5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
In fact, I would rate the cruise at three and a half stars. All that blame goes to the company Royal Caribbean for ramming in too many passengers. I will never forget that day in Dunedin when every person on board got off together to be ... Read More
In fact, I would rate the cruise at three and a half stars. All that blame goes to the company Royal Caribbean for ramming in too many passengers. I will never forget that day in Dunedin when every person on board got off together to be bused into town from the wharf for $20 each. I was astounded at what five thousand people actually looked like and where the teaming ant's nest fitted into the ship at all. Since they are building bigger ships for the future, unfortunately, no money will be set aside for bigger wharves and towns to absorb the masses. But inside the ship, it was another matter. Wonderful staff that couldn't do enough. We had our breakfasts in the Diamond level American Icon and dinner at night at the Grand. I rate all the staff and the food at ten. It was a pleasure to go to both places. The cabin was a bit small and narrow. As an example, two can't walk past the end of the bed at the same time. The balcony was adequate. We enjoyed all the entertainment in the main theatre and some in the 270 theatre, but I see that there are still repeats there that go back some time to the Quantum of the Seas. Shore excursions. They were so ruinously expensive that we didn't do any except for the shuttle to the airport. I recommend that. The shops. In the end we bought nothing. Quality wasn't there but cost was. The Diamond Lounge each night made our cruise. Very generous food and drink and lovely staff.. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
In a shift from shorter Caribbean cruises my family has been venturing out on longer less conventional cruises. We booked this on a previous transatlantic and after waiting almost 2 years to board I could not be happier with how this ... Read More
In a shift from shorter Caribbean cruises my family has been venturing out on longer less conventional cruises. We booked this on a previous transatlantic and after waiting almost 2 years to board I could not be happier with how this turned out. Check-In and Boarding: We arrived at the port in Sydney by train taking the short walk from Circular Quay station, arriving at the pier at 1030am. Almost immediately we were able drop our luggage and enter the building for check-in. We were the first in line for emerald and above Crown and Anchor members. We had already submitted our photos online and the entire check-in process took less than 2 minutes. We were then directed to a seated waiting area while final preperations were being made on the ship. We sat here for no more than 5-10 minutes before passing through immigration/customs and security. From our arrival at the port till we were on board the ship was approximately 20 minutes. I am not sure the process could go any faster if we had tried. Once on board our rooms were available at 1pm with one room key being outside the door to the room and the other being in the room. I was surprised that there was no mention of WoW bands anywhere - but after some inquiry we were able to get them from guest services. I was told there would be a $5 charge, however that never appeared on our account. Ship: I have been on many ships, but Ovation stood out to me as being quite stunning. The decor is amazing and the entire ship looks as if it was brand new. Although she is 2 years old, I could have been convinced I was on the maiden sailing as everything is in absolutely perfect condition. Coming from Voyager class and the successors, the layout was quite new to me and it took nearly all 12 nights to get a good grasp of where everything is. I was somewhat surprised by the amount of movement we felt. We were in 3 meter seas for the crossing from Australia to New Zealand and it was felt at all times. We experienced 6+ meter seas on the return and I felt the ship weathered this quite well. The motion was very evident, but not enough to send things flying. I never felt crowded, except sometimes the Windjammer was to capacity - however this was the result of other passengers not leaving when finished and even begged by the crew. Cabin: We stayed in blacony cabin 10258 with family in 3 adjacent cabins. We were able to open the divider between all 4 balconies resulting in one massive balcony with amazing views. The cabin is the most spacious balcony I have stayed in and did not feel cramped at all. Even the bathroom was larger than anything I have seen on a ship before - with the ability to turn around and bend over without any problems. Removing the coffee table has greatly increased the available floor space at little expense over what I have seen on other Royal ships. Dining: