Can the Seabourn Encore live up to its name as a luxury cruise liner?

Seabourn Encore
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Smooth sailing

Renowned hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany wanted Seabourn Encore, the fourth vessel in Seabourn’s growing fleet of upscale cruise liners, to “feel more like a luxury yacht" than a cruise ship. Christened in Singapore in January 2017 before setting sail for a five-month trek through the Pacific Rim, the Encore certainly is geared towards discerning travellers.

Most notable, perhaps, is the ship’s all-suite accommodations. With 12 suite categories offering between 251 to 1,306 square feet of indoor living space — plus up to 906 additional square feet on the outdoor veranda — each of the 300 suites carries a range of high-tech entertainment features, spacious marble bathrooms supplied with Hermes, L’Occitane and Molton Brown amenities, and a complimentary in suite-bar and refrigerator stocked with items reflective of each guest’s preferences.

Outside, guests will find beautifully designed, spacious public areas finished in mahogany wood and chic metal appointments. An adults-only area, The Retreat, has private cabanas (available at an additional cost), a whirlpool, and sun deck, while a spa and wellness centre includes a steam room, fitness studio and gym. Award-winning mixologist and author Brian Van Flandern contributed exclusive cocktails to the Encore’s fine drinks program, which has an open-bar policy throughout the ship’s seven bars and lounges. The Grill by Thomas Keller, an American-style chophouse from the multiple Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur, headlines onboard dining options that include four other restaurants and 24-hour in-suite dining.

The ship’s relative small size allows it to sail to many destinations larger vessels cannot, as well. More than 300 worldwide destinations are on the Encore’s route map, and the optional Ventures by Seabourn program allows adventurous guests to embark on a variety of guided port excursions, such as kayaking in Norway, the Falkland islands and Antarctica.

In some ways, though, the Encore falls short of Tihany’s “luxury yacht" aspirations. For all its posh amenities, for instance, complimentary Wi-Fi is not one of them, as guests must purchase credit at a rate of US$0.40 (S$0.57) per minute. While the ship’s dining program gains considerable heft from Keller’s inclusion, Asian cuisine is surprisingly limited to just one restaurant, Sushi, which — unsurprisingly — specialises in Japanese cuisine and seats less than 30. And while double-occupancy in Encore’s limits guest capacity to 600, a hallmark of today’s finest luxury travel experiences is exclusivity, its voyages are still taken in the company of hundreds of other travellers.

There’s no doubt that Seabourn Encore has raised the bar for luxury cruising. Room remains, however, to raise it even higher.

Seabourn Encore

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Published 16th February 2017