The 3998 passenger NCL Encore is a modern and sophisticated ship, with decor and public spaces that could rival a more luxury-oriented cruise line. It's a ship that aims to give everyone vacation choices, with multiple bars and restaurants, indoor and outdoor activities and plenty of evening entertainment.
In many ways, Encore is the "big city" of cruising. Its 20-plus restaurants let passengers dine in a different venue every night (though not without a cost) and its Deck 8 indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar area makes an evening out feel more like a night on the town. The live entertainment is some of the best we've ever seen at sea -- with Broadway-caliber performers in "Kinky Boots" and "Choir of Man" -- and the bars mix it up with signature cocktails and unique vibes.
Thrilling activities run the gamut from freefall waterslides to go-karts, laser tag and virtual-reality play spaces. Those looking to avoid the crowds can escape to the spa's thermal suite or adults-only Vibe Beach Club, or cozy up with a book in the breathtaking Observation Lounge with two-deck high windows at the front of the ship. And passengers who want the utmost in tranquility can book into the Haven suite complex, where they can luxuriate in exclusive enclaves including a pool, sun deck, restaurant and lounge.
However, while Norwegian Encore is big enough to offer something for everyone, it clearly caters more to some people than others. Sun worshippers might be disappointed in the compressed pool and complimentary sun deck spaces, with outdoor thrill rides and extra-fee sun decks spanning a huge chunk of the ship's top decks. Families with young children are stuck with windowless kids club areas in the bowels of the ship, a small water play area and restaurants and shows that are very much geared toward adults.
Travelers on a budget will find, even with promotional booking freebies, that there are a lot of surprise fees and pay-to-play areas; you definitely don't get the full wow factor of this ship by keeping your onboard bill to a minimum.
Overall, Norwegian Encore is a sophisticated ship, there's tons going on and you'll be wowed by the quality -- and quantity -- of the dining and entertainment. Yet because of this, a vacation here can cost more than on other "small-town" ships, and even if you do pony up for the fun, you simply won't have enough time to do everything. Make sure you budget accordingly, and be prepared to book another cruise to experience everything you missed.
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