Throughout the cruise we mostly at breakfast and lunch at the Windjammer buffet and dinner in the main dining room. We did not try any of the pay facilities, although at one point we had a rather pushy staff member offer us a 30% discount off of Chops (we still declined). Beyond this one staff member all other sales attempts were passive (just standing there holding a menu). The Windjammer was on par with most other Royal ships I have been on with perhaps a slight increase in options. There was a station daily that was dedicated to Indian style food. There was also a dedicated gluten free station along with deserts. The main dining room was notably empty on most nights, with no more than 1/3 of the seats being filled. As a result service was very fast and there was a high level of personal attention given. Other than some standard options the menu rotated nightly, however there did not seem to be any theme to the menus as I have seen on previous cruises. The food was decent, not a 5 star meal, but average as cruises go. My only real complaint is that steaks seemed to come cooked one way - well done. Although I was always asked how I liked my steak, I progressed from Medium to Rare with no change. Cafe 270 is available during the day and had a selection of sandwiches and made-to-order salads, although the salad topping selections were quite limited. The Dog House is available midday and is handy for a quick snack when you are not wanting a meal. Sorrento's and Cafe Prominade as essentially merged into one, with Sorrento's offering a selection of premade cold dishes as well as pizza. Gluten free pizza is available and made fresh to order. Cafe Prominade has available a selection of premade sandwiches and deserts. Although I did not try it, there is a a la carte restaurant on deck 14 called "Poolside Dining." This was originally a noodle bar, but now offers an unusual selection of items ranging from Chinese dishes to Fish and Chips. I cannot find any reference to this establishment anywhere online. Only true negative I have to mention about dining is the washing station in the Windjammer. I often felt this place was where I was going to get sick if anywhere on the boat. It was often littered with discarded paper towels and cups. The whole area felt like a breeding ground for germs. Along with that a staff member was stationed there to demand in a childish "washy washy or no yummy yummy" way that you use the facility and not the sanitizer gel used elsewhere. I would intentionally sit far from the entrance of the Windjammer to avoid hearing her squawk this speech over and over. Entertainment: I rarely attend shows on cruises, opting for other activities, although on this ship I went to many shows in the theater. A vast majority of the shows were comedian based and frankly not that good (as well as rather repititive). The only musical act I saw in the main theater was Diamonds - which was a 3 female member group which sang music from Motown. Their singing was decent, however their stange presence was down right terrible - very robotic and fake. I did not get to see the theatrical production. On a positive note on a few nights an INXS cover band played in 270 and they were top notch - very good and very entertaining. Activities: There was loads of things to do on this ship and I did as many as possible. Rip Cord must be reserved in advance and lasts 1 minute, but is worth it. Due to illness one member of my family had to get a second reservation and this was done without any problems. You could make reservations for the North Star, however we were able to walk on day 1 without any wait. The Sea Plex has various activities from X Box to Bumper Cars. My entire family with a wide range in ages enjoyed the bumper cars. My family spent a fair amount of time in the casino, with all of us coming out ahead on slots. It was a real plus having a non-smoking casino. Only negative about the casino is it feels very sterile and not really inviting. I think this is due to the type of machines available, but we won so I can't complain too much. Other activities were frequent and on par with other cruises, such as numerous trivia contest around the ship.I will add in the Bionic Bar here as it seemed more of an activity than a place to actually get drinks. Yes, we stopped by and had the bar make drinks on a few occasions, but it is rather slow. There was rarely a line and it seems that this novelty is not really living up to its hype. Only real positive thing is I could customize a drink in virtually unlimited ways and I did take my time to make a few things that perhaps nobody else has tried before - something that would annoy even the most patient bartender. Service: By far the service on Ovation is the best I have ever had a sea. I had the deluxe drink package and after a few days I could sit down and a drink would appear