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9 Night Australia & New Zealand Cruise from Sydney

9 Night Australia & New Zealand Cruise from Sydney (Australia)

Ovation of the Seas
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  • Day 1
    Sydney (Australia)
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
    Milford Fjord
  • Day 4
    Doubtful Sound
  • Day 4
    Dusky Sound
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
  • Day 7
  • Day 8
  • Day 9
  • Day 10
    Sydney (Australia)

Ovation of the Seas

Ovation of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International


An amazing mega-liner filled with high-tech entertainment and attractions


Drinking, dining and entertainment venues struggle at peak times

Bottom line

Never a dull moment on a ship that has something to please everyone

Cruise Reviews

14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Initially we were enticed to sail on the Ovation at relatively short notice due to a great deal that was being offered on a Balcony Guarantee cabin only a few days before the sail date. For those new to RCI Australia, don't get sucked ... Read More
Initially we were enticed to sail on the Ovation at relatively short notice due to a great deal that was being offered on a Balcony Guarantee cabin only a few days before the sail date. For those new to RCI Australia, don't get sucked in by the sale 'countdown timer' on the RCI website when booking, I can guarantee that as soon as one sale finishes another begins so don't feel pressured to buy because of the countdown timer. The Ovation is absolutely enormous and yes, RCI will pretty much sell every cabin on board prior to the sale date so don't make any assumptions that you will score a 'free' upgrade or have the lions share of the boat to yourself. Whilst super cruising is new to Australia, it was clear from our time on the Ovation that port infrastructure in the region simply cannot handle the vast number of people that these boats bring. Sydney's OPT could not be in a more perfect location, mere minutes from both public transport and some of the best sights in the country. However the OPT itself is vastly undersized to handle a boat of this size and this was evident during both the embark and disembark processes. Expect to jump between levels around a mass of temporary hoardings (which I think are only there to hide the true length of the cues of people waiting inside) as you bounce from one station to another. Interestingly the staff at the OPT did not enforce the 'check-in' times listed on the Set Sail Pass and pretty much let anyone in from 11am on wards. After approx. 45mins of waiting in lines inside the terminal we were finally on board and allowed to peruse the public areas as the staterooms were prepared. The Royal IQ App was something that we found to be very useful throughout the trip to book activities and schedule events from the cruise compass. It only started working once our set sail pass was scanned once on board the ship (vice in the terminal) but once registered we were able to book all activities that we listed as 'unavailable' online including iFly and North Star. You can also message others through the app for a $7.95 fee throughout the cruise. However, we found that iMessage/Facetime would work with anyone on the boat or ashore when you were connected to their wifi network (even if you hadn't purchased a wifi package) so give that some thought before spending money. The activities on board were fun but were often let down by long waiting times or rude/inattentive Adventure Staff. Some of the staff were absolutely excellent whilst others would spend their time watching YouTube videos whilst long lines for activities formed. Some staff members would overtly comment on some passenger’s appearance or behaviours, which I was inclined to agree with in some instances, however it came off as very unprofessional and unfriendly. I'm not sure if the Adventure Staff had a supervisor or not but it certainly seemed like they could get away with anything. Dining wasn't an issue at all, we transferred from Fixed Dining to My Time Dining after a 2 minute chat with one of the head waiters and enjoyed excellent service and food throughout the cruise. The specialty restaurants are very good however I would only recommend going to them as part of a dining package as they are simply too overpriced to go on an individual basis. RCI do some good deals on dining packages before the cruise so keep an eye out. We only purchased a Soda drink package prior to sailing however every other Aussie on board had purchased a full alcoholic beverage package and made it matter of pride to use this package as a status symbol to inform as many other passengers as possible of how they intended to profit from it. For us the maths simply didn't add up (as you had to buy the package for everyone in your stateroom not just those who wanted to drink) and we found it cheaper to purchase alcohol individually. However going by the amount of Aussies we saw getting escorted by police after being kicked off the boat for drunkenness (literally in every port we stopped at) I'm guessing some people maybe did manage to turn a profit on the package. Entertainment aboard was varying. RCI have clearly pumped a lot of investment into their production shows and I have to say that they were excellent and exceeded our expectations by a long way. However some of the acts they brought in from outside really missed the mark. The comedians seemed 3rd tier and recycled a lot of material from YouTube or other comedians. I'm not sure whether RCI instructs them to keep it clean or whether the comedians know that Australian families will bring kids along to any show regardless of its nature or the time of day. But they just weren't that funny. One performer, a comedy magician, seemed like he was hired straight out of the yellow pages for a 4y.o.'s birthday party. But like I said, it wasn't all bad, production shows and musical talents were excellent. As Aussies we are often a hard people to please and re-affirmed in this sailing that we are once again gold medallists when it comes to the art of whinging. Comments that I observed from fellow Aussies this cruise included; 'I don't understand why they won't let us steal pool towels'; 'My Iced Smoothie is too cold'; 'The kids will look after themselves, we were at the bar till 3am last night'; and my favourite 'The ship is rocking too much, can you ask if we