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AVOID NCL ENCORE AT ALL COSTS


crusintime123
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I fully understand the OP's pain.  To him hanging out in the sun with a nice drink is a huge part of his cruise experience.  

In my case if the casino was ever so crowded on couldn't get on a blackjack table or if the Observation Lounge was so crowded I couldn't get a seat at the bar, a huge part of my cruise experience would be ruined.  Fortunately, so far that has not been the case.

I wouldn't sail Disney if it was free because I would be bored out of my mind on sea days without a casino.

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I was also on this sailing. You should amend your title to say avoid at all costs if you mainly care about laying out in the sun all day and smoking cigars. Yes it’s true that pool & hot tub space is lacking. I got zero time in a hot tub which was a first for me. 

We avoid laying in the sun so the lack of loungers was not a big issue for us.  I wouldn’t get the vibe myself. I understand it’s just a sun deck. Not worth $200 for me. And I never try to reserve loungers for the kids. They never spend more than 10 minutes on a seat. 
 

By the way for anybody willing to walk to the back on deck 17 there’s a highly underutilized bar in American Diner. No need to stand in line at one of the pool bars when it’s open.  

We had a great trip overall. We experienced all the gimmicks, saw some excellent shows, had some good meals and good port experiences. I wouldn’t go out of my way to ride Encore again but I certainly would if the price was right. 

 

I got my sights on the Odyssey next. 

Edited by mdchachi
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It seems like since the development of the away class ships (and beyond), the biggest complaint has been about pool and deck space and it feels like NCL is not responding to that - rather the opposite.   We live in Florida so laying in the sun is not a big deal but I can certainly see how frustrating it must be for most cruisers and their families.  Our two most recent cruises on NCL have been on the Epic and thankfully Spice H2O was available. 

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24 minutes ago, mdchachi said:

If it’s only her she should have no trouble finding a spot in the sun. At least one of the chairs would be available and she can move to a lounger by keeping her eyes open. Also not every one wants to sit out on the deck all day. You can grab chairs when people get up to go to lunch or move on. 

Exactly, don't fret and ruin your cruise before you even board.  I heard so many bad thing about the Epic.  My wife and I sailed with an open mind and we had a great cruise.  So much so we are now NCL fans over CCL.

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Well, it does sound like that ship is a poor match for that cruiser.  And the President’s week sailing was probably worse than most for that cruiser.

 

Still, when I read the original post, the ship was not all bad...it just did not fit this person.  I wish the thread title said: “Sunbathers avoid Encore” or “Pool deck fans avoid Encore” as most of the OP’s frustration seems to have been generated by the lounge chair issues.  Any cruiser considering this ship would be well advised to consider this issue before committing to the sailing; pity the OP did not do so.

 

Some dining issues were mentioned and are worth of consideration.  I did chuckle that somebody with 50+ cruises would fret at the lack of “busboys” rather than the lack of “assistant waiters.”  He must have been dining out on land too often lately, hehe, lucky fellow.  Kidding about terminology aside, such service issues could be exacerbated by the President’s week sailing and the current limitations on new crew from certain ports due to viral outbreak...or it might be more systemic.  

 

Passengers better suited to this ship will be those who spend less time in pool/lounge chairs (or committed to getting Vibe passes) and who are highly attracted to those activities that do take up space on the decks.  Personally, I meet the first criterion but not the second, so I might consider the Encore if time, itinerary and price were right, though I am not especially attracted to the ship.  

 

Even though I do not hang out on the pool deck, I want my fellow passengers to be able to do so happily; I’d rather sail with happy fellow passengers than with frustrated or angry ones.  I hope NCL learns from reviews like this and dedicates more space to pools and decks in future designs.

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I got Vibe passes for 6 people, at about 11:30, we were tickets 70-78. I think I may have posted on a different thread that I got them around 10:30, but I now just went and reviewed some pictures, and we did not start boarding until 11:10 i think, we were in boarding group 4. We arrived at the terminal around 10 am.

