Prior to sailing: We purchased "The Key" which was a very good investment for us both. I also pre-scheduled our excursions (2 directly from Royal Caribbean International and 2 from other vendors) and activities such as IFly and ... Read More
Prior to sailing: We purchased "The Key" which was a very good investment for us both. I also pre-scheduled our excursions (2 directly from Royal Caribbean International and 2 from other vendors) and activities such as IFly and the North Star along with pre-booking our night to see Pixels and the Escape Room. I drafted a calendar of events, activities, and dinner times and places we wanted to do from prior cruise compasses with lots of time to add more while on the ship. Months prior to cruising, I signed us up for the Meet and Mingle Roll Call, and participated on the review boards for our particular cruise and met many nice and funny people. This is a great way to meet others prior to sailing.
Thursday: Seattle, Washington - We flew into Seattle a day before the cruise and arrived early and dropped our bags off at "The State Hotel" just steps away from Pike Place Market. It was our first stop and we watched the fishing sailing through the air. The booths are endless - we saw crab legs as long as our arms, an abundance of flowers and many local crafts. Prior to returning to our hotel, we enjoyed dinner at "Pike Place Bar & Grill." The Steamed Manilla Clams and the Cod Fish and Chips dinner were delicious. Best fresh cod ever!
Embarkation and Day of Sailing - Seattle, Washington: Due to the time change and going to bed early, my husband and I had morning coffee at the "The State Hotel" and explore more of the area. Our Lyft picked us up at the hotel and we arrived at the ship minutes later at the Port terminal (before 10:00 a.m.). As I was a disabled veteran he made sure we were dropped off close to the entry doors - the cost $16. Upon showing our Sea Passes - we were quickly ushered in the line for "Key" members and sat in the area to await a wheelchair for me. Time quickly flew and before we knew it - the activity director took us aboard the largest ship we have ever seen. This was the fastest and easiest embarkation we have ever experienced.
Ovation of the Seas - She is a very beautiful ship with plenty to do and see. It would take weeks to accomplish all on her. Our balcony cabin was mid-ship on the 11th floor - 11180. Knowing it would not be ready until 1:00 p.m.; we went to Guest Relations and purchased the Wow Bands for $4.99. These bands are surely worth it as I used it often for unlocking our cabin door throughout the cruise saving time for searching for my Sea Pass which I left often in the light switch. Not only did Glen, our room attendant, kept our cabin neat and clean each day, he left multiple towel animals for us to enjoy. I took Traveler's Ginger Candy (Gin Gin Company) with me and only had to savor two of them during the cruise. I share most of the bag with others who were experiencing seasickness even wearing the patch.
Friday: Day 1 - At noon, we went to the Main Dining to eat with other Key Members and enjoyed a Chops Grille luncheon. Hubby had the Colossal Shrimp Cocktail, Everything Crusted Tuna and the New York Cheesecake. I had the Caesars Salad with their signature dressing, Petite Filet Mignon with three dipping sauces and the New York Cheesecake. This meal was scrumptious!
After eating lunch, we explore the ship unto our way to the cabin. The large towel I pre-purchased was in the room, but the Polar Bear Alaska Blanket for two was missing. I spoke to the attendant and he did not know if one could be found. This was distressing for me, as I had purchased it months ago. A few days later the Deck Supervisor found a brand new blanket and gave it to me - it surely made my day that the personnel on the ship took extra lengths to ensure our cruise would be delightful. We saw our Key envelopes and entered our passwords for the VOOM and notice that we had a letter stating our special departure times for each port.
Our next stop was at the Sky Bar where we met our Cruisers from our Roll Call. It was great seeing who I had been conversing with online prior to sailing.
Muster was at 3:15 and we made our way down to the Schooner Bar. Go a tad bit early for Muster to obtain a seat. Muster went flawlessly.
At 6:00 p.m. while hubby was relaxing and watching out our balcony, I went to see and purchase the Alaska Survival Kit. Many store vendors had their selections out and I was able to purchase gifts for our kids.
I preselected our "My Time Dining" for 7:00 p.m. and we went to eat at the Silk. This dinner was disappointing after having a fantastic luncheon with Chops Grille. Although we were seated quickly, it took a while to take our orders. Hubby and I ordered the Escargot that was swimming in butter and parsley. I love eating escargot but the Silk's mostly tasted like butter and was bland. Maybe Silk could try cooking the escargot with less butter, add garlic and mushrooms to it like they used to do in the early 2000s. The rest of the meal was neither remarkable nor memorable as the prime rib was overcooked. The service was sporadic and we miss the old days of the traditional MDR days with the greeting from the Head Waiter, Waiter and Assistant Waiter all of whom worked together. I believe the seating arrangement made it more difficult and all of these restaurant venues with "My Time Dining" made it more difficult for the wait staff and guests. I highly suggest two of the venues return to the traditional MDR.