can pull in somewhere for a few hours so I can sleep'. As a result, the staff did their best to appease people but there were no shortages of yelling and downright obnoxiousness. The biggest downside for me on this ship were the public spaces. Whilst there was plenty of them they were simply too small and inadequately sized to host the number of passengers on board. You often had to show up 30 mins early to get a seat and they always felt cramped and clustered. It seems as if RCI really focussed on the bottom line when designing this shape as they’ve crammed as many balcony staterooms as possible (70% of total cabins) in the design and then filled the empty spaces with public venues. Having said that my favourite venue was the Radio City Music Hall which, in my opinion, is a great idea and design for many acts however was unfortunately underutilised during this cruise. Disembarkation wasn’t too bad in our experience as we weren’t in a hurry however there was a long queue of Aussies complaining that they weren’t allowed off the ship at the crack of dawn as they were previously informed. Ultimately I blame this on Sydney’s OPT again as they are physically limited by how many passengers they can process every hour and despite hiring scores of people to literally yell at passengers to keep walking as they depart the building, congestion continues to occur and slows everyone down. We'll probably steer clear of RCI and the other major lines when cruising out of Australia in future but if you've got a large family looking for a cheap holiday or are couple who can tolerate a lot of rowdy (unsupervised) kids then this might be a good option for you. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This is our first cruise with Royal Caribbean, but our fourth cruise overall. RC is really excellent in their embarkation and disembarkation procedures, and was much more efficient than the Princess Cruises we have been on. We did ... Read More
This is our first cruise with Royal Caribbean, but our fourth cruise overall. RC is really excellent in their embarkation and disembarkation procedures, and was much more efficient than the Princess Cruises we have been on. We did not travel with children, but noticed a meeting place for youngsters, and pools reserved for children. I think there was an arcade (at extra cost) available too. The Ovation of the Seas ship was amazing! It was so huge that just about five thousand passengers can be on board and (except for the first day) still not feel crowded. And being so large a ship it was able to offer features that would be missing on smaller ships such as: a climbing wall; sports area that offered (one at a time) bumper cars, roller skating, table tennis, a huge main theater in the front of the ship, an area with a tremendous view that doubled as a theater via unbelievable technology, a shopping mall on deck four, four different main dining restaurants, several specialty restaurants, casino, many bars including one bar that had two robotic bartenders, and a stage in the Music Hall, an open air pool area large pool with huge outdoor movie screen and several smaller pools/hot tubs, and another covered pool area with large pool and a number of smaller pools/hot tubs, a glass enclosed solarium for adults only at the front of the ship, a ride called 'The North Star' that lifted fourteen people in a enclosed bubble 90 meters into the air, a 'wave rider' for boogie boarding, and an 'i-fly' that simulates sky diving. The ship itself was fabulous. The food in the main dining room was sometimes good, but often was a step down from the main dining rooms on the Princess line, with frequent times when the meat being served was dry and/or tough. Food in the buffet, the Windjammer Marketplace, was consistently good in the main and side dishes, but the deserts were not as sweet or tasty as we had hoped. (This latter may be a matter of preference between British vs American recipes.) And there was NO FREE ICE CREAM available (other than as dessert after dinner in the main dining rooms, or on the last few days of the cruise in the buffet) except for very small soft serve cones available by the pool. The vanilla and chocolate ice cream was bland and tasted off somehow, but the strawberry ice cream was consistently good. There is a 24 snack cafe, next to a pizza place, both on deck four, neither of which charged extra. Carbonated beverages are NOT included in the cost of the cruise but could be purchased for an outrageous price either separately or as a "drinks package". Same for alcoholic drinks. We didn't purchase any type of drink package. I would have liked iced tea available at all times, but it was only available at lunch and dinner in both the buffet and the main dining rooms. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants because of the unreasonably high cost ($42 or more for each meal.) I wonder if quality of the food in the main dining rooms was designed to get people to eat in the specialty restaurants. The service, from the cabin stewards to the waiters, in fact everyone, was excellent. Everyone was polite and professional, and most were genuinely warm. We felt very welcomed. The entertainment was really good most of the time, with a main show (offered three times) each evening in the Royal Theater every night, and a fabulous technical show in the 270 stage in the back three times during the cruise. The trivia games throughout the ship multiple times per day were a lot of fun, and were a great place to meet people. Wifi is offered on board the ship at a cost that too high. We waited till our shore excursions to get free Wifi, but that didn't work out well because my phone didn't connect properly to any of the free Wifi except for a museum in Dunedin. Our experience with the Shore Excursions were a mixed bag. The last three were great, the first ones were a disaster. In Dunedin, the 'Dunedin Highlights' was a total waste of money because not all of the advertised stops were visited, we were rushed through what we did visit because we were 'short on time'. And the bus driver said we were allowed to get off the bus in downtown Dunedin and take the shuttles back to the ship, but didn't tell us that it would cost $15 each if we did so. At the second shore excursion at Picton, we felt being rushed again because of being 'short of time' during our steam train ride. Utilizing 100 year old vintage railway carriages, we were taken us to a small town that was both boring and which had