Seabourn Encore

Seabourn

Ship information

Seabourn Encore

About Seabourn Encore

Seabourn Encore represents an evolution of Seabourn Cruise Line's popular Odyssey-class ships. It's bigger -- 40,340 tons as opposed to 32,000, with an extra deck -- and carries 600 passengers in 300 suites, while the smaller ships take 458. Two new restaurants, Sushi and The Grill by Thomas Keller, are the most notable additions, but there's also a VIP area on the top deck, The Retreat, and a whole new approach to the spa, where treatments and classes are integrated into a new wellness program that, if you choose, can be the theme of your whole voyage.

The ship is laid out such that all the accommodations are forward and all the public areas are aft. The compact size, combined with the presence of forward and aft elevators and staircases, in addition to a dazzling spiral feature staircase looping from Deck 10 down to Deck 3, means that passenger flow is excellent.

Designer Adam D. Tihany has gone for a richer, more sumptuous look than that sported by Seabourn's three Odyssey-class ships. Sharp edges have been rounded to create a curvy, yacht-like feel. There's widespread use of rich dark blue and acres of gleaming mahogany (veneer, of course, this being a cruise ship). Shining stainless steel also features throughout and, despite the darker colors, there's light everywhere, through skylights, floor-to-ceiling windows and clever design.

New concepts have been introduced, not least a program of mindfulness, endorsed by Arizona-based Dr. Andrew Weil, a best-selling author and the founder of integrative medicine. The entertainment has had a makeover, with new shows, and the Ventures by Seabourn concept -- launched in 2016 -- has a team of six onboard to keep passengers informed about the wildlife and ecology of wherever the ship is sailing.

Cabins

Seabourn Encore has 14 cabin types available

Balcony Cabins

4 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

4 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

4 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

4 Balcony types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Suite Cabins

7 Suite types to choose from

Deck Plans

10 deck images available

Activities and Entertainment

Shore Excursions

Seabourn offers a choice of shore excursions, all at extra cost and ranging from half-days to long, sometimes taxing full days. Excursions can be booked online in advance, at the shore excursions desk, or via the in-cabin TV, and they do fill up. Private cars and guides can also be arranged, either in advance or via the shore excursions desk when onboard.

Some excursions have loose themes. The booklet provided in each cabin indicates which ones visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites; which include an element of adventure; and which might work for anybody interested in "mindful living," although these don't include anything extra, like meditation; they're simply to sites of spiritual interest, like Buddhist monuments. The plan is that the onboard mindful living coach will escort one tour per cruise so passengers can chat with them, but this didn't happen on our cruise.

Some excursions are also labeled Ventures by Seabourn and may involve kayaking (in the ship's own kayaks), snorkeling (again, equipment is provided), hiking or simply exploring a remote coastline in one of the ship's six Zodiac inflatables with a wildlife guide who is part of the six-strong Ventures by Seabourn team.

Excursions are expensive, but they're thorough. Water and sometimes snacks are provided, as are hand-sanitizing towels. The included lunches we tried were of a high standard. There was minimal waiting to disembark for tours, and no issues with waiting in line to get back onboard at the end. When the ship is at anchor, the lifeboats are used as tenders.

Keep an eye out for the shopping with the chef excursion, which takes passengers to the local market with the ship's chef. This one is free to any passenger, but you can't book it ahead of time; instead, look for it in your daily cruise schedule. When you see it, pounce! The excursion limits the number of participants, and it will fill up.

Shuttle buses are brought in for ports located away from the nearest town; there is no charge for these.

Daytime and Evening Entertainment

The Grand Salon on Deck 6 serves as theater, concert venue and lecture hall onboard. Although it's chic in design, with big, comfortable seats, sadly, it isn't the most appealing of spaces, as several pillars really interrupt sightlines. Having said that, the space is intimate enough to work well for Seabourn Conversations, the excellent lecture program, and the stage is big enough for some decent production shows, which take place twice nightly. There's bar service during the shows and hot and cold drinks at the entrance for daytime events.

Four singers and dancers and two ballroom dance experts perform in the ship's own shows, with a mixture of stage sets and virtual backdrops. The productions are competent enough, although not earth-shatteringly different. The highlight was "An Evening With Tim Rice," which was superb; the celebrated lyricist narrates (on film) his anecdotes, interspersed with live performances of songs from "Chess," "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "The Lion King," among others, by the ship's singers.

