Ovation of the Seas Review - written by Kathy Fossati, January 2019

Any Cruise, Anywhere, Any Time

Ovation of the Seas

Reviewed by: Kathy Fossati

Date: 10 January 2019

Cruise line: Royal Caribbean International

Capacity: 4,905 passengers

Year built: 2016

Size of the ship: 168,666 GRT (18 decks)

Where the ship cruises: Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, the USA and Canada

Currency onboard: USD

Embarkation / Disembarkation: Despite boarding with nearly 5,000 people, this was relatively seamless. Embarkation was a bit longer than we would have liked but at 11.30am we hit ‘peak-hour’ for boarding so that’s to be expected.

The embarkation and disembarkation tenders were unbelievably quick and well organised, there was literally no queue worth mentioning at any port. Back in Sydney, with no queue, we were farewelled off within minutes – too easy.

Main features / highlights: Being one of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships, Ovation is the second largest in their fleet (Oasis-class is the largest with a capacity of 6,680 passengers), she is truly incredible in size, elegance and offerings.

So many features and highlights it’s hard to identify, but definitely one would have to be the artwork – with 12,000 pieces throughout and the only moving art-installation at sea, it really adds such elegance and joy everywhere you go.

Loved SeaPlex for the kids – offering dodgem cars, roller-skating, rock-climbing, x-boxes, fusball, air hockey, table tennis and much more.

Most suited to: Families and couples. Although travelling out of school holidays would make a difference to the number of children, it really is a ship geared towards keeping children entertained so parents can relax. Having said that, there are numerous areas where only adults can retreat to including the multi-layered ‘Solarium’ oasis with spas, pools, deck chairs, a restaurant, and a bar.

Atmosphere: It is a terrific blend of family fun and adult/solo relaxation – the choice is yours. There is a buzz of movement throughout the day and night as the daily itinerary is jammed pack with entertainment ranging from trivia and bingo, to silent discos and comedy, wine and whiskey tastings as well as great sales and other presentations at the shops in the Esplanade.

Having said that, there were many days when you could walk around the ship and see people reading their books or sleeping in the super comfy day beds and deck chairs.

Encounters with staff: As with most ships, the staff were terrific and super friendly, but a few of the wait staff really stood out. Our waiter in Silk was amazing with the children, he played magic and card ‘tricks’ and even taught them how to make animals out of serviettes – all this while attentively serving dozens of adults their meals and drinks – never missed a beat and remembered us every time we went back.

Entertainment: Pixels is a great show of sound, light, robotic screens and aerial performers, and is held every day in Two70 at the rear of the ship on Deck 5. This open two-level space offers 270-degree unobstructed views of the ocean and entertainment , including the not-to-be-missed ‘Dancers in the Box’ on robotic screens, and it was here we had our first whale sighting.

The Royal Theatre is where you will find the production shows including the Vegas-style ‘Live, Love, Legs’ and the stunning ‘A Beautiful Dream’ – all with an early and late seating as well as a later day matinee for those who missed the evening performances.

The Bionic Bar (dubbed the Robotic Bar) is novel fun – enter your drink order on a tablet and watch this incredible technology get to work! There is a casino and other venues including the Music Hall, the Schooner Bar, Boleros and The Amber & Ale. We really enjoyed the ambience and staff at Vintages, predominantly a wine bar but also great for aperitifs and cocktails, and although it wasn’t working during our cruise, there is a self-service wine tasting wall.

Staterooms:  We had a large balcony cabin on Deck 11 (centre ship) which was a good size and stylishly decorated in shades of blue and light browns. The storage space is great, with room under the bed for several suitcases, drawers and floor to ceiling hanging cupboards (with lots of hangers) and storage above the bed. The bathrooms are elegantly designed, with shelving and an automatic night light. I personally don’t like liquid dispensing soap in bathrooms so I’d recommend you bring your own soap, shampoo and conditioner.

75 percent of cabins on Ovation are balcony and the inside rooms have ‘virtual balconies’ which are floor to ceiling HD flat screen TVs that offer real-time views of what is going on outside. While I believe nothing beats the fresh ocean air and the spaciousness of a balcony, the virtual balconies are the next best thing for views.

