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Except for the chaotic disembarkation at Shanghai because of the fog, my wife and I had a memorable cruise on the Quantum of the Seas from Singapore to Shanghai last year so we decided to go for a similar cruise on the Ovation from Singapore only this time ending in Tianjin. What became the major discrepancies between the two (but largely similar) ships prompted me to write this review. I booked the activities we were interested in (North Star, Ifly, The Dream, Spectra and Live Long Legs) when they became available in mid-May on the Cruise Planner on the Royal Caribbean website and prepaid for excursions to Ho Chi Min in Vietnam and Seoul in Korea plus onboard gratuities and a four-specialty restaurant dinner package and a RR drink package aside. The activities on board were fine. My wife and I did not like the Dream and we walked out in the middle of the show. The Spectra at 270 with the moving 4 monitors was enjoyable and my personal favorite was the Live Long Legs at the Royal Theater. The non-verbal two-men comedy act was a riot, very funny and extremely talented. We found the food served at the complementary restaurants (we gave Silk the miss) OK, better at the beginning but falling apart nearer final disembarkation. Did not understand why the dressing code at the Grande was not enforced making it an experience no longer any different from the other free restaurants. Dinner at Solarium Bistro was a major disaster, poor selection cold and bland food. Food at the Windjammer Marketplace vastly improved over the days given the obvious concern of the chefs responsible. The selection at Quantum was however better with one food station on Ovation given over to desserts, The standard of food at Jamie had gone downhill, the otherwise enjoyable crispy squid was rather tasteless and chewy instead of being tangy and crispy. The risotto with tomatoes was extremely salty (Chops' mushroom risotto was far better). Food was much better at Chops Grille while Wonderland served up the identical menu from a year ago so no longer a dining novelty. Things began to go wrong starting with disembarkation in Hong Kong. First, nothing was written in the Cruise Planner beforehand requiring people disembarking the ship for an overnight stay in Hong Kong or Macau with any sort of luggage to first obtain a clearance pass from Guest Services. We saw people having a small suitcase with a child stopped at checkpoint on Deck 5 and another group of Australian young men with large carry-on bags literally ordered to return to Guest Services apparently to first clear their balances if on cash basis in exchange for a clearance docket. Nothing like this ever happened on Quantum and this could only be a total waste of time reeking of bad faith against the passengers possibly fearing they would abscond and not returning to the ship. How could that happen since after all their official travel documents were still with RCCL for "safe keeping".? The next unpleasantness occurred after the ship docked at Incheon, a small port close to Seoul. Perhaps RCCL's less-than pristine reputation preceded it because the Korean Immigration made it a point to conduct a face-to-face interview before allowing any passenger through for excursion or sight-seeing. Our Seoul sightseeing tour was supposed to leave at 10 am but the lines began to form long before that and nothing seemed to be moving at all. Two hours waiting in line we were only half-way to the immigration counter. We reckoned it would take another hour to get off the gangway. Allowing one and a half hour each way for the tour bus to arrive in Seoul and back to the ship before 6.30 pm, it meant we had about one hour's worth of sightseeing. We gave up! No refund of any kind was offered so we ended up wasting more than US$130 just for the privilege of lining up to our utter frustration. The final incident. At 11.20 am on the last day at sea this message was announced over the intercom: "All staff, Oscar, Oscar". Every worker at Windjammer where we were about to do lunch, ran over the port side window and looked down to the sea. Then "Kilo, Kilo". Most passengers were curious but calm and minutes later came another announcement "Will all passengers please proceed to your assigned Muster Station". Now mayhem broke lose. There was no explanation to the codes announced until people gathered at their respective Muster Stations and were told Oscar meant "man overboard!" Kilo meant to gather at Muster Stations. In the middle of having our Seapass Card registered we were told over the announcement to immediately return to our staterooms and stay there for the cabin attendants to conduct a roll call. Then silence reigned for the next hour and half while in the interim no one was allowed outside of their staterooms. The ship stopped all engines in the middle of the sea which fortunately was calm. At precisely 1.45 the captain announced that everyone on Ovation was accounted for and NOTE THIS: "We have checked our out board cameras and did not see anyone falling into the ocean..." Why was the out board cameras not checked in the first place and why was it necessary to have everyone confine to their cabins for the duration? His last statement clearly revealed the confusion of the management under stress and this was a ship containing more than 6000 people including the working staff, the thought of management incompetence should anything bad happen was indeed worrisome The working staff was pleasant throughout but truly we could not find a good word for the administrative staff many obviously treating everyone else with disdain or at most times with complete indifference. Moreover the attitude of these people towards paying passengers was appalling. Comparing Quantum of the Seas to Ovation of the Seas the latter was an experience best forgotten.

