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My wife and I travelled on this cruise as a new year's break; it was out fourth cruise but the first we had done without kids and friends. Being a peak season cruise, the ship was very full with lots of family groups. Ship After reading a number of reviews, we were a bit leery about what we could expect but overall the ship handles the numbers onboard pretty well. The Windjammer was a problem during the breakfast peak but otherwise OK. Likewise, the solarium could get a bit crowded on sea days particularly if the temperature on the outside decks was low. Fortunately we had pretty good weather with only 2 coolish seadays out of 4 which is good for NZ. Moving around the ship is pretty easy and we used the stairs as much as the lifts. The only crowded area is the Royal Esplanade and that is mainly because there are always tables set up selling crap jewellery and watches. Cabin We had a balcony cabin near aft on Level 12 and were very happy wth it. There is definitely less ship movement aft rather than at the bow if that is important to you. The bed is comfortable and there is plenty of storage. Our cabin attendant was quiet but very pleasant and did a great job keeping the room clean though, admittedly, we always left it fairly tidy anyway. It was a fair walk to the midship lifts however as the aft lifts are for the crew only and service the kitchens etc. Dining We did MyTime dining and our experience was mixed. On the first few days, the queues for dinner were ridiculous even though we had booked a time. Carnival do this much better than RCI. RCI should either make everyone book or no-one. Currently there are 4 queues for the 2 MyTime restaurants with no particular preference given to booked guests over walk-ups. They really only need 2 queues given the 2 restaurants are identical apart from decor. We dined at the Solarium restaurant one night and found the Greek style menu really good with great service. It was hard to get in to though even though it was often nearly empty when we walked past it; maybe they hold it for suite guests. We had lunch on the second last sea day in Jamie's and loved it, fantastic service and great food. We usually had breakfast in Windjammer (fine of you get there early) and lunch in Solarium which is basically a cut-down version of the Windjammer buffet offerings. Both were fine though I was always puzzled why there were so many kids let into the supposedly 16+ area in the Solarium. We didn't take the premium drinks package as my wife rarely drinks and you have to buy a package for every adult in a cabin. We did pre-purchase the soda package as well as a coffee card which gave me 15 premium coffees over the course of the cruise. Alcohol isn't outrageously priced providing you ignore that it is all in USD. We probably spent around $35 per day which is much less than the $75 pp per day for the premium drinks. Some people made full use of the package however and there were some fairly loud drunks around the ship at various times. Entertainment and Activities Compared with Carnival and P&O, RCI were pretty low-key. There were comedians and a few performances in the theatre and a very good performer in the piano bar but other than that we didn't get too involved. There was a couple of fairly lacklustre formal nights and no dress-up nights apart from a 70's night only late one night in the 270 area that only the crew seemed to dress for. For new year, there were a couple of parties but nothing amazing. There was a balloon drop in the Royal Esplanade at midnight that was fun. The cruise director, Joffa, wasn't very visible around the ship apart from the daily TV show as well as introducing performers in the theatre. Service Generally the service was very good with everyone eager to please. Apart from the issue of kids being let into the Solarium and the Adults-only comedy shows, I had no criticism. Ports We organised our tours with our travel agent before we left and probably saved over $150 on what RCI would've charged for the same tours. We didn't do a tour in Picton but just caught the shuttle into town and went for a walk to a nearby lookout which was lovely on a great day. We did organised tours in Napier, Wellington and Dunedin and all were good though the Napier tour was probably a bit too long (there is only so much art deco you can look at) and too short in Dunedin but that was more because we were only in port for 5 hours. All ports were in cargo ports and required a bus transfer to get to the town which was free everywhere except Port Chalmers (Dunedin). Fjordand is a real highlight and we had great weather as we cruised though Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds. As well as the spectacular scenery, we also had dolphins playing in our wake at some times. Embarkation and Disembarkation There were well organised. We dropped our bags off at 11:30 and walked onto the ship at 2PM and were able to access our cabin immediately. Disembarkation was fine also with our luggage being available so soon as we walked off the ship when our group was called at 8AM. If we had known it was so easy, we would've booked an earlier flight home. I'd definitely consider another RCI cruise though definitely have no interest in a ship any bigger than this. I imagine Ovation is chaotic in tender ports.