without me even needing to order it. Everyone on the ship seemed interested in making an effort to get to know the passengers. Somehow the staff at the main dining room seemed to know my name without ever being told - perhaps they looked it up and memorized my face before hand? Top notch overall - it can't get any better than this. Ports and Excursion: Generally I dislike reviewing these since it is very subjective. Overall the excursions and ports were enjoyable. Tendering operations were speedy without much need for a wait on either end. The day spent cruising in the sounds was simply amazing. They are stunningly beautiful and I am glad I got to see them. Children: We were not traveling with children and there were not many on the ship. There were numerous things that would appeal to children and perhaps not seeing them often and no problems with children running amock is a sign that the ones who were on board were entertained. Disembarking: Fastest experience I have ever had on a cruise. We had a 830am time slot, but we elected to eat in the Windjammer - which was open till 9am. We walked off the ship at about 845am without any wait, directly claimed out bags and cleared customs within 10 minutes. I have never seen such a speedy organized disembarkation, although I think some of this is not so much Royal, but the Australia authorities fast processing of everyone. Overall Ovation is a stunning ship that appears to be something almost out of the future. Absolutely I would recommend this ship and will not think twice about booking her or one of her sisters again. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Had heard great things about this ship so thought I would give it a try. Unfortunately it has no atmosphere. It's like a shopping mall in both looks and feel and there's always someone wanting to sell you something. I ... Read More
Had heard great things about this ship so thought I would give it a try. Unfortunately it has no atmosphere. It's like a shopping mall in both looks and feel and there's always someone wanting to sell you something. I didn't expect it to be a party style ship. Enjoy a drink sure...but to excess, why. For such a huge ship there are no peaceful corners. Not even the Adults Only Solarium which is a complete misnomer . It's just as noisy and rowdy as the general areas. Lots of drinking, yelling across the pools, loud music. Sorry missed the mark here. Food is OK. However the same thing is served every day. Very little variety. Don't come back from a shore excursion hungry because there is very little choice available. Buffet closes at 3pm, there's pizza available, some dried out sandwiches and very little else. As has always been my experience, the staff are exceptional. How they go about their day dealing with what can be some really obnoxious and rude passengers and keep smiling is amazing. They're there to do a job not be servants to idiots who think they're better. The production shows were excellent; the tribute bands - great; but some of the other entertainment put on in the theatre was the sort of thing I'd expect to see at my local club. Good performers but very run of the mill. Overall it's a lovely ship but it lacks heart. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise because it was going to a few places that we hadn't cruised to before in the North Island of NZ, not because it was on Ovation of the Seas. We found the ship to be very clean and modern, elegant but personally I ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was going to a few places that we hadn't cruised to before in the North Island of NZ, not because it was on Ovation of the Seas. We found the ship to be very clean and modern, elegant but personally I prefer Radiance, Voyager and Explorer, they are a bit more personal and have more atmosphere. Ovation is a great ship for families with lots for kids and teens to do but we didn't need all those things. In saying that the service was really, really good and the food similar standard to the other ships. We didn't try any of the Specialty Restaurants as we find the food in Windjammer and the MDR quite good enough for us and the staff very helpful and obliging. this was our first cruise as Diamond Level passengers and did enjoy our time in the Diamond Lounge every evening. Because of our Dining Time and the Diamond Lounge we didn't get to see many shows but the two Bon Jobi Experience shows that we saw were fantastic. Would we cruise on Ovation again? Probably not unless it was going to somewhere we particularly wanted to go, just too big for me personally. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Had to queue every night for dinner in Silk even though we had made reservations each day. Struggled to find a table in Windjammer every day for breakfast and lunch and then were constantly bombarded with announcements asking us to ... Read More
