NEW YORK -- The Norwegian Encore
arrived here Monday to make its debut as the newest Norwegian Cruise Line ship
and take a bow as the last in the Breakaway Plus class.
Travel sellers who have seen any of the Encore's sisters --
the Escape, Bliss or Joy -- will be familiar with the basic layout of the ship.
But there are always modifications to each ship in a class, and so it is with
the Encore. Norwegian has
added a chic new restaurant, Ondo by Scarpetta, and brought on new evening
The ship is also notable for being the last to be delivered
to president and CEO Andy Stuart, who is leaving the company and will be
replaced in 2020 by Harry Sommer.
In an interview onboard the Encore, Sommer said the
Norwegian brand was "in a great place," and a priority would be to "spend more
time on that marketing message to really have guests understand what a
fascinating experience, a fantastic vacation a ship like this represents."
A popular feature of the Norwegian Encore is the Speedway race track, where passengers can drive go-karts. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin
"I credit Andy for creating experiences -- a combination of
ships, restaurant choices and activities onboard -- that really provide a
wonderful vacation for our guests," Sommer said. "We're not changing that."
A two-day, pierside preview of the Encore was conducted for travel partners, VIPs and media ahead of the ship's repositioning to
The experiences on the Encore appear at first glance to be
tilted toward active ones. The aft sections of the top decks are devoted to
activities like the Speedway, a fast-paced, go-kart ride that got its start on
the Norwegian Joy. Waterslide options include the Ocean Loops, which, as its
name suggests, drops riders down a tube that twists up and down and beyond the
edge of the ship.
Norwegian describes the laser-tag section as "laser tag
meets augmented reality" set in Atlantis.
On Deck 17 is the Galaxy Pavilion, a room with multiple
virtual-reality games, simulator rides and an escape room.
Even the evening performance in the Encore Theater was
active in a sense. "Choir of Man" features about a dozen young men singing and
playing contemporary and classic hits in unique and fun ways under the pretense
of hanging out in an Irish pub. In the hour-long show, the performers sing
(occasionally in beautiful a capella harmony), dance and play live instruments.
As I said, it was active: The show brought the audience to its feet for two
A view of the Norwegian Encore's midship pools. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin
However, the Encore isn't all about heart-racing activity.
The ship also has a large observation lounge that wraps around the forward
section of Deck 15, where there are couches, loungers and nooks galore for
relaxing with a Kindle and a coffee (a Starbucks shop is located on Deck 6). Or
if sun is what passengers desire, there is the Vibe Beach Club, which occupies
the topmost Deck 20 of the Encore. Additional relaxation options are offered to
Haven passengers in an exclusive zone of the ship.
As far as dining options, the Encore introduces Onda by
Scarpetta, an a la carte Italian restaurant. There are about 20 eateries on the
Encore, from old favorites like Le Bistro, Cagney's Steakhouse and Teppanyaki to
relatively newer entrants such as Ocean Blue and Food Republic.