4 Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Asia

Chose the cruise as part of a package sold by Planet Cruise. Royal Caribbean website made the cruise experience sound fantastic for 'tasting' a little of several countries in the luxury of a modern ship with up to date ... Read More
Chose the cruise as part of a package sold by Planet Cruise. Royal Caribbean website made the cruise experience sound fantastic for 'tasting' a little of several countries in the luxury of a modern ship with up to date facilities. Planet Cruise package also added 3 days in Beijing prior to sailing and followed by 5 days in Bali. Sounded wonderful. Very poor information beforehand from Planet Cruise or Roya Caribbean about immigration rules, particularly for China. Problems in Manchester airport as Cathay Pacific airline staff knew nothing about the Chinese 144 day visa free pass. It took 30 minutes before we were allowed to fly as staff trawlled their data bases and phoned for advice before letting us board. Beuracracy of the 144 day pass form filling in China meant an hour or so before we finally picked up our cases. Despite the problems we were aware of others who had paid over £250 each for visas which were not needed. We found out about the pass ourselves. No advice from Royal Catibbean or Planet Cruise. Embarkation - shambles. Arrived at the cruise terminal at midday to the sight of thousands of people queing. We were pleased that we had checked in online as advised by Royal Caribbean - wrong! It was 4.30pm before we finally boarded the ship not having had anything to eat or drink since leaving Beijing at 9.30am. We were handed a piece of paper with boarding instructions as we dropped off our cases. Very poor signage as we entered the terminal, very few staff, and those staff available had poor English. We queued like cattle with others all not knowing if this was the correct queue and didnt know what we were queueing for. After finally compketing additional forms we neared the front of the check-in desk only to find we needed 2 A4 copies of our passports. Some people knew this, the majority didnt. I have checked our information from Royal Caribbean and cannot find any reference to this. Conveniently (!!!!) Royal Caribbean had two photocopiers in the terminal for this purpose and a small coffee shop had seen a market in using their photocopier for 1 yuan for this purpose. Slight problem - the photocopier queues were horrendous and added another 45 minutes to our wait to get on the ship. Finally, after jumping through these hoops we felt we could relax as we got on an escalator with our boarding passes only to find we then had Chinese immigration to go through again. The 144 hour pass bureaucracy added another hour to our boarding experience. There is a lot I could write about the lovely, modern ship, with a wonderful balcony cabin, fantastic underpaid cabin staff, lovely restaurants with excellent food. However, our experience was spoiled by the terrible customer service experience from boarding, onboard, and disembarkation. Onboard the Guest Services desk and Excursion desks were poorly staffed. Guest services queues were an average of 30 minutes for minor issues. Eg cabin key did not work after boarding. Usually, only about 5 staff available at Guest Services for 4500 passengers. Likewise, Excursion desk and 2 or 3 staff and very poor knowledge about the excursions. Disembarkation - due to an unfortunate medical emergency the ship was 5 hours late arriving in Singapore. So many people needed information and help with changing their ongoing travel plans that Guest Services could not cope. After queuing for 30 minutes I was told that I could use the cabin phone to contact my taxi company and the cost would be reimbursed. However, the phone line didn't work. I was then told there were too many people dialling at the same time. We kept listening out for updates on arrival times, tips for ongoing travel, etc. Very, vety few announcements were made which would have been helpful as many people queued at Guest Services with the same questions. General announcements would have helped us and staff. Annoyingly, there were regular announcements about Bingo and other activities despite the common topic of conversation amongst passengers were their ongoing travel concerns. Further queuing at Guest Services gave the advice that we would disembark quicker if we took our own cases off the ship. The next morning we went to the disembarkation point only to find thousands of others had obvioysly been given the same advice! Staff were nowhere to be seen and as passengers eventually started to disembark arguments broke out as passengers tried to jump the queue or push forward. It was bedlam at the cruise terminal with evetyone ring to catch rearranged taxis. After didembarking at 11.30am oyr taxi took us to the airport at 2.45 and we checked in for our flight to Bali with 8 minutes to spare before check in closed. Royal Caribbean put profits before people. We were treated as commodities and not people. Several services on the ship involved additional charges. Cabin staff and restaurant staff were plentiful and helpful. Guest services staff were far to few for the numbers of passengers. Entertainment was ofva poor standard. More like Butlins. Audiences often walked out of shows. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