Had to queue every night for dinner in Silk even though we had made reservations each day. Struggled to find a table in Windjammer every day for breakfast and lunch and then were constantly bombarded with announcements asking us to hurry up and leave. Often could not get sun lounges in Solarium. Bars kept running out of our favourite drinks. Had to get to Royal Theatre 30 minutes before most shows in order to get decent seats. Clearly, they have overcrowded the ship to make more profit at the cost of guest enjoyment. The infrastructure cannot cope with the number of guests. Photos are overpriced. $150 for 10 digital prints on a flash drive. Seriously? Food and service for dinner in American Icon on day 2 was lousy. Food in Silk on other nights was average, nowhere near as good as we had previously on Voyager and Oasis. But service in Silk was excellent. Suspect they have dropped the standards in main dining room so that we pay extra to eat in specialty restaurants. Based on our experience on Ovation, we are now concerned that the standards across the fleet have probably dropped, again, as stated above, for RCI to make more money at the expense of our enjoyment. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This was to be our 15th cruise and since we had never been to the South Pacific and the Ovation of the Seas was the newest ship cruising Australia and New Zealand, we decided this was a great opportunity to see the land Down Under. A ... Read More
This was to be our 15th cruise and since we had never been to the South Pacific and the Ovation of the Seas was the newest ship cruising Australia and New Zealand, we decided this was a great opportunity to see the land Down Under. A great feature of cruising out of Sydney, NSW, is the port facility. WOW! 14 cruises before this one, and every single port facility (Seattle, Long Beach, New Jersey, Miami, Ft Lauderdale, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Honolulu, and a few others) was situated in some hard to reach industrial area, far from the city centers, hotels and airports. Not Sydney. The Ovation of the Seas was docked in an area known as Circular Quay. It is literally a few blocks from major hotels, including ours, the Amora Jamison Sydney. This was such a refreshing change. Embarkation was quick and painless; from dropping off our luggage to stepping onto the ship was 30 minutes maximum, but we were Platinum status and this enabled us to skip ahead of a queue of probably another 15 minutes or so. The Ovation of the Seas is a very pretty ship. It was launched about 20 months before we sailed on it, and it still looked brand new. It was nicely appointed and immaculately clean. Our first impressions were of a top-notch beautiful ship. We were on the ship by noon, but our cabins weren't ready yet, so we headed to the Windjammer Cafe, the ship's main buffet. And this was where my primary disappointment with Ovation of the seas began. I mentioned that we have been on 15 cruises. I must say that throughout these past 15 cruises, starting in 2004, there has been a slow decline in the overall quality of the food. Not just in the buffets, but also in the main dining rooms and the specialty restaurants. The six of us who almost always cruise together all agree on this, and it's across all of the cruise lines we've been on, RCL, Norwegian, Disney, and Carnival. Obviously, the cruise lines are constantly seeking ways to improve the bottom line, and lowering the cost of food is a great way to cut costs. So we've not been surprised by the reduced selections, shorter hours of buffet operations, fewer "included" food choices and increasing number of "for fee" options, as well as overall lower quality of dining in general. But we were all shocked by the quality of dining on Ovation. In EVERY food venue the quality of the food was significantly worse than when we last cruised with RCL, on Allure of the Seas in 2013. Let's begin with the Windjammer Cafe. The selection was poor to begin with, but what was available was sub-par compared to every cruise buffet we've ever experienced. Starting with the Carving Stations (there were two). The selection of meats was awful; the best thing served were pork ribs; these were juicy and flavorful. Other than the ribs, there were selections of meats that I would not serve in my home. Dry, tasteless cuts of beef, turkey, sausages, and lamb. The Burger station was terrible; the hamburgers were jokes; every single patty well done; dry and tasteless. The hot dogs were the kind you buy at the supermarket in 8-packs, definitely nothing special. The condiment selection was very good, but that doesn't help much when the meats are so bad. It was hard to find anything is the buffet that was tasty; and the selection varied very little day to day. The desserts were good however. We found several that became