116 Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Australia & New Zealand

Ovation of the Seas is a marvel and near faultless. The staff are amazing, and always have a smile. The itinerary for 9 days was well balanced between at-sea days and port days. Our 2 kids (Miss 5 and Miss 8) loved the kids club and the ... Read More
Ovation of the Seas is a marvel and near faultless. The staff are amazing, and always have a smile. The itinerary for 9 days was well balanced between at-sea days and port days. Our 2 kids (Miss 5 and Miss 8) loved the kids club and the pool facilities. EMBARKATION We live in Sydney and decided to use the relatively new Light Rail to get into the city. This was great as where you get off at Circular Quay is only a few hundred metres walk from the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Our embarkation was later than advised due to the delayed arrival of the ship from the previous cruise (engine trouble on the 2nd to last day). We dropped our bags off at the cruise terminal at about 11am and went to Squire's Landing (bottom of the far end of the Overseas Passenger Terminal) for a few beers and some lunch. After taking a few selfies at the front of the ship, we started the boarding process - within about 35 minutes, we were checked in, through customs, and onboard in our cabin with our bags having already been delivered!!! It was definitely advantageous to have "Expedited Arrival" status as the queues were really long as a result of the delayed arrival. FOOD AND DINING We had the deluxe beverage package which was great - coffees each day, bottles of water for the shore excursions, and cocktails / beers / wine all the rest of the time. The package generally covers all single serve beverages apart from some of the more expensive wines by the glass (which are served in the speciality restaurants and Vintages bar). For dinner, we mainly ate in one of the 4 Main Dining Rooms (American Icon) with My Time dining. We did an early reservation (5.15pm) after we boarded and ended up getting the same table each night. Our wait staff (Andreas and Bresila) were fantastic and were very accommodating of our somewhat fussy Miss 5. It is great how there are 4 or 5 appetisers and mains which are different each night. We had a couple of nights in speciality restaurants - once in Chops (the steak was delicious!) and once in Wonderland (a great dining experience which even Miss 5 and Miss 8 enjoyed!). ONBOARD ACTIVITIES The iFLY and North Star are musts! For iFLY, I've been sky diving once before but still really enjoyed this experience – as did Miss 5 and Miss 8!!! We did the North Star on one of the at sea days so didn't really get to see much beside a whole lot of ocean... but seeing the ship itself from high above was certainly a unique experience. Highly recommend booking both iFLY and North Star before you board as they can get booked out for the whole cruise. We also went to a couple of the bumper car sessions in the SeaPlex. A real novelty doing something like this while on a cruise ship at sea, and a highlight for both Miss 5 and Miss 8. Unfortunately, it was incredibly popular meaning some long queues (waiting in line up to an hour for a 5 minute ride). We saw a couple of the shows in the Royal Theatre as well as the PIXELS show in the Two70 venue - all really high quality with some talented performers. SERVICE AND STAFF Very impressive. No matter where you went, the staff would always offer a cheerful greeting and an offer of assistance. Our cabin attendant Sebby was ever attentive, promptly making our beds in the morning while we were out at breakfast and then turning down our room when we were at dinner. High praise for our American Icon waitstaff – Andreas promptly taking our food orders when we arrived and delivering each course promptly, and then Bresila taking our drinks orders and bringing new glasses of wine when we finished what we had. SHIP QUALITY Ovation of the Seas is coming up to 4 years old, but isn't showing any signs of age. The staff do a brilliant job of keeping everything spotless, included constantly mopping water around the pools on the main deck. When we hit some rough seas between New Zealand and Australia on the return leg, the ‘sick’ bags were promptly put out at each of the stairwells for those in need. CABIN / STATEROOM Given we were a family of 4, it was pretty cosy with the couch being turned into a bed for Miss 5 and Miss 8. However, there was plenty of storage (multiple drawers as well as hanging space), and room under the bed to keep the bags. If you do run out of storage space, remember you can keep some clothes in your bag and just slide the bag out from under the bed when you need it. The bathroom was cosy but serviceable - toilet, sink, and shower. Water pressure in the shower wasn't great - but the shower head does have different settings which helped. DEBARKATION We were not in a rush to get off and were lucky enough to have once of the last assigned times (9.30am). This meant we were able to have a last breakfast in the Windjammer, and then have a bit of leisure time before our time was called. The luggage collection was a bit chaotic, and there was a bit of a queue to get through customs... but it really didn't take more than about 30 minutes to end up outside the terminal with our bags on our way home. SHIP TIP Do the full online check-in prior to your cruise (including uploading your photo). We did this and had "Expedited Arrival" on our SetSail passes. This