From beginning to end the cruise experience came across to me as being all about the money. We booked a 9 day cruise on the Ovation of the Seas sailing from Hong Kong to Japan with four shore excursions in Japan. The dining experience, ... Read More
From beginning to end the cruise experience came across to me as being all about the money. We booked a 9 day cruise on the Ovation of the Seas sailing from Hong Kong to Japan with four shore excursions in Japan. The dining experience, in all bar the restaurants for which reservations had to be made and paid for by the guests, was passable at best. The "free" restaurants on board offered a very poor range and quality of food when compared to other cruise companies. I heard numerous complaints from fellow guests regarding food and restaurant quality. A word to the wise - please drop that silly continuity announcement in Windjammers where your MC implores the guests to vacate our tables as soon as possible so others might enjoy the Windjammer experience. Such announcements only add insult to injury. The shore excursions are another area where value for money was nonexistent. The overpriced excursion to Fukuoka included a memorable queuing experience of approximately 1 hour while we all waited with baited breath to ascent the Fukuoka Tower. Who ever thought that going up in an elevator to a viewing area overlooking the sea on one side and skyscrapers on the other would constitute good value for money. This tower is not exactly the Eiffel Tower or the Empire of State. Just when we thought that that the shore excursions could not be surpassed in terms of money wasted we embarked on a tour of Kumamoto. The guide droned on in very poor English for the duration of the trip to the extent that most people on the bus fell asleep on the outward journey to Kumamoto. When we arrived at our destination the guide insisted that we line up like school children in rows of two before embarking on our visit to the castle. The visit, if it could even be called a visit, was carried out by the guide without explanation. The only crumb of information made available related to the destruction wrought on the castle in a recent earthquake. Having walked around the castle perimeter without the aid of any explanation from the guide we eventually arrived at a quadrangle that contained toilets and a temple of some sort. The guide pointed out where the toilets were and by way of explanation said "here is a temple". When he was pressed for more information we were informed that our time was up and we needed to get back to the bus. In summary - 1 - Shore Excursions - Seriously over priced and badly guided 2 - On board food experience - Very poor in the "free" restaurants - Food quality in the restaurants for which a booking fee applied was of a good standard and typical of other cruise companies. However having to pay an additional €360 to gain entry to the good restaurants for 6 nights was excessive in the extreme. 3 - Staff - With very very few exceptions all staff encountered on board were top quality and a credit to their employer. 4 - Stateroom - We had a balcony stateroom - Again, as with the staff, the stateroom accommodation was of a very high standard. Overall Royal Caribbean’s attitude would appear to be driven by a desire to squeeze as much money out of their on board “guests” as possible. A fellow disgruntled guest described Royal Caribbean as the Ryanair of the Seas. Unfortunately in our experience and on this occasion that sentiment has the ring of truth. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We had been on the Anthem of the Seas in the Mediterranean in 2015, and had a fabulous time on the Quantum class, and so we were really looking forward to our cruise on Ovation in Asia....but we were very disappointed by RCL First - ... Read More
We had been on the Anthem of the Seas in the Mediterranean in 2015, and had a fabulous time on the Quantum class, and so we were really looking forward to our cruise on Ovation in Asia....but we were very disappointed by RCL First - when we checked in at Singapore, we had checked in online and had everything printed out and ready for a speedy checkin...but they told us that we had to go in a different line to get a photocopy of each of our passports before we could check in. It would have been very easy for us to get copies of our passports ahead of time, but now we had to go in another line and wait while they got photocopies of our passports. Supposedly it was for our North Korea port, but WE NEVER NEEDED them during our cruise! It was just a HUGE waste of time and another line that we had to wait in during the already long and tedious checkin process at the port. After frustratingly waiting in the line to copy our passports for 30 minutes...we finally were able to finish our checkin and get on the boat. My wife and I were cruising with our 4 children - ages 11, 9. 