Norwegian Encore draws applause for big views and thrills

The Observation Lounge on the Norwegian Encore offers ample seating and food and drink options.

The Observation Lounge on the Norwegian Encore offers ample seating and food and drink options. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin

ONBOARD THE NORWEGIAN ENCORE  — When Harry Sommer, the incoming president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, spoke to travel advisors aboard the line’s newest megaship, the Encore, he reeled off a list of its activities: 29 dining options, a collection of virtual reality games, laser tag and the 1,100-foot racetrack.

But surprisingly, it was the “huge, huge” observation lounge that elicited spontaneous applause from the travel advisors in the audience. 

“Prime waterfront property,” Sommer said. “I think some of our cruise line competition uses that to put cabins; we like all our guests to experience that type of view. The exact same view the captain gets from the bridge.”

He then deadpanned, “Though he hasn’t invited me yet.” 

Sommer wasn’t kidding when he said the observation lounge was huge. It takes up a generous chunk of Deck 15 and offers vistas both port and starboard plus two-deck-high, floor-to-ceiling windows over the bow. There are loungers galore for disappearing with a book plus couches grouped in conversational seatings.

The decor is done up in soothing shades of sea green, taupe and wood tones, and basket-style chandeliers are suspended from the very forward part of the room. Three buffet stations and a bar offer food and drink at various times of the day. 

Haven passengers get their own generously sized forward lounge on the deck above. 

The Encore is the billion-dollar finale in Norwegian’s Breakaway-Plus class, so many of the travel advisors who saw the ship in New York, like those who would later tour it in Miami, were familiar with the ship’s layout. Agents, media and Norwegian VIPs were able to tour and stay on the ship during a two-day visit to New York  —  a “cruise” in name only, as the Encore remained docked. 

The Encore is not too different from its sisters, although, of course, there are tweaks here and there. More than one travel advisor on the ship raved about the interior decor. More than one executive pointed to the design influence of Frank Del Rio, the CEO of parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. 

A unique feature on the Encore that is destined to become a recurring feature on other ships is a new restaurant, Onda by Scarpetta, which specializes in upscale Italian cuisine. 

On the interior entrance, Onda is tucked behind Cellars, the wine bar runs in partnership with Michael Mondavi. But it’s also part of the wraparound Waterfront dining and drinking promenade and as such has tables for dining outdoors.

Also unique to the Encore is the slate of entertainment, and advisors I spoke with talked up the main-theatre productions of “Choir of Man,” which got two standing ovations during my viewing, and the Tony Award-winning musical “Kinky Boots.” 

In the category of super-active vacation, the Encore doesn’t disappoint. 

The Speedway go-kart racetrack is wider and longer than on other Breakaway-Plus ships, and each participant gets to drive for eight minutes, a suitable number of laps around the track. Passengers who aren’t into driving can watch the action from the observation platform.

Behind the go-karts is the laser tag zone, where teams of up to five players each are pitted against each other in the ruins of Atlantis. Adjacent is the gravity-defying Ocean Loops waterslide that twists and turns off the side of the ship. 

One deck below, passengers will find the Galaxy Pavilion, a collection of intense VR games, and yet another deck below that is the gym  —  and the spa, for when they’re ready to trade activity for a massage.

Another feature new to Norwegian, although not unique to the Encore, was the presence of water cartons instead of plastic bottles. In his remarks to agents (see a report, this page), Sommer talked about Norwegian’s investment in “doing the right thing,” which includes eliminating single-use plastic and plastic straws fleetwide.

“You can’t get a plastic straw on any of our ships,” he said. “Don’t ask.”

Encore designer throws Seabourn guests a curve

Image result for seabourn encore cruise ship

SINGAPORE — Guests boarding the new Seabourn Encore may notice that its lines and designs are softer and more curvaceous than the other Seabourn ships, said Adam Tihany, lead designer for the new ship.

The Seabourn Encore arrived here on Jan. 5 on a voyage from the shipyard in Italy where it was built. It is scheduled to depart on Jan. 7 on an inaugural cruise to Bali.

Tihany, president of New York-based Tihany Design, said one example is the Seabourn Square gathering spot on Deck 7 that serves as a library/guest services/coffee bar for the ship. “It’s literally not a square anymore,” he said.

This staircase bannister is an example of the more rounded, curvaceous design of the Seabourn Encore. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
This staircase bannister is an example of the more rounded, curvaceous design of the Seabourn Encore. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

On the Encore, the area has been opened up to guests by lowering partitions that once kept service personnel walled off. Now, the area is shaped in more of a circle. It has also been brightened with a lighter color scheme.

Another example is the bar in the Observation Lounge, which has been converted from a square shape to a circle. Tihany’s design also makes the lounge brighter by incorporating a skylight into the ceiling above the bar.

In addition to being more “sexy” and aesthetically pleasing, the reduction in the number of hard angles and sharp edges will reduce the wear and tear on crew members bumping into these obstacles, Tihany said.

“The ship is taking into consideration how passengers move in space,” Tihany said.

The Encore is the first new Seabourn ship since the 2011 delivery of the Seabourn Quest. It has an additional deck, raising the capacity at double occupancy from 450 to 600 guests.

