Now sailing from Miami into the Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line’s latest is destined for the top of every cruiser’s wish list.
Over the past five years, the team at Norwegian Cruise Lines have added exciting and innovative ships into their fleet. Recently, the Breakaway-plus class welcomed the fourth and final “Encore” to their family of vessels, each with nearly a 4000-passenger capacity. Preceded by The Escape, Bliss, and Joy, The Encore was christened in Miami in November at a grand event with live performances by Encore entertainers and Godmother of the ship, Kelly Clarkson. (Also a beloved Texan.)
Setting foot onto the Encore, you immediately realize her grandeur. Walking around this ship with 20 decks, 29 dining options, and 22 lounges and bars, cruisers immediately realize the vast options for customizing each day at sea. Much like her sister ships, the Encore offers flexible food and beverage packages, thrilling adventures such as the motor speedway, and peaceful moments in the Mandara Spa.
Yes, there are carryovers from the Bliss and Joy, but new features invite veteran cruisers to balance familiar favorites with a splash of novelty. The newest culinary gem of the Encore is Onda by Scarpetta, featuring modern Italian culinary dining. Cagney’s (fine steaks and seafood), Los Lobos (Mexican Fresco), and the nostalgic American Diner are successful carryovers from Encore’s sister ships. Texans and country music fans in search of a little barbecue at sea can swing back over to Q for some perfectly smoked brisket, house-made banana pudding, and a little two-stepping to the tunes of a live country band.
We attended two shows aboard the Encore, including the six-time Tony award winner “Kinky Boots,” and the interactive sing-along “Choir of Man.” Kinky Boots is a heart-warming story which reminds us that people from very different worlds can not only get along, but also thrive when putting their talents together to achieve their dreams. With music and lyrics written by Cindy Lauper, this production has guests dancing in their seats.
Featuring songs from Queen, The Proclaimers and Fun, the “Choir of Man” invites guests to forget they’re on a cruise ship, while singing along to popular favorites often heard at an Irish pub and piano bar. Be sure to arrive early to hop onto the stage and grab a beer on tap while mingling with the cast members.
On this inaugural sail out of Miami, The Encore made a stop for the day at Norwegian’s very own island of Great Stirrup Cay. This quaint island features multiple excursions. Whether zip lining, parasailing or swimming with resident pigs, guests will find no shortage of things to do on the island. Private cabanas are available to reserve for the day, if you would like a few extra amenities including your own lounge area, refrigerator and bathroom just a short walk from the beach. Grab a bite to eat at Abaco Taco, the island’s complimentary food truck, and order a refreshing drink at the outdoor bar. Food and drink packages follow guests onto the island for “all-inclusive” convenience. One of our favorite features? Riding the smaller tender boat off the larger ship to The Cay, while anticipating all the tropical treats awaiting our arrival.
For a more upscale island excursion at The Cay, consider reserving one of two villas accommodating up to sixteen guests. Tucked away at a more private beach called “Silver Cove,” this option may appeal most to those traveling with groups celebrating special occasions, or guests staying in the more exclusive “Haven” suites.
Norwegian Offers More Than “Just Water”
One of the largest contributors to the world’s pollution problem is plastic, more specifically plastic bottles. The final destination for most of the plastic ends up in our oceans, where it not only causes damage to marine ecosystems but also kills marine animals.
To address this issue, Norwegian has partnered with Jaden Smith’s JUST Water company to find alternatives for plastic bottles. The Encore will be the first ship to completely eliminate plastic bottles. Instead, the water cartons are made of paper and sugar cane. Norwegian plans to have their fleet completely free of plastic bottle by 2021. Other successful efforts in sustainability include the elimination of straws and the implementation of a daily surplus drink, made from ingredients which otherwise might have been disposed. A toast-worthy concept!
Pearl of Miami
While the addition of the Encore to the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet is exciting in itself, she has an exciting new embarkment in her future. In 2020, Norwegian will open the Pearl of Miami, a new terminal accommodating passenger ships of up to 5,000 and new technologies to simplify processes for cruisers as they embark and disembark.
What Kind of Traveler Are You? Take Our Quick Quiz!
Cover: The Encore at Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island. Photo Brian Maass
Dana and Brian Maass are married and live in Round Rock, Texas. When not traveling, writing, and taking photos, they can be found hiking on trails, visiting new spots in the Hill Country, serving the community, or catching a live performance. Follow them on Instagram at @Dana_Maass_Adventures and @Brian_Maass_Adventurer.