meant we were able to skip the normal queue and get onboard really quickly. --- SHORE EXCURSIONS --- SOUNDS Breathtaking! Arriving into Milford Sound as the sun was rising was spectacular. The ship did a double spin at the end of Milford Sound meaning everyone had a good look no matter where they would have been on the ship. DUNEDIN We did the Otagos Wild Wonders. The bus trip wasn't great - almost an hour and 40kms driving from Port Chalmers all the way around to the opposite side of the harbour (about 1km as the crow flies). However, arriving at Natures Wonders we were warmly welcomed by Perry and his team. Riding on the Argo 8 wheel drive vehicles was huge fun, with a driving trek down to the ocean front of the Otago Peninsula. It was the end of the breeding season for the New Zealand Fur Seals, and we got to see a few dozen (at least) pups lazing around. The tour also included getting to see a penguin chick in a special nesting box. WELLINGTON Unfortunately due to earthquake damage to the cruise ship pier, Ovation docked at a commercial wharf which meant it wasn’t possible to walk directly onshore and away from the dock. However, we had booked ourselves on the Wellington Panorama shore excursion which means we boarded the bus right off the ship (a complimentary shuttle service was available for anyone who wanted to go ashore on their own). The tour was excellent, with our driving providing some great history of Wellington including many humorous anecdotes. Stops included the Wellington Botanical Gardens (so many different colours of roses!), Mt Victoria (a great way to see Wellington from on high), and then the Wellington foreshore (the Gallipoli exhibition in the Te Papa museum is brilliant). PICTON While the ship was again at a commercial wharf, a complimentary shuttle was also provided. Our shore excursion this time was the "Marlborough Train Tour". After a short bus ride to the Picton train station, we boarded Passchendaele, a WW1 memorial steam locomotive for a ride to Blenheim - this took about 30 minutes. Getting off at the Blenheim station, we had a chance to check out the locomotive and have a chat to the engineers. There was a great souvenir shop nearby where we picked up a couple of things, and then walked about 20 minutes to have lunch at Dodson Street Beer Garden (http://www.dodsonstreet.co.nz/). Just as much as the Marlborough region is known for its wines, there are also some great local breweries - and we got to try a number of the local brews at Dodson Street. Definitely worth going to if you like your beers! The afternoon saw us ride the train from Blenheim back to Picton, and then the bus back to the wharf to board Ovation. The queues for the bus in Picton were pretty long, so would suggest not hanging around in Picton for too long. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
As experienced travellers and having been on multiple cruises, we were very much looking forward to our Ovation of the Seas cruise out of Sydney (departed Dec 26, 2019), around New Zealand. Without doubt, it was the worst experience of ... Read More
As experienced travellers and having been on multiple cruises, we were very much looking forward to our Ovation of the Seas cruise out of Sydney (departed Dec 26, 2019), around New Zealand. Without doubt, it was the worst experience of cruising we’ve had. Cruising has always included a wow factor of excellent service, with staff who want to see you have a great time … that did not apply on Ovation of the Seas. The ship’s facilities just do not manage the number of passengers. You can stand in a pool, but you couldn’t swim, it’s just too crowded. Not sure who thought an adult pool 80cm deep was a great idea? Waiting 10 minutes for an elevator is normal. Waiting for the next elevator, because this one is full, is also normal. Food is lukewarm .... you just don’t ever get a hot meal. Long waits for restaurant bookings are common .... the ship just cannot manage the capacity of 5000 passengers. Bumper-cars looked like fun, but an hour wait for a ride was the norm, and that was replicated over and over on the cruise activities. With the exception of Vlad, in the Wonderland speciality dining, there were very few wow factor experiences with service. Rosemarie in Jamie’s Italian was excellent too. The staff were generally pleasant, but there was also a pervasive miserableness in the staff, that we’ve never seen on cruise ships. The structural problem of too many passengers shows in the staff culture. The staff appear to have all worked out that no matter what they do, it’s never going to a quality experience. For the number of passengers, the ship’s facilities are woefully inadequate. It’s clearly destroyed staff morale. Kaitlyn, a souvenir shop attendant epitomised it – no greeting, just an unsolicited comment “Only 29 sea days and I get to go home”. Chops Grille, another speciality restaurant has zero ambience, with the doors left open to the karaoke bar, and they resist closing the glass door. If you like paying for fine dining in a karaoke bar, it’d be excellent. Side dishes arrived after every person on our table had finished mains. Per chance, we ate at Chops three times, and on the final occasion, had Marko look after us, and he was excellent, which was totally different to the prior occasions. The cruise ship itself is at a premium price point, and everything on the ship is expensive and in US dollars, with a set 18% gratuity. A glass of Australian wine, for a cruise out of Australia, is $14US, plus 18%, so nearly $17, and that’s more than a bottle in any bottle shop. If you are paying top dollar, but getting a wow factor experience with food and service, then it’s justified, but this is c-grade experience at a-grade prices. We’ve been on Royal Caribbean ships before (and belong to their Crown and Anchor membership program) but nothing would induce us to book another trip on Ovation of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Cruise from Sydney to New Zealand on the 4th Dec 2019. Food was terrible, bulky food with no love or effort. Bought a drink package but coffee shop close by 11am, ???? on a cruise ship and you pay US$35 a night for the soft drink package. ... Read More
