Cruising the NCL Encore Review: Sailing to Alaska

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Are you thinking about cruising on the Norwegian Encore? We took a 7-day Alaska cruise on this mega-ship. Read our NCL Encore Review.

Is a mega cruise ship the way to go for Alaska? Well, it’s a “maybe not” from me. But here’s why we booked this one.

Alaska cruises? We’ve been dreaming about sailing to Alaska for years. We finally made the dream happen aboard the Norwegian Encore.

We sailed to Alaska from late July to early August. We had never been mid-summer cruisers, but a cruise expert told us it was the best time for Alaska. They were right—the weather was unexpectedly warm and mostly perfect, but that doesn’t mean it will always be the case.

With some CruiseNext vouchers burning a hole in our pocket and a good chunk of future cruise credit, we booked the Encore. It’s one of NCL’s newer ships, with stops like Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Glacier Bay—a dream itinerary for Alaska newbies.

featured blog image | ncl encore reviewPin

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But I’ll be honest—I didn’t scrutinize the itinerary details as much as I should have, which bit me later.

  • Booking taught us a lot, like how unpredictable Alaska’s weather can be, and you really won’t know until you’re there.
  • The cruise line and the ship’s size matter when cruising to Alaska.
  • And yep, even after years of cruising, I still made a newbie mistake by not noticing some of our cruise days were shorter than expected.

Despite that, we had an unforgettable first cruise to Alaska.

In our review, we’ll discuss the ship’s features, staff, dining, and entertainment and share must-know tips, complete with photos of the cabin, ship, and food. If you’ve sailed on the Encore, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments. Your insights help us and future cruisers alike.

About Norwegian Encore

Norwegian Encore cruise ship docked in Juneau, AlaskaPin
Norwegian Encore cruise ship docked in Juneau, Alaska.

Here are a few quick facts about the NCL Encore:

  • NCL Encore is the final Breakaway Plus class ship.
  • Launched in November 2019, following its completion in October 2019.
  • Accommodates up to 4,000 passengers, excluding crew.
  • Sister ships include the Norwegian Joy, Bliss, and Escape.

7-Night Norwegian Encore Alaska Itinerary

Day 1 – Seattle, WA
Day 2- Sea Day
Day 3 – Juneau, AK
Day 4 – Skagway, AK
Day 5 – Cruising Glacier Bay
Day 6 – Ketchikan, AK
Day 7 – Victoria, Canada
DAY 8 – Seattle, WA

Norwegian Encore sails Alaska from April to October. In the Winter, you can find the Norwegian Encore in the Caribbean before it returns to the Pacific Coast to sail North to Alaska.

Cruising on Norwegian Encore

Embarkation in Seattle Cruise Port on Encore

Where does the Norwegian Encore cruise ship dock in Seattle? NCL Encore docks at Pier 66 of Seattle.

The embarkation process at Seattle Cruise Port was slow. We even waited until noon to check in, thinking we’d avoid the worst, but that was not the case. 

Embarking at Seattle Cruise Port was a bit of a drag. Despite our strategy to skip the early morning rush by checking in at noon, it hardly made a dent. Here’s the lowdown:

  • The Wait: From dropping our bags with the porter to clutching our key cards, it was a 90-minute saga.
  • Pro Tip: Have your ID and cabin number ready. You’ll hit a checkpoint immediately to confirm your cruise booking.
  • Security Breeze: Once past ID checks, security was surprisingly swift, thanks to the port authority’s efficiency in keeping the line moving.
  • Check-In by Deck: We were directed to a check-in area specific to our deck. Word of warning: unless you’re a Latitudes member or have scored a priority booking like The Haven, brace for a bit of a wait.
  • Online Check-In?: We did our homework, completed online check-in 21 days out, selfies, etc. Yet, at the counter, it was another photo and health Q&A time again before we finally got our hands on those cruise key cards.

I couldn’t help but wish NCL would take a leaf out of Celebrity’s book—where online check-in means just that. They scan your barcode, do a quick verify, and then it’s smooth sailing (literally) onto the ship.

kathy enjoying the seattle skyline after embarking on the shipPin

Don’t stress. Once you’re on the ship after you embark, you forget about the lines and can start enjoying your cruise vacation.

First Thing Onboard: Muster Drill


Our first move was to head to the muster station for check-in right after boarding the Norwegian Encore. It’s wise to complete this early upon embarkation.