On our cruise, there were a number of guest performers. Three Australian tenors filled the house, although anybody hoping for actual opera was sorely disappointed, "Nessun Dorma" aside. We watched a British magician one night, too.

One deck down on Deck 5, there's a miniature casino adjacent to The Club, with three gaming tables offering roulette, blackjack and poker, and 16 slots. The minimum bet is $1 on roulette, $10 for blackjack and poker. The casino gets quite busy at night; 600 passengers is a big enough crowd to generate some high rollers, who add to the glamor. Outside the door, a humidor display sells Romeo y Julieta, Cohiba and Monte Cristo cigars; note that the casino is nonsmoking.

By day, trivia contests are held in the Observation Bar on Deck 11, with teams accumulating rolling points as the cruise progresses. These are famously competitive. Less intense is the occasional music quiz, for which you don't need to join a team. Other activities include Friends of Bill W. meetings; LGBT get-togethers, unhosted bridge classes and informal play in the Card Room on Deck 8; occasional dance classes with the ship's professionals; and galley tours. There's no charge for any of these.

Enrichment

Seabourn is known for its Conversations and gets some decent guest speakers onboard, relevant to the destination in which the ship is sailing. On our Asia cruise, lecturers spoke about food, herbs and spices, volcanology and anthropology. There were also seminars on mindful living and the usual array of talks from the Steiner-run spa, designed to sell products.

The ship also carries a team of six as part of the Ventures by Seabourn program, which mixes adventurous excursions using the ship's fleet of Zodiacs with talks on the wildlife in the area and a daily wildlife watch from the deck outside Seabourn Square.

Seabourn Encore Bars and Lounges

Seabourn Encore has some beautiful bars and lounges, although the dynamic is quite different from that of the line's other ships. The Grill Bar on Deck 8 has quickly become the place to be seen, while the Observation Bar on Deck 11 has its own following and The Club, so popular on the other ships, seems emptier.

The Club (Deck 5): The late-night venue is done out in mahogany, dark blue and gold, with a contemporary chandelier over the small dance floor. There's banquette seating and small glass tables, and a jukebox in one corner. A quartet plays here before dinner and from the end of dinner until late, and couples get up to dance. The black marble bar is horseshoe-shaped, perched on a raised area with a backlit display of colored bottles. What's odd is that there's no room for the bartenders to mix drinks here, so they keep disappearing into a small galley behind the bar, which kills the vibe somewhat. Nonetheless, The Club is busy late at night, helped by the proximity of the casino and an aft deck area to cool off from dancing.

The Grill Bar (Deck 8): This is the place to be seen before and after dinner and is often standing room only; pianist and singer Katy Shotter, when she's onboard, plays to a devoted following and creates the vibe of a classy jazz bar. The retro-look watering hole is an extension of the smart Grill by Thomas Keller and has the same cocktail menu as the Observation Bar. After it closes at midnight, those left standing head down to Deck 5 to The Club.

Patio Bar (Deck 9): This poolside bar sits in one corner, with wooden bar stools, and does a lively trade in poolside drinks all day, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., weather permitting. Waiters circulate with trays of anything from spritz to daiquiris, and provide an efficient service, so you don't really even need to get up off your lounger.

Sky Bar (Deck 10): One deck up from the pool on the starboard side, this small bar is essentially a version of the Patio Bar below, but saves having to walk down the stairs to place an order. It's by the smoking area, so smokers tend to congregate here.

The Observation Bar (Deck 11): Adam D. Tihany has created a gorgeous, light-filled room. Over the circular bar, there's a big skylight adorned with a whimsical glass sculpture of fish in shades of blue. The decor is tan, cream and rich blue and the bar itself is particularly stylish, with brown leather, marble detailing and blue chairs. The noisiest crowd sits here, chatting with the mixologists. These bartenders make a mean cocktail; try the Vespa, or the signature Ship Made Tonic with Gin, a G&T with a twist, using lime juice, raw quinine powder, soda, sugar and gin. A great piano duo plays up here in the evenings and after dinner, while those with pre-dinner munchies are enticed by a display of tapas between 6:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. In the afternoon, dainty cakes, gooey cookies, sandwiches and fruit tarts are served along with a nice selection of loose-leaf teas, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Seabourn Encore Outside Recreation

A decent-sized pool with teak surround and two hot tubs are the focal points of Deck 9. There are masses of rattan loungers, including some double mattresses on platforms at either end of the pool, but not much shade, which is a problem when the ship is in the tropics. There's a sense of luxury and pampering around the pool with an endless supply of soft towels, for example, and waiters who come round with sunblock, or to clean your sunglasses.