Cruise from Sydney to New Zealand on the 4th Dec 2019. Food was terrible, bulky food with no love or effort. Bought a drink package but coffee shop close by 11am, ???? on a cruise ship and you pay US$35 a night for the soft drink package. After the volcano eruption incident, we were stuck in Tauranga for 2 extra days without much information. Not much effort in softening the sad situation with coffee shop close at the same time again. They even cancelled the highlight of the tour, they cancelled the trip to sounds and compensate one days of the cruise for the two days we lost, go figure on the math. They even accuse us being not human for not showing any sympathy on the people involve in the volcano incident. What a blow and insult, we were as badly affected as everyone but the cruise team did not provide any support; physiology, emotional or any at all. Food department was the worst I had experience, by the third days I could identify and memories they food location.....no changes for the whole 12 days. Occasionally, they will open a noddle sections but only two stations with the other two stations close and the queue on these stations was shocking. You would thought that they will open more stations in the next cycles....what a disappointment, same old story. My advise is DO NOT TRAVEL WITH OVATION OFTHE SEAS......total waste of my time. Use your leave with someone else... Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
MOST REVIEWS ARE FROM UNHAPPY PASSENGERS HAPPY PASSENGERS DON'T TEND TO REVIEW Before we boarded our cruise on the Ovation of the Seas I did a lot of research. I read all the reviews. Unfortunately I had booked the cruise ... Read More
MOST REVIEWS ARE FROM UNHAPPY PASSENGERS HAPPY PASSENGERS DON'T TEND TO REVIEW Before we boarded our cruise on the Ovation of the Seas I did a lot of research. I read all the reviews. Unfortunately I had booked the cruise before reading the reviews and I was starting to think I had made a mistake picking Ovation due to these reviews. From the moment I saw Ovation I was in awe. There was so much to do and see that really you didn't need to get off at ports. Our family was on Ovation when the volcano erupted and this totally devastated not just the passengers but crew and Captain. I have read another reviews from fellow passengers and totally disagree and am disappointed and I must admit disgusted. We were informed as much as the Captain could communicate. Unlike the news and media it is not the Captains responsibility to update passengers on information they are not 100% sure of. Not to mention releasing information before family members back home were informed. Yes we stayed in port longer than expected but this was to help with investigations into the incident. We were able to get off the ship so we weren't held prisoner as one passenger said. We still had access to all the facilities of the ship. Yes activities and shows were postponed and new ones introduced. The Crew and Captain did the best they could to revise the activities and shows to put some life back into the cruise . From our longer than planned stay in port we missed out on going to Dunedin and the Sounds but got to go to Picton. We lost lives and passengers were complaining about missing Dunedin and the Sounds. We still got our 12 nights on the beautiful Ovations of the Seas and were refunded 1 day. Yes we missed a port and the Sounds but we still got the 12 nights on board with all the amazing activities and shows. I have read a review from this same cruise and if I was a first time cruiser with Ovations of the Sea or Royal Caribbean I would be put off. Please know that people only seem to put up reviews if they have way too high expectations and find negatives in everything. Very few people that have amazing experiences leave reviews. My tip is to make sure you do as much on the ship as it offers. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We wanted to cruise for my wife's 40th Birthday. Family of 4 with 2 kids (5,3). The boat was one of the largest and had alot that could be done. There were many good things on the boat. Staff were mostly great with a few exceptions. ... Read More
