Want to escape the supermarket onslaught and tired of hearing Uncle Tom’s repeated jokes around the Christmas table then consider a Christmas cruise on Seabourn Encore.
But anytime is a great time to cruise on this luxury ship that comes with all the trimmings.
Name of the Ship
A 16-day Christmas South Pacific Isles cruise from Auckland return.
The 12-deck ship was launched in late 2016 and still has that new sparkle about it.
It’s stylish, chic and impressive that’s due to the sleek Adam D Tihany’s design is all about sleek curves
and attention to detail.
From the stunning central spiral staircase to the innovative Seabourn Square, a rethink of traditional
reception areas with a “living room’’ feel, so much thought has gone into it.
Tihany ‘s design shines in The Restaurant with a massive starburst chandelier with cobalt and aqua glass
balls and the chic Observation Bar with panoramic 270-degree views.
The striking artwork reflects a theme of cultural exploration with paintings, photographs, traditional
crafts, sculptures and video art.
Cabins and Interiors
With 300 chic suites, it is larger than its older sister ships that are smaller.
Suites boast a lavish decor with a walk in robe, grey and white marble bathroom, twin basins, shower,
full-sized bath tub and Molten Brown for Seabourn products.
The bedroom can be divided by drapes from the lounge area that has a wide screen television with 400
movies on demand, complimentary bar fridge – stocked with preferred tipples and comfy seating.
The verandah is perfect for ocean gazing, sea life spotting and a decadent caviar delivery – just pick up
the phone and order any time.
Dining is an adventure with seven bars and lounges and five restaurant and cafes.
Kick start the day with in-room dining – Eggs Benedict tastes even better on the verandah of your suite.
The Colonnade serves a hearty buffet breakfast and lunch while themed dinners set the scene at night –
book outdoors for glorious views and sea breezes.
The main dining room, The Restaurant, serves more formal breakfasts and lunches while it turns on the
glamour at night with fine dining and an impressive menu.
You will find the best French fries and burgers at the poolside Patio that is great for casual lunch as well
as a good selection of tasty dishes served under the stars.
There’s always a crowd at the popular and intimate Sushi restaurant – for lunch its hand- rolled sushi or
Bento boxes with miso soup and a choice of salmon, Teriyaki chicken and vegetarian, with a finale of
Yuzu Sorbet or green tea ice-cream. Hamachi, tuna, prawns and other fresh fish shipped from Japan,
feature on the dinner menu. The service is impressive, staff delightful and it’s super popular.
Frock up for a glamorous night at the oh-so-chic The Grill by Thomas Keller, named after the US culinary
genius behind the French Laundry and Per Se restaurants. There’s no surcharge but bookings are
Mixologists create great cocktails before dining on treats inspired by the three-star Michelin chef – think
Double Consomme Celestine with black winter truffles and julienned crepes, Elysian Fields Farm lamb
medallions with herb crust and a sensational seven-layer coconut cake. Keller’s dishes also appear on
The Restaurant menu.
Head to the take-away cafe on Seabourn Square for seriously good coffee – the macadamia cookies and
ice cream are tempting too.
The itinerary lists Tauranga in New Zealand, Fiji’s Dravuni Island, Lautoka and Suva, New Caledonia’s
Tadine and Kuto, Mystery Island in Vanuatu, Norfolk Island in Australia and New Zealand’s stunning Bay
of Islands with a stop at Russell but rough weather meant some were culled.
Highlights include Tauranga, home to one of New Zealand’s most scenic walks, the famous base track
around of Mount Maunganui where ancient pohutukawa trees cling gracefully to the slopes.
Vanuatu’s tiny, uninhabited Mystery Island with fine white sand, the bluest of water and swaying palm
trees is another standout.
You can set yourself a cracking pace with yoga, Pilates or a gym session followed by a dip in one of two
pools. Destination lectures, card games and golf putting keep you busy on sea days or try some retail
therapy at the jewellery boutique where you can purchase a $400,000 tanzanite pendant.
Deck parties are fun, the trivia competition can be robust and there’s a watersports marina when the sea
and weather gods align. The Venture team deliver natural history lectures and active excursions.
Nightly entertainment varies with excellent shows including An Evening with Tim Rice
featuring the best known musical songs from Jesus Christ Superstar to Evita and The Lion
The High Life
Feel like an A-Lister in the exclusive Retreat on Deck 12, where you can take a dip in the whirlpool, sip
Bollinger, nibble on gourmet offerings and watch a movie in your robe and smart striped thongs, but
luxury comes at a cost.
Spa at Seabourn
The Mindful Living program created by Dr Andrew Weil that reflects his holistic ideas about the mind
and body is integrated into the spa. Treatments such as an amethyst crystal sound bath healing
experience are the talk of the ship while the thermal suite, a type of modern day Turkish bath, with
varied showers, sauna and steam room plus heated tiled lounges is bliss.
What we loved
The Bubbles and Caviar pool experience – where else can you get your champagne flutes topped up and
offered caviar canapes in the pool with the sun shining – just magic.
Chill at Christmas
We cruised at Christmas – which many named The Great Escape as it’s a perfect getaway if you want to
escape cooking and relax.
There were plenty of festivities aboard and the best Christmas lunch and dinner and no washing up!
The Seabourn Encore is the fourth ultra-luxury vessel to join the Seabourn fleet followed by sister ship,
Seabourn Ovation in May last year.
Seabourn Encore embarks on a similar 16 day Australia and New Zealand cruise from Sydney to Auckland on December 21, 2019, priced from $11,999 per person in a Veranda Suite.
The retreat costs US$349 per suite on a sea day and US$249 per suite on a port day.
The author travelled as a guest of Seabourn.