After dinner, we went to Comedy Night on Decks 4/5. The show was average and was disrupted many times by guests leaving. We sat in the handicap area and the attendant was a tad bit annoyed with us sitting there. I guess she did not see my cane nor my leg brace. Her sour demeanor was quickly forgotten. After the show, we stopped in the Royal Casino and the host gave us our gold coins to try our luck at the special slot machine. While hubby played Blackjack, I tried my hand at Roulette. We both had a good night and won some. We strolled Deck 5 and found the smoking area. We made friends there that we would see often throughout the cruise. By the time we got to our room our luggage had arrived and morning came fast. Thanks to other cruise reviews, I had most of our important items in our carry-on.
Saturday: Day 2 - Cruising: After having morning coffee, hubby and I went up to Deck 16 and were excited to experience the North Star. Even though I do not like heights, this was an awesome experience. Hubby took many pictures and we were able to see far off in the distance including the entire ship. Upon standing in line, the attendant escorted to the elevator to take me to the doors of the North Star so I can experience it without struggling the stairs. Just a FYI there are many times in which the North Star does not cost the guest any extra monies and as a "Key" guest we were able to experience it without lines a 2nd time.
Port Shopping Show - I went to the Port Shopping Show and learned the best places to visit for shopping form multiple beautiful gems to see and possibly buy.
Bingo and Blackjack Qualifying Round - Oh my - had so much fun playing bingo and won an extra bingo shirt. I came so close to winning cash. Hubby went to the Blackjack Qualifying Round and placed for the tournament.
Balcony and Deck 5: - Spent the afternoon relaxing and watching for whales and Orcas and saw many. It truly was an awesome experience.
Formal Night - Hubby and I dressed to the max and it was such a delight. We went to the second seating at Silk. If we thought the first dinner was disappointing, this dinner was worse. I decided to try the Seafood with Linguini. It was terrible, the shrimp tasted old, clams cold and the bay scallops were still frozen. I pushed my plate aside and the waiter came and was told I was done. Another waiter stopped and asked if I wanted to try something else. Once again I stated I was no longer hungry and this time described the meal quietly as to not disturb the other guests. We saw him walk quickly to the Supervisor as we were leaving. Hubby told me to keep going as the Chef was now running behind us. We left the area, went to Sorrento's and ate pizza. Needlessly to say we miss MDR dining. After dinner, we went to the Comedy Show and it was great! So glad to try to see another comedy show. Afterwards we strolled the deck in the moonlight then changed clothes for the Casino and played a few rounds.
Sunday: Day 3 - Alaska Inside Passage/Juneau - Once again we enjoyed a light breakfast at Two70 (Deck 5) of coffee, juice and Panini. We went to our Meet and Mingle in Vintages and were greeted by others who posted prior to cruising. Tony and his wife were experienced cruisers and were very friendly. Tony gave each us beautiful bracelets. Thanks Tony!
We met families with children who were bored and suggested the Adventure Ocean program. Two families sought us out later and told us they had a hard time getting their children to leave.
Juneau, Alaska - Due to the Key, we went to the Music Hall (Deck 3) at noon to await our departure for Juneau. Within minutes, we were off the ship and going down the gangway. Upon hitting the boardwalk, a Pedicab took us to the Mount Roberts Tramway in which we purchased our tickets to the Tram and to AJ Mine/Gastineau Mining Tour. We took the tram to the top and we were able to see Eagles and view the authentic Alaska Native Arts and purchased items in their gift shop. We took the Tram down and were met by our guide for our mining excursion. This was a quaint excursion as it was shared with one other couple. We saw this same mining company on the Discovery Channel. Our guide was a retired miner and kept us entertain while exploring the inside of the mine. We learned the history of the mine and it was quite an experience. Once outside the mine, two young guides taught us how to pan for gold and garnets of which we each found almost entire vial worth of both. This is a must see excursion which I found online.