I understand they give out 250-300 tickets.

By the time my hubby took the tickets to the front of the line at q to pay, it was about noon. The staff were still giving out tickets at that time.

I understood that they did not sell out the vibe, but I could be wrong.

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Thanks for your post, OP.

 

I'm iffy on Encore already. I'm still weighing if I want to sail on her for the Bermuda cruises from NYC this year or skip this year for a land based summer vacation. I had a friend who was on this sailing as well wit her family, so I got her thoughts on the good & the bad regarding the ship. She mostly had a good time though she didn't think the sailing without out flaws which is fine since IMO you can still have a good time on a cruise and also admit that the sailing isn't perfect.

 

I appreciate the positive + negative reviews on here as they give different perspectives and that matters. I also don't believe you should only post if you had a positive experience. I hope your next NCL cruise is better / less frustrating 😎

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1 hour ago, mdchachi said:

We avoid laying in the sun so the lack of loungers was not a big issue for us.  

Does that mean you don't lay outside at all?  Or, you lay in shade, not sun?  If you lay in shade, how did that work out for you?

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4 hours ago, crusintime123 said:

 Seriously,  we could not all go to lunch together in fear of losing chairs.  

 

I think this is a good thing. Why shall anyone have a chair wanting for them on the sundeck when they are eating lunch? If people just used the chairs for a while and then left this should not be a problem.

 

Maybe the policy should be that noone could keep a chair for more than one hour before they had to leave?

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15 minutes ago, PATRLR said:

Does that mean you don't lay outside at all?  Or, you lay in shade, not sun?  If you lay in shade, how did that work out for you?

We laid in the shade. Had no issues finding loungers after lunch when we were looking. We ended up in the back starboard corner looking at the ocean through the glass. The waterfront on deck 8 was also a good place to hang out outside. Also used our balcony a little bit. 

Edited by mdchachi
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3 hours ago, Two Wheels Only said:

When the limit is 60 minutes, people complain.

When the limit is 30 minutes, people complain.

When the limit is 15 minutes, people complain.

 

When NCL staff moves items after the allotted time, people complain.

When NCL staff doesn't move items after the allotted time, people complain.

 

When NCL offers VIBE, people complain that they couldn't get a pass.

When NCL offers a larger VIBE with triple the number of passes, people complain that VIBE takes up too much space.

 

When VIBE doesn't cost much, people complain that the demand is too high.

When VIBE cost more, people complain that the price is too high.

 

A question for everyone..."If you could, what changes would you make...knowing that some people will still complain?"

 

 

Back when the entire top deck was open I don't remember anyone complaining about too many areas to lay or too much free space.   

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Just reporting on the vibe pass: on a current thread from an experienced cruiser, says that he asked if the vibe was sold out on his cruise right now. That cruiser said yes, he asked the staff, and they told him it sells out every cruise in the first hour.

(I am shocked- the vibe seemed so empty to me the whole trip last week)

 

Anyways, if you want a vibe pass, be at the terminal by 10 am I guess, and head directly to Q to get the tickets.

 

Also, someone said they wanted to go and check out the vibe before they bought their passes - I am not sure you can do that. You need a key card to swipe open the door to the vibe. 

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1 hour ago, Tutontow said:

I fully understand the OP's pain.  To him hanging out in the sun with a nice drink is a huge part of his cruise experience.  

In my case if the casino was ever so crowded on couldn't get on a blackjack table or if the Observation Lounge was so crowded I couldn't get a seat at the bar, a huge part of my cruise experience would be ruined.  Fortunately, so far that has not been the case.

I wouldn't sail Disney if it was free because I would be bored out of my mind on sea days without a casino.

And that’s why my kids have never been on a Disney Cruise!  No casino no cruise...   

