Here’s a fun fact for you: I’ve never been on a cruise.
Well, at least until now.
Actually, I still haven’t been on a REAL cruise yet, but I have now been and slept ON A CRUISE SHIP.
Confused yet? Don’t worry, I’ll explain.
I was invited on the Norwegian Encore last week as part of their inaugural event. No one has ever been on this brand new ship before, and I was selected as one of the lucky few who get to try it out for 2 nights, just without the actual sailing factor.
Sounds a little odd, I know, but due to international cruise ship laws, the ship can’t go anywhere for that short amount of time, so it stayed docked in NYC while we ate, drank, ate some more, watched awesome shows, played virtual reality games, ate again, and danced the night away. Essentially, I had the experience of the cruise without going anywhere. For someone who has always been against cruises, this was actually a dream come true. I got to test it out and see if it was for me. Verdict? 100% would do it now.
Here are some of the highlights of the Norwegian Encore, in no particular order:
- GoKart Speedway and Laser Tag – unfortunately I didn’t get to do these, as they are outdoors and it was FREEZING and raining last week. Some of my friends braved it though. I was also getting over a cold so I didn’t want to make it worse (sorry).
- Galaxy Pavilion – tons of VR experiences on board the Norwegian Encore in here! I actually got nauseous doing one, it was THAT crazy. It was a Jurassic Park-style simulator where you sit in a fake jeep and it moves all around while you drive through dodging dinosaurs. Crazy. I just got a little lightheaded thinking about it.
- Aqua Park – again, not something you can really partake in during November in NYC, but it looks epic! Massive, multistory waterslides, some of which go over the sides of the ship so it feels like you’re flying next to it.
- Casino – if you’re into some light (or heavy) gambling, they have slot machines all over the ship, as well as table games like poker.
- Social Comedy & Nightclub – I rarely go to clubs anymore, but we were passing by this one when we heard really fun music pumping out of it. It was like a great wedding band playing covers while everyone just danced and had a great time. Supposedly they do comedy shows here as well.
- Kinky Boots – I saw this on Broadway a while ago, and I’m happy to report that it was just as good on the ship! If you like singing, dancing, and a good old fashioned drag show, you’ll love Kinky Boots.
- Choir of Man – I didn’t know what to expect with this one, but it was SO FUN. A group of 13-15 guys chilling in “the Jungle”, an English pub, singing some of your favorite jams – from classic rock to pop to who knows what else. Highly recommend.
- Mandara Spa – from massages and facials to salt steams and snowbaths (seriously), this spa has something for everyone and is positively gorgeous. You can buy a day pass and/or book appointments online. These are the only things NOT included with the cost of the trip.
One of my biggest concerns with cruises has always been that the food might not be up to par. I think that may have been the case once upon a time, at least from what I’ve heard through the grapevine, but now thankfully, it seems they have come a long way. Below were my favorites, in no particular order. And when the food is basically unlimited, it gets real dangerous real fast…
Norwegian Encore: Food
- Los Labos – honestly, some of the best Mexican food I’ve had while traveling (including to Mexico). It was very authentic, with delicious tableside guac, chunky salsa, tacos, and crisp quesadillas. Loved it.
- Cagney’s – who doesn’t love a steakhouse on a ship?! I felt like I was Jack Dawson in Titanic; the service was excellent and I was sitting there marveling at the size of the wineglasses. Still, the steak was cooked nicely with that perfectly salty, seared crust. And I really enjoyed the sides – potato gratin and bacon with maple glaze. YUM.
- Onda by Scarpetta – if you haven’t been to Scarpetta (they have multiple locations now), you’re missing out. One of the greatest, butteriest (is that a word?) spaghetti pomodoro of all time.
- Food Republic – if you’re feeling like testing out your chopsticks skills, head over here for some sushi, noodles, dumplings, and more. I tried the veggie dumplings and Thai Steak Noodle Salad – both great!
- Q – this large BBQ restaurant is serving up some straight Texas fire. The smoked chicken and jalapeno cornbread was delicious, and I saw a stage setup in the restaurant. Live country music? You bet.
- Garden Cafe – this was where I lose all self control. It’s the buffet on the 16th floor. They had EVERYTHING here. Steak, pasta, burgers, pizza, fries, seafood, Indian food, and a pasta station to die for. They also carry breakfast in the morning. Omelettes, eggs, pancakes, cinnamon buns, you name it. I came back here like twice a day. It was bad (but in a good way).
- The Local – ok, I’d like to preface this by saying that the food here didn’t blow me away, BUT it’s open 24/7. So when you’re drunk at 1 am and need a snack, you are going to be VERY happy with those pretzel balls dunked in cheese sauce. You feel me? Setting your expectations is key.
All in all, I was very pleased with my 2-day excursion, and I’d be DELIGHTED to try a real cruise to Bermuda or something of that nature. Use my link here if you’d like to book one yourself! See more photos below…
This post was sponsored by Norwegian Cruiseline. All opinions (and bad jokes) are my own.