Upon returning to Port, hubby and I went shopping and I was able to collect my charms to add to my bracelet while looking at Gold Quartz jewelry, Korite (Ammolite), Tanzanite, an array of Northern Lights jewelry the rare Alexandrite collection and the Crown of Lite jewelry collection. If you are a coffee lover like us - visit the Heritage Coffee Roasting Company. The aromas are intoxicating. While most people were eating at Tracy's Crabshack and eating arm length crab legs, hubby and I had a delicious dinner at the Twisted Fish Company. Their clams in wine sauce, crab cakes and calamari were scrumptious! We went back to the ship by 8:00 p.m. and took our purchases to our room. Upon leaving our cabin, we saw the telephone message light blinking and quickly learned how our Klukwan Native Culture Excursion was canceled due to "lack of participation." Although the Shore Excursion Desk stated for us to come by and book another excursion I took time to look at the Royal IQ app and saw there were none that interest us. I searched Google and learned this excursion had closed for the season the week prior. This left a bad taste as you would think the Shore Excursion would verify all excursion to ensure none closed early for the season prior to the sailing. Needless to say, we went to Deck 5, met up with friends and were invited to join them for the Jeep excursion to the Yukon. Shortly there afterwards we went up to the top deck to take photos of the ever changing sculptures on the pier and watched the sail away at 9:00 p.m. A while later we stopped in at Schooners and listen to piano music, visit the Casino, ate late night pizza at Sorrento's, met more friends on Deck 5 and had an enjoyable night.
Monday: Day 4 - Skagway, Alaska - Morning came quickly and we picked up breakfast at Two70 and sat in the Deck 5 lounge. Shortly thereafter, the four of us left the ship (with our passports) and we walked to town (take the tram and ride it as it is 1/2 mile hike). Before you know it, we were in the jeep driving towards the Yukon. Our GPS (jokingly our landmark book) did not take us directly to the Yukon, as it did not account for the road closure and detour. Before we knew it, we arrived at the Yukon Suspension Bridge. We took our time, crossed the bridge and saw its beauty. Afterwards we had lunch at their cafe of bison chili that was mouthwatering. I purchase bison chips, crackers and cheese to enjoy later. After an hour out we turned around and the road was already paved, and we were on our way to Carcass and saw the smallest desert. We stopped in Carcross for drinks, snacks, and some shopping (a nice small town with plenty to see and buy including readers). The ice cream was delicious. Within minutes, we saw a bear by the side of the road and took pictures. We saw so much wildlife on our way to Emerald Lake. So cool to see and many photo ops there too. Soon we arrived at Emerald Lake and the view was spectacular. We took our time traveling back to Skagway and came upon another bear - this one was very large standing in the middle of the road. After taking a few pictures, the bear retreated into the woods nearby. The four of us went shopping and picked up trinkets, postcards and the train charms for our bracelets. We were back on the ship by 5:00 p.m. in time to relax for dinner.
Tonight we had reservations for the Solarium. This is a quaint dinner spot that is included in your cruise to partake if one so desired. Many people just ate from their buffet, but Hubby and I chose from their menu and their buffet. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was very relaxing. The tables were nicely spaced and the wait staff made sure each guest was enjoying oneself. After dinner, I went to the Rossalite Gems show - these gems are beautiful!! Hubby and I watch the sunset and off to play at the Casino.
Tuesday: Day 5 - Endicott Arm/Dawes Glacier - hubby and woke up early and went to Two70 for coffee and carried our breakfast to the Deck 5 lounge where we could Glacier Watch. This did not occur ,as the Captain of the Ship was wise to turn us around when he saw how big the icebergs under the water were and was smart enough to put our safety first. Many understood but there were others who were angry until other guests explain that small iceberg on top of the water is much smaller than what is not seen under the water. The Captain took his time and the entire ship went whale watching with many to see.
Prior to lunch, I went to the room to pick up my bingo shirts and daubers and purchase my bingo cards. I was awarded extra free bingo cards for each shirt and dauber and was given the B3 Blue Bingo Fish (which gave me an extra bingo card on day 3 - win a cruise bingo). No wins for me but came close and had an enjoyable time. After bingo, we went and saw the Love and Marriage Show - this show is a must to see and everyone seem to enjoy themselves. Afterwards I dropped off my bingo gear and was met by the 11th Deck Supervisor who surprised me with the Polar Bear Winter Blanket! Yeah!!