closed all its shops so there was nothing to do when we got to this unlovely place. And after herding us back on the train, we waited a full twenty minutes (for no apparent reason) till the train to start its return journey. The shore excursion I would heartily recommend would be the visit to Hobbiton, for fans of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. The only improvement I would wish for on this shore excursion would be that enough time be allowed for us to have lunch at the Green Dragon Inn. (A glass of very tasty apple cider, or other beverages, was included in the cost of the excursion.) But we were again told 'we are short of time' even on this excursion. Try to get a morning time slot for the excursion as the lighting for photographing the hobbit holes is better than it is in the late afternoon/evening. The Maori Cultural Highlights shore excursion was acceptable, though again we were told when we got on the bus that we were 'short on time' and so felt that we didn't get to see everything and therefore didn't get our money's worth. This excursion visits a Maori meeting house, participation in the elaborate Maori greeting ritual, and a performance by teens dressed in traditional costume. History buffs, and folks interested in new cultures would find this excursion interesting, if a bit underwhelming. The Jet Boat adventure in Auckland, was well timed and had no issues. Expect to get THOROUGHLY soaked with salt water when you ride this fast boat ride that is almost like a roller coaster when it spins and turns. If this sounds fun to you, you'll have a blast. Our last New Zealand shore excursion was visiting the oldest Kauri tree in New Zealand, along with a visit to a Mission House. Included in the cost of this excursion was lunch at a small, simple, resort, and tea with scones at the mission house. The Maori guide for the visit to the ancient Kauri tree was wonderful and passionate about all native New Zealand flora and fauna. The visit to the Mission house and adjacent stone chapel would be interesting to history buffs, because this is one location that the treaty was signed between the Maoris and Europeans in 1840. Timing of the lunch was an issue because it was offered too soon after breakfast (another ship's tour group got the noon lunch slot.) There are no tables at the mission house so it was a bit awkward trying to juggle scones (which were delicious and had accompanying clotted cream and jam) and tea. The people at the Mission house were genuinely warm. This was a peaceful place. After disembarking the ship when we arrived back in Sydney, we booked a shore excursion to the Blue Mountains. This excursion filled in some of the many hours we would have otherwise waited at the airport with nothing to do. It also allowed us to be among the first groups to get off the ship. Unfortunately on the day we visited, the Blue Mountains were enshrouded in a thick white mist, so we weren't able to see much, but no fault of Royal Caribbean. Our Cabin: we had a cabin on the 13th deck with a balcony. The 14th deck shielded us from wind and harsh sun, which was wonderful. And during the entire cruise (except for the initial approach to New Zealand and sailing the 'sounds') it was warm enough to really enjoy our balcony. I do wish that we had been on the left side of the ship so we could have seen more land as we sailed to the various ports, but the view was great on both sides of the ship when approaching our ports of call. Tendering was done at the last two ports, and was handled very, very efficiently. No complaints at all. (I expect that having shore excursions booked for those ports had a great deal in our being among the first groups that got to leave the ship.) One thing I would do differently would be to choose 'My Time' dining instead of the traditional set table with the same people. With 'My Time' dining, you can make your own reservations and would get a chance to meet different people each time you dined, instead of getting stuck at a table with a particularly snobby 'diamond level' couple who deliberately ignore you and talk only to the other frequent cruisers at the table. Would I chose Royal Caribbean again? I would need to compare the shore excursions with other cruise lines before being able to answer that question. For me, the most important aspect of a cruise are the shore excursion experiences, and most of the ones I experienced left a lot to be desired in timing, and feeling rushed. If I were a person more interested in the ship than in shore excursions, this would be my ship! It was fabulous. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I had an assumption that all cruise`s were for old fat people, how wrong I was, my parents shouted my wife and 3 boys aged 4-8-11 and my brother and my two nieces. Absolutely blown away staff are some of the most beautiful people we have ... Read More
I had an assumption that all cruise`s were for old fat people, how wrong I was, my parents shouted my wife and 3 boys aged 4-8-11 and my brother and my two nieces. Absolutely blown away staff are some of the most beautiful people we have meet they remind me of the fijian`s, warm, humble, caring, genuine they were the highlight of the trip without a doubt. The boat is almost as good its is better than some 5 star hotels we had a junior suite that was well appointed had two bathrooms and plenty of room four us and storage for all our stuff was on deck 10 room 218 been mid ship when there is a bit of a swell is a blessing less movement. Hard to find information about activities before you, go but easy enough once on board. Book things as soon as you get on as you may miss out especially for I-Fly and North star the viewing arm thingy majig. Food is really good caters for al,l my wife is a vegetarian even she was happy. Take a clothes line as they charge like wounded bulls for laundry. If you like a drink or to get the drinks package they make the drinks strong so none of those weak bar drinks here !. For kids suits under 3 and over 8 years of age, our 4 year old fell in the weird zone things like bumper cars, rock wall, trapeze and roller skating he was to young to do. They do have a great kids club for all ages but we never used it. great used to taking the stairs the lifts are pain full none seem to be available always full. We will remember this for a lifetime helped when my parents paid for it stunning stunning stunning Read Less
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