6 and 3 -- and we had interconnecting balconies. The balconies and rooms were very nice and new. The dining was confusing and disappointing as well. We had been on a Mediteranean cruise with a quantum class ship -- Anthem of the Seas - so we thought we would be familiar with the 4 main restaurants -- Silk, Chic, etc... -- and we were able to make reservations at each restaurant and have a unique menu with each one. Well now on this ship RCI completely abandoned that idea and now it was just 4 different restaurant "ambiances" all serving the same menu each night. With more of a focus trying to get us to buy meals at the premium restaurants. It was a diminished experience and many of the guests I spoke to felt the same way and were incredibly confused and disappointed by the dining!! I don't know if the ship was understaffed because it was a repositioning cruise, but there was only 1 trainer in the fitness area, and only 1 nail technician. My wife had to wait until the last day of the cruise to get her nails done because there was only 1 nail technician. And in the fitness area there was an entire room dedicated to spin bikes that was completely unused - except for 3 hours of spin classes during the entire 12 night cruise. Only 3 classes. An entire room of spin bikes wasted. Now come on!! People should be able to use the spin bikes at any time - not just during spin classes! They have an entire gym full of equipment that people can use at any time and potentially be injured. If you’re that concerned about safety - then have people sign a waiver, but don’t let an entire room dedicated to spin bikes go wasted and unused for 99% of the cruise!! On our previous cruise on Anthem of the Seas - you gave everyone a free wristband that they could use to make purchases on board and to unlock their stateroom. That was extremely convenient and better for us to carry around than the normal plastic cards. But on this cruise, they made us pay and we had to go down to guest services to get wrist bands. Another example -- the staff didn't know that we had already signed waivers on our TV in our stateroom, and they made us sign new paper waivers each time. Come on!! You have the technology -- the staff should be able to look up our stateroom, see our picture, and see that we have signed all of our waivers. Just another example of not offering a smooth and easy process for your guests. You watered down everything that has made RCI special, and you are too focused on "upcharging" their guests. You don't even offer surf and turf - steak and lobster dinner for free any more - now it's an upcharge and you make the guests pay for it! Except for our dining staff and stateroom attendant, overall the service and attitude aboard the ship was subpar, and we were so disappointed that I don’t think we will be booking another cruise with RCL - despite being Emerald members. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I was very excited to board the world's newest mega super liner, only to be disappointed by countless failures by Royal Caribbean. Embarkation in Singapore - Total nightmare. Disorganized, slow, no one had a clue what was going ... Read More
I was very excited to board the world's newest mega super liner, only to be disappointed by countless failures by Royal Caribbean. Embarkation in Singapore - Total nightmare. Disorganized, slow, no one had a clue what was going on. Royal Caribbean claims if you use their new "app" and arrive at your designated time you can board in 15 to 30 minutes. Well 3 hours later we were on the ship! Immigration was slow, no one had any useful information on wait times, the staff was clueless, no snacks, no working wi-fi! FAIL! The Ship - Amazing Ship! The $1 Billion+ mega ship is truly stunning. HUGE. Many dining options. Northstar observatory, SeaPlex was amazing (bumper cars, sports deck, xbox lounge). The ship truly made the cruise, however the crew and corporate was the failure (more on that later...). If you want to be stunned by a ship, this is the one to board. That being said there are a few issues with the ship: 1. Not much in the way of toiletries other than some body wash. 2. The ship store is a joke, smallest of any ship I have EVER been on 3. There is NO outdoor grilling or outside food ANYWHERE 4. Eating between 11am and 12pm is virtually impossible on the ship The Ports & Excursions - HORRIBLE Stop #1 - Ho Chi Minh Vietnam Tour guide had no clue where they were going, rude, dropped us off in an alley behind a dumpster. VERY disorganized Stop #2 - Hong Kong China Tour was pretty bad took us to a shopping / dining area that was unfit for foreigners, filled with cock roaches and disgusting. I can not believe I paid for this tour. Stop #3 - Xiamen China This location is NOT suitable for westerners. Very dirty, very