Travel insights from Luke Gibson, director of VAX VacationAccess

I Stayed There: Norwegian Encore

The Vibe

The Norwegian Encore Inaugural had Norwegian Cruise Line's (NCL) latest vessel docked with the Manhattan skyline as the backdrop for the event. In attendance was the leadership team from NCL, a who's who of cruise industry executives and the industry's top travel advisors. At first blush, the ship was nothing short of a dream. After onboard, I took a self-guided tour of the ship, taking in the ambience, the many experiences offered, and was left with the feeling that this ship is a special one. Encore has something for everyone. 

How I Felt

In my mind there is no substitute for great service when traveling. The caring and thoughtful level of service on board Encore was spectacular, leaving me with a sense of comfort. The decor was modern and approachable, amenities were many, and there was never a moment where I wasn't offered help at every turn. The ship offered me an opportunity to sit back and R-E-L-A-X.

The Digs

My stateroom was spacious and offered a great view (in this case of the skyline of downtown Manhattan). In travel, often times it is the little things that I notice the most, and I was greeted shortly after arrival with some fresh spring water sourced from sustainable sources and bottled in fully compostable packaging (in fact, I didn't see one plastic bottle while on board). The room was quite comfortable, and I did notice that the service team checked in with me frequently to see if there was anything that I needed.

The Agenda

The agenda for the inaugural was jam-packed. Perhaps it's the technology enthusiast in me, but I would describe the onboard technology as cutting-edge. I watched racers take advantage of the racing experience suspended 13 feet over the side of the ship on the largest race track at sea. The Atlantis augmented reality experience was a favorite of attendees as well as the virtual world experience of the Galaxy Pavilion. There were numerous Broadway-caliber entertainment experiences on board; from traditional theatre to southern rock and a terrific Beatles tribute experience.

The Eats

Encore's dining experiences did not disappoint. I was able to take advantage of just a handful of the offered culinary experiences while on board. The Cellars Mondavi-branded wine experience was a favorite of attendees, as well as many of the smart casual dining experiences including authentic Mexican at Los Lobos, award winning Italian at Onda by Scarpetta, and an incredible seafood culinary experience at Ocean Blue. My last night I was able to experience authentic southern barbecue at Q Texas Barbecue and, take it from this backyard pit master, you'd be foolish not to try it while on board. Take that, Oklahoma Joe's!

Why I Would Go Back

Encore is deserving of a standing ovation. If I was an agent selling cruise, this ship would be one that I would recommend. Encore's “Again, Again!” mantra certainly lived up to the hype. While two days with the Manhattan skyline as my backdrop was a memorable experience, I can only imagine what a week at sea might offer cruisers. One thing is for sure, there are plenty of dining and entertainment options on board to make each day “the best day ever” for your customers.

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