We wanted to cruise for my wife's 40th Birthday. Family of 4 with 2 kids (5,3). The boat was one of the largest and had alot that could be done. There were many good things on the boat. Staff were mostly great with a few exceptions. Facilities were also good but with the number of people on the boat that there were we ran into many long lines. Many restaurants, and activities booked out before the boat even left the dock. We tried to confirm that our kids could use the kids club before we boarded or booked but we could not. So we did not know if we would have child free time or not until we were on the boat, which was the reason we had chosen the cruise in the first place. Buffet Food was no as good as MSC or P&O that we had been on. But once we moved to main dining it was better. Still not "fine dining", but at least RSL/Pub standard for meals. (Compared to Truck Stop level for buffet). We picked a room in the back corner of the boat and certainly felt the extra walking time to get back there as the lifts/stairs were more centrally located than I have had before. (helped burn off desert though). The app was a great idea but lacking in some functions. You could ask what restaurants were open now, but it did not display all of the options always. Not all events were easy to find in the daily newsletter (poor layout) and the app was missing many as well (as well as some like bingo with the wrong times on it) North Star was not bad but there was a pointless restriction on the height of people on it, and the measure for this 42" was slightly off meaning our son was not able to ride, where as he could go on the water slides that also had the same 42" restriction. The safety on the North Star was such that it would have been difficult for someone to get hurt on it I cant see the reason for the restriction. Drinks package left room for improvement. You had a ugly large cup that you were expected to lug about with you to use the drink vending machines around the boat, with no way to fill a regular cup. But there were juice and water (and sometimes lemonade) available free with meals in the buffet (and breakfast in main dining) so it was not really used by us. Key Membership: We elected for Key membership but with the changes to the check in facility it was not needed for that. Onboard there was little to no benefit in membership. Yes it had the internet so if you were getting that it was not that pricey but still it could have been skipped. Things booked out with the membership just as much and it was not clear when things could only be accessed with Key. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Ovation of the Seas is truly a fantastic family ship. There are so many onboard venues for kids & adults alike that it's hard to find one place that stands out. I will summise the things I loved & didn't love. ... Read More
Ovation of the Seas is truly a fantastic family ship. There are so many onboard venues for kids & adults alike that it's hard to find one place that stands out. I will summise the things I loved & didn't love. Didn't Love * The wait times - 5,000 passengers can cause some extensive wait times and the poor staff are run off their feet with Aussies at the bar. This 3-night cruise to nowhere is all about the party, so they were pooling staff from other areas to serve but they really did struggle with sometimes a 30 minute wait for service. * Menu choices in the main dining room - for 3 nights straight the chicken & steak dishes were EXACTLY THE SAME... Not slightly varied - it was the same thing 3 nights in a row. Meat & 3 veg. They mixed up the pasta, but I warily saw some people return theirs so I didn't feel like trying. * Dining times - At 4pm one day we decided to do a wine & cheese afternoon. We had the wine and headed to the buffet to put together our cheese plate only to be informed it was closed. We questioned other dining venues on the ship and were told the only place open was Fish & Chips, which really didn't appeal. We then found out their times 6pm-9pm... Not good enough, 5pm-10.30pm would be far more suitable. People were queuing not because they wanted first come first serve, but because they were being restricted on eating. Also, a $7.95USD charge on room service?? I just can't comprehend. Also in the main dining room the constant announcements every night was horrible. * Lifts - this was crazy busy & it was sad to see the queues and also lifts full of guests Did Love * Cabin - We cruise alot, often with Princess and my biggest gripe with their ships is the shower curtain so I loved that our balcony had a glass shower. The bathroom was also ample sized & I was pleased with the bedding and layout of the cabin. The balcony was small, but to be honest since we couldn't get some cheese to go with our wine for the sunset, we simply didn't use it. * Staff onboard - They might have been busy, but they were all really friendly & really sweet. You could see they were stressed but they just got on with the job. * Design of the ship - it really was amazing and beautiful. The artwork was colourful, the amount of activities was fantastic. The spa's were huge. Everything was just enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We sailed on Ovation of the Seas in November 2019 and whilst the ship is impressive, the overall experience that Royal Caribbean provides is so very disappointing. We knew that our young son was too young for kids club before going and ... Read More