Norwegian Cruise Line has reintroduced virtual muster drills, responding to passenger preferences. Initially, they had resumed in-person gatherings at muster stations, but this approach was short-lived.

Passengers receive the muster safety video via email multiple times before the cruise to ensure they watch it before departure. Additionally, the video is available on the NCL App after signing in and on the cabin’s TV on embarkation day.

Watching the video before muster station check-in is mandatory. Completing this step promptly is essential to avoid delaying the ship’s departure.

Make Reservations As Soon As You Can

✔️ Checked in to Muster.

After embarking, securing any reservations that were not pre-booked is important. Although dining reservations can be made 90 days prior via the NCL website or app, some plans require on-the-spot scheduling:

  • Dining: Head to Deck 6 at the Teppanyaki restaurant for dinner bookings.
  • Entertainment: The Social Club, also on Deck 6, is where you can reserve spots for shows and activities.

We had preemptively reserved our two specialty dining experiences, courtesy of our Free at Sea perks, 90 days before setting sail. “Choir of Men” entertainment was booked 21 days in advance. Close to the sail date, after upgrading to the NCL Premium Plus package—which added two more specialty dining opportunities—we found ourselves needing additional reservations.

Important Tip: Teppanyaki is exceptionally popular, so it’s wise to book as early as possible. Despite our efforts, we couldn’t secure a reservation at a suitable time.

Read more: Norwegian Cruise Drink Packages Explained

Norwegian Encore Cabin # 9218 Review

norwegian encore balcony cabin 9218Pin

Cabin 9218 on the Norwegian Encore is located mid-ship on the port side and has a balcony. We usually land on decks 9 or 8 when we cruise. The balcony is a must-have, especially for Alaska. It’s ideal for enjoying the views, spotting wildlife, and relaxing with a book.

However, a word of advice: always check what’s beneath your cabin. Our oversight did not realize that the Sugarcane bar was directly below, leading to some days and evenings with a mix of cheers and laughter filtering up to us. At night, the sound of furniture being rearranged was our unexpected lullaby. Despite this, the serene morning in Glacier Bay, breakfast on the balcony amidst the stunning landscape, was unmatched.

Key points about cabin 9218:

  • Power Up: Insert your key card (or any similar-sized card) into a slot by the door to activate the cabin’s electricity.
  • Cabin Layout: The sofa next to the balcony door is a cozy spot for reading.
  • Bed Comfort: The bed is quite firm; consider requesting an egg crate topper for added comfort.
  • Electrical Outlets: The vanity has three US outlets and a couple of USB-A ports on the bedside lamps. But maybe bring a USB port charger to have your bases covered.
  • Bathroom Features: Expect a glass-enclosed shower, provided shampoo/conditioner, body soap, and plenty of shelving for storage, though there are no drawers.
  • Service: Turndown service is no longer offered, but responsive cabin service (thanks to our attendant, Rachel Madrid) ensured us that requests like extra towels were readily accommodated.
  • Location: It is conveniently close to the AFT and FWD elevators and just a short walk from the ship’s main venues.

Tip: Don’t forget to follow the fish on the carpet if you’re going FWD on the cruise ship.

YouTube video

Read: Clever Cruise Cabin Tips and Tricks

Sail Away from Seattle

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Setting sail from a bustling city is always a highlight of cruising for me, offering a perspective you can’t get on land. The experience of leaving Seattle was as unforgettable as our sail away from New York City, though in its own unique way. Watching the Seattle skyline, with the Space Needle, the Great Wheel, and the city’s skyscrapers fading into the distance, was a spectacular send-off into our voyage.

Where can you get the best view of the Seattle skyline while sailing away on Norwegian Encore?

For the best views leaving Seattle on Norwegian Encore, want to find a spot on the top deck or The Waterfront starboard side, slowly making your way to the AFT for a panoramic view.

family waving during sail away on cruise ship from seattle cruise portPin

Service on Norwegian Encore

In reviewing the Norwegian Encore, it’s impossible not to spotlight the outstanding service. The crew aboard the Encore is simply phenomenal, always eager to enhance your vacation and make it unforgettable.

My critiques of the Norwegian Encore don’t extend to its crew; they’re exemplary, striving tirelessly to deliver an exceptional experience, even in moments of apparent stress.