What's particularly appealing about Encore, though, is that there are so many alternative outside spaces. There's a small plunge pool and two hot tubs surrounded by loungers and chairs and tables aft on Deck 5, outside The Club, which is a quiet space to sit by day and an extension of the bar and nightclub area by night (although the net tends to be put over the pool to deter any late-night swimmers). On Deck 7, Seabourn Square opens aft onto another area set up with rattan loungers, chairs and tables. The Ventures team stand here on wildlife watch and passengers come and chat to them; it's a peaceful spot, with permanent shade.

Forward on Deck 7, there's a sunbathing area with a hot tub, three big taupe rattan sofas and some loungers. You get a sea breeze here, but there's absolutely no shade. On Deck 10, there are loungers all around the area looking down on the pool, and a quiet relaxation area aft that belongs to the spa. Yet more outdoor seating is located forward of the Observation Bar on Deck 11, and in another sun trap forward of The Retreat cabanas on Deck 12. If you occupy this, there's drinks service from the bar area of The Retreat, which saves running all the way down to the Sky Bar.

Seabourn Encore Services

Seabourn Square is the heart of the ship, with four concierge desks at the center, all of them open to the room, although passengers requiring more privacy can be seen somewhere less exposed. Seabourn Square is like a comfortable living room, with groups of tables and sofas in gold velour, shiny mahogany and cream leather, shelves of books, magazine racks and a giant jigsaw. There are three internet terminals, although most people use the Wi-Fi that's available throughout the ship; it's neither cheap nor fast. Prices are: $0.40 per minute pay-as-you-go; two hours for $19.95; three hours for $29.95; four for $39.95; seven days for $239.95; and unlimited for seven days or more $399.95.

The shops are tucked away along one side of Seabourn Square and sell logowear, designer cruise wear, perfume, beauty products, Molton Brown and everyday essentials. There's a Furla purse section. Other services include a card room on Deck 8 with 12 tables, and two meeting rooms on Deck 7 used for private events and religious services.

The lack of a passenger launderette caused great indignation when the ship was launched so one was added on Deck 5 -- and the plans for Seabourn Ovation, still in the shipyard, have already been adapted. The launderette is free to use and has five washers, five dryers, ironing boards and a utility sink.

The ship has a medical facility on Deck 4.

Dining

One of the features Seabourn regulars said they liked best about Encore was the increased choice of restaurants. Quite simply, there was no bad meal. From the casual buffet in The Colonnade to the new Grill by Thomas Keller, the jewel in the ship's crown, the food is superb, in quality, presentation and the variety offered. Locally sourced fruit appears on the buffet; the Japanese dishes in Sushi had authenticity; and there's even a booklet in each cabin explaining the provenance of the dishes in The Grill by Thomas Keller, where the food is sourced from Keller's own suppliers. This is certainly a ship for food-lovers. The vegetarian offering is excellent, too.

Service is superb: attentive and intuitive. Crew will go out of their way to make something happen, for example, finding you an outside table for two on a warm night, or running down to Seabourn Square to collect a breakfast cappuccino (as the machine in The Colonnade is poor).

The influence of Thomas Keller, the only American chef with three Michelin stars, on Seabourn's dining scene extends way beyond his eponymous Grill. Every two days, Chef Keller creations appear on the menu in The Restaurant as specials, and there are three more casual nights per week where you can try his family-style dishes in The Colonnade, the ship's more informal restaurant. Seabourn's chefs are taken to Keller's test kitchen in Napa Valley, where they're trained in preparation and presentation. What's more, Keller's ingredients, even on the ship, come from a range of small, handpicked suppliers worldwide, from the Californian caviar to the Tuscan olive oil.

There are no supplemental charges for dining in any of Encore's restaurants.