We sailed on Ovation of the Seas in November 2019 and whilst the ship is impressive, the overall experience that Royal Caribbean provides is so very disappointing. We knew that our young son was too young for kids club before going and we were fine with that - we wanted a holiday where he would be with us. BUT nowhere in any paperwork prior to boarding did it say that he would not be allowed in any of the pools because he's not toilet trained. Not even swimmer nappies were allowed. He so badly wanted me to take him in the water and I couldn't because they would not let him in anywhere. It was heartbreaking. Because of that, there was literally nothing for him to do on board apart from run around the ship. Post-cruise the most disappointing thing is the fact that we paid Royal Caribbeans absolutely ridiculous prices for photos, only because they managed to get some very spontaneous, amazing shots of our son. BUT after paying around $249 Australian dollars for 10 photos - that's right, only 10 - they didn't send us the link to them as they said they would 4-7 days after the cruise ended. It took a couple of weeks of back and forth emailing to get them to find the link for us so that we could download the photos. AND THEN once we downloaded them, I noticed that they are only supplied in extremely compressed files sizes. Most were about 500kb in size which means if we even tried to blow them up any bigger than a normal size photo in an album they would look terrible and blurry. For $249 AUD Royal Caribbean really skimp on the end product. So far I've been on P&O and Carnival and I'm very surprised to say that I'd pick them over Royal Caribbean in the future. Yes, I know RC own Carnival but the experiences on board are vastly different in my opinon and RC really is no where near worth the extra money you pay. TLDR; Royal Caribbean are terrible for kids and their overpriced photos are not worth buying because the file sizes they deliver electronically are way too small to blow up to hang on a wall for example. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
11th cruise so yes...I love cruising and this was by far the worst of all due to entertainment...actually lack there of, I’ve ever experienced with RCCL. My 2017 Harmony (US-Texas) and 2018 Symphony (Barcelona Spain) cruises both had ... Read More
11th cruise so yes...I love cruising and this was by far the worst of all due to entertainment...actually lack there of, I’ve ever experienced with RCCL. My 2017 Harmony (US-Texas) and 2018 Symphony (Barcelona Spain) cruises both had AMAZING shows and entertainment (Grease, Hairspray, Flight: Dare to Dream, Ice Skating Shows, Aqua Shows etc.) The Ovation does not even compare AT ALL! Entertainment needs some serious help. The Voom internet was down an entire day so we received a day credit. Due to high winds and ruff seas several activities had to be canceled, which I understand but they never updated the onboard app of the changes. You would head to an event only to get there and be told it’s canceled. Updating the app event calendar would have helped with that issue. Other than that..I have no complaints...enjoyed the cruise. I do think I’ll ever cruise the RC Quantum class again but I will definitely cruise there Oasis class ships. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We went on this cruise as part of a group of 20. We have always wanted to cruise to new Zealand and RCI had some great prices so we eneded up on the Ovation. We went during the school term so children overload on board wasnt a problem ... Read More
We went on this cruise as part of a group of 20. We have always wanted to cruise to new Zealand and RCI had some great prices so we eneded up on the Ovation. We went during the school term so children overload on board wasnt a problem and there were plenty of activities for the kids and yong at heart to do. Some waiting in line is required at some activities such as the flow rider, dogem cars etc. It is a big ship and it carries a lot of people so sometimes you had to line up and wait which isnt a problem for us but it might be for some. Some of the Theatre shows were great, others I thought were average and there werent a lot of comedy shows, I love a good laugh. The Buffett is as always a challenge to get a seat especially when youre with a family so we generally stuck to the MDR.The MDR was fantastic, service was excellant and so was the food. Any dramas and the staff fixed it ASAP. My two main negatives- 1 The location of the smoking area was part of a main walkway and near the pool/family/kids area, surely it could be put somewhere more out of the way, where far fewer people are exposed to it. 2 The running/walking track 60-70% of the track is surrounded by sun chairs, and its located on proably one of the busiest decks on the ship, especially ner the back where the climbing wall and everything is, it becomes quite a choke point for people avoiding runners/walkers and everyone else. The amout of times I had to steer my kids around runners or felt like we were constantly in peoples way was amazing. That area was poorly planned. Overall the ship was good, lots to do and see. The service was great as were the staff. But if you dont like a lot of people or having to wait then this ship may not be for you, and most definately not during school holidays Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because it's a family friendly ship and we wanted to try cruising on a really big modern ship. We booked very early as a mass family booking and secured a great cabin with an oversize balcony and this was a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it's a family friendly ship and we wanted to try cruising on a really big modern ship. We booked very early as a mass family booking and secured a great cabin with an oversize balcony and this was a great choice. I have no complaints about our cabin or the service. Our cabin steward was great - very professional and discreet and our room always looked great. I liked the cabin itself - comfortable bed, though perhaps a little harder than I am used to. I remember not