A lesson on mismanagement at sea

Ovation of the Seas Cruise Review by gogetter2

22 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2016
  • Destination: Asia
Except for the chaotic disembarkation at Shanghai because of the fog, my wife and I had a memorable cruise on the Quantum of the Seas from Singapore to Shanghai last year so we decided to go for a similar cruise on the Ovation from Singapore only this time ending in Tianjin. What became the major discrepancies between the two (but largely similar) ships prompted me to write this review.

I booked the activities we were interested in (North Star, Ifly, The Dream, Spectra and Live Long Legs) when they became available in mid-May on the Cruise Planner on the Royal Caribbean website and prepaid for excursions to Ho Chi Min in Vietnam and Seoul in Korea plus onboard gratuities and a four-specialty restaurant dinner package and a RR drink package aside. The activities on board were fine. My wife and I did not like the Dream and we walked out in the middle of the show. The Spectra at 270 with the moving 4 monitors was enjoyable and my personal favorite was the Live Long Legs at the Royal Theater. The non-verbal two-men comedy act was a riot, very funny and extremely talented.

We found the food served at the complementary restaurants (we gave Silk the miss) OK, better at the beginning but falling apart nearer final disembarkation. Did not understand why the dressing code at the Grande was not enforced making it an experience no longer any different from the other free restaurants. Dinner at Solarium Bistro was a major disaster, poor selection cold and bland food. Food at the Windjammer Marketplace vastly improved over the days given the obvious concern of the chefs responsible. The selection at Quantum was however better with one food station on Ovation given over to desserts,

The standard of food at Jamie had gone downhill, the otherwise enjoyable crispy squid was rather tasteless and chewy instead of being tangy and crispy. The risotto with tomatoes was extremely salty (Chops' mushroom risotto was far better). Food was much better at Chops Grille while Wonderland served up the identical menu from a year ago so no longer a dining novelty.

Things began to go wrong starting with disembarkation in Hong Kong. First, nothing was written in the Cruise Planner beforehand requiring people disembarking the ship for an overnight stay in Hong Kong or Macau with any sort of luggage to first obtain a clearance pass from Guest Services. We saw people having a small suitcase with a child stopped at checkpoint on Deck 5 and another group of Australian young men with large carry-on bags literally ordered to return to Guest Services apparently to first clear their balances if on cash basis in exchange for a clearance docket. Nothing like this ever happened on Quantum and this could only be a total waste of time reeking of bad faith against the passengers possibly fearing they would abscond and not returning to the ship. How could that happen since after all their official travel documents were still with RCCL for "safe keeping".?

The next unpleasantness occurred after the ship docked at Incheon, a small port close to Seoul. Perhaps RCCL's less-than pristine reputation preceded it because the Korean Immigration made it a point to conduct a face-to-face interview before allowing any passenger through for excursion or sight-seeing. Our Seoul sightseeing tour was supposed to leave at 10 am but the lines began to form long before that and nothing seemed to be moving at all. Two hours waiting in line we were only half-way to the immigration counter. We reckoned it would take another hour to get off the gangway. Allowing one and a half hour each way for the tour bus to arrive in Seoul and back to the ship before 6.30 pm, it meant we had about one hour's worth of sightseeing. We gave up! No refund of any kind was offered so we ended up wasting more than US$130 just for the privilege of lining up to our utter frustration.

The final incident. At 11.20 am on the last day at sea this message was announced over the intercom: "All staff, Oscar, Oscar". Every worker at Windjammer where we were about to do lunch, ran over the port side window and looked down to the sea. Then "Kilo, Kilo". Most passengers were curious but calm and minutes later came another announcement "Will all passengers please proceed to your assigned Muster Station". Now mayhem broke lose. There was no explanation to the codes announced until people gathered at their respective Muster Stations and were told Oscar meant "man overboard!" Kilo meant to gather at Muster Stations. In the middle of having our Seapass Card registered we were told over the announcement to immediately return to our staterooms and stay there for the cabin attendants to conduct a roll call. Then silence reigned for the next hour and half while in the interim no one was allowed outside of their staterooms. The ship stopped all engines in the middle of the sea which fortunately was calm. At precisely 1.45 the captain announced that everyone on Ovation was accounted for and NOTE THIS: "We have checked our out board cameras and did not see anyone falling into the ocean..." Why was the out board cameras not checked in the first place and why was it necessary to have everyone confine to their cabins for the duration? His last statement clearly revealed the confusion of the management under stress and this was a ship containing more than 6000 people including the working staff, the thought of management incompetence should anything bad happen was indeed worrisome The working staff was pleasant throughout but truly we could not find a good word for the administrative staff many obviously treating everyone else with disdain or at most times with complete indifference. Moreover the attitude of these people towards paying passengers was appalling.

Comparing Quantum of the Seas to Ovation of the Seas the latter was an experience best forgotten.
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