The Restaurant (Deck 3): The Restaurant is absolutely beautiful. Adam D. Tihany's design resembles a geometric, creamy-white tree, with "branches" extending over the ceiling, interspersed with whimsical contemporary chrome chandeliers sporting bright blue, gold and mauve glass balls. There's more blue in the water glasses and an otherwise monochrome look of whites and pale golds. It's classy and genuinely feels like a grand restaurant as opposed to a cruise ship dining room. The acoustics are good, with evening tunes provided by a pianist on a baby grand.

The Restaurant can seat 400 people at a time. There are four big tables for 10, a couple of eights and a selection of sixes, fours and plenty of twos. We never had a problem getting a two-top and we never had to wait in line; there are entrances at the front and the back, which helps.

The Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast (a brief window from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.) is essentially the same dishes as those served in The Colonnade -- eggs Benedict, omelets made to order, bacon, hash browns and steaks, as well as assorted fruits, cereals, a wide range of pastries, and healthier items like smoked salmon.

Lunches (12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.) are reasonably light, with two starters, three mains and two desserts on a daily changing menu. Items like pan-sauteed salmon and a chipotle peppered beef wrap caught our eye. There's an always-available menu, too, with two starters, four mains and four desserts, the mains consisting of hot dogs, burgers and steaks. The only vegetarian item on the fixed menu is salad but it's easy enough to request something, whether you order off-menu (within reason, of course), combine two starters or ask for something from the menu to be adapted without the meat.

Dinners (6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.) are elegant affairs, with rich, sumptuous food, although it's easy enough to assemble something lighter if you choose carefully. Every day, there are three starters, two soups, five mains and four desserts on top of an "always available" menu of plainer fare like steaks and chicken breast. Typical dishes include a foie gras and morel terrine, miso-glazed salmon, goat cheese tart and, for dessert, chocolate chip lava cake and a hot fudge sundae.

Keep a lookout for the Thomas Keller specials every two days (a summary of what's on in every restaurant is helpfully provided in your suite the night before). Some of the dishes in The Restaurant included California white sturgeon caviar; a grilled "calotte" of prime beef; and one of the most sublime vegetarian dishes we've ever tried, cassoulet of Rancho Gordo heirloom beans with an eggplant confit. It's opportunities to try food like this, at three Michelin star level, that takes Seabourn Encore's dining to a whole new level.

Wines are poured generously and although there's a red and a white wine of the day featured on the menu, the sommeliers are flexible at bringing an alternative without nudging you toward the premium list.

Seabourn Square (Deck 7): The coffee bar in Seabourn Square (6:15 a.m. to 6 p.m.) is packed in the mornings and justifiably so -- finally, a cruise ship with decent coffee, a highly skilled and passionate barista and even a small roastery. There are no charges for coffees, and the assortment of dainty cakes -- from fruit tart to grandma cake, shortbread and little chocolate pots -- and finger sandwiches tempts many, even after a large breakfast.

Sushi (Deck 8): This new-to-Seabourn dining venue is popular and prettily done out in cream and gauze with big picture windows along one side. There are eight seats around a communal dining area, five two-tops, two tables for four and a more private booth. At lunchtime (11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.), you can order bento boxes, with a choice of teriyaki chicken, miso salmon or tamarind-glazed mushrooms, served with miso soup and a salad. Dinner (6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.) is sushi and sashimi, as well as small plates and salads, and light desserts like a refreshing green tea sorbet. As you might expect, it's mainly fish, but the chef is obliging when it comes to making vegetarian rolls.

Drinks include Japanese beer, sake, wine and Sencha green tea.

Reservations are available for dinner (though we found they're not necessary), but lunch is first come, first served, and not that busy.

The Grill by Thomas Keller (Deck 8): This swanky grill is the piece de resistance of the new ship and has been a huge hit from the beginning. It's done out in dark browns and golds, with tables for two, four and six and a glass-and-chrome wine tower at the entrance. It has a real buzz, not least from the packed cocktail bar at the entrance, which is busy the whole evening and most definitely the place to be seen. The Grill is open for dinner only, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; reservations are essential.