liking the entertainment much though - I think you had to pay for a lot of the movies or it wasn't a great selection or something. It wasn't as good as on other ships anyway. We had a drinks package and an internet package and the internet was good. The drinks package was good too - a bit annoying that both cabin occupants had to buy them though. I drank way more than usual as a result but I had some fantastic cocktails from some of the really great bar staff. The food was okay. I did get a three specialty restaurant package and did the captains table. I liked the Wonderland restaurant, one of the deserts was superb. I liked the sushi restaurant. We also did a steak restaurant which was good. The captain's table was not as good as formerly, my companions told me, but it was okay. I probably wouldn't bother to do it again though. The main dining room was good but they had a surcharge for lobster etc. It was a bit poor really. Cruise lines in general seem to be going downhill in this cutting corner way. They're booming but they act like they can't afford things that used to be standard at a time when they had nothing like as many customers. Disappointing, and not just confined to RCL. Service was good in all restaurants. The entertainment was great. I enjoyed all the shows I went to, and I went to all the bigger production type shows. There's a lot of hype for the room with the moving screens but it isn't that much of a wow. It's okay. I did like the locked room escape game - that was cool. The pools were good but I didn't swim in them much. New Zealand isn't the hottest of destinations. The kids of the families enjoyed the water attractions and the kids clubs. One thing I really disliked was that the adults only undercover pool was really kind of ... useless. It was okay if you just wanted to sit around or wanted to use a spa but for swimming you pretty much had to put up with lots of kids. The promenade was on the top deck and was okay - improvement on Celebrity walking tracks, but really all these ships should have a promenade deck. I hate that the modern ships don't have them. It was a big ship but you did feel that it was full of people, which some smaller ships manage to conceal. I went up on the North Star which was a fun thing to do once or twice. It was pretty busy but I went up twice - once near the fjords and once way out at sea. It was a good cruise - lots of calm seas and sunny days, and we were able to visit the fjords and every port, so that was wonderful. Embarkation was good, disembarkation was kind of bad. It was raining for one thing, but the real problem was that they locked off the elevators up to the taxi area as they said it was too full. Now this ship has been in this port a number of times - how could they not know how to handle it or what was likely to happen? It was a mess - took so long to get anywhere because of the confused, milling crowd. It's not like people didn't need taxis just because the route to the taxi area was blocked off. It was the worst disembarkation, both on and off ship. Also their safety drill leaves a bit to be desired. Most boring, looooong procedure I've ever been to and really, the assembly area we were in was a joke. Lucky there hasn't been an actual emergency. Trying to keep that many people in that small an area would be near impossible. So many of us standing around bored out of our skulls for ages and ages, waiting for something to happen. Other than that, it was a good cruise - not much to complain about. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was a 10 night NZ cruise from Sydney. 10 nights means fewer ports but we had been before so it suited us. This was an excellent cruise. Although this ship is BIG (about 4,500 passengers) it has a lot of space and we never felt crowded ... Read More
This was a 10 night NZ cruise from Sydney. 10 nights means fewer ports but we had been before so it suited us. This was an excellent cruise. Although this ship is BIG (about 4,500 passengers) it has a lot of space and we never felt crowded at all. There are many bars, cafes and lounges that it was relatively easy to find a quiet spot any time. The staff were excellent, outstanding service. The food was amazing. This was our second Royal Caribbean cruise and we were not happy at all with the food on our first one but this one was top notch. We ate in Silk Restaurant most evening meals because we had excellent wait staff so booked our same table every night. Nothing was too much trouble for them.The buffet was one of the best we have come across in over a dozen cruises but it was very busy. This ship has the North Star (similar to London Eye or Melbourne Star except it just goes up and down. You can book this in advance of your cruise but every afternoon it was available for non bookings, you just needed to line up. Generally the wait was less than 30 minutes. It also has the wind tunnel parachute simulator. This is bookings only but we had no trouble getting a booking on the ship. They also have dodgem cars, amazing. This was line up only but again lines I saw were rarely more than 30 minute wait and the wait was well worth it. It has the wave pool and when the dodgem cars are not on the track it is used for roller skating (skates provided). All of these attractions are FREE. They have a cafe where you can buy coffee and cake but another cafe directly opposite it where coffee, tea and a small selection of cakes are free (instant coffee style percolated only here). The shops