As I go to press, the Norwegian Encore is heading down to Miami to begin it first cruise with paid passengers on it. They will be headed to the Caribbean and I must say that I am quite jealous of those folks. I was thrilled to be able to go on board for just one day this past Tuesday. I felt that after spending five hours wining, dining and window shopping, I could probably live in this sophisticatedly designed and decorated 170,000 ton sailing palace of steel. I was on board with just NCL execs, travel agents and fellow members of the press so things were relatively quiet.I roamed the ship just to take in the unique modern decor before I took on the two private events I was planning on attending. The Encore has stunning lighting and this particular lighting fixture is almost the depth of a whole floor. I call it the “iceberg fixture” and I hope that is not any kind of jinx, LOL! You will notice that a lot of the restaurants on board have high ceilings and unique lighting designed exclusively to match the decor.This is the fixture on the ceiling of the Manhattan Room. This style straddles the line between Art Deco and Bauhaus and blew my mind. It would fill my entire alcove studio apartment, but if I could borrow it for awhile I would be a happy camper!There are many gaming rooms and since the Encore was docked on Pier 88 at about 50th Street and Twelfth Avenue, no guests could partake of the gambling. There were truly unique slot machines but there are plenty of oddball gaming machines like the one above called the Cash Master where you have a metal rod come out and knock a “fan” of cold hard cash out at you! I have been thinking about this machine every few hours since I left the ship!I felt very lucky to be able to attend a three hour tasting from several Encore eateries in one special influencers and travel agents event called Taste Of Encore. This stunning event was held in the aforementioned Manhattan Room which has the chic charm of a Modern American high end resto with giant windows that give you a spectacular view while you cruise. Above you see a spectacular photos of the assorted desserts my table was served from The Bake Shop but here was the savory fare tasting lineup: Thai Steak & Noodle Salad and Shitake & Water Chestnut Dumplings from Food Republic, Tina Sushi and Mezzelune Salad from Anda By Scarpetta, Aquachile De Camarones and Empanadas De Carne from Los Lobos, Escargots Bourguignonne and Salad Au Crottin De Chèvre Chauf with Pancetta Sautéed and the Pitmaster Platter from Q Texas Steakhouse. I admit that I hogged the brisket and roast chicken from that last platter, LOL! The three hours flew by and I got stuffed to the gills!I then took in a tour of the Encore’s drinking spots that included Cellars. The master sommelier paired three wines–Chardonnay, Grenache & Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon–with popcorn, mixed nuts and a chocolate macaron for each of us. Just like he said, Magic was created when we took a sip of wine right after eating these three coming foods. Guest speakers and curators on future wine tasting at Cellars include members of the Mondavi family and Salvatore Ferragamo, Jr. (sad that I will be missing that because I probably would have been able to finagle myself a fabulous pair of Ferragamo flats, LOL)!My press friends and I then moved onto Sugar Mojio Bar had Pineapple Mojitos in special ceramic pineapple cups (pictured above). We got a little bit of a buzz but still tried the Cucumber Japaleno Mojitos. I think I am now hooked on those and have to learn how to make them at home to satisfy my Jones!My press pals and I also visited The A List Bar and canoodled with celebrity bar chef Kathy Casey of Liquid Kitchen. She demonstrated some rather unique drinks in some of the oddest colors ever (including purple) but they were all delicious! I had a Chill made of the Haven Botanical Spirit, cucumber, lime, Elderflower Tonic, Sake and Zen Floral Mist. I followed it up with a Thrill, which is created with Patron Silver Tequila, #17 Apertivo, fresh lime, organic Agave nectar, Mezcal and blood orange juice. The Thrill was gone pretty quick but I got quite a kick. I like the way Kathy and her crew make their own secret tonics to create their masterpiece cocktails with.The gorgeous dining rooms (like The Manhattan Room pictured above) and lounge areas totally are what made me fall in love with the Encore. You can never have enough places to plop down when you have been out drinking, swimming or gaming all day! Everything looks cushiony and comfy even though the ship’s decor has a decidedly modern vibe. For more info on the Encore and other Norwegian ships, go to www.norwegiancruiselines.com. I do not have to tell you that NCL has the best bang for the buck drink and excursion packages in the entire cruising industry!
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