Racetrack, water slide, laser tag, shows, bars and restaurants. It’s a race against time for NIALL McILROY to get around Norwegian Cruise Line’s new ship
I am having some of the best fun of my life. Not exactly a petrol-head I’d defy anyone not to find eight speedy circuits in these cars exhilarating.
The cars are one thing, but the views over the North Sea are breathtaking. That’s right — over the North Sea. I have a helmet on over a balaclava and I’m being buffeted by the rain and wind as I race along a 335m track, with 10 high-speed turns including a quartet of bends that curl nearly 4m over the edge of the ship high above the slate-grey sea.
I’ve finished third of 12 cars but this ship, Norwegian Encore — the latest in the fleet of seagoing giants to hit the ocean, has again come up No.1. That racetrack, the longest at sea is truly an exhilarating experience and just one of a multitude of features that mark Norwegian Cruise Lines’ 17th ship out as a real boundary breaker that makes lasting impressions.
Nearby, the tandem Aqua Racer and the free-fall Ocean Loops water slide, which loops and twists over the edge of the ship, look no less exciting. Sadly on this inaugural cruise, weather conditions mean it’s not feasible for us to have a go on the aquatic entertainment.
But if those attractions aren’t incredible enough, there’s the laser tag which uses augmented reality.
Don special glasses and you’ll be trying to find your way out of a maze, wandering Greek ruins or battling an army of zombies — not something I’d pictured myself doing when we boarded.
With little more than a day and a half to explore this mighty 3998-passenger ship before it reaches Southampton. where it will begin a cruise to Miami, I’ve had to move nearly as quickly as these racecars to become familiar with a raft of fantastic features.
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- Norwegian Encore will cruise the Caribbean from Miami then move to Seattle for a series of Inside Passage itineraries.
- Norwegian Jewel is currently cruising Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific for a fourth season. The 2376-passenger ship had a multimillion-dollar refurbishment just a year ago and has 15 bars and 14 restaurants. Travel agents, ncl.com.au and 1300 255 200.