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I had heard Royal Caribbean (RC) was highly regarded so I had always wanted to try them and booked the New Zealand cruise as part of our Aussie vacation. So far, only day 2, I am underwhelmed. The ship looks great but soon reminded me of the song, “She ain’t pretty, she just looks that way”. It is new, big and impressive looking and unfortunately, not designed for the passengers - at least for the usual amenities. Check-in went reasonably smooth. We arrived on time for our scheduled boarding time and were on the ship within about 40 minutes. The only confusion was in realizing we did not receive the usual ship credit card that opens your stateroom door but soon discovered it was left on the stateroom message slot. Despite dropping our luggage of a few hours before our boarding time it was not in our stateroom but no big deal. It was only returning to our stateroom an hour or so later I happened to notice one of our bags in amongst a large number of luggage about 20 rooms away from ours. All of it was there. I guess RC doesn’t bother delivering luggage they just put it on the correct floor and let their guests figure it out for themselves - a bonus game we didn’t have to pay for! Our holiday was a 35-day trip with the cruise starting after 6 days in Sydney. Having been on 5 different ships with 4 different cruise companies we were not worried about laundry as all previous ships had guest laundromats so we were utterly astonished to discover RC doesn’t bother with such things - what better way to increase revenue than to have guests have to use their much higher priced cleaning service. Despite talking to guest services, they weren’t prepared to offer any kind of deal so we bit the bullet and had the bare minimum cleaned to keep us in clean underwear and shirts. The same day it was returned, with a $40 price tag guests got an offer to have their clothes cleaned - all they could fit into an attached bag, with no restrictions on numbers - for the price of $25. Talk about adding insult to injury! It would have been nice to know about that ahead of time. I mentioned the ship was not designed with usual amenities in mind. It has some incredible attractions- more about that later - but those come at a price, like dining areas. The main cafeteria area is about 1/2 the size then those on the “older” ships only carrying about 2/3 to 3/4 of the same number of passengers. Needless to say, this meant listening to numerous announcements to please vacate your seat so other passengers can eat and wandering to and fro trying to find a table. The food itself was barely adequate. On other cruises I was always surprised but pleased to always find the food hot and fresh - not so on RC. I seldom could find anything I wanted that was both hot and fresh. Luke warm to cool seems to be the norm temperature-wise and nothing seems to be removed if it is not eaten in a timely manner. I saw what I thought was a fresh tray of eggs Benedict only to find it had been there a while and were rock hard and cold. The only exception to this was the team responsible for soups and sauces. Soups were hot and delicious and the sauces tasty. There were other options for dining, but I found little difference between the various locations, except for the pizza. It was fresh, hot and good so of course there was always a big line up. The main dining for dinner, the food was better and usually toward the warmer side but there were still glitches. If you recall my soup compliment earlier, you can imagine my surprise to find the one exception was French onion soup. The first try was cold with the cheese-like substance on top congealed into an almost impenetrable glob. The second attempt was better, but not by a huge margin and I think I found an actual onion amongst the sodden mess of some sort of bread beneath the glob of cheese that soaked up most of the liquid. The other thing lacking in food was variety - at least as part of the regular fare. On other cruises I always enjoyed searching out where they placed the various treat spots like Sushi, pasta bars and the like. RC had those - but they all were an extra cost. On other cruises the crew was usually a treat. On RC, I found a mixed bag. Some were great - friendly and helpful while others were sullen, and while not quite rude, not what I would consider helpful. This ship has bumper cars, a surf machine, faux skydiving and the North Star that lifts you up 25-30 meters above the ship giving you a good view. It was here I learned of RC’s caste system. You had to stand in line and wait your turn which is fair - unless you are one RC’s Star class or something like that. Then you got to cut the line and go in front of those mere peons who had waited patiently for their turn. The angry responses of those still in line might explain the staff’s sullenness. Going into the theatre one evening we were told we couldn’t sit in an empty section of seats as they were reserved for the same elite caste. I pointed out to the staff member the irony as the notice posted on all screens in the theatre that stated clearly that there was no reserving of seats for any reason - she could only shrug helplessly. Was the cruise a complete disaster? No, we still had fun and once we figured out what to eat - soups, fruits, salads, baking and surprisingly good coffee and when the crowds weren’t too bad, we didn’t starve. However, would I cruise RC again? No, not unless there was no other option for where I wanted to go. TLDR - give RC a miss. There are far better cruise lines out there. I felt my only purpose on board was to be held upside down to see how much they could pry out of my pockets.