disorganized, very hot. Worst excursion EVER. As our tour started, our guide immediately left us stranded in a small village on an island off the coast. We literally had to run around and find another tour guide who finally tracked down our original guide to come and get us - they had FULL intentions of leaving us stranded. Even another passenger in the group asked our guide what about the family with three children where did they go? The guide could care less... We finally rejoined our group for lunch (late) and notified the lead guide (Michael), he could care less. We continued our tour and at the next stop (museum) one of our fellow passengers passed out (heat was extreme). Our guides literally left her on the ground and said "we must continue the tour". I refused to leave a passenger on the ground. We were also the only persons on the tour that also spoke Chinese - should be noted. After finally securing emergency help (literally screaming at our guides) we proceeded to the next stop - by this point I was irate with these people and Royal Caribbean. Next stop was a puppet show, they put us in the room that was overcrowded, and a fire hazard, with NO air conditioning over 100 degrees! I refused to stay in this room, also had a one hour wait for the "puppet show". I demanded to return to the ship as did about 40 other passengers. Our tour guide refused to take us to the ship but eventually said "whoever wants to go back early follow me" . We literally walked half of the island, we get to the dock and our guide leaves us once again - and says he will return when the original tour is over in 2 hours! Our guide Michael also grabbed my arm twice, while not assault was very inappropriate and he has no business grabbing other passengers. I reported the above incident to the cruise ship and said I do not wish to make a big deal over this - just refund my money and let's move on. The ship refused. Guest services on this ship is HORRIBLE. Huge lines. 100% Chinese customer service, with horrible English skills (again we speak Chinese, I can not imagine with not speaking Chinese...). Guest services always has a long line and they are useless they NEVER help at all. We finally met with the excursion manager, who again did NOTHING. Only after my email to the CEO did RCCL agree to an insulting 50% refund of my Xiamen excursion! What a joke, I want my other 50% back... Stop #4 - Seoul Korea This is yet another disaster. The ship was late (as usual) to port. Korea requires a face to face interview and they scanned EVERY passengers passport! We did not get off the ship until 1pm! The line at times was over 2 hours! The ship blamed immigration and our cruise director had the audacity to make jokes about it.. Not funny this is no one's fault but RCCL. The ship had free shuttles to an outlet mall. I returned at 2pm to see if my wife wanted to go ashore and guess what? Immigration LEFT THE SHIP and she was not permitted to leave at all! Are you kidding me? What a joke... Staff on the Ship - There are many hardworking good people on the Ovation. Our room attendant was great. Most of the dining staff was great (although extremely slow), casino most workers were good, but the officers on this ship are rude and horrible. Guest services is the worst. No one has the authority to do anything and no one cares. The biggest issues is RCCL has NO ability to move this many passengers on and off the ship. It is a total failure. RCCL can blame the ports and immigration all they want but this is nonsense, it is RCCL. RCCL had TWO people scanning cards on disembarkation in China - TWO people for a 4000+ passenger ship! This was by far the worst experience ever trying to get off this ship. FOOD - Food was hands down the best dining experience I have had on ANY ship, ever however My son and myself both received food poisoning from the ship. My son had to be quarantined for two days (one day reported and documented). I was so sick I could not report it to the ship because it was the day of deportation I was worried of a potential quarantine entering China. I almost passed out waiting 2 hours to get off the ship, and the port in Tianjin is a joke - total disorganized mess, luggage in wrong areas, lines, lines, and more lines - just waves of people. If you love people and long lines this is the ship for you. Restaurants Broken Down - Windjammer - This is the buffet. Looks great but is a disorganized mess how it is setup. In 12 days of cruising I could not get an omelet made one time due to crowds of people. The ship staff was great in the windjammer except as usual the officers, they were clueless. Twice I questioned something marked wrong was actually pork / beef and twice it was not corrected. The staff will help you, the officers will not. Italian - Outstanding. Best olives ever. Great food, worth the money. PAID Chops steak house - Underwhelming at best, I would skip. PAID Wonderland - Weird menu, the main course was good the rest was terrible and your kids will hate you for taking you there. Not appropriate for children ironically even the waiter said most kids do not like our food - can I order you something from the kids menu? Seriously? I also am 99% convinced this restaurant gave me serious food poisoning. PAID Bistro - Awesome quality, really enjoyed the Bistro. FREE American Icon - Not great, not bad. One tip this is a FREE restaurant and they do have a surf and turf on the menu for FREE. Silk - Really good... FREE Chic - Really good, my wife's favorite. FREE OTHER NOTES FROM AROUND THE SHIP... 1. You will NOT find Friends of Dorothy or any GBLT, maybe it is the ports were not GBLT friendly I do not know - did not apply to me but just a FYI. 2. No art auctions, kind of a nice break I suppose. 