag.  Thanks for catching that! 

Go Karts are $15 a ride and $199 for unlimited pass for the cruise. 

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On 2/3/2020 at 4:38 PM, marktwothousand said:

@tx121 rumour is going around in another thread that Encore has opened up a smoking area on Deck 16. Can you confirm and let us know? At your leisure of course.

 

Update: 

It seems like they have opened the smoking section on Deck 16 earlier today. We ported in San Juan around 4:45pm and people were there. The pool deck was mostly empty at this point, so they may have opened it earlier. It may have been open all day but I didn't notice.

 

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On 2/3/2020 at 9:21 PM, worktocruise610 said:

thank you so much for bringing us along on your cruise, so far it looks awesome! I feel bad asking you to do "work" also but if by any chance you happen to see the spa daily special flyers & can share them I would really appreciate it. Have a great cruise!

 

Here are the first spa promotions I have seen so far in the Freestyle Daily. The Tortola Spa Special does sound mighty nice! Lol!

 

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6 hours ago, tx121 said:

Day 3- San Juan

 

 

6 hours ago, tx121 said:

One of the benefits of having a late departure is that you are able to get nice pictures at night with the cruise ship all lit up! Usually ships leave before sunset so seeing a ship at night was a treat! 

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Great shot of the ship 🙂 Also thanks for sharing those lovely photos of San Juan, and well done for snagging those poolside chairs after the rain shower... smart move! 😉 

 

Really enjoying your review. I can't wait to be back on board in a few weeks and I'm making notes of things I missed out on first time around. 🙂 

 

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2 minutes ago, CazV said:

 

 

 

Great shot of the ship 🙂 Also thanks for sharing those lovely photos of San Juan, and well done for snagging those poolside chairs after the rain shower... smart move! 😉 

 

Really enjoying your review. I can't wait to be back on board in a few weeks and I'm making notes of things I missed out on first time around. 🙂 

 

 

You're welcome! Glad I can help! The cruise is going by way too fast! I'm kind of getting antsy to book a new cruise while onboard. Lol!

We already have 2 cruises planned in August and December on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. 

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Thank you for these reviews and all this info.  My mom and I will be boarding Sunday .  I’m excited.  I have seen kinky boots three times, once in nyc and twice in Chicago.  I’m excited to see how it is on the ship. 

 

We prefer the shade so hopefully we can find chairs by pool at times.  Though we did get the weekly passes to the thermal spa.  We enjoyed it on last cruise a lot.  

 

 Last year on the getaway we had a family outside which was nice and big except we ended up above the cruise ship jail and the last evening a drunk man who was locked up kept us up all night below.  thankful it was just the one night of disruptions.  This time we just took an inside on 5 close to elevators.

 

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Really enjoying this review.  Love the rain storm situation with the chairs 🙂

Question:
You state that if you eat at a specialty restaurant in San Juan, they will charge you 11.5% extra tax.  When you use the word "specialty" it refers to restaurants on the ship.  I know alcohol is locally taxed but did not know about food.

Maybe you meant food tax off the ship?   Please clarify.

THANKS

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1 hour ago, david_sobe said:

Really enjoying this review.  Love the rain storm situation with the chairs 🙂

Question:
You state that if you eat at a specialty restaurant in San Juan, they will charge you 11.5% extra tax.  When you use the word "specialty" it refers to restaurants on the ship.  I know alcohol is locally taxed but did not know about food.

Maybe you meant food tax off the ship?   Please clarify.

THANKS

 

Hello. Glad you are enjoying the review. I wasn't going to do one but you asked me to in the other thread, so I said sure why not? Lol

 

When i referred to tax for food and drinks, yes I meant the food is also taxed at the specialty restaurant on the ship, Ocean Blue.

We had 1 upgraded premium side, the Lobster Mac and Cheese which is $2 extra with the dining plan. When the bill came, the total was $2.63. $2 +.40 cents gratuity + .23 cents tax. 

I couldnt imagine if someone ordered al a carte and paid 31.5% on top of their bill. It would be a very expensive meal as the prices at Ocean Blue are not cheap.

 

Edited by tx121

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1 hour ago, cruisinwmom said:

Thank you for these reviews and all this info.  My mom and I will be boarding Sunday .  I’m excited.  I have seen kinky boots three times, once in nyc and twice in Chicago.  I’m excited to see how it is on the ship. 

 

We prefer the shade so hopefully we can find chairs by pool at times.  Though we did get the weekly passes to the thermal spa.  We enjoyed it on last cruise a lot.  

