We loved everything about this cruise and Seabourn Encore is now at the top of our favorite cruise ship list. The crew onboard was fantastic we met a lot of great travelers onboard some of which have become great friends. We only wished that we had more time in a couple of ports, but other than that, everything was exceptional.
The coronavirus was just starting to spread to the US and Europe while we were on the cruise and we were hoping at the end of our cruise we would be quarantined on board as we weren't ready to get off the ship even after 16 days onboard. This was the longest cruise we have done and thought it might too long for us, but because there was so much to do in the ports and the onboard/at sea days were so fun (thanks to the new friends we made), we could have easily stayed on for another 7-14 days. Sadly they made us get off the ship!
The memories made on this vacation are ones that I will truly cherish. The new friends made, the stories shared and the overall experience of this trip is beyond words. We were so glad that we opted to cruise on a smaller ship like Encore as the personalized service and more intimate experience was exactly what we had hoped for with this vacation. This was truly a trip of a lifetime for us and I highly recommend to anyone that will stand still long enough to hear about it. My husband and I both agreed that we could easily live in New Zealand or Australia and it would be hard to decide between the two given the opportunity.
5 out of 5
Overall easy experience and very cool building in Auckland
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
Overall the dining venues were fantastic and we enjoyed each of them multiple times during our cruise. One of our favorites was Bevilyn and Nikola at the Sky Bar - they were a lot of fun and we looked forward to seeing them each day. The Observation Bar is lovely for pre or post-dinner drinks.
5 out of 5
The onboard activities for Seabourn are an entirely different pace from larger ships. We thoroughly enjoyed the slower pace on board but we did look forward to trivia every day at Noon on the at-sea days. I should note that we have NEVER played trivia on any ship ever, but on this sailing, it was super fun and the cruise director, Chris and assistant Jo made us want to come back each day.
5 out of 5
The Seabourn singers and dancers were great and while some of the music in the shows was not really our cup of tea (catered to an older crowd), we loved how much they loved performing and they are all VERY talented! Also, the entertainment throughout the ship was lovely and enjoyed all of it. The guest entertainers were also fantastic and really added a nice dimension to the sailing.
no kids program
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Overall everything was fantastic and we really enjoyed the service throughout the ship. We did have a couple of issues here and there, but they were easily addressed/fixed.
5 out of 5
The ship is spotless and immaculately kept!
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Our cabin was very comfortable for the 16 days onboard and there was plenty of closet space and storage throughout the room. The bathroom had jack and jill sinks which was very nice as my husband tends to make a mess in the bathroom.
Deck 5 balconies are steel bottom with only a small part of class before the railing; deck 6 and higher the full balcony is glass below the railing. In colder climates the shelter provided on deck 5 balconies may be preferred
Very cute town that is walkable from the port and has some great shops as well as a couple of grocery stores. We did a wine tour where we visited 6 wineries and had lunch at one of them. If we were to go back, I think I would take the Hop On/Hop Off bus as that goes all over the area and you can spend as much time as you want at favorite spots and some great hidden gems.
This port was sort of meh for us...it's just a big city (the Capital) and too busy for our liking. We did a shore excursion to see the seals and it was a miserable ride cooped up in the back of a Land Cruiser with 5 other people all fighting for leg and elbow space. By the time we got to the seals (1.5-2 hr ride) there were like 5 of them on the beach. Total waste of time and there were other ports on the cruise were there were seals all over the place and much easier to get to. If you like museums, there are several to choose from as well as beautiful botanical gardens.
Great little seaside down that is very walkable. We did a boat cruise to see Hector's Dolphins as well as seals and penguins - saw all of them. Great day on the water and the tour operator had a great capital and naturalist onboard who was very educational as well as entertaining. Loved our day in Akaroa!
By far our favorite port/stop in New Zealand and wished we had more time or an overnight to explore all that Dunedin offers. We did a tour with Experience Dunedin on a modified 5 person motorcycle and the owner/guide was fantastic and it was a great way to see the city. Downtown Dunedin has lots of ships and stores as well as a couple of breweries we wished we had time to explore. Beautiful city!
Oban (Halfmoon Bay), New Zealand
4 out of 5
Oban on Steward Island is a sleepy town on the island. This port is a tender ride to a dock and then a long uphill walk into town or there is a shuttle van that will take you complimentary. There are several shore excursion options that looked neat, but honestly, we were so tired by the time we got to this port we just took it easy and walked around the town and then back to the ship.
With more than 6 meters of waterfall annually, it was very unusual to have a sunny day in Fjordland National Park. The waterfalls were gorgeous and the glaciers in the backdrop made it feel very much like Alaska or Norway. There is no port here, just cruising although there is a zodiac tour from the ship to explore more of the area.
For a large city, it is VERY clean and well laid out. We spend the day with a private tour out to Healesville Animal Sanctuary and then to a few wineries. Love the animal sanctuary and the wineries were all beautiful with great wines. We did wish we had more time to explore the city and it would have been nice to have an overnight at this port or a longer day.
Phillip Island, Australia
5 out of 5
Cute island that has some cool stops on a tour; Philip Island is also accessible from Melbourne (2 hr drive) so if your cruise doesn't stop here, you can still see the Fairy Penguins via a shore excursion in the evening.
Not much to do here and not many shore ex options; we took the shuttle bus into the town and walked around but most of the shops and restaurants were closed for the day. This port is known for it's oysters and our tour was canceled as there was a large (Carnival) ship in the day prior and all the passengers ate all the oysters that had been harvested. We did find a little restaurant a short walk from the pier where we had lunch and the oysters they had were terrible compared to the oysters we get in the US. It was still a fun day all things considered.
LOVE LOVE LOVED Sydney and spend 3 days here post cruise which still wasn't enough to see and do everything this city has to offer. We missed the Fish Market and after seeing friends pictures wished we had time to go. If your cruise starts or ends in this port, be sure to spend at least 3-4 days to see as much as possible. The Hop On/Hop Off bus is a great way to see a lot of the sites and the public train/tram is easy to use as well.
5 out of 5
Super easy disembarkation. We were off the ship and at our hotel in about 40 minutes including travel time to the hotel. There are a couple of piers in Sydney and we disembarked at the one that is on the other side of the bridge and furthest away from Downtown/Circular Quay area.
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