Ovation of the Seas Cruise Review by The_Big_M
- Sail Date: April 2018
- Destination: Asia
- Cabin Type: Junior Suite with Large Balcony
Unfortunately Ovation is no Quantum. While Quantum was a model recognising the differences between customer groups and trying to cater for each, and doing a great job, Ovation did not. Their approach was mostly just to lump everyone together, or not do much. Worse, we had a large number of international passengers compared to normal (and Quantum), around 1000 so it wasn't due to being insignificant. Examples:
Embarkation: Quantum has a separate entrance at main entry clearly marked for international guests. Staff speak English here, and boarding process is clear.
Ovation does have an international guest entrance. BUT it is about 500m away, around the back and not visible unless you look that side, which many didn't. As a result, some joined the general melee and took 4 hours to board. Yes, boarding was a shambles.
Guest services: Quantum operates a separate queue for international and local guests. Staff with each language group manage each queue.
Ovation. Single queueing system. And there are many Chinese guests who have to set up payment methods as credit cards as it's not standard there, but a requirement to visit Japan. As a result, massive queues first few days, with no way to avoid for experienced cruiser questions, or other issues at guest services.
Food: the worst. Quantum; MDR separate queues for international guests. Ovation, one queue for all. And locals tend to get rowdy and pushy so get amongst it.
Buffet: Very limited range of western food. Both ships similar but Quantum makes the MDR or Coastal Kitchen a suitable replacement. Not so on Ovation.
As a further example of the treatment onboard, on May 1, it was a celebration day in China so they paraded a massive Chinese flag and danced around the buffet food stands at breakfast time, running loud music and having a party there while breakfast was still running. For 20 minutes it was impossible to get near the food because of the crowd and the sound was deafening. Local staff joined in the parade so tables were ignored and a mess for that time as well.
Of course there's nothing wrong with a party, but why not the main atrium? Or one of the lounges? This wasn't announced either (unless it was only to the Chinese audience and not international).
And as for MDR, Tried meals there for variety. One night in Silk Sweet and Sour pork was offered, so thought I'd take that. First off, the wrong entrée came out. No big deal. Then the main came out - but it didn't have rice. I asked, "Does it have rice?" Since it always does whenever I've had it before and it just seemed odd to present as it was. Waitress says Sure, runs off, and brings some. I asked how come it didn't come together upfront and she said, "It does for our Chinese guests." I have no idea why the distinction...
I then eat it: a) the meat is terribly quality, very gristly. b) It is breaded and tastes more like rissole or schnitzel than how it should. 3) The veggies are sauteed rather than marinated though this may be a limitation of the ship 4) The sauce is very sparse, barely covering anything and certainly not the rice, so it doesn't add much flavour. Simply it tasted terrible, and nothing like it should.
To make it worse, the head waiter comes around and asks "How is your meal?" I gave an odd look and expressed that it wasn't as it should be. He just looks at me briefly then walks off without a word! No interest, no care. And this was a Chinese meal, in the Chinese restaurant, on a Chinese cruise. If anything should be done right, it should be that.
There were other issues of poor operations, and higher charges, the above is just to give a flavour of the experience. Unfortunately, none of the international guests I spoke to enjoyed the experience at all either.
Senior crew also kept a low profile. When some issues were discussed with them they just palmed them off, pretty much saying this is the way things are, and moving on quickly, not interested in the feedback. The cruise director made reference in one speech to difficulties in behaviour and that "things are a bit different this cruise" as though it was unexpected. The thing is they've been operating out of China for 2 years now so none of this is new to them, and indeed on Quantum the standard in the same environment is so much higher.
I wouldn't recommend international guests sail with Ovation.
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