are all a bit high end but not bad for a ship. The robot drink maker is just a gimmick but plenty of people made their own drinks (at a significant cost). Our cabin (13178) was a balcony, very roomy and well set out. It has American style electrical outlets (two straight pins) so take an adapter. Entertainment was a bit heavy on comedians which is fine if you like that but this time the general entertainment was not up to the standard we have seen before. We generally buy our excursions from Viator.com or at the port because the ships (all ships) overcharge greatly. We have never missed the ship and the fact that ships tell you they won't wait if non ship tours are late shouldn't deter you. Most Viator or on land tours work their timings out to get you back well in time. The only place this was a problem was Dunedin. We wanted to do the train trip but the ship booked it out so it was either pay them about three times what it would cost buying direct or do something else, we did something else. They have a large fitness centre with plenty of modern exercise machines. All in all we had a great cruise on a great ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
In a shift from shorter Caribbean cruises my family has been venturing out on longer less conventional cruises. We booked this on a previous transatlantic and after waiting almost 2 years to board I could not be happier with how this ... Read More
In a shift from shorter Caribbean cruises my family has been venturing out on longer less conventional cruises. We booked this on a previous transatlantic and after waiting almost 2 years to board I could not be happier with how this turned out. Check-In and Boarding: We arrived at the port in Sydney by train taking the short walk from Circular Quay station, arriving at the pier at 1030am. Almost immediately we were able drop our luggage and enter the building for check-in. We were the first in line for emerald and above Crown and Anchor members. We had already submitted our photos online and the entire check-in process took less than 2 minutes. We were then directed to a seated waiting area while final preperations were being made on the ship. We sat here for no more than 5-10 minutes before passing through immigration/customs and security. From our arrival at the port till we were on board the ship was approximately 20 minutes. I am not sure the process could go any faster if we had tried. Once on board our rooms were available at 1pm with one room key being outside the door to the room and the other being in the room. I was surprised that there was no mention of WoW bands anywhere - but after some inquiry we were able to get them from guest services. I was told there would be a $5 charge, however that never appeared on our account. Ship: I have been on many ships, but Ovation stood out to me as being quite stunning. The decor is amazing and the entire ship looks as if it was brand new. Although she is 2 years old, I could have been convinced I was on the maiden sailing as everything is in absolutely perfect condition. Coming from Voyager class and the successors, the layout was quite new to me and it took nearly all 12 nights to get a good grasp of where everything is. I was somewhat surprised by the amount of movement we felt. We were in 3 meter seas for the crossing from Australia to New Zealand and it was felt at all times. We experienced 6+ meter seas on the return and I felt the ship weathered this quite well. The motion was very evident, but not enough to send things flying. I never felt crowded, except sometimes the Windjammer was to capacity - however this was the result of other passengers not leaving when finished and even begged by the crew. Cabin: We stayed in blacony cabin 10258 with family in 3 adjacent cabins. We were able to open the divider between all 4 balconies resulting in one massive balcony with amazing views. The cabin is the most spacious balcony I have stayed in and did not feel cramped at all. Even the bathroom was larger than anything I have seen on a ship before - with the ability to turn around and bend over without any problems. Removing the coffee table has greatly increased the available floor space at little expense over what I have seen on other Royal ships. Dining: Throughout the cruise we mostly at breakfast and lunch at the Windjammer buffet and dinner in the main dining room. We did not try any of the pay facilities, although at one point we had a rather pushy staff member offer us a 30% discount off of Chops (we still declined). Beyond this one staff member all other sales attempts were passive (just standing there holding a menu). The Windjammer was on par with most other Royal ships I have been on with perhaps a slight increase in options. There was a station daily that was dedicated to Indian style food. There was also a dedicated gluten free station along with deserts. The main dining room was notably empty on most nights, with no more than 1/3 of the seats being filled. As a result service was very fast and there was a high level of personal attention given. Other than some standard options the menu rotated nightly, however there did not seem to be any theme to the menus as I have seen on previous cruises. The food was decent, not a 5 star meal, but average as cruises go. My only real complaint is that steaks seemed to come cooked one way - well done. Although I was always asked how I liked my steak, I progressed from Medium to Rare with no change. Cafe 270 is available