Despite the hustle—navigating through crowds, the endless energy of kids, and the occasional high-maintenance guest—the staff remains unflappably courteous and attentive.

A personal testament to their dedication: I once left my phone in a bathroom, only to find upon my panicked return that the attendant had secured it safely at lost and found. I was immensely grateful, thanked her with a tip, and filled out a Vacation Hero commendation, just as I did for my cabin attendant.

Tip: If a crew member assisted and went above and beyond in any way for you, and you think they deserve more, fill out a Vacation Hero Card at guest services. This helps them immensely behind the scenes to promote and receive other incentives.

Dining Aboard the Norwegian Encore

We upgraded to the Premium Plus Package, which included two extra specialty meals and the two that came with the original perks. Therefore, we spent limited time in the main dining rooms but will still share our experiences.

What restaurants are free on Norwegian Encore?

Taste, Savor, Manhatten Room, The Garden Buffet, and The Local are the restaurants included on the Norwegian Encore.

family waving during sail away on cruise ship from seattle cruise portPin

The Garden Buffet

Our buffet visits on the Norwegian Encore were few, often feeling like a plunge into chaos. We ventured in occasionally for pizza, snacks, and desserts.

One breakfast attempt left us regretting not opting for alternatives. We were forced to choose between waiting in line for an omelet or settling for powdered eggs. The dining room, The Local, or even room service (despite the extra cost) are far better options for a more satisfying start to the day.

The buffet’s fare at other times was decent, with nothing particularly memorable except for some delicious chocolate brittle on the first day.

  • Remember to check the Freestyle Daily for themed lunches and dinners—they can add variety to your dining experience.

Regrettably, we missed the Indian food, usually a highlight at NCL buffets. On a positive note, the pizza on the Encore, complete with real cheese, redeemed our less impressive pizza experience on the Joy. However, the buffet’s late-night options were non-existent. Gone are the days of grabbing pizza or cookies after 10 p.m., a convenience we enjoyed on other ships.

Tip 1: When it’s packed, grab a seat first and take turns getting food to avoid standing meals.
Tip 2: Craving cookies? They’re not out in the open, so ask near the ice cream/dessert station. They’re happily provided upon request.

Taste & Savor

main dining room on the norwegian encorePin

Taste and Savor, two of Norwegian’s three main dining rooms, offer meals included in your cruise fare. We tried them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, finding solace from the crowded buffet.

Breakfast was a highlight in the dining room. An early arrival means a quieter setting, perfect for enjoying coffee and fresh eggs by the window. The menu is largely consistent and features a few rotating special breakfast items.

eggs benedict serviced with coffee and a full spread on table on the norwegian encorePin

Lunch brought a pleasant change with three rotating menus. Dining here provided a welcome escape from the ship’s hustle and bustle.

Taste and/or Savor is open for LUNCH on days it is at sea. Consider eating here instead of the buffet. 

Dinner experiences at Taste and Savor varied. The service felt either lacking or hurried, not from a lack of effort but due to the overwhelming number of guests. Staff, including managers pitching in to assist, worked hard to deliver exemplary service, emphasizing our vacation should be relaxing, even insisting on refilling our sparkling water themselves.

Among the standout dishes was a Hawaiian Pork Belly, highly recommended by multiple servers—and they didn’t miss. The same night, cannoli for dessert came highly suggested and did not disappoint.

The servers were our reliable guides to the menu, accurately pointing us towards the best dishes.

We usually enjoy dining at The Manhattan, the third main room, on other NCL ships, but we didn’t visit it on this cruise.

The Local

The Local, included in your cruise fare, is practically open 24/7, offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a pared-down late-night menu.

This time around, The Local really stepped up its game. I’m usually on the fence about it, but the Wrangler Burger and the carrot cake genuinely impressed me. Although I noticed the Rueben getting a lot of love from other diners, pastrami isn’t my thing.

However, service is the one area where The Local continues to fall short. It’s not a reflection of the staff’s effort but rather an indication of being understaffed during peak times, struggling to keep up with the restaurant’s popularity.

Food Republic

Given all the great things I had heard about it, I was still baffled as to why we waited so long to try Food Republic on NCL. The moment we sampled the offerings, it was clear: the food here is delicious and offers the best desserts we encountered on our cruise.