There is a full-length mirror, desk, kettle (with tea, sugar and milk), hairdryer and mini-fridge (no mini-bar) as well as several USB ports in the room which is what most of us require for charging devices these days. If you do need a powerpoint adaptor, bring one for the USA (or a universal one). There are no coffee facilities in the room, so you may want to consider bringing your own plunger (nothing electrical and no powerboards!).

The rooms are serviced twice a day and you may even encounter a few clever towel-animals on your bed upon your evening return – this is where you will also receive information and programs for the next day’s activities.

Not surprisingly there is no smoking in staterooms, but there are two areas onboard including the port side of Deck 11 by the pool and a smaller ‘alfresco’ area on the starboard side of Deck 5.

Dining: There is no Main Dining Room (MDR) as such, instead Ovation has four restaurants – Silk, American Grill, The Grande and Chic – all offering the same menu just in different environments to spread passengers throughout. The Windjammer offers great food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, usually with themed nights, including Asian, Greek and even Chocolate!

Cafe Two70 was one of my favourite outlets, with great light food options, the best beef rolls ever, and speciality coffees (including Irish and the like). The speciality restaurants have either a set cover charge or à la carte pricing – if you are lucky you could be offered a dining package for three venues for just $99 – it depends on the cruise, time and destination. Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie’s Italian’ was a big hit with us (we even went back a second time), the food was out of this world and a nice change to the MDRs and Windjammer.

Wonderland is described as a feast for the sense and doesn’t disappoint! The decor and atmosphere is really unique and with the themes of Sun, Ice, Fire, Water, Earth and Dreams, you don’t have any idea what is coming out next, but it was always tantalising, delicious and fun.

We missed out on Chef’s Table as it was booked out and ran out of time to dine at Chops Grille but were told it was also fantastic and worth going to. The quality of food at the Japanese Izumi was really impressive although not every dish was great but good value for money and worth trying.

The Bottomless Brunch was an interesting morning as it starts with a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour, followed by several courses in the American Icon Grill, and as implied, bottomless sparkling wine with your meal.

Drink Packages: Unfortunately, being in USD, these are currently expensive for Australians. The Deluxe Beverage Package (at the time) was approximately AU$74 a day but it does include speciality coffees and teas, fresh juices, Evian and sparkling water as well as, of course, alcoholic beverages including cocktails (approx US$14 each) – so once you have 6 or more drinks, you’d be surprised how easy it is to reach! It also covers the 18 percent gratuities. For non-alcoholic drinkers, there are alternative drink packages such as unlimited soft drinks – it all depends on your budget and remember, standard tea and coffees, water and other drinks are free onboard.

Family facilities: There are almost too many to mention, you are guaranteed never to have a dull moment! Try Flowrider (surfing/boogie boarding), the rock climbing wall or Ripcord by iFLY skydiving. Three swimming pool areas (one complex being for adults only in the Solarium), 24/7 pizza at Sorrento’s, limitless hotdogs at the Dog House from 1pm-5pm located in the two-storey indoor family entertainment centre called ‘SeaPlex’ which houses dodgem cars, roller-skating, Xboxes, ping-pong, air-hockey and fusball facilities.

The Kid’s Clubs naturally cater to all different age groups of children. The Royal Babies and Tots Nursery for 6-month to 2-year-olds is the only one that incurs a fee of US$6 an hour. Aquanauts (3-5), Explorers (6-8), Voyagers (9-11) and Teen clubs in ‘The Living Room’ on Deck 14 are all complimentary and full of activities throughout the day and night.

Spa and Fitness Facilities: The gym is located at the front of the ship on Deck 16. It is large and has all that you’d expect of a modern gym including daily health and wellbeing presentations (free), yoga, aerobic and cycling spin classes (for a relatively hefty fee compared to land-based activity costs).

Vitality Spa is excellent if you are after a little holiday indulgence, offering massages, facials, mani and pedis, hair, waxing and even tooth whitening – again being in USD with gratuities these services are relatively expensive for Australians. While there are special offers, especially on port days, the currency conversion may make most think to wait a week until home!

Laundry: There are no laundry facilities or irons available. It all needs to be sent out to the ship’s laundry for a fee with the option of wash and fold, iron or dry cleaning. A great option is the US$35 bag – where you can fit almost everything you would like washed! Although this is good way to go, there are a few restrictions on what can be included, so read the information in your room.

I recommend bringing a hangable ‘peg’ rack for the balcony to dry swimmers, socks and delicates overnight without the worry of it flying off the balcony!

