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RNRcruisers

Encore Pros and Cons

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Just off the Encore last Sunday 1/26 and wanted to add my thoughts to those that have already been expressed. Of course this is my opinion and yours may differ.

 

Our group was my husband and I along with another couple, all in our 50's and have cruised 13 times on NCL, RCCL and Princess. We became gold level after this cruise. We had not cruised on a ship this size or this new in the past and wanted to see what we might be missing.

 

Pros :

-Excellent food - we ate in all the main dining rooms, the buffet and the Local. We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants. No complaints except I would have like more seafood options in the dining rooms for dinner.

-Nice decor. While this doesn't make or break a cruise for me the decor was beautiful. I actually didn't mind the big chandelier that is so hated here in person.

-Service was excellent also. Bartenders, waiters, steward - all great service and friendly.

-Vibe was wonderful - quiet, sunny. It was nice having the bar nearby. A small pool would be nice but the hot tubs were a plus.

-Shows also were very good. I particularly loved Choir of Man and would have gone again but we saw the last show of the week. Kinky Boots was also liked by our group although not as much by me. Still way better than most cruise entertainment. 

-Snacks in the Observation lounge were nice late afternoon - fruit, scones, cheeses, sandwiches, desserts. We would often grab a plate when heading to our room after the day in the sun.

 

Cons:

-Too crowded. Too many people for our liking, in the stairwells, the restaurants, the lounges. Tons of kids but I am not sure if that will usually be true or if this was an unusual week.

-Lounges too small. One thing we enjoy on cruises is relaxing and having before/after dinner drinks and dances in various lounges. When we tried this there were never seats and  often folding chairs set up for overflow (usually also full). Not my idea of a relaxing evening. We did meet in the Observation lounge for drinks several evenings before dinner and it was deserted but no live music was playing at that time. The atrium was also packed during the day. We did trivia a few times and had to stand at the back. Gave up after a few times. In my opinion, the Observation lounge is way too big and the other lounges are way too small.

-No outdoor seating for eating at the buffet. There are tables near the pool but they are covered and noisy and echo-y, more indoor/outdoor than outdoor. On previous cruises on the Jade and Sun we enjoyed the outdoor seating right off the buffet on the back of the ships. Encore doesn't have anything like that.

-Noisy and busy atrium which also made the Local very noisy. We ate lunch there several times and the noise from the atrium was so loud we couldn't talk, especially one day when a movie was playing there.

 

If these issues aren't important to you then you should love it. Personally we all agreed we will not cruise on Encore again and definitely prefer the smaller, more traditional ships. As has been said, any day on a cruise is a good day and we still had a good time.

 

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Thanks for posting your opinion on the Encore, it does really help those of us with upcoming trips to gain some perspective on what to expect. That said, you mentioned "Vibe was wonderful, quiet and sunny", we are sailing 2/9 and I plan to try and get passes, was it not busy during your cruise?

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I was on the same sailing and would agree there were pros and cons.

 

-Vibe was great, super quiet. The only negative to it is that it is so excessively windy that its almost unbearable to sunbathe. The private bar, drink service, daily fruit and cookie service and the freedom of not having to "hog" deck chairs is key.

-I'd agree that the food was excellent. Onda is a treat. If you have the chance of dining in the new Italian restaurant, take advantage of it before it fills up. The lobster pasta, raviolis, pizza, Everything was awesome. Teppanyaki was also so delicious.

-Service was spot on. Not much to say about that, other than NCL is excelling in that department.

-The Asian Pho station in the Garden Cafe.... Wow

 

Cons that stood out to me

-The cabin was super noisy. There must have been an issue with the wall panels. Ive been on over 20 cruises and happen to be used to "normal cruise ship noises". But this honestly sounded like the walls were going to crumble as soon as the ship starting moving. It lasted the entire cruise.

-I couldnt tell you who the cruise director was. Not one time did I see him other than deal or no deal. If i walked right passed him, i wouldn't notice him. This is minor but IMO, an active CD makes for a fun experience.