Food Republic’s specialty is sushi, which initially deterred us since my husband isn’t a fan of fish. However, the reality was a delightful surprise—an Asian Fusion menu packed with various meat options, all served in a tapas style that was ideal for sharing. The menu is a mix of dishes like sushi, ramen, and pork belly bao with unexpected Mexican twists like Tijana fries.

If you’re dining with the specialty dining package, each diner can select up to four dishes, including desserts. For us, that meant a feast of eight shared plates, ranging from small appetizers to full-blown entrees. We relished every dish we ordered, though I regret not capturing the Lamb Kalbi, another standout, in our photo memories.

Our top tip: come hungry, but order wisely. You’ll place your order through a tableside tablet, and dishes are served as soon as they’re ready.

Keep an eye on the newsletter for opening times. Food Republic was available for lunch (for an extra fee) on one of our final sea days.

Food Republic Menu on Norwegian Encore PDF

Le Bistro

Le Bistro holds a special place in our hearts on Norwegian Cruise Line. As you might remember from my past reviews, we’ve always made a point to visit.

The cuisine at Le Bistro remains exceptional, though the menu has seen some adjustments. Notably, the veal chop has been removed, and opting for the Filet now incurs a $10 supplement charge if you’re using the specialty dining package.

I left my comfort zone this time and chose the Dover sole for my main dish. It was decent, but I envied my husband’s Filet de Boeuf, which was remarkably tender and flavorful.

However, Le Bistro’s ambiance on the Norwegian Encore is compromised by its peculiar placement. Tucked away on deck 17 AFT, nestled behind the American Diner, adjacent to the Galaxy Pavilion, and beneath the rumble of go-karts, it’s clear that in the ship’s design phase, the quest to accommodate as many specialty dining options as possible relegated Le Bistro to a less-than-ideal location.

Despite the impeccable food and service, the dining experience was marred by a constant vibration, an anomaly we hadn’t felt elsewhere on the ship during our week-long journey. Consequently, we opted to cancel our second reservation at Le Bistro for that week, choosing instead to explore what Los Lobos had to offer.

Le Bistro Menu on Norwegian Encore PDF

Los Lobos

Out of curiosity, we gave Los Lobos a shot, admittedly with a bit of skepticism given the high bar set by Los Angeles’ Mexican cuisine. To our delight, Los Lobos was a hit.

Heeding our waitress’s recommendations paid off—she guided us flawlessly. The stars of the meal were the tableside guacamole and queso fundido for starters and the carne asada as our main dish.

The portions are generous with the specialty dining package, so it’s wise to order with your appetite in mind. We found ourselves overwhelmed by the abundance of food, managing only one dessert between us.

For those without the specialty dining package, opting for an à la carte experience at Los Lobos is still worthwhile. It’s the perfect venue for enjoying a few appetizers accompanied by a margarita

Los Lobos Menu on Norwegian Encore PDF

Onda by Scarpetta

Onda by Scarpetta on the Norwegian ship was a pleasant surprise, especially since we are quite particular about Italian cuisine. However, we were skeptical about whether it could truly deliver an authentic experience.

The pasta, however, was delicious.

We kicked things off with the pizza, which was all right but didn’t wow us. The real game-changer was the stromboli included in the bread basket—it was so good that it rendered ordering pizza unnecessary. A salad or burrata would make better choices alongside it.

The pasta dishes genuinely impressed us. I went for the Tagliatelle, teeming with lobster in a spicy tomato sauce, and it was nothing short of divine. Skeptically, my Italian husband tried the Pappardelle Bolognese, fully expecting disappointment. Instead, he polished off his plate, much to his own astonishment.

Though we didn’t capture it in photos, the tiramisu for dessert continued the trend of exceeding our expectations.

And here’s a special shoutout to the Palermo Old Fashion cocktail at Onda—a highlight.

Onda by Scarpetta Menu on Norwegian Encore PDF
Onda by Scarpetta Dessert Menu on Norwegian Encore PDF

Other specialty restaurants and specialty eateries on Norwegian Encore we did not try on this trip:

  • Ocean Blue
  • Q Smokehouse
  • American Diner
  • Cagney’s
  • Teppanyaki
  • Coco’s
  • The Bake Shop

Tip: If you arrive early at any restaurants onboard, don’t hesitate to request a window seat. The staff are more than willing to oblige if they can. Given the prolonged daylight on an Alaskan cruise, this prime spot lets you feast your eyes on breathtaking views and possibly spot some wildlife as you dine.

