Sailing on the maiden voyage to Southampton, England
It’s a ship for grown ups, but a tearaway teenager at heart. The Norwegian Encore, the sweetheart of the fleet, is the latest Breakaway-class vessel from the line and she is sleek, sophisticated and chic.
The line has come a long way in recent years, not only with the arrival and refurbishment of the Norwegian Jewel which sails around Australia and New Zealand, but also by developing one of the strongest fly-cruise offerings to Australians.
With extensive itineraries in Asia, Europe, Alaska and the Caribbean, it’s bold ships like the Norwegian Encore which many believe is solidifying the brand’s place in the hearts of Aussie cruisers.
The Norwegian Encore, much like her sister ship, the Norwegian Bliss and Joy, offers the best of both worlds. She’s designed with luxurious fit outs – intricate chandeliers, modern art pieces which is no doubt, a nod to NCL Corporations CEO, Frank Del Rio and a wonderful array of restaurants.
The new Onda by Scarpetta is an offering never seen before on any other NCL ship. The fabulous Italian eatery offers beautifully fresh dishes like tuna crudo, melt in the mouth beef short ribs, mushroom ragout with polenta and lovely plates of hand made pasta.
The Haven, NCL’s ship-within-a-ship concept, once again delivers with plush cream and velvet blue lounges and arm chairs, a spacious open private dining area and the best, private cabanas at the front of the ship.
But don’t be fooled by her grown up looks – she’s also designed for the thrill seekers, the families and the ones who want a jam packed holiday.
She’s got a longer go-kart track on her top deck, the Encore Speedway. Going 34 feet over the edge of the ship, the ride is more thrilling than ever. Also onboard is a new laser tag course, a kids area which is one of the biggest at sea and a video arcade area.
But the piece de resistance is the new Galaxy Pavilion. It is one of the most technologically advanced offerings from any cruise line and it has a number of virtual reality rides and games. There are even simulator rides which had many of squealing at how realistic the graphics were.
Managing Director of Cruise1st, Carl Friar says that he believes the Norwegian Encore will be a major attraction for the fly-cruise Australian market. NCL’s Free at Sea ethos, where guests are not bound to dining and show times, as well as its offers of free speciality dining, drinks packages and more, has Australians taking notice.
“NCL has been in market for a few years at a global and local level and they are going through interesting changes. Although they have done well, they are ready to try and accelerate passenger numbers in region. Australia is a strong focus and not just for home port but to extract international market,” he said.
“In terms of this ship, there are two to three key elements I love. I love the freestyle aspect where people can choose their own dining options for example. I love the opulence and the atmosphere of The Haven. It offers an additional aspect to the ship. And it’s for people who love the big ship amenities, but then the haven allows you to chill. The quality in the treatment in that area is amazing. But the other thing about Norwegian Cruise Line is that they see single travellers as an identity. Solo travellers have got a special price code and a dedicated singles area. The brand and the ship is really delivering.”
Mr Friar says that NCL’s presence is only going to grow, and especially with hardware like the Norwegian Encore, more and more Aussies will be booking on NCL.
“The big areas for NCL is Europe and Asia. And we see the interest accelerating in the next two years. It’s a new era for them as a cruise line. And people want to ensure they are getting onboard.”