3. Casino has Asian games. Mainly Baccarat, Sic Bo, do not expect LIVE Texas Hold em or even Texas Holdem tournaments. They did have slot and black jack tournaments. 4. The Entertainment is OUTSTANDING do NOT miss ANY shows TIPS AND ADVICE - 1. Book EVERYTHING in advanced or you will be in trouble. When I say everything I mean every meal, every show, every excursion - sorry but you must do this PRIOR to boarding. I booked everything but the sushi restaurant, and had ZERO chance of booking it on board, no way possible. Shows are also 100% booked in advance for the three main shows: The Dream, Spectre, and Live, Love, Legs. There are other shows with NO reservation required you can use as filler on the off days. Again book everything in advance this includes the northstar, and spa appointments! 2. Download the Royal IQ app, which is a royal pain. Very slow app, has many issues, such as spa appointments do not show on the app! However that being said the app has potential and I wonder how I did other cruises without the app? 3. Buy picture packages before boarding. We purchased a package that was NOT available on the ship. It was $309, included UNLIMITED photos to download to USB and unlimited prints! We ended up with 120 prints plus USB, for $309 that is a pretty good price per picture. The photographers on the ship were outstanding! This ship also uses digital viewing so they do not waste time and kill the environment printing pictures you never buy. 4. Be prepared for crowds and be prepared to push and shove your way like most of Asia. This ship is a bit rude, the staff, the other passengers - do not expect to be given any special treatment and have a very low expectation of the customer service. 5. If you live in a major city try to exchange a small amount of currency in advance. The currency lines were terrible at every port. I exchanged most money in advance, it saved a lot of time. 6. Link a credit card or do not go. The days of paying cash are long gone, unless you want to wait in 3 hour guest service lines - please get a credit card, or skip the cruise. 7. Bring medication. The ship has nothing other than children tylenol. Bring allergy medicine, tylenol, immodium, or whatever you need. If you end up going to the nurse they will quarantine you! Also this ship nurse is CLOSED from 11am to 4pm daily, on a ship with 6000 people including staff this is unacceptable. 8. Bring toilet paper (from the room) - yes I said it. This is Asia. Bring toilet paper for when nature calls off the ship. 9. Bring a small backpack, walkie talkies are helpful, swim cap (not needed for the ship but if you stay in Asia ANYWHERE you will need one). TOP GOOD ITEMS: 1. Ship is ultra modern and very amazing 2. Food was outstanding (other than two cases of food poisoning) 3. Gym was great (very large) 4. Indoor pools were amazing (although no food) 5. SeaPlex is truly great for kids 6. Escape Room was great for the family, very hard but very fun! 7. Norhstar best selfie stick on earth! 8. Spectre show was UNBELIEVABLE 9. Casino was fun although smoky at times 10. The worker staff (servers, room attendants) were all great. TOP NEGATIVE ITEMS 1. Shore Excursions were terrible RCCL left us at risk and in bad hands at every port. Getting on and off the ship is virtually impossible, ruined the entire vacation. 2. Guest Services is frustrating and useless. Long lines. No help. 3. Ship officers are rude and do nothing to assist. They look angry. 4. Xbox lounge had broken items, as did video arcade had 1/3 of machines not functioning, several stole money from me which the ship refused to refund. 5. Dining is VERY slow, average dinner was 2 hours! Food quality was great other than 2 food poisonings. 6. RCCL just does not care, do NOT expect anyone on the ship to do anything for you when things go wrong, they have a strict message from corporate to do nothing - trust me you are just a number. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Ovation of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 3.4
Entertainment 5.0 3.7
Public Rooms 5.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 5.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.1
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 3.8
Value For Money 4.0 3.3

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