To be clear, though, this is a grill so don't go expecting a version of Keller's legendary French Laundry. There are six starters, nine mains and six desserts with a daily special of each. The food is as you'd expect from a grill, but a cut way above the average -- a delicious crabcake on top of a rich aioli; roast chicken so moist the knife glides through it; lobster thermidor so spectacular I heard people discussing it in an elevator. Starters include things like Caesar salad prepared tableside and New England clam chowder. Mains, lobster aside, are rib eye of Snake River Farms beef and Dover sole, with eggplant Parmesan for vegetarians. Sides are way more than an afterthought and include garlicky spinach, a rich mac 'n' cheese, steak fries and glazed carrots. Save room for dessert, which includes a seven-layer coconut cake, lemon meringue pie and a decadent ice cream sundae.

Wines of the day are poured as they are elsewhere on the ship. The premium wines, housed in a tower at the entrance to the restaurant and selected by Eric Johnson, the sommelier from The French Laundry, range from reasonably priced to seriously expensive; for example, $39 for a Napa Valley Sauvignon 2015 to a Colgin Ix Estate 2012 for $789. A 2012 Australian Shiraz from the Barossa Valley is $39. Wines by the glass start at $12.

The Colonnade (Deck 9): The Colonnade, the casual, indoor-outdoor dining venue, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, is different on Encore from its incarnation on Seabourn's smaller ships. Tihany has opened it out, so on entry, you're greeted by fresh, colorful buffet displays, rather than tables. There's a big outside seating area with a permanent shade and one deck down, more outside seating, with a small buffet at breakfast and lunch to save diners trekking upstairs for their salads. (Waiters carry the plates in any case, so sitting here is no hardship.) There's plenty of seating inside, too, and there was never a problem finding a table.

We loved The Colonnade for many reasons, dining outside in the tropics being one of the main ones. The make-your-own salad area at the all-buffet lunch (noon to 2 p.m.) is stupendous, and some of the hot dishes were truly delicious, from chicken satay with Indonesian-style rice to a mushroom lasagna and a daily roast.

Dinner (6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.) is served, rather than a buffet, and followed loose themes, among them Mediterranean, Singaporean, Chinese and Indian. (The exception is Indian night, which features a buffet and menu selections; with seven different curries to try, this theme night was spectacular.) Theme nights generally include a choice of starters, mains and desserts. Every couple of nights, there's a Thomas Keller theme (for which you need to reserve), with main course dishes designed for sharing family-style as an echo of his restaurant, Ad Hoc, in Napa Valley. These are rich and heavy -- things like platters of ribs and fried chicken. In addition, there's an always-available menu of classics like shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, steak and salmon.

Breakfasts (8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.) were nicely presented with a buffet and a menu of specials but, we felt, the weakest spot. The fruit juices are sweet and most definitely not freshly squeezed, while the cappuccinos were pretty awful and we got into the habit of collecting coffee at Seabourn Square and taking it up. There were always plenty of excellent pastries and a decent array of fruits, though, and there's a menu of eggs to order, also featuring pancakes, waffles and dishes like eggs Benedict. (However, the omelets had a weird, gritty texture and generally lacked flavor; we opted for fresh poached or fried eggs instead.) One corner on the buffet alternates every other day between congee (a rice porridge with savory side dishes) and ciabatta sandwiches. We only discovered during a chance conversation with a waitress that you can place a special order for veggie juice, which we did so on our last day; we enjoyed an excellent carrot, apple and ginger concoction. We also wish breakfast began earlier because many of the excursions started at 8:30 a.m., and we felt time crunched to get a meal in before our day in port.

The Patio (Deck 9): The Patio is a casual dining spot by the pool. At lunchtime (12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.), it's the default dining spot for many with a colorful salad buffet, daily specials like fajitas, regulars including burgers and fries and a small a la carte menu featuring items like grilled sea bass. In the evenings, you can dine outside here from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., with three salads or cold starters, four mains and one pasta of the day on the menu, all served rather than buffet. Dishes include shrimp and crab claw cocktail, arugula and watermelon salad and for mains, grilled swordfish, steaks and brochettes. There's a vegetarian option but you do need to ask for it -- pastas generally can be adapted for vegetarians as well.

Room Service: A range of comfort food is available for in-suite dining, from shrimp cocktail and tomato soup to penne Pomodoro, sauteed salmon, roast chicken breast, club sandwiches and burgers. Ice cream, cookies and cheese are all on the dessert menu. Room service is available 24 hours, with a separate menu for breakfast, which includes hot dishes.