She ain't pretty - She just looks that way

Ovation of the Seas Cruise Review by gmlaetta

14 people found this helpful
Trip Details
I had heard Royal Caribbean (RC) was highly regarded so I had always wanted to try them and booked the New Zealand cruise as part of our Aussie vacation. So far, only day 2, I am underwhelmed.

The ship looks great but soon reminded me of the song, “She ain’t pretty, she just looks that way”. It is new, big and impressive looking and unfortunately, not designed for the passengers - at least for the usual amenities.

Check-in went reasonably smooth. We arrived on time for our scheduled boarding time and were on the ship within about 40 minutes. The only confusion was in realizing we did not receive the usual ship credit card that opens your stateroom door but soon discovered it was left on the stateroom message slot. Despite dropping our luggage of a few hours before our boarding time it was not in our stateroom but no big deal. It was only returning to our stateroom an hour or so later I happened to notice one of our bags in amongst a large number of luggage about 20 rooms away from ours. All of it was there. I guess RC doesn’t bother delivering luggage they just put it on the correct floor and let their guests figure it out for themselves - a bonus game we didn’t have to pay for!

Our holiday was a 35-day trip with the cruise starting after 6 days in Sydney. Having been on 5 different ships with 4 different cruise companies we were not worried about laundry as all previous ships had guest laundromats so we were utterly astonished to discover RC doesn’t bother with such things - what better way to increase revenue than to have guests have to use their much higher priced cleaning service. Despite talking to guest services, they weren’t prepared to offer any kind of deal so we bit the bullet and had the bare minimum cleaned to keep us in clean underwear and shirts. The same day it was returned, with a $40 price tag guests got an offer to have their clothes cleaned - all they could fit into an attached bag, with no restrictions on numbers - for the price of $25. Talk about adding insult to injury! It would have been nice to know about that ahead of time.

I mentioned the ship was not designed with usual amenities in mind. It has some incredible attractions- more about that later - but those come at a price, like dining areas. The main cafeteria area is about 1/2 the size then those on the “older” ships only carrying about 2/3 to 3/4 of the same number of passengers. Needless to say, this meant listening to numerous announcements to please vacate your seat so other passengers can eat and wandering to and fro trying to find a table.

The food itself was barely adequate. On other cruises I was always surprised but pleased to always find the food hot and fresh - not so on RC. I seldom could find anything I wanted that was both hot and fresh. Luke warm to cool seems to be the norm temperature-wise and nothing seems to be removed if it is not eaten in a timely manner. I saw what I thought was a fresh tray of eggs Benedict only to find it had been there a while and were rock hard and cold. The only exception to this was the team responsible for soups and sauces. Soups were hot and delicious and the sauces tasty.

There were other options for dining, but I found little difference between the various locations, except for the pizza. It was fresh, hot and good so of course there was always a big line up. The main dining for dinner, the food was better and usually toward the warmer side but there were still glitches. If you recall my soup compliment earlier, you can imagine my surprise to find the one exception was French onion soup. The first try was cold with the cheese-like substance on top congealed into an almost impenetrable glob. The second attempt was better, but not by a huge margin and I think I found an actual onion amongst the sodden mess of some sort of bread beneath the glob of cheese that soaked up most of the liquid.

The other thing lacking in food was variety - at least as part of the regular fare. On other cruises I always enjoyed searching out where they placed the various treat spots like Sushi, pasta bars and the like. RC had those - but they all were an extra cost.

On other cruises the crew was usually a treat. On RC, I found a mixed bag. Some were great - friendly and helpful while others were sullen, and while not quite rude, not what I would consider helpful.

This ship has bumper cars, a surf machine, faux skydiving and the North Star that lifts you up 25-30 meters above the ship giving you a good view. It was here I learned of RC’s caste system. You had to stand in line and wait your turn which is fair - unless you are one RC’s Star class or something like that. Then you got to cut the line and go in front of those mere peons who had waited patiently for their turn. The angry responses of those still in line might explain the staff’s sullenness. Going into the theatre one evening we were told we couldn’t sit in an empty section of seats as they were reserved for the same elite caste. I pointed out to the staff member the irony as the notice posted on all screens in the theatre that stated clearly that there was no reserving of seats for any reason - she could only shrug helplessly.

Was the cruise a complete disaster? No, we still had fun and once we figured out what to eat - soups, fruits, salads, baking and surprisingly good coffee and when the crowds weren’t too bad, we didn’t starve. However, would I cruise RC again? No, not unless there was no other option for where I wanted to go.

TLDR - give RC a miss. There are far better cruise lines out there. I felt my only purpose on board was to be held upside down to see how much they could pry out of my pockets.
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