Starbucks on Norwegian Encore

Finding only one Starbucks on the Norwegian Encore, located on Deck 6 near the atrium, was a bit of a surprise, especially since the Joy boasts two. Despite the potential for long lines, the stellar staff improved the experience significantly.

Earl, a standout barista, was a whirlwind of efficiency, always managing to hustle through orders while ensuring quality. The speed of service and attention to detail sets Starbucks apart. Each coffee was crafted with care, not merely assembled, culminating in the delightful finishing touch of latte art.

Starbucks’s quality on the ship starkly contrasted with the everyday experience on land. While I seldom visit Starbucks at home, the coffee on the cruise was exceptional, earning a solid A+ in my book.

Additionally, the convenience of having the Premium Plus Package meant we could enjoy specialty coffees at the sit-down restaurants, too. Ending dinner with a dopio espresso.

norwegian encore starbucks prices  Pin

It’s handy to know that, as of August 2023, drink and coffee prices at the NCL Encore’s Starbucks are comparable with what you’d find on land. All your Starbucks drinks are included if you hold the Starbucks Package or the Premium Plus Package. This adds a nice layer of convenience and value to your cruise experience, allowing you to enjoy your favorite beverages without worrying about extra charges.

Norwegian Encore Activities and Entertainment

On our cruise, we decided not to chase down every show, focusing instead on soaking in Alaska’s breathtaking scenery and indulging in the ship’s eats. With the Encore at full capacity, we avoided the more crowded events when possible.

Attending events at The Cavern or the Social Club was particularly tricky. The seating capacity in these venues couldn’t cope with the demand from the ship’s guests, making early arrival essential for securing a spot. So, I advise showing up well in advance for those planning to catch performances in these intimate venues.

Choir of Men

Cost: $0 | Reservations Recommended


The standout performance on the Norwegian Encore is undoubtedly the “Choir of Men.” We were unsure what to expect when heading in, but the show blew us away.

This British musical blends heartfelt emotion, humor, and incredible talent. The cast delivers energetic renditions of beloved songs spanning decades. The show starts with a prelude, engaging the audience and even offering beers on stage—a festive vibe maintained from start to finish.

It’s an absolute must-see. Reservations open up 21 days before sailing, but I’ve heard it’s quite feasible to get in on standby at the theater without a reservation.

The “Choir of Men” cast also performs “Dudes Sing the Divas” at the Cavern Club. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find seating when we attempted to attend last minute. Despite enjoying the initial moments, the lack of comfortable viewing space led us to leave early. Keep an eye on the Freestyle Dailies for this one—it’s worth trying to catch.

Note: Kinky Boots used to be a headlining production, but in January 2023, NCL cut back on entertainment, which led to this show being canceled. Most recently, in June 2023, NCL cut back on even more productions across their fleet.

The Beatles Invasion

Cost: $0

This might be a bit of an unpopular opinion, but we didn’t enjoy the performances as much as “The Beatles Story” we experienced on the Joy. Nonetheless, if you’re a Beatles fan, it’s worth listening.

The band plays in both the Cavern Club and the Theater, offering multiple opportunities to catch their rendition of Beatles classics.


Cost: $15 per ride for 10 minutes of racing | Reservations required


The Go-Karts on the Norwegian Encore are a must-try, ideally booked in advance. Stretching impressively across two levels from Deck 19 to Deck 20, they represent one of the ship’s pinnacle attractions.

My husband, a car and racing enthusiast, was eager to test them out. While the experience was enjoyable, frequent interruptions to enforce rules or assist drivers stuck in corners slightly marred the excitement, dampening the thrill of the race.

Personally, I feel the Go-Karts occupy an excessive amount of valuable ship real estate. Given the choice, I’d advocate for an additional pool to enhance the onboard leisure options.

The Pool Deck on Norwegian Encore

The Norwegian Encore has two pools outside of The Haven and Thermal Spa areas: one designated for kids and the other ostensibly for adults only. The latter rule appears to be more of a suggestion than a strict policy.

