B2B Cruises : Barcelona-Dubai, Dubai-Singapore.
ROOM : Twin Inside Cabin...Quite spacious and adequate wardrobes/drawers. Good sized flat screen TV and the virtual window is an excellent innovation. However able to hear conversations in next cabin and when toilets were flushed in nearby cabins it sounded like rolling thunder which made it impossible to get a good nights sleep.
GUESTS SERVICES : Woefully under staffed for a ship of this size which always meant long waiting queues. Incredibly non of the staff spoke English as a first language even though the vast majority of the passengers were from English speaking countries.
ENTERTAINMENT : A number of venues and bars etc but I will limit my review to the two main auditoriums The Royal Theatre and the 270degrees Lounge:-
Royal Theatre: 1200 seats. The worst designed main auditorium of all my cruises (about a dozen, three previously on RCI). Seating arrangements and viewing is poor and one end of each row is blocked off so expect moans and groans getting to a seat at the end of row. The most annoying thing however are people using screen based devices (of which there were many) to record the show even though a recorded announcement pre show asked the audience not to. Making it impossible to enjoy the performance. I raised this problem with the Cruise Director and his response was "Tell me about it. It's the bane of my life. But what can you do about it"....Obviously NOTHING because that's exactly what he did.
270 degrees Lounge : Very high tech but in my opinion too clever by half. If you want a good seat (of which there are few and a whole row of these are reserved for diamond and diamond plus passengers) get there very early. There are about 6 or 7 very large lamp shades spread across the lounge which blocks the view of people stuck behind them.
DINING: The Windjammer buffet lounge was better than the other RCI ships that I have been on but the seating and food was ok but varied little from day to day. Four complimentary restaurants which have to be booked which can be a problem. The food was ok but once again the menu varied little. The Grande is formal dress code which RCI define formal as "women cocktail dress and men suit and tie or tuxedo" Incredibly men were allowed in dressed in tee shirts, jeans and runners.
POOLS: There are two glass covered pools/splash pools and one outside pool. The covered pools are quite good. The outside pool/pool area is very small for a ship of this size. And considering the cruise was in subtropical and tropical climate incredibly the pool was used for crew v passengers water volley ball. Which meant only 6 out of 4000 plus passengers were able to use the pool at this time. Quite ridiculous.
PORT DISEMBARKACTION: Muscat was a complete disaster. There were no staff on the quay organising queues for the limited number of small shuttle buses to take passengers to main gate. As a result people were pushing and shoving to get on these buses and there were arguments and one that I saw led to two men to having a fist fight.
VISA'S : I went to the Indian Visa office personally and was asked if I intended to get off the ship in Cochin. I said no and was told in that case I do not need a visa. I rang the RCI help desk three times and was told RCI that I do require an Indian Visa even if I do not get off the ship. I accepted what they said but I was very annoyed once I got on the ship to find out some people did not have a visa.
SUMMARY : Disappointed with the ships design and annoyed with RCI failing to accept their responsibilities resulting in numerous arguments with passengers. I will definitely not cruise on the Ovation again.
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