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We also noticed the service slowness in Cagneys. They had people in Q and Local uniforms working in there which I thought was a little strange, but they were still clearly short-handed. Our waitress was very attentive though, took orders and brought drinks quickly, she just couldn't get the food out very fast. The table next to ours was left with dirty dishes on it for about 20 minutes after the group left, not something you'd normally see in a "nice" restaurant. But none of this really rose to the level of a complaint in my mind, I've had much worse service in my life.  And that was really the only place we noticed it. We also had dinner in Onda, Q, Los Lobos, and Food Republic and they were all fine service-wise. 


BTW, the trick about only using one specialty dining credit in Food Republic is genius. I think you could get away with it in Q and Onda as well if you're not super hungry and want to maximize specialty experiences.

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1 hour ago, Cookie002 said:

I got Vibe passes for 6 people, at about 11:30, we were tickets 70-78. I think I may have posted on a different thread that I got them around 10:30, but I now just went and reviewed some pictures, and we did not start boarding until 11:10 i think, we were in boarding group 4. We arrived at the terminal around 10 am.

I understand they give out 250-300 tickets.

By the time my hubby took the tickets to the front of the line at q to pay, it was about noon. The staff were still giving out tickets at that time.

I understood that they did not sell out the vibe, but I could be wrong.

did you enjoy the vibe, did you feel it was somewhat worth the money, bc i am strongly leaning towards getting 

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5 hours ago, crusintime123 said:

The ship has the same capacity and is typically full so I am not sure what your point is.  The deck still has the same space.

You do not have the space on Encore due to eliminating Spice H20. If you have been on Joy Or Bliss you would understand. Laser tag and Galaxy Take up that space. 

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1 hour ago, mianmike said:

Back when the entire top deck was open I don't remember anyone complaining about too many areas to lay or too much free space.   

 

People complained that there was nothing to do.

Then came the water-slides, rock climbing, mini golf, zip-lines, flow-rider, go-karts, roller coaster, etc. across different cruise lines. 

Edited by Two Wheels Only
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42 minutes ago, jfio1021 said:

did you enjoy the vibe, did you feel it was somewhat worth the money, bc i am strongly leaning towards getting 

 

I have a whole other thread in depth review of the vibe on this forum, its probably on page two or three now.

i don’t know how to link it to this post, but you should find it easy, its the only other thread I have started in this forum.

long story short- loved it, totally worth the money for me, but there are some cons that can be deal breakers for others....

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11 minutes ago, mdchachi said:

Much easier. For some reason people haven’t gotten the memo about skin cancer and premature aging caused by the sun. 

 

Haha. It’s true I know. But if you lived through a Canadian winter, you would understand we want at least a little bit of sun on our Caribbean vacation!

 

hmm; edited to add, you are from michigan, forget my preaching sister :>)

Edited by Cookie002
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37 minutes ago, Two Wheels Only said:

 

People complained that there was nothing to do.

Then came the water-slides, rock climbing, mini golf, zip-lines, flow-rider, go-karts, roller coaster, etc. across different cruise lines. 

 

You have a much better memory.  Why people would complain there isn't more fee venue$ is beyond me. 🙄

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2 hours ago, Cookie002 said:

Also, someone said they wanted to go and check out the vibe before they bought their passes - I am not sure you can do that. You need a key card to swipe open the door to the vibe. 

I said it.  I know we did first day on Bliss.  We may have had to ask our way in "to check it out" but it wasn't a problem getting in to see it.  And I'm pretty sure we went into another ship's Vibe because the door was open first day.  Or maybe that was Bliss... 

 

I wonder if I can head to Q, get the tickets (hopefully) and then go "check it out" and if we don't like it, just hand back the tickets and not pay.  That may have to be our approach.

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I, for one, am grateful for those who will publish a bad review. As long as the complaints are backed up by facts and the actual experiences of the poster, I use them to help me decide on my future cruises.

In fact, reading other reviews by other posters on the Encore, convinced me to switch my upcoming May cruise from the Encore to a different ship on a different line some months ago.

I am one of those Northeast cruisers who look for a little sun after a cold winter. A redhead with fair skin, I use lots of sunscreen. Just seeing the sun makes me happy! 
Fighting for deck space would have no appeal for me.

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