Escape Room - this activity was pre-booked prior to cruising. Hubby and I never experienced and it was quite intriguing. There were 12 of us working together in which you collect clues, solve puzzles to escape and only had 1 hour to do so. Hubby found most of the locked boxes and we helped solved many of the puzzles to collect clues and were able to escape. This was a very fun activity and everyone should try it. I do know not all the ships have this activity but they should as it is a very enjoyable experience and does not take up much room to play it.
Windjammer - Hubby and I went exploring another part of the ship and dropped our Custom Form off at Guest Relations. Unbelievable as there is still so much to see and experienced. Dinner was upon us and we decided to try the Windjammer. We were met with "Washy Washy" which sounded delightful in her singsong manner. A table was easily found and we went to look at the array of foods. Chad made me a delicious plate of my own ingredients for Lo Mein. I thought I was full until the dumped a fresh batch of French fries at a station nearby and off I went to get a small plate of them with Malt Vinegar. Oh my - I was in heaven!! The array of desserts will make your mouth water once again. Another familiar feature was seen in the Windjammer was see fruit carvings - the fish in the watermelon was totally spectacular!
After dinner, we strolled the deck to walk off dinner prior to an evening out with hubby. I missed out as I fell asleep while waiting for hubby taking a shower. He went to the Casino with friends. So nice that I was able to catch up on my sleep which is hard to do on such a fun cruise.
Wednesday: Day 6 - Cruising - Yep we had coffee from Two70 and taking breakfast away to Deck 5 lounge and relaxed watching the waves.
Fab Abs class - OH MY! That was surely a work out! Off to the room to shower so I can enjoy the day. It was not long until it was our time to experience the IFly on Deck 16.
IFly - The crew here are very safety conscious and thoroughly enjoys assisting guests with having a fun experience. First, you are asked if you have had any neck and upper back injuries as one cannot safely participate. Next, you are weighed in - thank goodness, they do not say one's weight aloud. Hubby could not participate, as he was a few pounds too heavy for his height, which he was fine with as I think he was more excited to see if I would go through with it. Lol. We watch a short safety video, learned our four hand signals and then suited up. Soon it was our turn to go to the gravity chamber. Since all of us listened and followed their instructions, we were able to fly higher with our instructor in which we spun upward. Such an exhilarating experience!!
Bingo for a free cruise - Went to the room, picked up all my bingo gear and given 21 cards to play. So close with 1 number but did not win - maybe next time. It was so nice to see the young gentleman jump up, yell bingo, and win a cruise for 2 while on his honeymoon.
Dog House - even with all the variety of food - a good beef hot dog and/or bratwurst with sauerkraut fits the lunch bill easily.
Relaxing afternoon - hubby took a much needed nap and I went exploring the shops (be wise and leave your sea pass in the light switch like me - it saves you money - lol). I purchase a few small items and went to relax with friends. I woke hubby for dinner and dressed for our second formal dinner.
American Icon Grill - this was chosen as Hubby refused to go back to Silk and he knew I wanted to eat lobster. Dinner service was extraordinary and so unlike what we experienced in the Silk. The Wait Staff were friendly and interactive with the guests. The waiter made dinner suggestions and knew the ingredients for the dishes. Our appetizers were delicious (hubby had the Caesar Salad and I tried the Escargot again - their style of cooking grows on you). Hubby selected the beef tenderloins and asked for rare and was super shocked it was cooked the way he wanted AND very tender. He was enjoying this dinner outing. The Waiter brought me two lobster tails and brought heated butter to the table. Oh my! The lobster melted in your mouth. After dinner, the Waiter cleared the table and knife scraped the tablecloth prior to dessert (an old MDR table method this was the only time seen done). Since this was the 50th year, a special cake with swirled lollipop stick came out with the desserts we selected. Hubby had apple pie ala mode nicely heated with a side of vanilla ice cream. I had the Molten Chocolate Cake that was quite delicious.
Hubby and I had another stroll on deck and met up with our friends who had a very enjoyable experience too while dining in Wonderland. We share our dining experiences and discussed what we were going to do in Victoria. We all went to the Casino and knew bed was early as the time change went forward 1 hour - morning would arrive sooner.
Thursday: Day 7 - Victoria, British Columbia including the Hop On Hop Off Tour - Hubby and I took the double decker bus to Victoria ($15 roundtrip per person) and saw many sights on our way and was dropped off at the Empress Hotel in time to purchase our tickets for the Hop On Hop Off bus which had a 90 minute tour if you stayed on it. My leg was sore so we chose the tour. The tour guide, Norm was very interesting and we learned about the Gold Rush, the history of Victoria, saw the tiniest through way that Mel Gibson took for Bird on the Wire, Craigdarroch Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, etc. We even saw peacocks and many deer throughout the tour.
