Norwegian Encore will have guests on their feet

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Norwegian Encore outside Meyer Werft where she was built.

NEW YORK — The Norwegian Encore arrived here Monday to make its debut as the newest Norwegian Cruise Line ship and take a bow as the last in the Breakaway Plus class.

Travel sellers who have seen any of the Encore’s sisters — the Escape, Bliss or Joy — will be familiar with the basic layout of the ship. But there are always modifications to each ship in a class, and so it is with the Encore. Norwegian has added a chic new restaurant, Ondo by Scarpetta, and brought on new evening entertainment. 

The ship is also notable for being the last to be delivered to president and CEO Andy Stuart, who is leaving the company and will be replaced in 2020 by Harry Sommer.

In an interview on board the Encore, Sommer said the Norwegian brand was “in a great place,” and a priority would be to “spend more time on that marketing message to really have guests understand what a fascinating experience, a fantastic vacation a ship like this represents.

A popular feature of the Norwegian Bliss is the Speedway race track, where passengers can drive go-karts. Photo Credit: Dave Jones

“I credit Andy for creating experiences — a combination of ships, restaurant choices and activities onboard — that really provide a wonderful vacation for our guests,” Sommer said. “We’re not changing that.”

A two-day, pierside preview of the Encore was conducted for travel partners, VIPs and media ahead of the ship’s repositioning to South Florida. 

The experiences on the Encore appear at first glance to be tilted toward active ones. The aft sections of the top decks are devoted to activities like the Speedway, a fast-paced, go-kart ride that got its start on the Norwegian Joy. Waterslide options include the Ocean Loops, which, as its name suggests, drops riders down a tube that twists up and down and beyond the edge of the ship. 

Norwegian describes the laser-tag section as “laser tag meets augmented reality” set in Atlantis. 

On Deck 17 are the Galaxy Pavilion, a room with multiple virtual-reality games, simulator rides and an escape room.

Even the evening performance in the Encore Theater was active in a sense. “Choir of Man” features about a dozen young men singing and playing contemporary and classic hits in unique and fun ways under the pretence of hanging out in an Irish pub. In the hour-long show, the performers sing (occasionally in beautiful a capella harmony), dance and play live instruments. As I said, it was active: The show brought the audience to its feet for two standing ovations. 

A view of the Norwegian Encore's midship pools.

A view of the Norwegian Encore’s midship pools. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin

However, the Encore isn’t all about heart-racing activity. The ship also has a large observation lounge that wraps around the forward section of Deck 15, where there are couches, loungers and nooks galore for relaxing with a Kindle and a coffee (a Starbucks shop is located on Deck 6). Or if the sun is what passengers desire, there is the Vibe Beach Club, which occupies the topmost Deck 20 of the Encore. Additional relaxation options are offered to Haven passengers in an exclusive zone of the ship. 

As far as dining options, the Encore introduces Onda by Scarpetta, an a la carte Italian restaurant. There are about 20 eateries on the Encore, from old favourites like Le Bistro, Cagney’s Steakhouse and Teppanyaki to relatively newer entrants such as Ocean Blue and the Food Republic.

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Record Year for PortMiami

MSC Ship in Miami

PortMiami has announced a record cruise and cargo year.

The port experienced an increase of 5.8 per cent in containerized cargo movements for its 2018 Fiscal Year with a total of 1,084,000 (twenty-foot equivalent units) and an increase of 4.7 per cent in cruise visitors with a total of 5,592,000 passengers during the 12 month period ending September 30, 2018, according to a press release.

On the cruise side, PortMiami officials attribute the growth to expanded business opportunities, according to a statement. n 2018, Royal Caribbean International added sailings to the Empress of the Seas and welcomed the newly renovated Mariner of the Seas.  Oceania Cruises and Disney Cruise Line extended their winter seasons.

The port also welcomed three new cruise lines: Viking Ocean Cruises, Victory Cruise Lines, and Seabourn. Additionally, it welcomed Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Magic and the new Carnival Horizon.  MSC also introduced its new-build, the MSC Seaside, to the port’s line-up.

“I am proud to say that today PortMiami is a full-service global hub handling some of the largest vessels in the industry,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “We’re starting to see the results of more than $1 billion of completed infrastructure and a port team that gets the job done. I would like to thank the entire PortMiami team for their hard work and dedication. The Port’s continued growth would not be possible without them.”

“I want to thank all of PortMiami’s dedicated partners including the cruise and cargo lines, the International Longshoremen’s Associations’ Locals 1416 and 1922, Miami-Dade Police and Fire Departments, the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Miami, U.S. Coast Guard, the Biscayne Bay Pilots among so many others,” said Chairwoman of the Economic Development and Tourism Committee Rebeca Sosa. “New facilities, berths and terminals are in the works to accommodate the industry’s new generation of vessels.  The future is only getting brighter at our seaport.”