 

Even though i never had a problem with service, its pretty interesting to see what the crew will do for a comment card. I noticed a couple sitting next to me at dinner in the MDR and they were complaining the entire time. As soon as the gentleman picked up the comment card, their waiter became a new person and was very attentive. But again, NCL has some of the best staff in the cruise industry.

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@RNR ...thank you for your thoughts on your cruise. It does help us with our planning for this summer on The Encore. It should be interesting indeed. My sister picked this one for her 50th birthday or else me and my son would have picked the Gem 😉

 

@s.schultz...thanks for your thoughts as well. Mind if I ask what # stateroom you were in?

 

Thanks again. 

 

~Robin

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Thanks for your perspective.  I am not a fan of the atrium design and is a big criticism of all these ships since Epic.  While beautiful like a hotel lobby its just too noisy with shows, trivia, excursion desk, restaurants and gaming above you.  They used to play movies in the Epic atrium and you could not hear the movie because of the air hockey played above and everything else going on in the Atrium.  The wonderful shows like Perfect Couple are miserable because there is not enough seating and peoples stand on top of you or in front of you.  A NCL rep was on the Getaway asking for feedback and he told us the atrium was the #1 complaint because of the entertainment venues are too small.

I get my taste of Encore in just over 3 weeks 😁

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11 minutes ago, meatball_nyc said:

@RNR ...thank you for your thoughts on your cruise. It does help us with our planning for this summer on The Encore. It should be interesting indeed. My sister picked this one for her 50th birthday or else me and my son would have picked the Gem 😉

 

@s.schultz...thanks for your thoughts as well. Mind if I ask what # stateroom you were in?

 

Thanks again. 

 

~Robin

@meatball_nyc i was in cabin 12900. Port Side aft.

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We were also on this sailing. First time on NCL and possibly the last. 

 

We loved the brand new decor but our stateroom bed was shot already and I'm so  glad someone else has commented on the noise in the room.

 

Something hasn't been bolted together right on this ship.  Creak groan bang thump - all night long. We were in a mini suite on deck 10 midship. Worst week ever spent. I'm a light sleeper. It affects me.

 

We'd been on a short 2 nighter on Celebrity Equinox prior to boarding this cruise and the difference was quite tangible.

 

The Encore was a massive fail.  More like a Disney / Carnival cruise. Kids running around out of control all day and night. Everywhere you went. Not what we expected at all.

 

However, there are some good things to note.

 

The staff were mostly great.

 

The entertainment - Kinky Boots , Choir of Man , The Yesterday Beatles (saw them 4 times) was the best.

 

The Food. - Better than Celebrity, especially the buffet. However. We were so annoyed that the Bistro had been taken over and block booked for the whole week by a group of people.

 

We were celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary and re visiting our Honeymoon destination ( Monarch of the Seas out of Puerto Rico in Jan 1995) and we really liked the idea of celebrating that in the Bistro (the best food on the ship)

 

How NCL could allow someone to just remove that as an option for everyone else is just absurd.

 

Never again.

 

 

 

Edited by PederLin

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I have been surprised that they haven't "solved" the Atrium issue despite it having been an issue on what, the last 6-7 ships? It is not the right venue for most of the events they have there. I don't understand why they haven't come up with a solution to that in all this time. The managed to add the HUGE observation lounge to the last three ships but still haven't created a new space for those sorts of shows?

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Thanks for the comments!  
 

I will comment on the covered outdoor tables (which there are a fair number). They are covered because there are heaters (black rectangles) over all of the tables by the buffet and down on the waterfront. The ship, like her sisters the Bliss and Joy, are purpose-built for Alaska and cold climates. While it may seem silly in the eastern Caribbean, we enjoyed several specialty meals on the Joy in Alaska last season. The heaters make it “just right” for dining outside and enjoying the Alaskan scenery. 

