My family and I took our third cruise in Jan to the South Pacific. This was a shorter 8 day cruise with only two port stops. We would have preferred more but thought that since it's a big ship, there would be lots to do so on that basis we thought that the limited stops should be a worthwhile trade off.
Unfortunately, trying to get onto any of the activities on the boat was a real challenge. Luckily we'd booked ahead for the activities we could. We saw others on the boat who didn't do this and missed out altogether. So out of the 8 days we got 2 minutes of iFly and 2.5 minutes on the Bumper cars (after wating 1.5hours, and giving up after half an hour wait the day before).It was a similar wait for roller skating so we didn't manage to try that at all. We booked the Northstar and also lined up over an hour to get a 2nd go on the day we were at Mystery Island. The of ping pong tables and video game machines were always buys (one gaming station was out of order the whole time) so we only managed on game of table tennis and no video games. The pools are small and overly crowded including the adults-only pool. There were 2 days when the main pool was shut down due to accidents (e.g. kids soiling themselves in the pool).
The evening shows were all quite entertaining except for one comedian/magician who seemed to have no energy and couldn't really engage the crowd. The musical shows were great. Getting a seat is the biggest problem. You had to wait in the theater at least half an hour early in order to get a seat. We didn't play bingo, which was also held in the theatres, however we did see the were huge crowds and that there was not enough room for everyone who wanted to go. Again and the lines started stretching out well before the start time.
On to dining, again the crowds spoiled what should have been a relaxing holiday. Lining up for the restaurants (even with a booking) or having to keep eagle eyes peeled to see who was vacating a table in Wind Jammers was just a drag. On previous cruises, we enjoyed the restaurants over the buffet. On the Ovation, we ended up going to Wind Jammers more as the cruise progressed as the food in the restaurants were no better and had a smaller range to chose from. We purchased a 3 night dining package and thought it was reasonable value. Wonderland was nice visually and was an interesting experience more than simply good food. Compared to our previous cruises on the Radiance and on a P&O, I found the food on the previous cruises better and with more snack options even though they were much smaller ships.
The tendering experience for Mystery Island went pretty smoothly. The cruise director had been explaining the expected delays etc the night before so our expectations were not great, but we were one a tender quick smart. Our previous cruise to one the small islands took about an hour and a half of waiting in the ship corridors to get onto a tender.
At Noumea, the city became very crowded with the Ovation as well as a P&O ship docking the same day. This meant getting on the popular hop-on hop-off bus was difficult. Some passengers said they'd waited over an hour to get bus back. We had wanted to get off at one more bus stop but was not game to get off when we saw the bus situation.
On board internet was surprisingly good (compared with what was available a few years back). RC have an app that lets you message each other and the internet speed was pretty good for being in the middle of the ocean. Unfortunately, the app didn't always work and IT issues at the end of the cruise meant we could not contact each other or see our final account,
This is the first cruise review I've written. One reason for this is that it's been a month since our cruise and we still have not post-cruise survey which RC said they would send out. I had also contacted them asking for the survey but have not had any answer after a week.
So overall I still enjoyed the holiday and still like cruising. However I felt that RC had gone downhill since the last time we cruised and the Ovation was way too crowded. Next cruise will be back on a smaller ship and probably not with Royal Caribbean.
Cabin was fine with all furniture being fairly new. No problems with the bathroom and toilets.