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Norwegian Encore Sails Into Open Water for First Time



Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest sea-going vessel, the Norwegian Encore, has just successfully undergone another major construction milestone, departing the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, and heading down the Ems River toward the North Sea.

Upon completing the final phase of her construction, Norwegian Encore began her conveyance to Eemshaven, Netherlands, on Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. Initial crewmembers were already on board to begin preparations to welcome guests beginning in November.

Norwegian Encore is scheduled for delivery to the cruise line on October 30 and will be christened by Grammy Award-winning artist and ship’s godmother, Kelly Clarkson, in Miami on November 21. Afterward, she’ll commence sailing seven-day voyages to the Eastern Caribbean, starting on November 24.

Thereafter, she’ll operate Spring 2020 itineraries departing New York City and bound for Bermuda, Canada and New England; Winter 2020 sailings to the Western Caribbean from Miami; and Spring 2021 voyages out of Seattle northwards to Alaska.

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“Today we celebrate a huge milestone for our history-making ship,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “Now is when the anticipation truly begins to build. Our partners at Meyer Werft have collaborated with us to bring the industry-leading experiences from the successful Breakaway Plus class ships to Norwegian Encore, making her truly the best in class.”

At almost 1,100 feet in length, with a gross tonnage of nearly 170,000 and a guest capacity of 3,998, Norwegian Encore will feature many of the innovations that made the Breakaway Plus class of vessels among the most successful in the company’s history, even taking several of the brand’s stand-out attractions to the next level.

Onboard activities will include the world’s longest go-kart racing track at sea, sprawling over 1,100 feet with four high-speed curves that extend up to thirteen feet above the side of the ship; an almost 10,000-square-foot laser-tag arena that incorporates augmented-reality elements; and a new, immersive escape-room and interactive theatre experiences in the 10,000-square-foot Galaxy Pavilion.

An elevated, new, Italian dining experience will be making its debut onboard the Encore, called Onda by Scarpetta, operated in partnership with LDV Hospitality. Onboard entertainment will include world-class shows, such as the Tony Award-winning musical, “Kinky Boots”, as well as returning guest favorites, “The Choir of Man”, and “Happy Hour Prohibition: The Musical”, plus fabulous Beatles cover-band, The Cavern Club.

Norwegian Encore will also boast the distinction of being the company’s first ship to be plastic bottle-free when she launces, though Norwegian will also become the first major cruise line to eliminate single-use plastic bottles across its entire fleet by January 1, 2020.

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Royal Caribbean Makes Additional Comment on Future of Buffets



The buffet—as much a staple on cruise ships as anything—will live on in a different form, at least on Royal Caribbean vessels.

A week after Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, intimated that buffets would likely not exist when Royal Caribbean returns to the sea, reports something of an evolution on that stance.

Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, appeared on Coffee Chat, a weekly talk with travel advisors with host and Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support and Service Vicki Freed, and said buffets will change but not go away entirely.

“(Where) everybody reaches in and everybody touches the same tongs, you’re not going to see (that) on land or sea,” Fain said. “(But) it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a buffet. You might have it where all of that is served to you by other people. And there (are) other possibilities. But the point is that it will evolve.”

By way of example, Fain said to consider the Midnight Buffet.

“I don’t think anyone says, ‘Where’s the midnight buffet?’” he said. “You haven’t seen the midnight buffet for years and that was long before we had COVID-19. Tastes change and people change, and cruise lines change to accommodate.”

Fain told TravelWeekly, sister publication to, that cruisers will adapt, much as air travelers did in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

“If you remember after (that), all of a sudden you had to do a strip search at the airport. You couldn’t take a bottle of water on the plane,” he said. “A lot of people said, ‘Nobody’s ever going to fly. Who’s going to want to go on an airplane?’ Airplane travel didn’t end. In fact, it grew. But it evolved. So it isn’t the same when you go today. You do go through security checks, and you do go through identity checks and frankly, we’ve become accustomed to it and the technology has helped make it easier.”

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