Been on 2 other cruises before and the Ovation is the best one so far. I was really apprehensive before this cruise because of all the negative reviews but decided to keep an open mind and to learn from the bad experience others had which ... Read More
Been on 2 other cruises before and the Ovation is the best one so far. I was really apprehensive before this cruise because of all the negative reviews but decided to keep an open mind and to learn from the bad experience others had which works great for me.
Keys to a good cruise on a big ship like the Ovation - planned for everything. I booked everything online - North Star, iFly, all the shows, dining and drink packages. It is the key to stress free cruising. (I am in my 30s - might be a reason why I had no issues using the online cruise planner. I thought it worked great.)
Embarkation - easy peasy. Online check in was quick and simple. Uploaded our photos and booked in for boarding at 12:30pm. Arrived at 12:25pm at OST and was on board in 20 mins, with the majority of the time spent waiting for immigration. Our room was already ready for us as soon as we board.
Dining - We got the 5 nights dining package so we tried all the specialty restaurants on board. The service for all restaurants, specialty and complementary, are top notch, better than many land based restaurants.
- Wonderland was interesting but we tried a similar format in other restaurants on land so it wasnt as unique. We found the food to be so so only. Still worth a tried if you haven't done anything like this before.
- Izumi - I am not a fan. We tried this on the first night, hoping the fish will be freshest but sadly that isn't the case. Many of the dishes were heavy on mayo which isn't the kind of sushi I preferred.
- Jamie's Italian - Its as good, if not better than the one in Sydney. The portion are generous and everything was delicious. The pasta are freshly made, definitely better than other pasta offered around the ship. I highly recommend the lamb chops, they were the best I have had. We ate so much, we had to miss out on desserts.
- Chops Grille - This is still the best restaurant at seas. We loved this so much we ate there twice. The fillet mignon and giant scallops are incredible.
- Solarium Bistro - this was a paid restaurant for dinner but they changed it to complimentary before we board. Reservation are by invitation sent to each stateroom. The format is half buffet and half a la carte. There is a selection for main you ordered through the waiter and the starters, sides and desserts are layout as a buffet. I enjoyed the buffet very much, it is lighter than the Windjammer but there are only 5 choices for main course. The food are delicious but we didnt go back again due to the limited main available.
- Michael's Genuine Pub - The foods were okay but a bit too salty for us. I was disappointed at the beer offering here. I was hoping for craft beer, something different from those offered around the ship.
- Kung Fu Panda - This is the worst meal we had on board. We had the curry noodle and the spicy beef noodle and both were terrible. The stock were watery and tasteless and the beef were really tough. It is outdoor so it was quite warm (we were near Darwin at the time). I think we must be the only one that ate there. Mostly I see people eating food they got from the Windjammer.
- Windjammer - This is the best buffet I have ever had, better than all the other windjammer and even Shangri la in Sydney. The food were really good and the variety was just enough to keep every meal interesting. I loved that they do theme night which is advertised in the Cruise Compass. The manager, Deepak, is quite a comedian. He usually give a little speech on the PA system, telling funny (usually sexist and sometime a little inappropriate) jokes. He put a smile on all the guest faces. We had most of our meals here, preferring the food here over the MDR. It can get busy here during peak hours so we try to dine a little early or a little late and to find seat towards the back of the ship. A little further away from the food but also from the noise.
- Main Dining Room - We only dined here twice, preferring the Windjammer. The separate dining rooms were more intimate but it lacked the grandeur of a traditional dining room. I would have prefer they kept the dynamic dining concept, it would have been more interesting than having different rooms serving the same food. The decor also doesn't match the food, especially when dining in Silk, with its red, pan Asian decor. The food was okay but it was just the usual RC MDR fair, nothing special.
- Bionic Bar - this was fun to watch. It doesnt get used much, never had to queue. I loved that they have a good variety of non alcoholic drinks.
North Star - We did this twice, once just up and down and then later in the cruise, they set it up to swing over the side. It was just a gimmick, wasn't really that interesting. Not really worth all the fuss.
iFly - good fun, definitely worth a try. Doen't really feel like flying, more like falling.
Escape Room - this was just a room next to the Seaplex. we booked it via iQ app or you can book at the Seaplex desk. It wasn't a purpose built room so it lacked the intrigue. It was also challenging as you have to work with complete strangers. Only one team and ours had 15 ppl. It was good fun but the staff wasn't really into it. Unless other escape room, the staff actually stand right next to us and they kind of looked bored most of the time.
Shows at the Royal theatre - Live.Love.Leg & The beautiful dream. Spectacular shows, they really invested in the stage, prop and costumes, definitely comparable to shows on land. Live.Love.Legs is a Vagas style cabaret show, lots of flesh (nothing too inappropriate) but I think some of my follow guests are a little shocked (most are elderly). Quite funny to watch their expression. We also had usual singers, comedian, magician and a hypnotists which was true astonishing to watch. Really enjoyed all the shows here.
Shows at 270 - 270 was a great venue. Truly spectacular. Pixel was an interesting combination of acrobatics, singing and dancing, utilising the many screens around the venue. Other shows there wasn't as great, it feels like they are still trying to develop shows that will fully utilise this space.
All access tour - Really interesting and worth the price. We get to see just how much work are needed to keep this ship running smoothly. Seeing the difference in crew vs guest area is a little sobering for me. It is a different world down there. Not to say the crew were treated badly, it just the difference in the guest area is stark. It really highlight the opulence. It is also good to see that most of the fresh produce are from Australia, I had always thought they source all supply from the US. The bridge tour was also a highlight. We were lucky to have Captain Henrik there to explain the going on in the bridge for us.
The Dreamwork character breakfast - I dont think this is worth the price. They have the same characters that were in the promenade throughout the cruise and they serve the same breakfast as the main dining room.
Disembarkation - Guest services failed again. I have found this area to be the weakest of the whole RC operation. I have had issues with billing and guest services on every cruise I took with them. We chose the self disembark option, wanting to make the most of the time we had in Singapore. We were ready to leave the ship at 9am but was sent back to guest services at the gangway, no explanation on why. The queue at guest services are always long. Turned out they didn't validate my credit card correctly and needed my signature again. Would have been nice for them to maybe call me the night before instead of turning me back at the gangway.That took 40 mins. Just before I left the counter, I noticed they have overcharged me because they have setup my partner's account separate to mine and didn't take into account his OBC. Never trust Guest services accounting, they cant count.
Overall it was still a wonderful cruise, it was the longest one we have done, with the most sea days. I was worried we will get bored but there are so much to do on this ship that it kept us well entertained. To have a good cruise on a mega ship, you will need to be organised - book as much as you can before you board, do your research (there are no amenities in the bathroom, there never were) and be prepared to wait a little for things (go early for shows, for bar services, to disembark). Read Less