ShipsNorwegianFirst Impressions of Norwegian Encore

First Impressions of Norwegian Encore

Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest and largest cruise ship, Norwegian Encore, arrived in her homeport of Miami where the vessel will offer seven night cruises to the Caribbean. The ship features the longest go-kart track at sea and 29 options for food and drinks.

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Before arriving in Miami, the cruise ship spent a few nights in New York City giving the media a sneak peek at this amazing new ship.  I was able to spend two nights on board Norwegian Encore exploring everything the ship has to offer.

After the first few hours on board I asked myself, is this the best cruise ship at sea?  Here are my first impressions of Norwegian Encore.

Onboard Attractions

Norwegian Cruise Line really outdid themselves with this new ship.  Norwegian Encore features the longest go-kart track at sea at more than 1,100 feet long.  The track sticks out over 13 feet from the edge of the ship. The “race” lasts for 8 minutes and they have a scoreboard to see who drove the fastest lap.  If anyone beats my lap record of 51.23 seconds, leave a comment and let me know.

While the go-karts were a ton of fun, there’s a really cool viewing deck overlooking the track.  They also have these guns on both sides where you can shoot the go-karts as they pass and give them an added boost of speed.  They even have a scoreboard that gives you points for accuracy so you can compete against your friends. However, you’ll lose points if you shoot a go-kart after their light turns red.

The biggest surprise was the Galaxy Pavilion, a virtual reality paradise that is unlike anything you’ll find on any other ship. There are around 15 different gameplay experiences including a 7D Dark Ride.

From racing simulators to a virtual reality soccer goal, it’s by far the most fun room at sea.  There is also a high tech escape room that was the coolest escape room I’ve ever done.

If all that wasn’t enough, Norwegian Cruise Line added a laser tag arena that is themed after the Lost City of Atlantis. No detail was left behind when Norwegian created this space.

Laser tag arena on Norwegian Encore

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Our cabin was a mini-suite with a balcony on Deck 14.  A few of the things that stood out were the multiple electrical outlets, the long sofa, and the awesome bathroom.

The shower was one of the best showers I’ve ever had on a cruise ship.

It’s a whole lot easier for you to see the cabin than for me to explain it. You can watch a short two minute video tour of our cabin 14774 below:

Dining Options

There are a crazy 29 different food and drink options on board Norwegian Escape. Seriously, 29!  There are over a dozen places to choose from for dinner.  Since I was only on for two nights, I was able to eat at Cagney’s Steakhouse and “Q” Texas Smokehouse.

Cagney’s is one of my favorite steakhouses at sea and it did not disappoint on Norwegian Encore. “Q” offers all of your BBQ favorites while a live band performs country hits. Both are a must when cruising on Norwegian Encore.

Other dining options include Onda by Scarpetta (Italian), Le Bistro (French), Los Lobos (Mexican), Ocean Blue (Seafood), Teppanyaki (Japanese), and of course the main dining rooms and Local Bar and Grill.

There is food everywhere you go on the ship. It’s the perfect ship to eat your way through the cruise.

Observation Lounge

The Observation Lounge was the nicest surprise on the ship. I love spending time in them, on the few new ships that even have them anymore.

The lounge was huge, I mean really huge.  It offered 270 degree views around the ship. It not only consisted of the large lounge in the front, but it offered quite a bit of seating on both the port and aft sides of the vessel.

The lounge also offers lighter food options like salads, sandwiches, and fruit.

This lounge will be perfect for hanging out when the ship cruises to Alaska in 2021.


What can I say? The staff on board Norwegian Encore delivered the high level of service that I’ve experienced on other Norwegian ships. I was greeted with a friendly hello everywhere I went and our room steward did an awesome job.


Norwegian Cruise Line upped the ante with entertainment on Encore.  During our short preview cruise, there were two production shows, Choir of Man and Kinky Boots.  Both were phenomenal.

There’s also a cozy comedy club and entertainment all around the ship.

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One place that I love to visit on cruise ships is the thermal suite.  They really are the ultimate place to relax on board.

I loved how the thermal suite is located in the aft part of the ship on Norwegian Encore.  The warm stone loungers overlook the ship’s wake.

From steam rooms to saunas to a snow room, it was one of the best thermal suites I’ve seen on a ship.

Take a full ship video tour below:

Pool Deck

I loved how they opened up the pool deck compared to the Breakaway class and Norwegian Escape.  The TV overlooking the pool was huge.

There are two water awesome waterslides and two swimming pools on the deck. There is also a waterpark for kids. This area is going to be really popular on cruises to the Caribbean.

Odds and Ends

One thing that I loved about Norwegian Encore is that there is something for everyone on the ship. This is the perfect ship for families and multi-generational families looking for a vacation that fits everyone’s likes and preferences.

There is a full Starbucks located by the ship’s atrium.  Now this isn’t your normal coffee kiosk that serves Starbucks that you find on most ships.  It has the look and feel of a Starbucks on land.

I loved the hand washing stations outside of the buffet. It’s a great feature that is found on most new cruise ships.

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Norwegian Encore will offer seven night cruises to the Caribbean from the Cruise Capital of the World, PortMiami.

Looking ahead, the ship will sail out of New York City in the Summer of 2020 and will offer cruises to Alaska in 2021.

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
ShipsNorwegianFirst Impressions of Norwegian Encore


  1. Wow that gocart is slow. A little under 15MPH. You did not talk about the braking on them. Did they have R& L side brakes? That to help you power through the corners. Were the engines 2 stroke or 4 stroke. I would think with a little practice you should be able to cut that time in half. I forgot this ship is coming out and have 2 cruises planned. 1 to Iceland in May on NCL Star and 2 planed to Hawaii on POA. Will do this ship in 2021. Looks like a beautiful ship.

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