 

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Ovation of the Seas

Reviewed by: Kathy Fossati

Date: 10 January 2019

Cruise line: Royal Caribbean International

Capacity: 4,905 passengers

Year built: 2016

Size of the ship: 168,666 GRT (18 decks)

Where the ship cruises: Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, the USA and Canada

Currency onboard: USD

Embarkation / Disembarkation: Despite boarding with nearly 5,000 people, this was relatively seamless. Embarkation was a bit longer than we would have liked but at 11.30am we hit ‘peak-hour’ for boarding so that’s to be expected.

The embarkation and disembarkation tenders were unbelievably quick and well organised, there was literally no queue worth mentioning at any port. Back in Sydney, with no queue, we were farewelled off within minutes – too easy.

Main features / highlights: Being one of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships, Ovation is the second largest in their fleet (Oasis-class is the largest with a capacity of 6,680 passengers), she is truly incredible in size, elegance and offerings.

So many features and highlights it’s hard to identify, but definitely one would have to be the artwork – with 12,000 pieces throughout and the only moving art-installation at sea, it really adds such elegance and joy everywhere you go.

Loved SeaPlex for the kids – offering dodgem cars, roller-skating, rock-climbing, x-boxes, fusball, air hockey, table tennis and much more.

Most suited to: Families and couples. Although travelling out of school holidays would make a difference to the number of children, it really is a ship geared towards keeping children entertained so parents can relax. Having said that, there are numerous areas where only adults can retreat to including the multi-layered ‘Solarium’ oasis with spas, pools, deck chairs, a restaurant, and a bar.

Atmosphere: It is a terrific blend of family fun and adult/solo relaxation – the choice is yours. There is a buzz of movement throughout the day and night as the daily itinerary is jammed pack with entertainment ranging from trivia and bingo, to silent discos and comedy, wine and whiskey tastings as well as great sales and other presentations at the shops in the Esplanade.

Having said that, there were many days when you could walk around the ship and see people reading their books or sleeping in the super comfy day beds and deck chairs.

Encounters with staff: As with most ships, the staff were terrific and super friendly, but a few of the wait staff really stood out. Our waiter in Silk was amazing with the children, he played magic and card ‘tricks’ and even taught them how to make animals out of serviettes – all this while attentively serving dozens of adults their meals and drinks – never missed a beat and remembered us every time we went back.

Entertainment: Pixels is a great show of sound, light, robotic screens and aerial performers, and is held every day in Two70 at the rear of the ship on Deck 5. This open two-level space offers 270-degree unobstructed views of the ocean and entertainment , including the not-to-be-missed ‘Dancers in the Box’ on robotic screens, and it was here we had our first whale sighting.

The Royal Theatre is where you will find the production shows including the Vegas-style ‘Live, Love, Legs’ and the stunning ‘A Beautiful Dream’ – all with an early and late seating as well as a later day matinee for those who missed the evening performances.

The Bionic Bar (dubbed the Robotic Bar) is novel fun – enter your drink order on a tablet and watch this incredible technology get to work! There is a casino and other venues including the Music Hall, the Schooner Bar, Boleros and The Amber & Ale. We really enjoyed the ambience and staff at Vintages, predominantly a wine bar but also great for aperitifs and cocktails, and although it wasn’t working during our cruise, there is a self-service wine tasting wall.

Staterooms:  We had a large balcony cabin on Deck 11 (centre ship) which was a good size and stylishly decorated in shades of blue and light browns. The storage space is great, with room under the bed for several suitcases, drawers and floor to ceiling hanging cupboards (with lots of hangers) and storage above the bed. The bathrooms are elegantly designed, with shelving and an automatic night light. I personally don’t like liquid dispensing soap in bathrooms so I’d recommend you bring your own soap, shampoo and conditioner.

75 percent of cabins on Ovation are balcony and the inside rooms have ‘virtual balconies’ which are floor to ceiling HD flat screen TVs that offer real-time views of what is going on outside. While I believe nothing beats the fresh ocean air and the spaciousness of a balcony, the virtual balconies are the next best thing for views.

There is a full-length mirror, desk, kettle (with tea, sugar and milk), hairdryer and mini-fridge (no mini-bar) as well as several USB ports in the room which is what most of us require for charging devices these days. If you do need a powerpoint adaptor, bring one for the USA (or a universal one). There are no coffee facilities in the room, so you may want to consider bringing your own plunger (nothing electrical and no powerboards!).