 

 Last year on the getaway we had a family outside which was nice and big except we ended up above the cruise ship jail and the last evening a drunk man who was locked up kept us up all night below.  thankful it was just the one night of disruptions.  This time we just took an inside on 5 close to elevators.

 

 

You are welcome! And wow about the drunk man in the jail! Lol!

 

Yes we are also looking forward to Kinky Boots. I have seen it 3 times on Broadway and love the show! We have reservations to see it tomorrow, I will let you know how it compares! When we went to the welcome aboard show, I did recognize two of the dancers from the Broadway show are on this cast. I am wondering how they will do the kids parts for the show. It is also a 90 minute show with no intermission compared to the Broadway version. I am wondering what scenes and songs they will cut out. For those who have seen it on board, no spoilers please! 🤣

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4 minutes ago, tx121 said:

 

You are welcome! And wow about the drunk man in the jail! Lol!

 

Yes we are also looking forward to Kinky Boots. I have seen it 3 times on Broadway and love the show! We have reservations to see it tomorrow, I will let you know how it compares! When we went to the welcome aboard show, I did recognize two of the dancers from the Broadway show are on this cast. I am wondering how they will do the kids parts for the show. It is also a 90 minute show with no intermission compared to the Broadway version. I am wondering what scenes and songs they will cut out. For those who have seen it on board, no spoilers please! 🤣


when I saw it last time in Chicago they’d cut the kids parts altogether.  Maybe they do same?

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30 minutes ago, tx121 said:

 

Hello. Glad you are enjoying the review. I wasn't going to do one but you asked me to in the other thread, so I said sure why not? Lol

 

When i referred to tax for food and drinks, yes I meant the food is also taxed at the specialty restaurant on the ship, Ocean Blue.

We had 1 upgraded premium side, the Lobster Mac and Cheese which is $2 extra with the dining plan. When the bill came, the total was $2.63. $2 +.40 cents gratuity + .23 cents tax. 

I couldnt imagine if someone ordered al a carte and paid 31.5% on top of their bill. It would be a very expensive meal as the prices at Ocean Blue are not cheap.

 

So Puerto Rico taxes specialty restaurants on cruise ships?  Good to know.  Maybe the captain can put out an announcement when the ship has cleared Puerto Rican waters LOL.  We pay NCL auto gratuity, NCL service fee, NCL cover charge, and now Puerto Rican tax.  Incredible!

How far of a walk is it to that cemetery that you posted a photo of.

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25 minutes ago, david_sobe said:

So Puerto Rico taxes specialty restaurants on cruise ships?  Good to know.  Maybe the captain can put out an announcement when the ship has cleared Puerto Rican waters LOL.  We pay NCL auto gratuity, NCL service fee, NCL cover charge, and now Puerto Rican tax.  Incredible!

How far of a walk is it to that cemetery that you posted a photo of.

 

LOL! Yes you get to pay ALL of that! 🤣

This is the first time on the cruise I felt as the term goes "Nickled and Dimed" literally this cruise. I am wondering if you did Laser Tag or Galaxy Pavillion, if there was also a tax on those activities? 

The last time I was in Puerto Rico 2 years ago I was on a Royal Caribbean cruise and decided to stay on the ship. I wasn't charged a tax for Johnny Rockets food and milkshakes I purchased or on drinks. 

So who knows...lesson learned! Lol!

The cemetery and fort is about a 25 min walk. Basically walk straight up from the pier and keep going left.

Edited by tx121

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If you get a chance could you give a rough count on the green tag machines in the arcade? And maybe a picture or two of the area. These are the ones that are covered by the $160 arcade pass. I’m just trying to figure out if it’s worth getting. 
 

Also if you happen to meet anybody who did the escape room I’m interested to hear their feedback. Early reports said there were some technical issues but I haven’t heard anything recently. 
 

Thank you!

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This Live Report is very Thorough. Thank You!

Questions...

                      What is the Vibe Passes? Is that the big slide?

                       Are the extra Food & Drink taxes while in Port that you mention for only Puerto Rico?

                       Are the beds comfortable?

                       Is there space in the bathroom for extra items we need to bring?

 

Based on your report it looks like there is plenty of Entertainment on the Ship and the Menu's look decent.

I suppose our Alaskan Cruise on the Sun will be a bit different at the Pools.

This will be one of many, many cruise we have taken and we have seen a lot of changes over the years. Some of what you mention seem normal anymore like saving chairs, crowds, no crowds, etc.

Thanks.

Edited by CactusRoot
Edit wording on one part.

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