Seabourn president Rick Meadows and ship designer Adam Tihany at a news conference aboard Seabourn Encore in Singapore. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
Seabourn president Rick Meadows and ship designer Adam Tihany at a news conference aboard Seabourn Encore in Singapore. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

The design of the previous three Seabourn ships, including Seabourn Odyssey and Seabourn Sojourn, was more “Nordic,” Tihany said. Tthe Encore and its sister ship due in 2018, Seabourn Ovation, will look more like luxury yachts, he said.

Tihany spoke in a news conference on the ship with Seabourn president Rick Meadows. Tihany said his favorite space on the new ship is The Retreat, a relaxation area of 11 cabanas surrounding a whirlpool and covered by an arched canvas dome. Entrance is limited to guests who pay the rental fee for a cabana, which is $349 on sea days and $249 on port days.

£300million, 51,000 tonnes and just 750 guests: Inside the world’s most luxurious cruise ship… 

  • complete with a suite four times bigger than the average HOUSE
  • Ship weighs 56,000 tons and can carry 750 guests in luxury throughout with huge amounts of space
  •  
  • The Regent Suite measures 3,875-square-foot, the average house size in the UK is 1,042 square-feet
  •  
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises reported both single-day and first week record bookings for the Explorer
  •  

The Regent Seven Seas Cruises Explorer will come in at 732ft in length, but will carry just 750 guests in total and every room will be a suite.

With gourmet dining throughout, marble floors, crystal chandeliers and one ‘residence’ that is almost four times bigger than the average house in the UK, the vessel is certainly set to take the luxury ship market by storm.

The Penthouse on the Seven Seas Explorer will offer luxury and importantly decent amount of space for guests to relax

The Penthouse on the Seven Seas Explorer will offer luxury and importantly decent amount of space for guests to relax

There are already two dining rooms built on board the Seven Seas Explorer, with plans for more to be constructed before first sail

There are already two dining rooms built on board the Seven Seas Explorer, with plans for more to be constructed before first sail

The Seven Seas Explorer is still under construction, but already the plans for rendering are spectacular 

The Seven Seas Explorer is still under construction, but already the plans for rendering are spectacular 

The ship is designed to be the most luxurious ship ever built, with the one-of-a-kind, opulent 3,875-square-foot Regent Suite, extravagantly designed lounges and showplaces, and lavish gourmet restaurants. The average size of a house in the UK is around 1,042-square-feet, so the top suite is almost four times the size of this.

‘We meticulously designed every detail aboard Seven Seas Explorer in order to make it the most luxurious ship ever built, and we are thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive response from our past guests and travel partners,’ said Graham Sadler, managing director of Regent Seven Seas Cruises UK.

The living area inside the Regent Suite, that measures in total almost four times the size of an average UK house, oozes class and style

The living area inside the Regent Suite, that measures in total almost four times the size of an average UK house, oozes class and style

The bathroom of the Regent Suite will come with all the mod cons, but will retain a glamorous edge that will excite guests

The bathroom of the Regent Suite will come with all the mod cons, but will retain a glamorous edge that will excite guests

How could you not feel relaxed in this? The bedroom of the Regent Suite is bright and airy and is sure to guarantee a good night's sleep

How could you not feel relaxed in this? The bedroom of the Regent Suite is bright and airy and is sure to guarantee a good night’s sleep

‘Our booking experience echoed that of our offices in the US and with the maiden voyage nearly sold out and demand for the inaugural season being extremely strong, it underscores the global excitement surrounding the world’s most luxurious ship.’

The world’s most luxurious ship is already surpassing expectations, as Regent Seven Seas Cruises reported both single-day and first week record bookings for the line’s new flagship Seven Seas Explorer.

The ship went on sale exclusively to members of the line’s loyalty programme, the Seven Seas Society, on January 19, and reservations made that day surpassed the line’s previous single-day revenue record by nearly three times.

The welcome on board the luxury cruise ship is sure to leave guests wide-eyed with anticipation of what to expect next

The lounge on the Explorer can suit any mood; you can quite easily relax with a nice cocktail on an evening, or have a morning pick-me-up


The lounge on the Explorer can suit any mood; you can quite easily relax with a nice cocktail on an evening, or have a morning pick-me-up

The Observation Lounge abroad the Explorer is sure to be a favourite haunt, catching glimpses of sunsets and sunrise

The Observation Lounge abroad the Explorer is sure to be a favourite haunt, catching glimpses of sunsets and sunrise

The new level of grandeur offered on Seven Seas Explorer generated strong demand for the ship’s inaugural season, resulting in a new weekly sales record for Regent Seven Seas Cruises that more than doubled the previous high.

Currently, reservations for Seven Seas Explorer are limited to past cruisers with the line and will become widely available from February 4.

Scheduled to set sail in the summer of 2016, Seven Seas Explorer’s maiden voyage will be a 14-night sailing from Monte Carlo to Venice on 20 July 2016. The inaugural season highlights a variety of iconic locations throughout the Mediterranean including Ibiza, Barcelona, St. Tropez and Venice.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is setting a new standard for luxury cruise holidays with the launch of Seven Seas Explorer.