New Years NZ Cruise

Ovation of the Seas Cruise Review by jessica3152

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
My wife and I travelled on this cruise as a new year's break; it was out fourth cruise but the first we had done without kids and friends. Being a peak season cruise, the ship was very full with lots of family groups.

Ship

After reading a number of reviews, we were a bit leery about what we could expect but overall the ship handles the numbers onboard pretty well. The Windjammer was a problem during the breakfast peak but otherwise OK. Likewise, the solarium could get a bit crowded on sea days particularly if the temperature on the outside decks was low. Fortunately we had pretty good weather with only 2 coolish seadays out of 4 which is good for NZ.

Moving around the ship is pretty easy and we used the stairs as much as the lifts. The only crowded area is the Royal Esplanade and that is mainly because there are always tables set up selling crap jewellery and watches.

Cabin

We had a balcony cabin near aft on Level 12 and were very happy wth it. There is definitely less ship movement aft rather than at the bow if that is important to you. The bed is comfortable and there is plenty of storage. Our cabin attendant was quiet but very pleasant and did a great job keeping the room clean though, admittedly, we always left it fairly tidy anyway. It was a fair walk to the midship lifts however as the aft lifts are for the crew only and service the kitchens etc.

Dining

We did MyTime dining and our experience was mixed. On the first few days, the queues for dinner were ridiculous even though we had booked a time. Carnival do this much better than RCI. RCI should either make everyone book or no-one. Currently there are 4 queues for the 2 MyTime restaurants with no particular preference given to booked guests over walk-ups. They really only need 2 queues given the 2 restaurants are identical apart from decor.

We dined at the Solarium restaurant one night and found the Greek style menu really good with great service. It was hard to get in to though even though it was often nearly empty when we walked past it; maybe they hold it for suite guests.

We had lunch on the second last sea day in Jamie's and loved it, fantastic service and great food.

We usually had breakfast in Windjammer (fine of you get there early) and lunch in Solarium which is basically a cut-down version of the Windjammer buffet offerings. Both were fine though I was always puzzled why there were so many kids let into the supposedly 16+ area in the Solarium.

We didn't take the premium drinks package as my wife rarely drinks and you have to buy a package for every adult in a cabin. We did pre-purchase the soda package as well as a coffee card which gave me 15 premium coffees over the course of the cruise. Alcohol isn't outrageously priced providing you ignore that it is all in USD. We probably spent around $35 per day which is much less than the $75 pp per day for the premium drinks. Some people made full use of the package however and there were some fairly loud drunks around the ship at various times.

Entertainment and Activities

Compared with Carnival and P&O, RCI were pretty low-key. There were comedians and a few performances in the theatre and a very good performer in the piano bar but other than that we didn't get too involved. There was a couple of fairly lacklustre formal nights and no dress-up nights apart from a 70's night only late one night in the 270 area that only the crew seemed to dress for.

For new year, there were a couple of parties but nothing amazing. There was a balloon drop in the Royal Esplanade at midnight that was fun.

The cruise director, Joffa, wasn't very visible around the ship apart from the daily TV show as well as introducing performers in the theatre.

Service

Generally the service was very good with everyone eager to please. Apart from the issue of kids being let into the Solarium and the Adults-only comedy shows, I had no criticism.

Ports

We organised our tours with our travel agent before we left and probably saved over $150 on what RCI would've charged for the same tours.

We didn't do a tour in Picton but just caught the shuttle into town and went for a walk to a nearby lookout which was lovely on a great day.

We did organised tours in Napier, Wellington and Dunedin and all were good though the Napier tour was probably a bit too long (there is only so much art deco you can look at) and too short in Dunedin but that was more because we were only in port for 5 hours. All ports were in cargo ports and required a bus transfer to get to the town which was free everywhere except Port Chalmers (Dunedin).

Fjordand is a real highlight and we had great weather as we cruised though Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds. As well as the spectacular scenery, we also had dolphins playing in our wake at some times.

Embarkation and Disembarkation

There were well organised. We dropped our bags off at 11:30 and walked onto the ship at 2PM and were able to access our cabin immediately. Disembarkation was fine also with our luggage being available so soon as we walked off the ship when our group was called at 8AM. If we had known it was so easy, we would've booked an earlier flight home.

I'd definitely consider another RCI cruise though definitely have no interest in a ship any bigger than this. I imagine Ovation is chaotic in tender ports.
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