We were booked for 11 nights, 12 days for a round trip Australia to New Zealand.
We were supposed to stop along the way at Mystery Island and New Caledonia before reaching NZ. However combination of a tropical cyclone and Coronavirus meant we did a round trip from Sydney and spent 6 nights, 7 days on board.
All praise to the captain and crew for looking after passengers well being, the crew were very professional, very polite and accommodating with any request (full praise to our room attendant, Teddy, no request was too much trouble and done with a smile and with a positive attitude that it would be all ready for you when you got back to your stateroom - thankyou Teddy).
Loved sailing on a brand new, modern, spacious ship. The public areas made you feel like you were in a fancy upmarket shopping centre. The star rooms (we had a balcony room) were modern and spacious. Loved that the dreaded shower curtain has been replaced by a modern screen. Lots of storage and had to get used to cabin doors that open outwards into the corridor, I felt like I was walking through a fancy hotel when going back and forth to our cabin.
Lots of activities as you would expect on a cruise ship, including dodgem cars, roller skating, flowrider and iflow (skydiving in a tube). The Northstar (observation pod on a stick) was a new experience, pleased I did it but once you were up in the air, Northstar was a bit of a let down, the view from Northstar when it’s in the air was no different then the view you will get if you stand on the top deck of the ship and look out to sea. You have 5 minutes up in the air, time for a quick photo but that was it (just endless ocean around you). If you go on Northstar whilst at port, maybe better, you may get more to see than just lots of ocean.
Food was in the most part average for buffet and restaurants. Typical food you would get in a Buffett on a cruise ship. Menus were similar between the different specialty restaurants and the main restaurant we ate in (anytime dinning in American icon restaurant). All the restaurants had the prawn cocktail. This dish was a disaster, 4 pealed prawns with the tails on, not dressed or marinated, sitting on cut lettuce, which was undressed and not pleasant to eat. You had a tomato type sauce but this was nothing spectacular. I think they should try and improve this dish or remove it from the menu. The crab cakes were really delicious and should be top entree pick.Steaks were really nice and were cooked to order, loved the side dishes.
Did not taste the Japanese restaurant. However, the biggest let down on the ship was wonderland restaurant. This restaurant is themed all around the Alice in wonderland story. Your experience in the restaurant is really terrific. You get to use the special liquid to paint in the framed menu, to make the menu visible. The waiters are dressed like “mad hatter” characters and lead you through the total experience, from explaining the food, what each dish is made from and in what order you should eat each dish. There are 9 entrees on the menu but the waiter picks only 7 of them for you to try. Again the food experience was very different and special and even fun but the food was so “exotic “ that the meal was not enjoyable, (the clear tomato juice shot, served in a test tube was a bit gross) You get to pick your mains from the menu, entree and dessert is picked for you. For mains my partner had halibut fish in a bag. The portion was small, the fish overcooked. The dishes appearance when it reached the table was un - appealing. I had the beef. (Slow cooked for several hours). The beef was not pleasant to eat, stringy, tough, not enough sauce. Dessert was very nice and a bit of a show as it was a dessert wrapped in a chocolate ball, which melted to reveal what was within when the caramel sauce was poured on it. You get two. The other called “forbidden apple” was nice.
Service in wonderland was very slow. If you want more drinks or in my case extra sauce, staff response was very slow, you had to wait for your waiter to come back from “entertaining” another table with the opening wonderland spiel before the waiter comes over to serve you. Eventually we got service from the manager. They either need to put on more staff and improve the menu or scrap wonderland from their ships altogether. Wonderland restaurant is an experience you would only do once, but currently not worth the money we paid to eat in the restaurant.
We got the refreshment package, that was all non alcoholic beverages. With this package we got a special ovation of the seas cup (you get to keep at the end of the cruise). The cup is waiting for you in you4 room when you arrive. The cup has a chip in the bottom of it and the cup is bottom - less for drinks. You can fill the cup endlessly at any of the self serve soda stations on the ship. There was between 20 and 30 soda flavours in the machine and you could have one flavour or mix and match. Coke Zero with raspberry flavour was nice. This service is a nice touch. It was especially handy in the windjammer Buffett, the servers there are really busy with their work, so the self serve drink station was handy to get a drink quickly each time. The 24 hr pizza station was also a welcome touch. However, the draw back on food was the Buffett and restaurants all close at 9pm, so if you go to 2 different shows in a night, you may have to forgo dinner that night. Sometimes there were two shows to see at night so , you either eat dinner really early or skip dinner and have a late night snack of pizza.
Transfers on and off the ship was smooth for the most part. On disembarkation day, we chose to take our own luggage off big mistake!. All the passenger lifts were constantly full in both directions, we waited almost an hour to try and get on a lift before we decided to carry our own, heavy suitcase, down from deck 11, where our cabin was to deck 2 where the exit gangway was. As so many passengers also were carrying off their own luggage and prams and wheelchairs etc, there were long bottlenecks and wait times to get off the ship. If you don’t want to have to carry your own luggage and want to get off the ship quick, then get the crew to carry off your luggage at th3 end of your trip to avoid long delays ( with nearly 5000 passengers trip to depart all at once causes delays)
The adults only area “solarium” was nice but there was only wading pools in the adults only area. If you want a deeper pool, to swim in you have swim with all the screaming, noisy kids (not very relaxing). Choosing an adults only cruise maybe an option for those bothered by a ship with screaming kids. At least two of the pools were covered, meaning that you can swim in any weather condition. But lots of strong chlorine used, in enclosed pool area, very strong smelling and overpowering. Shows at night, movies, bingo and other activities all good.
Overall experience is a very positive experience. Would definitely travel on ovation of the seas again, hopefully when cruising is back to normal and the ship is able to have port days on their trips.
Modern, spacious, lots of storage. Big balcony’s. take power adapters with you so power points can take Australian plugs