Once back to the Empress Hotel, we walk towards Irish Pub called the "Irish Times" for lunch. I advise you to be extra hungry as we ordered the O'Hagan's Platter. This platter is huge and contained Chicken wings, loaded fries, sweet potato fries and dry ribs. Hubby and I barely put a dent into it. This platter covered almost the entire table with barely any room for our drinks. We explored some of the shops and purchased a few items to take home. We took the Double Decker bus back to the cruise ship by 4:00 p.m. Both of us took showers and went to meet up with friends to share our Victoria experiences. Later that evening we ate dinner at Windjammer which was quite filling. We took our nightly stroll, headed back to our rooms to pack our luggage, and left it in the hallway for pick up. We went to the Casino, played a few rounds and turned in our remaining Chips and Tokens. Our last stop for the evening was a quick late night pizza at Sorrento's and I went to the library and printed out our plane tickets home.
Friday - Day 8 - Vancouver, British Columbia - it is a sad day that this fantastic cruise was coming to an end. Since we had the "Key," hubby and I were treated to breakfast in the American Icon on Deck 4 prior to leaving on Deck 5 near Wonderland. We disembarked in easy and quick manner and our luggage was quickly secured. Our porter took our luggage throughout the terminal and escorted us outside the terminal by the Pacific Hotel where we would meet for the Sear to Air Post Tour Excursion with Landsea Tours. This is a 6-hour tour that included a drop off to the airport. Our tour guide was very interesting and we knew it had changes to it as the Gondola to the Suspension Bridge had been sabotaged a few weeks prior to the tour. Landsea Tours emailed us 2 days after the sabotaged to verify whether we want to continue with the tour as the Suspension Bridge was exchanged for a visit to Grouse Mountain Resort. We first crossed the Lions Gate Bridge and saw the massive entry lions. We took a brief trip to Shannon Falls and it was a breathtaking sight. Next, we went to the Britannia Mine Museum and this was exciting as we had the opportunity to learn how the rocks were broken down until fine sand and then sent to San Francisco to cultivate it for gold, silver, copper. We toured the underground mine and then toured the ground floor of the building learning about the different stages, how hard mining was, and the harsh life of the miners. We panned for a bit and found more gold and copper nuggets. We then took a brief trip to Horseshoe Bay for lunch and saw Howe Sound fjord. People were so friendly throughout the tour. Lastly, we traveled to Grouse Mountain. We took the Skyride Gondola up the mountain and arrived in time to witness the Lumberjack Show that was quite funny and impressive showcasing their skills. The lumberjacks interacted with the audience throughout the show.
Vancouver Airport - Once the tour was complete we were dropped at the Airport doors for Westjet and assisted with our luggage. Our flight home late that evening was uneventful except how the Canadians can teach Americans a thing or two about the ease of flying international while disabled. As I was seen struggling trying to obtain luggage tags, a gentleman with Westjet quickly assisted us. Upon seeing me struggling with walking, he secured a wheelchair with a Westjet attendant for me. She took us through security. The Canadians operation for going through security is easily done as is how one travels throughout their airport. First, they swapped out my cane for one of theirs so I can go through scanner without the fear of falling. Next, security was already ready to scan my knee brace quickly and I was whisked away by the Westjet attendant to the appropriate gate. She made sure we reached our gate in a timely manner with time to spare. Unknowingly she reserved future wheel chairs for me for the remaining two connecting flights. Our first flight went from Vancouver to Toronto. Upon arrival, a Westjet attendant whisked me away in a wheelchair and took all the shortcuts to customs. We were there within minutes and a few questions later on our way to our next flight. We were quickly through security and once again, the cane swapping occurs. This was so cool as the disabled were treated with respect and not a hindrance as what I had incurred on the flights with American Air to Seattle. Each airline took care of their own passengers while the airport staff drove the trams to the multiple terminals. Upon our arrival at La Guardia airport, the wheelchair was there and we were quickly taken to the terminal for our last flight with Delta Air. We quickly obtained our luggage and hubby had us on our way home.
We had an awesome time celebrating our 34th anniversary on the Ovation of the Seas (such a romantic setting for 2) and now must go back to the real world, but already planning our next cruise for 2. Or maybe with all our adult children to enjoy too OR just plan 2 more cruises??. Read Less