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2 hours ago, prbffd28 said:

Thanks for posting your opinion on the Encore, it does really help those of us with upcoming trips to gain some perspective on what to expect. That said, you mentioned "Vibe was wonderful, quiet and sunny", we are sailing 2/9 and I plan to try and get passes, was it not busy during your cruise?

 

I was told they were only going to sell 240 passes and I'm not sure if they sold out. They were half gone when we got ours and we were in boarding group 11. We were also told that someone got one the next day.  It was never full when I was up there. I agree that it was very windy up there a few days. We managed to get spots that were somewhat blocked by the wind on those days but there were not many of those spots.

 

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39 minutes ago, BirdTravels said:

Thanks for the comments!  
 

I will comment on the covered outdoor tables (which there are a fair number). They are covered because there are heaters (black rectangles) over all of the tables by the buffet and down on the waterfront. The ship, like her sisters the Bliss and Joy, are purpose-built for Alaska and cold climates. While it may seem silly in the eastern Caribbean, we enjoyed several specialty meals on the Joy in Alaska last season. The heaters make it “just right” for dining outside and enjoying the Alaskan scenery. 

 

I can see that that would be a good spot in Alaska but it's just not the same as actually being outside.

 

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I did think there was a lot of movement on the ship, especially the last few days, but I don't usually get seasick so didn't think about it too much, except to be surprised that such a large ship feels so rocky.

 

Our room was a balcony midship deck 11 and I didn't hear noise at all.

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46 minutes ago, JamieLogical said:

I have been surprised that they haven't "solved" the Atrium issue despite it having been an issue on what, the last 6-7 ships? It is not the right venue for most of the events they have there. I don't understand why they haven't come up with a solution to that in all this time. The managed to add the HUGE observation lounge to the last three ships but still haven't created a new space for those sorts of shows?

 

I agree, the Observation lounge seems like a huge missed opportunity for being used better and the atrium is just crazy hectic.

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59 minutes ago, PederLin said:

We were also on this sailing. First time on NCL and possibly the last. 

 

We loved the brand new decor but our stateroom bed was shot already and I'm so  glad someone else has commented on the noise in the room.

 

Something hasn't been bolted together right on this ship.  Creak groan bang thump - all night long. We were in a mini suite on deck 10 midship. Worst week ever spent. I'm a light sleeper. It affects me.

 

We'd been on a short 2 nighter on Celebrity Equinox prior to boarding this cruise and the difference was quite tangible.

 

The Encore was a massive fail.  More like a Disney / Carnival cruise. Kids running around out of control all day and night. Everywhere you went. Not what we expected at all.

 

However, there are some good things to note.

 

The staff were mostly great.

 

The entertainment - Kinky Boots , Choir of Man , The Yesterday Beatles (saw them 4 times) was the best.

 

The Food. - Better than Celebrity, especially the buffet. However. We were so annoyed that the Bistro had been taken over and block booked for the whole week by a group of people.

 

We were celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary and re visiting our Honeymoon destination ( Monarch of the Seas out of Puerto Rico in Jan 1995) and we really liked the idea of celebrating that in the Bistro (the best food on the ship)

 

How NCL could allow someone to just remove that as an option for everyone else is just absurd.

 

Never again.

 

 

 

it was the owner/developer of the Port of Miami who booked Le Bistro the entire week, morning, noon and night. If you noticed the very large groups (over 300 families) that were on our sailing, that is who was booked in the venue the entire week, allegedly. 

 

Also, we had dinner at 9pm in Le Bistro the night in San Juan, so you could have booked and eaten there that night if you wanted to. Not trying to be difficult, just saying it was possible.  

Edited by novanoto

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22 minutes ago, novanoto said:

t was the owner/developer of the Port of Miami who booked Le Bistro the entire week, morning, noon and night.

 

Hmm. No Shizzle.  We did wonder. Many thanks for the clarification.

 

San Juan was the only night we had to re-visit the old haunts so that just wasn't an option..  Hope you enjoyed your meal. 

