Norwegian Encore includes an open-air laser tag arena which has augmented reality elements (Image: ICFR)
Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Norwegian Encore has completed her pre-inaugural cruise and is heading to the US for a second preview voyage before being officially christened in Miami, Florida later this month.
The ship, which completed sea trials in late September, departed on her first preview cruise from Meyer Werft’s shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany on 31 October, arriving in Southampton, England on 2 November. During the two-day voyage, guests enjoyed the opportunity to try out the ship’s various new features, including a go kart racing track that overhangs the ocean by 13 feet, a nearly 10,000-square-foot, open-air laser tag arena with additional augmented reality elements, and the at-sea debut of the Tony Award-winning Kinky Boots.
Eamonn Ferrin, Norwegian’s managing director of UK, Ireland and EMEA, sat down with ICFR during the sailing and gave an insight into the spaces that he thinks will delight future guests.
“One of my favourite spaces is the Haven suite,” he said. “Our Haven concept is almost a ship within a ship. For example, our penthouse areas are beautiful, restricted areas where you need your own key card to get in and then you have your own butlers, concierge, swimming pools, hot tubs — it’s actually right in the middle of the ship. It’s a beautiful product that we have on all of our Breakaway and Breakaway Plus ships.
“Another space that guests will love is the speedway racing track, which can be enjoyed from people aged eight to 80. It’s a really fun part of the ship. We also have our Galaxy Pavilion and our laser tag area, there are so many areas on the ship that you can love and enjoy.”
Norwegian Encore is also the first in the fleet to debut a new Italian dining experience that has been developed in collaboration with LDV Hospitality, Onda by Scarpetta. “There are 29 different places where you can have something nice to eat,” said Ferrin. “Ranging from Cagney’s Steakhouse, to Onda by Scarpetta, to Teppanyaki, which is one of my favourites, there’s so many places to eat and see.”
Onboard entertainment has also been carefully crafted to delight all guests. ‘Kinky Boots’ will headline the entertainment programme and will be complemented by ‘The Choir of Man’, ‘Happy Hour Prohibition: The Musical’ and a Beatles cover band in The Cavern Club.
“The sheer choice makes Norwegian Encore so special,” said Ferrin. “Flexibility and what we call ‘freestyle cruising’ — what is it that you want to do. You can relax, play laser tag, whatever, the customer decides what they want to do.”
However, Norwegian Encore’s success is likely to be down to the people who work onboard her and go above and beyond to delight her guests.
“Within NCL there is something like 120 nationalities!
“The heart and soul of Norwegian Encore is the people, the staff we have onboard with us,” said Ferrin. “This vessel will carry somewhere around 4,000 passengers and in the region of 1,700 staff – it’s almost a one to two ratio. Service is a critical part of our culture and meeting people’s needs across all of those nationalities. The crew will get to know who you are and create a very family-based atmosphere.”
Norwegian Encore embarked on her transatlantic voyage on 2 November and will arrive in New York on 10 November, when she is scheduled to sail another two-day preview cruise. She will then voyage to Miami, Florida for a series of events, concluding with the christening ceremony and naming celebration on 21 November, which will include a live performance by Grammy Award-winning singer Kelly Clarkson.
Starting from this autumn and until spring 2021, Norwegian Encore will offer voyages to the Eastern and Western Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada and New England, and Alaska.