The rooms are serviced twice a day and you may even encounter a few clever towel-animals on your bed upon your evening return – this is where you will also receive information and programs for the next day’s activities.

Not surprisingly there is no smoking in staterooms, but there are two areas onboard including the port side of Deck 11 by the pool and a smaller ‘alfresco’ area on the starboard side of Deck 5.

Dining: There is no Main Dining Room (MDR) as such, instead Ovation has four restaurants – Silk, American Grill, The Grande and Chic – all offering the same menu just in different environments to spread passengers throughout. The Windjammer offers great food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, usually with themed nights, including Asian, Greek and even Chocolate!

Cafe Two70 was one of my favourite outlets, with great light food options, the best beef rolls ever, and speciality coffees (including Irish and the like). The speciality restaurants have either a set cover charge or à la carte pricing – if you are lucky you could be offered a dining package for three venues for just $99 – it depends on the cruise, time and destination. Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie’s Italian’ was a big hit with us (we even went back a second time), the food was out of this world and a nice change to the MDRs and Windjammer.

Wonderland is described as a feast for the sense and doesn’t disappoint! The decor and atmosphere is really unique and with the themes of Sun, Ice, Fire, Water, Earth and Dreams, you don’t have any idea what is coming out next, but it was always tantalising, delicious and fun.

We missed out on Chef’s Table as it was booked out and ran out of time to dine at Chops Grille but were told it was also fantastic and worth going to. The quality of food at the Japanese Izumi was really impressive although not every dish was great but good value for money and worth trying.

The Bottomless Brunch was an interesting morning as it starts with a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour, followed by several courses in the American Icon Grill, and as implied, bottomless sparkling wine with your meal.

Drink Packages: Unfortunately, being in USD, these are currently expensive for Australians. The Deluxe Beverage Package (at the time) was approximately AU$74 a day but it does include speciality coffees and teas, fresh juices, Evian and sparkling water as well as, of course, alcoholic beverages including cocktails (approx US$14 each) – so once you have 6 or more drinks, you’d be surprised how easy it is to reach! It also covers the 18 percent gratuities. For non-alcoholic drinkers, there are alternative drink packages such as unlimited soft drinks – it all depends on your budget and remember, standard tea and coffees, water and other drinks are free onboard.

Family facilities: There are almost too many to mention, you are guaranteed never to have a dull moment! Try Flowrider (surfing/boogie boarding), the rock climbing wall or Ripcord by iFLY skydiving. Three swimming pool areas (one complex being for adults only in the Solarium), 24/7 pizza at Sorrento’s, limitless hotdogs at the Dog House from 1pm-5pm located in the two-storey indoor family entertainment centre called ‘SeaPlex’ which houses dodgem cars, roller-skating, Xboxes, ping-pong, air-hockey and fusball facilities.

The Kid’s Clubs naturally cater to all different age groups of children. The Royal Babies and Tots Nursery for 6-month to 2-year-olds is the only one that incurs a fee of US$6 an hour. Aquanauts (3-5), Explorers (6-8), Voyagers (9-11) and Teen clubs in ‘The Living Room’ on Deck 14 are all complimentary and full of activities throughout the day and night.

Spa and Fitness Facilities: The gym is located at the front of the ship on Deck 16. It is large and has all that you’d expect of a modern gym including daily health and wellbeing presentations (free), yoga, aerobic and cycling spin classes (for a relatively hefty fee compared to land-based activity costs).

Vitality Spa is excellent if you are after a little holiday indulgence, offering massages, facials, mani and pedis, hair, waxing and even tooth whitening – again being in USD with gratuities these services are relatively expensive for Australians. While there are special offers, especially on port days, the currency conversion may make most think to wait a week until home!

Laundry: There are no laundry facilities or irons available. It all needs to be sent out to the ship’s laundry for a fee with the option of wash and fold, iron or dry cleaning. A great option is the US$35 bag – where you can fit almost everything you would like washed! Although this is good way to go, there are a few restrictions on what can be included, so read the information in your room.

I recommend bringing a hangable ‘peg’ rack for the balcony to dry swimmers, socks and delicates overnight without the worry of it flying off the balcony!

 

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