An encore for Encore

At nearly  1,100 feet long, with a gross tonnage of almost 170,000 and a guest capacity of 3,998, the billion-dollar Norwegian Encore welcomed its first flush of admirers in early November when it sailed from Bremerhaven in Germany to Southampton in the South of England. Team TTN was part of that inaugural sailing reserved entirely for select members of the trade.

Norwegian Encore features the world’s longest race track at sea at 1,100 feet with four high-speed curves extending up to 13 feet over the side of the ship; the largest outdoor laser tag arena at nearly 10,000 square feet with the addition of augmented reality elements; and new immersive escape room and interactive theatre experiences in the 10,000-square-foot Galaxy Pavilion.

It sounds like we were onboard a floating theme park, with not a moment of boredom or seasickness.

The Tony Award-winning musical, Kinky Boots headlined the world-class entertainment on board, with returning guest favourites The Choir of Man, Happy Hour Prohibition: The Musical and the rocking Beatles cover band of The Cavern Club.

In addition to featuring many of the highly rated restaurants and lounges that have made the Breakaway Plus class one of the most innovative and successful in the company’s history, Norwegian Encore debuts a new elevated Italian dining experience, Onda by Scarpetta, in collaboration with LDV Hospitality. We had a chance to dine at Onda by Scarpetta and it had to be one of the most authentic, yet elevated Italian culinary experiences on sea. 


There are in all a staggering 29 restaurants on board the Norwegian Encore

There are in all a staggering 29 restaurants on board the Norwegian Encore, with specialty dining options including an American Diner, for all-American classics; Cagney’s Steakhouse, serving premium cuts; Food Republic, for a fusion of worldly flavours; Le Bistro, serving the finest in French cuisine; Los Lobos, for premium Mexican fare; Ocean Blue, offering fresh seafood creations; Q, serving authentic Texas barbecue; and Teppanyaki, for an entertaining Hibachi-style experience.

We had the opportunity to try bite sized portions from almost all speciality restaurants and it suffices to say that the attention to detail, flavours as well as plating were rivalling each other for top spot. A night out in Food Republic was most entertaining, where we ordered our meals on a tablet and delicious South East Asian plates just kept on coming.

Several complimentary dining venues and stops for sweets and treats round off the culinary offering.

Similar to the incredible dining venues aboard, Norwegian Encore is sure to be a paradise for connoisseurs with curated concoctions by James Beard Award-nominee and Bar-Lab founder, Gabe Orta, and cocktails on tap by celebrity mixologist Kathy Casey. Venues include Vibe Beach Club, an expanded two-story, adults-only lounge with private sun deck, among several others.

To burn off the calories, the gym and adjacent fitness rooms are generous by any standards, land or sea. It is a busy gym too, with several fitness classes offered and including the latest in health technology such as HIIT and Body Pump.

The spa is the perfect place to relax on sea days, with several rooms: steam, sauna and ice room, to name a few. The solarium faces the sea and one can imagine it will be a place to see and be seen when the ship begins its sailing. The spa menu has the high-end and specialised vanity treatments – the perfect excuse to get some private procedures and emerge looking happier and prettier than ever before.

But the best part of the ship, the Haven, is a class on its own. Even our accommodations – oceanview suites with balconies – were a better make and feel than some of the other cruise lines I have experienced in the past.

Norwegian Encore was christened in Miami on November 21, 2019 by American singer and TV personality, Kelly Clarkson, and commenced seven-day voyages to the Caribbean starting November 24, 2019.

Launching this fall, Norwegian Encore will offer seven-day voyages to the Eastern Caribbean from Miami beginning Nov. 24, 2019; Bermuda, and Canada and New England itineraries from New York City beginning Apr. 22, 2020; voyages to the Western Caribbean from Miami beginning Dec. 12, 2020; and in the spring of 2021 will make her West Coast debut and sail to Alaska from Seattle.

“I think one of the biggest challenges I face is people's perception of what a cruise is. Our competition is not the other cruise lines but land-based holidays,” Nick Wilkinson, Norwegian Cruise Line’s regional vice-president of business development, tells TTN. “We've succeeded in creating this resort-style feel – we are a floating resort with 29 restaurants on board.”

“We're offering the freedom of flexibility, you come out your cabins and you decide where you want to go, when you want to go. If you go to see a Broadway show you pay a premium, here it is included as part of the price. The facilities such as the Go Kart, laser tag and waterpark are all included within the price. It’s about individual choice, individual experience.

“Another perception I have to deal with is that cruise ships are for the 55-plus aged groups, which is not true anymore. If you look at the ships, we cater to everyone from kids to teenagers and adults of all tastes.

“We tend to find in the Middle East, we have a lot of multigenerational groups. The grandparents take the parents, and their children on trips and can choose from a range of accommodation – they have the choice of being inside the balconies, ocean views and in the Haven, it gives them real choice.”

Norwegian Jade visited this November, Jade and Norwegian Spirit will make calls in the region in March 2020 and Jade will visit again at the end of the year. “When you compare this to the number of visits and embarks we were doing last year to this, we are growing quite significantly.

“Of the upcoming itineraries the one I love the most is the one from Dubai to Cape Town in 2021 with Norwegian Spirit, which goes through the Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritius – we are also doing that from Cape Town back to Dubai and then onwards to Rome as well because the African market is asking for it to be taken back to the Mediterranean.”