 

We did try every day afterwards but there was nothing available.

 

Money talks I guess. 

Edited by PederLin

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Was on the Joy in August, Encore in 2 weeks - even in Alaska, the front part of the Observation lounge was always packed, but the rest was empty... but ugg that Atrium. Every time I had to stop at the desk for something it was impossible to ask for help or ask a questions. Stupid design.

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17 minutes ago, PederLin said:

 

Hmm. No Shizzle.  We did wonder. Many thanks for the clarification.

 

San Juan was the only night we had to re-visit the old haunts so that just wasn't an option..  Hope you enjoyed your meal. 

 

We did try every day afterwards but there was nothing available.

 

Money talks I guess. 

 

Ahh, gotcha. I misunderstood...sorry about that! Yea, the staff opened reservations at 930 and later most nights, but were keeping it somewhat quiet in light of the timing and frustration people were having in regards to the venue being closed most of the other times. 

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Hey. No problem. At all.

 

Unlike the one we have with NCL. 

 

I mean. Like. So If you're a big shot you can take over the whole ship and basically ruin everyone else's vacation simply because you have more  "money"? 

 

Something not right about that.

 

 

Edited by PederLin

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PS . We're from the UK and it was a big deal for us to do this.

 

We just made the wrong call. I guess. 

 

Hindsight's a wonderful thing but we really should have done a B2B on the Edge which had more or less the same itinerary - BUT  it didn't have the shows -Kinky Boots and the Choir of Men. That was the thing that grabbed us about this cruise and we we have no regrets in that department. Nor the food. Nor the bar staff - who were the best we've ever encountered.

 

Can't win 'em all. 

 

Apologies to the original poster for the digression...

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1 hour ago, RNRcruisers said:

 

I was told they were only going to sell 240 passes and I'm not sure if they sold out. They were half gone when we got ours and we were in boarding group 11. We were also told that someone got one the next day.  It was never full when I was up there. I agree that it was very windy up there a few days. We managed to get spots that were somewhat blocked by the wind on those days but there were not many of those spots.

 

@RNRcruisers @prbffd28 So to add to this, i boarded the ship around 1:30pm (had wedding brunch in the AM) went straight to Q to purchase vibe and they were sold out by about 20 minutes from what the guy told me. I was actually the person who purchased the next day. I went to guest services about 7am the next morning and there happened to be 4 available vibe passes which i bought for me, gf, and my parents who joined us on vacation. The 240 max is what they advertised but like said before, it never seemed full up there. I was very pleased to get it on day 2.

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40 minutes ago, s.schultz said:

 

@RNRcruisers @prbffd28 So to add to this, i boarded the ship around 1:30pm (had wedding brunch in the AM) went straight to Q to purchase vibe and they were sold out by about 20 minutes from what the guy told me. I was actually the person who purchased the next day. I went to guest services about 7am the next morning and there happened to be 4 available vibe passes which i bought for me, gf, and my parents who joined us on vacation. The 240 max is what they advertised but like said before, it never seemed full up there. I was very pleased to get it on day 2.

Thank you both for this very helpful information. Even though it may be windy I'm still determined to get passes just to be able to be in the sun without tripping over the masses!!

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20 hours ago, prbffd28 said:

Thank you both for this very helpful information. Even though it may be windy I'm still determined to get passes just to be able to be in the sun without tripping over the masses!!

Vibe is going to be windy because it is an exposed area of the ship. When it is moving, you are going to get breezes. It was great being up there on a port day. Not windy and very quiet. I do think NCL should move things like Trivia to a smaller venue. District Brew Pub? Or another bar area in the mornings. But we loved the ship. We also had our LeBistro reservation canceled but NCL gave us $50 OBC for the inconvenience. We dealt with it. Just went to another venue.

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6 hours ago, RedSoxGirl08 said:

Is the Vibe pass around $200 pp?

it is 209 per person for the 7 days

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