the highlight of our meals in the buffet. Oh, and we also really enjoyed the french fries (our Aussie friends call them 'chips'), and the fact that they had a dedicated Gluten Free section. The main dining rooms were somewhat better. We had the anytime dining option, so our MDRs were The American Icon Grill and Silk. We preferred the former, for it's lighter decor and more modern appearance. Overall the food here was somewhat better than in the Windjammer, but the selections were fewer, compared to previous experiences on RCL. Overall, the quality of the MDR was average. Off all of the food venues, the biggest disappointments of all were the specialty restaurants. We purchased the five night dining package, and ate at Wonderland, Chops and Jamie's Italian. Our first specialty meal was at Wonderland. Given the glowing reviews we read on Cruise Critic and saw on Youtube, we were expecting terrific meals, and had reserved two dinners there. For creativity and presentation, I would give Wonderland top marks; the food LOOKED great. Unfortunately, it came up short when it came to delivering on taste. Except for the desserts, few items on the menu were enjoyed by any of our party. Even their signature beef dish, the Terroir Beef, was a chunk of chuck meat in gravy, nothing special at all. So high marks for presentation (e.g. Baby Vegetables in the Garden looked fabulous but tasted awful) low marks for taste. After our first meal in Wonderland, we canceled our second visit. Then there were our two visits to Chops, and these unfortunately were huge disappointments. On the positive side, the starters, the sides and desserts at Chops were uniformly very good. Our servers were exceIlent on both visits. The problem was with the feature items at a steak house the meat. On my first visit, I had the boneless 12 ounce New York steak. I ordered medium rare and it arrived cooked medium. Not necessarily a problem, but unfortunately the steak was dry and rather tough. My second steak at Chops was a 16 ounce bone-in Rib steak. My wife also had the Rib steak, and while eating, we both were surprised that our steak knives were so dull! We had to exert considerable effort to cut our steaks, and we finally realized that it wasn't the cutlery, it was the steaks; the meat was tough and stringy. In hindsight, we should have complained about the quality of the meat, but it really didn't occur to us at the time. But given that Chops has a listed price of $45 for dinner, the quality of the meat at Chops was shockingly poor. None of our party felt the steaks were of true 'steak house' quality; I've had uniformly better steaks purchased at our local supermarkets at home. There's not much reason to pay for poor quality meat in an expensive specialty restaurant on a cruise ship. What a disappointment. Finally, that brings us to Jamie's Italian. Thank god for Jamie's! This was the one food establishment on the Ovation that really 'wowed' us. Good from start to finish. Starting with the excellent garlic bread, followed by the terrific cured meat platter, and the wonderful crispy squid, the meals at Jamie's definitely delivered; great food, fun atmosphere, excellent experiences overall. We ate at Jamie's Italian twice, and it at least partially made up for the huge disappointments of Wonderland and Chops. Our servers were also very good, especially the petite Asian woman the first night, whose name unfortunately none of us can remember. My final comments on food on the Ovation are on the Dog House, Cafe 270, the Promenade Cafe and Sorrento's. The Dog House was pretty much for the dogs. Located near the Sports court, it was only open for lunch, and had a selection of three or four hot dogs. We tried three of the four, and weren't impressed with any; all thin, dry and pretty tasteless. Of the other three, all were nice alternative food venues for a quick bite. Cafe 270 had a nice selection of sandwiches, including nice, hot paninis, and well as croissants. danishes, and other snacks. It was always crowded however, and seating was sometimes very hard to find. The Promenade Cafe was open always, and had small sandwiches, desserts, tea and coffee. Sorrento's deserves special mention; they had very nice pizzas! Thin crust, crunchy, with lots of cheese. Hands down our favorite snack spot on the ship when we wanted a quick bite to eat, especially given it's convenient location. I know I've made very extensive comments on the food on Ovation, but I readily admit that to me one of the primary attractions of traveling on cruise ships has always been the food. And unfortunately, Ovation of the Seas, to a very large degree really disappointed. Briefly, on other aspects of the ship, the cabin was very nice. We were in balcony cabin 8146. It was large, and had a roomy balcony, with a port view. Our cabin steward, Habebi, from Indonesia, was excellent; he