The all-suite Seabourn Encore launched in December 2016 as the first in the luxury line’s new Encore class, which will be followed up in 2018 with Seabourn Ovation. The biggest departure from the line’s older vessels: the size. At 600 passengers compared to 450, the larger ship also has an additional deck.
But for longtime fans of the Seabourn brand, the good news is that the new ship will seem comfortingly familiar. In fact, it doesn’t feel like much of a departure from the Ovation class at all. That additional deck means the line has been able to expand one specialty restaurant space dramatically and add an entirely new one as well.
Adam Tihany, the ship’s designer, has made subtle changes throughout the vessel, removing the large boxy reception desk from the Seabourn Square area to open up this lounge-like space, where guests gather for coffee, puzzles, and to settle into a comfy leather recliner with a good book. He also removed the square central bar in the Observation Lounge, the space used for afternoon tea and piano-filled pre-dinner cocktail hours. The dining room, which on Odyssey class has artistic arches and lots of white columns, has been infused with pops of bright blue color in everything from striking water glasses to gorgeous chandeliers decked out in blue crystal balls reminiscent of Christmas tree ornaments.
Rooms themselves, all of which have verandahs, also look remarkably similar to those on Odyssey-class ships, with the same fabulous walk-in closets and marble bathrooms. The differences: subtle tweaks such as glass-topped tables instead of wooden ones.
What We Love
A Celebrity Chef-helmed Steakhouse: When Seabourn Quest went into dry dock in spring 2016, Restaurant 2 was turned into The Grill by Thomas Keller, a traditional American chophouse. The impressive menu of reinvented classics is the same here, but this outpost on the new Seabourn Encore is more than twice as large, with a sprawling bar and lounge — serving cocktails by celebrity mixologist Brian Van Flandern — and gorgeous glass installations. Dishes themselves are a nod to the past, including lobster Thermidor, creamed spinach, and ice cream sundaes (made with rich house-made ice cream) prepared tableside.
A New Sushi Bar: Traveling often means lots of rich, heavy food and, while we love every dish with Keller’s name on it, they’re also not light. (Fried chicken family-style dinners, anyone?) So if there were anything we would wish for on this new ship it would be a light, healthy option. Enter the Sushi Bar, which has no additional fees attached, or (unlike the Grill) limits on how many nights you can dine there. Best of all, you can take your maki or sashimi to go, and eat it by the pool or on your verandah.
Best Known For
The Retreat: This exclusive lounge on deck comes with 12 cabanas tricked out with couches, ceiling fans, and flat-screen TVs, with a shared hot tub in the middle and a full bar as well as amenities such as fresh fruit and sunscreen. The most striking aspect of the space is the elegant flower-shaped canopy that shades the area. Cabana rental costs $350 per couple on sea days, and there’s no access to the area without paying the full-day rate.
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Who It's Best For
Luxury Lovers: Seabourn’s brand of all-inclusive cruise includes open bar at all times, including in your cabin. Best of all, the house Champagne — which is unlimited — is Nicolas Feuillatte, and you can order a flute with your room service breakfast, by the pool, before dinner, and during the evening show.
World Travelers: Seabourn focuses on international itineraries, and the passengers on this ship tend to be older English-speaking couples who are looking for new and interesting places to cross of their list as they sail around the globe playing cards and engaging in heated debates at Team Trivia. Case in point: Seabourn Encore was christened in Singapore, and is spending her inaugural season in Asia and Australia before heading to Europe for the summer.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
You May Do a Double Take: The truth? If we hadn’t toured Seabourn Odyssey the day after we toured Seabourn Encore, we might not have remembered there were differences in the cabins or most public spaces at all. The main exception is The Grill, where the stunning new design in the wide-open space is as breathtaking as the food.
Sherri Eisenberg is the New York City-based editorial director of ShermansCruise.com.
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Seabourn Encore at a Glance
- Line: Seabourn Cruise Line
- Number of Passengers: 600
- Ship Size: Medium
- Launch Date: 2016