During our cruise, we opted not to use the pools, but we noticed many people basking in the unexpected sunny weather in Seattle on embarkation day. So, a tip for future cruisers: pack your swimsuit in your carry-on to be prepared for such opportunities. This Alaskan cruise saw several warm days, a rarity, with many guests seizing the chance to enjoy the weather.

  • Hot Tubs: The ship features 9 hot tubs, often found to be full of children.
  • Aqua Park: Located right next to the kids’ pool, catering to younger guests.
  • Water Slides: Includes the Aqua Racer and Ocean Loops, though we didn’t try these out on our

The Casino on Deck 7

Deck 7 of the Norwegian Encore is dominated by the Casino, which, to our surprise, was often quieter than expected. The lack of the usual bustling crowd on other cruises was noticeable, with fewer passengers participating in the games.

One commendable feature is the Casino’s designated smoking section, effectively isolated from the rest, ensuring a more pleasant experience for non-smokers.

There were also several enticing activities we didn’t explore but are worth noting for their extra cost and popularity among guests:

  • Laser Tag: Our attempt to book a slot fell through because it was completely reserved.
  • Galaxy Pavilion
  • Virtual Escape Room

The Spa Thermal Suite on Norwegian Encore

Cost: $299 to $350 pp for the week

Though we didn’t secure a pass for the Thermal Suite on the Norwegian Encore, we regret this decision in retrospect. This Thermal Suite stands out as one of the nicest ones we’ve seen on Norwegian ships, warranting a special mention in this review for its array of features.

The Thermal suite includes heated chaise lounges, a thermal pool, a hot tub, dry and wet saunas, a salt room, and a cold room. Its exclusivity is notable—only up to 100 passengers can purchase a thermal pass, making it a serene retreat from the ship’s hustle and bustle.

For those considering a similar cruise, it’s worth noting that a limited number of passes are available for purchase before embarkation, with the option to buy on embarkation day if any remain. Occasionally, daily passes are offered, though these, too, are limited in availability. Next time, securing a thermal pass will be a high priority on our list for an itinerary like this.

Observation Lounge: Crowds, Wildlife, and Lounge Lizards

The Norwegian Encore’s observation lounge was a magnet for crowds during our Alaska cruise, particularly when snacks were available. Five to six stations offering light fare emerged at specific intervals throughout the day, drawing quite an audience.

On a few occasions, securing seats around lunchtime proved possible, employing a strategy of waiting for the majority to head to the buffet. However, the moment food was served within the lounge, the noise level soared, and the area became densely populated, prompting our departure.

Despite the hustle, snagging a spot in the Observation Lounge was worth it for the panoramic views and wildlife spotting opportunities. On the first day at sea, we were thrilled to see whales, dolphins, and seals, with each sighting bringing a wave of excitement throughout the lounge.

The lounge’s bar deserves a mention for its exceptional drink concoctions, which add to the space’s appeal.

One downside, however, was the tendency for some passengers to treat the lounge as their personal living space, occupying seats from dawn till dusk.

Finding Scenery on the Waterfront


Deck 8’s Waterfront is a hidden gem for those seeking tranquility and unmatched views, especially during our Glacier Bay glide. Surprisingly, it remained uncrowded, offering unparalleled vistas without the hustle of the ship’s more frequented spots.

Experiencing the wilderness and wildlife directly from the Waterfront elevates the moment far beyond what the Observation Lounge can offer. Yes, it’s chillier out on the open deck, but the vivid, unobstructed views and the opportunity to capture the natural beauty without the hindrance of glass or watermarks are invaluable.

For cruisers looking to dodge the crowds with a touch of exclusivity, the Vibe Beach Club presents an attractive albeit paid alternative.