had a bright, cheery attitude, and did a wonderful job of keeping our cabin neat and clean. The entertainment on the Ovation was good overall. The Beautiful Dream, Live, Love, Legs, were production shows that were very entertaining. There were also a Ventriloquist/Comedian, Strings duo, a Freddy Mercury impersonator, and Belinda Marks a vocalist. Although none of them would have been headliners in Las Vegas, they were all good performers and we enjoyed them. The one featured show in the 270 Theatre was "Pixels". It was a technology-featuring singing and dancing production, which I didn't really enjoy, but others in our party liked a lot. The one awful show in my opinion was a hypnotist who had twenty passengers on stage who were clearly all exhibitionists who literally ran to get on the stage so they could be silly in public. On the other hand, the woman who sat next to my wife clearly loved the show and laughed until she fell out of her seat! As many people have noted, the Flow-Rider is a great activity if you're into water sports; the bumper cars are fun, but the wait is typically about 45 minutes. Unlike others, we found there was no problem at all getting onto the roller skating rink, and there was almost no crowd at all. Rock climbing was fun, and the wait never more than 10 minutes. I never got onto i-Fly because it was cancelled due to wind on the day of my reservation. The ping-pong tables were constantly in use and we never got to play. The air-hockey was fun, but overpriced at $2.50 for three minutes. We never tried the North Star observation platform. Our shore excursions were arranged privately, and saved us a minimum of 35% versus RCL arranged trips (I think the average savings were closer to 50%). We went on excursions in Noumea, Auckland, Tauranga, and Bay of Islands, and had wonderful tour guides for the latter two, Colin, and Felicity (both retired police officers from New Zealand) through Shore Trips and Tours. We all agreed, we can't recommend them highly enough. Both were friendly, knowledgeable, and just really nice people. Oh, one more thing - Hokey Pokey ice cream is wonderful, even better than Rocky Road! By the way, we spent two more days in Sydney after the conclusion of our cruise, and we had two FABULOUS meals at a little place called Ribs and Burgers on George Street. Wow - after our disappointment with the food on Ovation, we had some of the best burgers, ribs and fries we've tasted ANYWHERE. I'd say their Aussie Burger is now my favorite burger of all time (well, at least tied with the Johnny Cash burger at Broderick's in Walnut Creek, California). Overall, this was a very enjoyable cruise vacation. We loved New Zealand (although New Caledonia less so), and Sydney is now my personal favorite city in the world (displacing San Francisco). The Ovation was a beautiful ship, with good facilities, cabins, and entertainment, which unfortunately had very disappointing food. Not sure if we'd sail on Ovation again. Read Less
21 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
12 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
3 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
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Chose this cruise since it fit into schedule while in Australia to travel to New Zealand Realized the ship is large and almost 5000 passengers but we wanted to go to New Zealand . We tried it and will never sail again ! Too many ... Read More
Chose this cruise since it fit into schedule while in Australia to travel to New Zealand Realized the ship is large and almost 5000 passengers but we wanted to go to New Zealand . We tried it and will never sail again ! Too many long lines for everything ! We chose to eat in Specialty Resturants every evening and stayed away from Windjammer. Loved the food and staff in Specialty Resturants. Felt like just a floating city with little opportunity to dine outside Shore excursions were very expensive & not better than average. Entertainment was mixed but enjoyed Cruise Director - many shows were standing room since kids taking seats in adult shows Very annoying and many passengers were not pleased when comedian could not do his entire show due to kids in audience at 10 pm! Believe the Captain is concerned about overall view of this ship but there is something missing including bring nickel and dimed for everything which is the Royal Caribbean way ! Too big a ship to find coffee or just water during the day as well as an ice cream cone - The ship is beautiful however much space is devoted to high end retail and the main promenade is always shoulder to shoulder people in peak hours and the shops may have one person or be empty Read Less
Ovation of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 5.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0

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