This is a review of a 5 day 4 night “Test” cruise on NCL’s Encore from Seattle to Ketchikan and return. The intent of the review is to share what cruising is like in COVID times as cruise-lines try to restart the cruise experience. NCL calls this the “Great Cruise Comeback”. I remind readers that this is just one persons observations. suggestions and thoughts. I will also preface the review in that my wife and I have taken some 35 cruises but this was our first NCL experience.
NCL’s approach to COVID cruising is to create the preverbal COVID free bubble on board with all crew and passengers vaccinated and with passengers quick tested before boarding to ensure, as best as possible, a COVID free environment onboard. Because of this approach, guests are not required to wear masks although the crew did wear masks at all times. The process for pre-boarding was to take a quick antigen test before entering the check-in area. In Seattle, this was done across the street from the dock at the Marriott hotel. NCL had plenty of guides to direct you and explain the process. It took about 30 minutes from start to finish.
Once boarding, it was very much the traditional cruise experience with one exception that cruising is below 100% occupancy. For this specific cruise it was roughly 25%. The ship was fully staffed and it never crowded. We also found the service to be top notch. All venues were open and the quality of the entertainment was excellent.
Basic balcony cabin was great. Roomy, lots of storage a nice shower and a fair sized balcony. Very comfortable for two.
Was a gloomy rainy day so we only took shuttle into town, showed a little and then back to ship. Mask were not mandatory in the stores.