Other Observations of the Norwegian Encore

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  • Smooth Sailing: Our journey was remarkably smooth. I scarcely felt the ship’s movement except for our dinner at Le Bistro.
  • Crowded Spaces: As expected for a mid-summer cruise, the Encore was at full capacity. The crew was fantastic, though visibly stretched thin by the demands of a full ship.
  • Cabin Attendant Workload: Despite the absence of turn-down service, our cabin attendant often worked late into the evening, sometimes seen attending rooms 20 doors away. It raises the question: just how many cabins are they responsible for?
  • Ship Layout: Although the Encore is a sister ship to the Joy, its layout struck us as slightly peculiar. Interestingly, the Joy was initially tailored for the Asian market before refurbishment. Despite this, our preference leans towards the Joy for its distinct charm within the fleet.
  • Glacier Bay Experience: The ship’s bow opens on the morning Glacier Bay is reached, offering a prime viewing spot as we approach the first glacier around 9:15 a.m.
  • Warm Beverages on Glacier Bay Day: The Waterfront was equipped with hot chocolate and coffee stations, including Irish coffee (available for an extra charge without a drink package), perfect for chilly observations of Glacier Bay.
  • Diverse Dining Options: Despite the full capacity, Norwegian excellently offered multiple dining options beyond the buffet for breakfast and lunch during sea days, ensuring no shortage of choices.
  • Seeking Serenity: For those traveling during peak season and searching for quieter spaces on the ship, it might be worth investing in access to the Thermal Spa or The Vibe for a more secluded experience.
  • Efficient Disembarkation: With an early flight on disembarkation day, we opted for the self-assist walk-off option at 7 a.m., finding a line already forming at The Local on Deck 7. Thankfully, the process was swift once clearance was given.

Norwegian Encore Freestyle Dailies

Here are the Freestyle Dailies from our Norwegian Encore Alaska cruise. Remember that these newsletters are specific to our cruise week, and all the times, shows, activities, and details are subject to change.

We’re sharing these to give you a sneak peek into what your cruise might look like and help you strategize your reservations.

NCL Encore Freestyle Daily – Day 1
NCL Encore Freestyle Daily – Day 2
NCL Encore Freestyle Daily – Day 3
NCL Encore Freestyle Daily – Day 4
NCL Encore Freestyle Daily – Day 5
NCL Encore Freestyle Daily – Day 6
NCL Encore Freestyle Daily – Day 7

🚢 Book a Norwegian Encore Cruise

Sailing to Alaska on the Norwegian Encore

norwegian encore cruise ship docked in ward cove, ketchikan, alaskaPin
NCL Encore docked in Ward Cove.

Embarking on the Norwegian Encore to Alaska was a journey filled with breathtaking moments. Yet, I need to share the highlights and the lows for those planning their own Alaska cruise vacation.

Mega-Ship: The Encore is vast and bustling, especially in summer. Those seeking a quieter, more intimate cruise might prefer a smaller vessel. Perhaps an NCL Gem Class ship or another cruise line.

Port Time: Reflecting on our experience, a ship offering longer port stays would have been ideal for a deeper exploration of Alaska.

Docking Distance: The Encore docked furthest from centers, notably in Ketchikan, where the distance from Ward Cove impacted our time ashore with only half a day there. While other cruise lines docked much closer and in the center of town.

Despite these points, our Alaska cruise introduced us to stunning landscapes and wildlife. The Encore, I believe, is perfect for families or groups but less so for our quiet Alaska cruise preference.

Our loyalty to Norwegian doesn’t blind us to areas for improvement. For future Alaskan adventures, as long as we are traveling alone as a couple, we will look for a smaller ship, offering a more personal experience. Ultimately, the best cruise for you aligns with your travel style and what you wish to get from your cruise vacation.

Does Norwegian Encore have an adults-only area?

Yes, the Vibe Beach Club and the Thermal Suite Spa stand out as adult-only havens on the Norwegian Encore. Special passes for these areas are available for purchase on the morning of embarkation day, with the option to sometimes buy them online beforehand.

Does Norwegian Encore have an adults-only pool?

The Norwegian Encore features a pool on the pool deck that is intended for adults only. However, enforcement of this rule is lax, and children often use the pool.

What drinks are free on Norwegian Encore?

On the Norwegian Encore, as with most NCL ships, guests enjoy a range of complimentary beverages. This includes filtered water, standard coffee and tea, select juices and milk during breakfast and lunch, and hot chocolate packets.

For those desiring a bit more luxury, premium cocktails, frozen drinks, bottled water (still or sparkling), soda, and specialty coffees are available for an additional cost.


Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

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  1. We sail out on 10/8 on the Encore. Your review has been very helpful and I have a better idea of what to expect for our first cruise to Alaska!

    1. Hi Christina – Appreciate your kind comment. Hope you have a great cruise@ Have a fabulous time. Since it is an October cruise, let’s hope the ship is not as super crowded for you as it was for us. Either way, Alaska is amazing and you will have a beautiful time.