Ship Review: Seabourn Encore A Masterpiece Of Luxe Design
with Vanessa Lee
Vanessa enjoying caviar and champagne
Al fresco dining on Encore
It has always been a pleasure to embark on a Seabourn voyage on any of their ships – but the Seabourn Encore is the best of the best.
I am no stranger to adjectives; I use them freely to acknowledge when a cruise line not only goes above and beyond in their service but also dishes up a fabulous ultra-luxury experience. I was able to appreciate this when I sailed on the Seabourn Encore from Rome to Barcelona. As I wrote about the ship in last week’s news item, it’s an absolute beauty.
Gorgeous, with refined and uber-elegant décor, a mastery of luxe design – and in my own words – luscious and lyrical. She is absolutely exquisite and literally there are NO design flaws. Every pillow, every fabric, custom chair, piece of wood (and there’s a lot of beautiful wood), chandelier and sconce, make this a truly stunning ship.
Seabourn has taken the best of the lovely trio of Odyssey class ships and upped the ante with the Encore (and within a year, sister Seabourn Ovation). The added deck and size has afforded the ability to add the Thomas Keller Grill with its very sexy art-deco bar and to modify certain favourites such as Seabourn Square, the attractive and popular Observation Lounge, as well as The Club and the Grand Salon.
One great addition not found on Odyssey Class is the Retreat on Deck 12 Forward. This is a sanctuary for adults desirous of a day in a cabana and some private time to relax and unwind. The cost for a port day is $249, for sea days $349. Currently they have no half-day rate but this is being reviewed and I hope it will be introduced. A fab bottle of premium champagne is also included in the per day rate. Reservations required.
Here are some key points about SeabournEncore that you need to know and which I hope you will find helpful when introducing this ship to your clients.
Firstly – they are sure to be blown away by the service. Much of the crew is young and they are charming, full of vim and vigour, keen to please, attentive and a delight to interact with.
I love The Restaurant. It’s another major design moment but what I like most is that it is not noisy at all. It is large enough, yet has various areas that exist and seem to change because of the ceiling height and treatment. It’s another clever moment from renowned designer Adam D. Tihany.
The classic menu offering is the same each evening but then enhanced by a choice of dishes entitled Seabourn Inspirations which change nightly. Some selections are also creations from Chef Keller. I would prefer to see the menu expanded a little but overall the food here is very good and earned rave reviews.
A Sushi restaurant – so named - has been added as a spot for lunch and dinner and was highly regarded by all who dined there – including me. A small spot with 8 seats at the counter and then tables for 2 and 4 with a total complement of 30.
The Grill at Thomas Keller is a gorgeous space. There’s no additional charge but reservations must be made and guests may only dine once in a cruise. I suggest booking before the cruise or on the first day to ensure a spot, as they go quickly. I feel The Grill hasn’t quite found its place yet and that the menu could use some adjustment. For someone like me who can’t eat shellfish, there were few choices of appetizers as an example.
The adjacent bar is one of the best spots on the ship with the lovely Suzanne playing piano and singing favourite tunes. The bar is open to all guests – you don’t have to dine at The Grill to enjoy the atmosphere and the great cocktails on offer. There is casual and al fresco dining at the Colonnade and the patio grill offers a small menu of casual lunches and dinners by the pool.
The serene and calm suites are lovely and very similar to Odyssey class with a large bathroom containing a tub, shower and two sinks, which is always my preference. The bed was super comfy and the whole space beautifully and thoughtfully designed. There’s a great walk-in closet with 48 (count them – I did) hangers and loads of drawer space. Seabourn has added a lovely glass table with two tub chairs in navy and cream and a nice, full length couch. The verandah – each suite has one – has two chairs with foot stools and a table.
There’s an in-suite bar with a fridge stocked with your preferred spirits – ie a bottle of my fave vodka and mix plus a welcome bottle of champagne. Attention to detail is everywhere – there are lots of plugs, both US and European, but no USB port (apparently that will be added to this ship and will be on Ovation).
On Seabourn, practically everything is included, champagne is a constant and caviar can be ordered on a whim – and it was! Add to that the line’s partnerships with Adam D. Tihany, Chef Thomas Keller, Dr. Andrew Weil, UNESCO and Sir Tim Rice – well – it’s all so outstanding.
More on all of this next time when I will delve into the wellness and spa options, entertainment, the over-the-top and wonderful Seabourn Moments as well as Seabourn Ventures. There’s too much to tell in just one column.