Greetings from a fabulously warm and sunny day in New York City. The last time I checked, the Fahrenheit was sitting at a sumptuous and dreamy 78. At least for now, Spring has sprung.
Our countdown clock now stands at about T-28 hours, which marks our departure for JFK, where we’ll catch our overnight chariot to LHR. As you already know, we’ll have a 22-hour layover and then catch a flight to Abu Dhabi and then we transfer to Dubai for a long weekend.
The reason that we’re jumping through all of these lovely hoops is that, on April 17th, we’re boarding the almost brand new Seabourn Encore, which launched this past January. AAC CPA and I are Seabourn newbies, but we’ve been told that it’s a superior line with excellent service and attention to detail.
The newest addition to the Seabourn fleet , Encore introduces a new class of ship (indeed, the “Encore-class”), and is about 26% larger than the three “Odyssey-class” vessels. Built in Italy at the famed Fincantieri shipyard, Encore carries just 600 passengers in 300 suites.
While the vessel has many of the familiar features and venues of past Seabourn ships, Encore has been totally rethought by famed designer Adam D. Tihany and, from what we’ve heard, the ship operates more like an elegant yacht than a more formal vessel.
So far, all of our dealings with the line have been terrific. One funny thing that happened was that, the day after we booked the cruise, we heard from our travel agents that Seabourn had added an extra day to our cruise at no extra cost to us, which was quite lovely. This cruise – from beginning to end – will last 19 days (9 of which will be sea days), making it the longest time we’ve ever been on a ship. (We’ve already packed some trousers with elasticized waistlines, just in case.)
An important benefit of the Seabourn line is that it is all-inclusive (although excursions are an add-on) and, unlike Crystal or Cunard, every night is a casual night. We’ve heard that the ship will have 1 or 2 optional formal nights, but that will just be in the main restaurant. We’ve been able to eliminate one piece of luggage simply from not having to schlep the formalwear.
Another innovation on Encore – which will be extended to the other Seabourn ships is the new partnership with famed California chef, Thomas Keller (of French Laundry fame, as well as many other establishments). The Grill by Thomas Keller can be booked online one time prior to boarding and, as I understand it, there is no surcharge to dine there, unless you want to order from the premium wine list. We’re already set and will dine there the 3rd night of our voyage.
One unfortunate and truly bizarre situation occurred in February when Encore was docked in Timaru, New Zealand. A sudden change in weather – high winds – caused the ship to lose its moorings, and the ship started to drift away (almost in slow motion) from its berth. Take a look at the following youtube video to see what happened next.
Seabourn Encore gets a boo-boo
We were all relieved to hear that, following a thorough inspection, Encore was cleared to depart on schedule and continued to its next scheduled port. The extremely minor damage was repaired very soon thereafter.
As this is just a preview and, since we don’t embark until next Monday, that’s all I have to say about the ship right now.
In the meantime, I thought you might like to see some photos and renderings of the ship. It looks quite gorgeous and, rest assured, I’ll have more to share with you once we’re on board.
The beautiful new Seabourn Encore
The ship’s atrium – are we dizzy yet?
The Observation Bar – high up on deck 11
The pool deck – there’s also a bar around there somewhere, as well as a casual restaurant
The Colonnade serves up tasty buffets for breakfast and lunch
The Colonnade also provides dining al fresco
Seabourn Square – the center of the ship
Encore’s main restaurant – all open seating
One of the few add-ons: the Retreat – private cabañas rented by the day
A new Seabourn dining venue: Sushi, open for lunch and dinner
Before dining at the Grill, stop by the adjacent watering hole for a cocktail
After whetting your whistle, enjoy your dinner at the Grill by Thomas Keller
So now you have a bit of an overview for our home starting next Monday.
Next time, I’ll tell you more about the fascinating itinerary and the many unique places we’ll be visiting over the next few weeks.
To be continued!!