This was our 4th cruise and 1st with RCCL this year. We chose this particular cruise as we’d never been to Japan. Because the ship sailed out of Hong Kong, we were anticipating a large contingent of passengers from Hong Kong and mainland ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise and 1st with RCCL this year. We chose this particular cruise as we’d never been to Japan. Because the ship sailed out of Hong Kong, we were anticipating a large contingent of passengers from Hong Kong and mainland China. While more than half of the passengers were Asian, and some spoke limited English, there was a significant number of passengers from Australia, North America/Canada, the Uk and NZ, so a good mix of interesting people to meet. Consequently, all safety instructions, show introductions, PA messages etc were delivered in English and then again in Mandarin. Sometimes, I got the feeling some information was “lost in translation “ but the crew did their best to keep everyone informed and up-to-date with shipboard activities. I thought Mike and Kitty’s morning update show on TV channel 14 was informative and good fun.
This is a very big ship, so yes, there was a bit of bustle and noise at times and yes, sometimes dining room queues were long but it’s not as if you’ve got somewhere else to be! I have to say I was somewhat disappointed with the continual whinging of some of the “international” passengers (particularly a couple of British and US passengers). As early as the first sea day there were a few passengers that others, myself included, were already doing their best to avoid. One very rude woman was observed loudly berating pool bar staff because they couldn’t produce an ice bucket for her water bottle! She turned to me and announced she was having a terrible time, thought the ship was terrible, the staff were hopeless, and that she was “done!” I had to bite my tongue and not suggest we’d all be happier if she jumped overboard and swam back to shore. Others were complaining about the food. Seriously, there was so much variety and choice I just don’t understand what the problem was. Perhaps they lost sight of the fact that feeding 4,000 people at roughly the same time dictates what can be served, how, and how fast. Fine dining was available at the specialty restaurants and take-away style food could be taken to the deck or back to your cabin so there was always a choice if banquet/buffet style was not to their liking. The buffet restaurant and MDRs WERE very busy at peak times but we chose to dine either earlier or later and avoided the melee and had no wait at all. We also booked the Solarium Bistro if we wanted a quieter and more intimate atmosphere for lunch or dinner. We generally had complimentary room service continental breakfast, which was more than sufficient and a pleasant way to start the day.
Overall, our experience of this cruise was very positive. The cabins were well appointed with heaps of storage and a very comfortable bed. Cabin stewards were professional but friendly and went out of their way to attend to any special requests. Deck 13 stewards, Kolen and Joela, always acknowledged us by name and with a smile and an enquiry about our day.
I thought the headline show, Pixels, was outstanding and enjoyed Live, Love, Legs but to a lesser degree because the vocalists were a bit hit and miss.
On sea days, the pool areas were busy but we still managed to secure a deck chair when and where we wanted one. The only annoying thing was the number of selfish people who “reserved” themselves a prime position very early before breakfast by placing a towel on the chair/s, then didn’t return for hours (that’s just rude if you were one of those doing so!)
We tried the North Star while in port and the view of the ship and the port was stunning. We didn’t try iFly but plan to next cruise. At the start of the cruise, there was a fee for both North Star and iFly but this charge was dropped or refunded for those who’d prepaid, towards the end of the cruise.
We had planned to “wing it” in each port, but ended up booking three shore tours (Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Shimonoseki) once on board, and I’m glad we did. All were very well organised and well worth the money. Our English-speaking Japanese tour guides,Yoko and Mr Morry were fantastic - we learnt so much about Japanese culture, traditions and history, and Morry even taught us some basic Japanese words and did a bit of magic for a few of us (as well as a tour guide, he is also a professional, touring magician). I doubt we would have found our way to some of the tour locations easily on our own. A lovely young couple we met did do their own thing though via locally organised walking and cycling tours and reported that they had a great couple of days.
Wherever we went, we found the Japanese people to be very gracious and respectful and from what we saw, Japan has to be one of the cleanest, tidiest places I’ve ever been. Pity one filthy group of smokers from the ship gathered on the street, made a spectacle of themselves being loud and obnoxious and then threw their cigarette butts in the gutter/drain outside a stunning Japanese garden - disgusting behaviour and a poor example of Australian tourists overseas.
I felt compelled to write this lengthy tome as I find there seem to be many overly critical reviews on this site. I think many people who are satisfied and have enjoyed themselves just don’t write reviews, so there’s sometimes a biased and unbalanced view from people who are probably never happy about anything. I prefer to see the glass as half full, not half empty. From my observation I believe the ones who complain about poor service or “sullen”, unhelpful crew are rude to crew who work hard and are paid every little. I’ve seen them behave as if they are somehow superior to everyone else. They might find that instead, a little bit of humility, politeness, gratitude and good grace results in friendly, cheerful encounters and excellent service every time. Just a thought ...
Anyway, in summary we enjoyed this cruise very much, and met some truly delightful people. So much so that we’ve booked two more cruises on Ovation this year and are looking forward to catching up again with some of the new friends we made onboard this trip. Read Less