I hope you guys enjoyed my daily reviews of the Encore and got the information you needed. Now that I have settled in back home to cold, cloudy and rainy skies 😞, I figured I'd do my overall experience on the Encore. Again this is my opinion and my experiences of the ship, crew, food etc.
The Overall Ship Design, Public Areas and Decor - 3.5 / 5
The Encore is a Beautiful ship, no doubt. It is very modern, the decor is tastefully done and the flow of the ship in the interior public areas flows nicely. The buffet area is laid out well and we had no trouble finding a table even at peak times. We loved the intimate spaces like the Social, the Cavern, the Observation Deck and also the many bars around the ship. I also appreciate that the casino has been sectioned off to a non smoking and smoking area. The smell of smoke does not travel through the 6,7,8 atrium area any longer. Good job NCL for fixing this issue.
The waterfront is always a nice area to sit and relax. You can get great views of the ocean from the back of the ship.
Here is where the Encore loses points. This area has been a heated topic of discussion ever since the Encore debuted....The top decks specifically the Pool Deck/ Sun Lounging areas.
There is just not enough sun lounging areas on the Encore and it all has to do with maximizing NCLs profits. The company is seeing how far they can go before they get too much push back from the guests. I mean it is working in their favor right now since guests are purchasing the Vibe passes which have been selling out by Day 1. So as long as this happens, they will continue to design ships this way. This ship design may be a preview of the Leonardo Class of ships that will debut in the upcoming years. We will just have to wait and see.
The other criticism I have of the outdoor top deck is that besides the removal of Spice H2O, it took away popular kids areas like the basketball court, rock wall, golf area and ropes course which were free areas. These have been replaced by the Go Karts, Laser tag and the indoor Galaxy Pavilion all of which come with a fee to use. Now we are always saying kids these days don't go outside like we used to and that they are attached to their phones, ipads, video games etc. With this ship design, it's basically telling them to stay inside or pay to play outside. Sure there is the small pool area and slides, but we come back to the issue of the pool deck space. This cruise we did not have many children/teens sailing but I cannot imagine the summer months when the ship is full of kids and teens. Again I may be flamed for my opinion, but it is just my personal view of the problem areas of the Encore's Design.
Here is where the Encore lives up to its name! I have to say this ship has one of the best entertainment of all the cruises I have taken! The entertainment in the theater, the bands around the ship, the game shows, the theme parties, the activities etc, were all fantastic! If you are a bored adult (can't speak for kids), then you are doing something wrong. Bravo NCL for delivering a top notch entertainment schedule for the Encore. Choir of Man was the best non Broadway show I have seen on any cruise line and on any ship. Kinky Boots was good and also entertaining. A little bit slow in parts but the cast did a good job. More conservative guests and families walked out of Kinky Boots during the show because of the drag queens/theme. If you are open minded, you will enjoy the show. If you have kids and do not want to expose them to this type of show or you are offended easily by an alternative lifestyle, then do not reserve the show. On the same lines, for the comedians in the Social Club, if you are offended by cursing and adult matters, do not book the 18+ shows. They do have shows that are more toned down for guests who do not enjoy dirty humour. The theme parties were a lot of fun and the cruise staff did a great job getting everyone involved.
Every crew member we encountered was smiling, always very polite, and courteous. The service was very good in the specialty restaurants, the Local Grill, and the buffet. Our room attendant was pleasant and tried his hardest but was overwhelmed with the amount of rooms he was assigned. Sometimes our room wasn't cleaned until 2pm even though our room attendant saw us at 9am leaving the room with the please make up my room light on. At night, he would come by around 9pm to clean the room but we just told him it was ok and to just give us new towels and the Freestyle Daily. Service at the bars was a hit or miss. Sometimes the service was great, other times like the bar at the pool deck, it was chaotic and very disorganized. We also had a issue with the safe in the room not working. Several times we called and also went to guest services to ask someone to fix the issue. Each time they said ok we will have security to come up to your room and fix it. We would go back to the room and security never showed up, even after waiting an hour at times. It took until Day 5 before we actually had someone fix the issue.
Food - 3.5 / 5
Food is always subjective. Overall we enjoyed what was offered. We ate mostly in the buffet for breakfast, lunch and a couple of times for dinner. The buffet food was average and on par with most buffets we've had on cruise ships. We went to 4 specialty restaurants: Food Republic, Q, Teppanyaki, and Ocean Blue. The food at Food Republic was amazing. If you like Asian food/ Sushi/ Latin foods, you will enjoy this restaurant. Teppanyaki as always was very good. Q the food was ok. The meats needed to be seasoned more but the ribs and chicken were tender and juicy. The Brisket was kind of dry. Ocean Blue was the biggest disappointment. Dishes were not good and there was a foul odor in the fish stew I ordered. I would not go to this restaurant again.
Overall, we had a nice enjoyable vacation and we were thoroughly entertained. Was there parts we didn't like about the cruise / ship ? Sure, but it didn't stop us from having a good time. Like I said in my daily reviews, you have to adapt to the situation and make the most of it. If plan A doesn't work, then go with plan B. Just don't dwell on it and let it ruin your whole vacation.
Would I recommend sailing on the Encore? I sure do, but it depends on what type of cruiser you are and who you are traveling with.
If you like great entertainment, atmosphere, food, and are a go with the flow type attitude, then I certainly do recommend this ship to you.
If you are someone who is the sun lounging type; does not like to be close to others; if you are more the conservative type when it comes to shows; likes to be on a schedule and is not flexible, then this ship is not for you.
If you have kids.....now this is a toss up. Yes the Encore does have all the bells and whistles for the kids but some activities are at a cost which can raise the price of your cruise rather quickly. Again, in my opinion there is not enough space for the kids to spread out. There is only so many times they would do the go karts or laser tag before they get bored. The pool deck is more crowded since sun deck space is limited. The shows are not really geared towards kids and has more of an adult theme. If I was traveling with kids, I would pick the Escape over the Encore.
The Encore is a great ship. It does have its flaws but it's how you work around them to make your cruise enjoyable.
Overall Score: 4 / 5