We chose our trip on the Encore because our Jamaica trip on the Joy was cancelled. This trip was that same week, and we originally thought we would be on the Bliss and then it was changed to the Encore! We were so excited to be back on a cruise again, even if it meant a fourth trip to Alaska. The Covid testing had a few snags, but because it was the first sail out on the ship and it was only 60% capacity, we were able to board in the morning. That was amazing to to steal a few extra hours on the ship. We were supposed to be at sea the first night and then port in Skagway. The ship left port late and unfortunately there was a medical emergency that actually turned the ship around so the Canadian Coast Guard could airlift someone off the ship. For that reason the captain decided to miss Skagway and we spent two days at sea. Day three we landed at Icy Straight Point. NCL has build a new dock there and a Gondola ride that takes you to their town center. The day we arrived NCL was celebrating their new port additions (pretty sure this is why we didn’t take a chance to go to Skagway, as we could not be late for this celebration). Although quaint, there is not much to see or do here. The Zip-line is their key attraction and it was a wet and windy day, so that wasn’t all that attractive, not to mention it’s expensive.The next day was Juno, we enjoyed our stay there, but it was a short stay because we sailed into the Dawe’s glacier that evening. The glacier area was beautiful, and the water and “bergies” (little icebergs) were stunning. The last stop was Ketchikan, which has always been our favorite. Unfortunately NCL has decided to build a new port here as well. It is now 20 minutes from town. (Old port you got off the ship right in the heart of Ketchikan) They again had a celebration and ceremony to open this port and again this was the focus. The building everyone was escorted through was hot and unorganized. You had to pay $8 for a bus ticket to and from town. We bought our ticket and waited in line for 40 minutes only to give up and go back to the ship. They did not have enough buses scheduled to handle the passengers that wanted to go into town. So we sadly missed our favorite stop.NCL seems to be trying to create there own port destination experiences that drive people to spend money where they want. It was a bit disheartening. We even had a brief interaction with Harry Sommer (NCL CEO) on the ship where he ask us how the day was. We expressed our disappointment with the new port experience and he just walked away. (So sad when upper management doesn’t want to hear the truth)
As for the ship, it was outstanding!!!! It was clean, the food was to die for and the staff was beyond awesome. There was five star service at every venue. We were all treated like all star guest (a little easier with only 60% capacity but still impressive) and most importantly the environment felt safe. It was a fully vaccinated cruise, so that helped. Our only knock on the ship’s food is that even know you get the upgraded meal package they are now up charging for certain items at some of the upscale restaurants. So at Cagney’s, in order to get crab cakes you had to pay an extra $5 (so ridiculous as it is not the most expensive entree on the menu) and for Lobster (which was a super tiny lobster tail) it was a $19 up charge. I ordered a larger steak than I wanted just because this practice made me so angry.
NCL did a good job considering the circumstances and just returning to the sea. They did not reach out with any compensation for missing a stop or the Ketchikan port experience. If we had not been to Alaska before, I would have been much more disappointed and probably would have cancelled our next sailing.
Our cabin was exceptionally clean, nice size and furnished well. We stayed on deck 15 which was a mistake. We like to sleep with our cabin door open and every morning we heard the scrapping of deck chairs and the cleaning of the deck at 3:00 am. You can also hear people running and moving around on the pool deck when the door is close. The overhang you get on your balcony on this deck also makes it harder for pictures. The adjacency to the Observation lounge is great, but that’s about it for this floor.