during the day and had a selection of sandwiches and made-to-order salads, although the salad topping selections were quite limited. The Dog House is available midday and is handy for a quick snack when you are not wanting a meal. Sorrento's and Cafe Prominade as essentially merged into one, with Sorrento's offering a selection of premade cold dishes as well as pizza. Gluten free pizza is available and made fresh to order. Cafe Prominade has available a selection of premade sandwiches and deserts. Although I did not try it, there is a a la carte restaurant on deck 14 called "Poolside Dining." This was originally a noodle bar, but now offers an unusual selection of items ranging from Chinese dishes to Fish and Chips. I cannot find any reference to this establishment anywhere online. Only true negative I have to mention about dining is the washing station in the Windjammer. I often felt this place was where I was going to get sick if anywhere on the boat. It was often littered with discarded paper towels and cups. The whole area felt like a breeding ground for germs. Along with that a staff member was stationed there to demand in a childish "washy washy or no yummy yummy" way that you use the facility and not the sanitizer gel used elsewhere. I would intentionally sit far from the entrance of the Windjammer to avoid hearing her squawk this speech over and over. Entertainment: I rarely attend shows on cruises, opting for other activities, although on this ship I went to many shows in the theater. A vast majority of the shows were comedian based and frankly not that good (as well as rather repititive). The only musical act I saw in the main theater was Diamonds - which was a 3 female member group which sang music from Motown. Their singing was decent, however their stange presence was down right terrible - very robotic and fake. I did not get to see the theatrical production. On a positive note on a few nights an INXS cover band played in 270 and they were top notch - very good and very entertaining. Activities: There was loads of things to do on this ship and I did as many as possible. Rip Cord must be reserved in advance and lasts 1 minute, but is worth it. Due to illness one member of my family had to get a second reservation and this was done without any problems. You could make reservations for the North Star, however we were able to walk on day 1 without any wait. The Sea Plex has various activities from X Box to Bumper Cars. My entire family with a wide range in ages enjoyed the bumper cars. My family spent a fair amount of time in the casino, with all of us coming out ahead on slots. It was a real plus having a non-smoking casino. Only negative about the casino is it feels very sterile and not really inviting. I think this is due to the type of machines available, but we won so I can't complain too much. Other activities were frequent and on par with other cruises, such as numerous trivia contest around the ship.I will add in the Bionic Bar here as it seemed more of an activity than a place to actually get drinks. Yes, we stopped by and had the bar make drinks on a few occasions, but it is rather slow. There was rarely a line and it seems that this novelty is not really living up to its hype. Only real positive thing is I could customize a drink in virtually unlimited ways and I did take my time to make a few things that perhaps nobody else has tried before - something that would annoy even the most patient bartender. Service: By far the service on Ovation is the best I have ever had a sea. I had the deluxe drink package and after a few days I could sit down and a drink would appear without me even needing to order it. Everyone on the ship seemed interested in making an effort to get to know the passengers. Somehow the staff at the main dining room seemed to know my name without ever being told - perhaps they looked it up and memorized my face before hand? Top notch overall - it can't get any better than this. Ports and Excursion: Generally I dislike reviewing these since it is very subjective. Overall the excursions and ports were enjoyable. Tendering operations were speedy without much need for a wait on either end. The day spent cruising in the sounds was simply amazing. They are stunningly beautiful and I am glad I got to see them. Children: We were not traveling with children and there were not many on the ship. There were numerous things that would appeal to children and perhaps not seeing them often and no problems with children running amock is a sign that the ones who were on board were entertained. Disembarking: Fastest experience I have ever had on a cruise. We had a 830am time slot, but we elected to eat in the Windjammer - which was open till 9am. We walked off the ship at about 845am without any wait, directly claimed out bags and cleared customs within 10 minutes. I have never seen such a speedy organized disembarkation, although I think some of this is not so much Royal, but the Australia authorities fast processing of everyone. Overall Ovation is a stunning ship that appears to be something almost out of the future. Absolutely I would recommend this ship and will not think twice about booking her or one of her sisters again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Initially we were enticed to sail on the Ovation at relatively short notice due to a great deal that was being offered on a Balcony Guarantee cabin only a few days before the sail date. For those new to RCI Australia, don't get sucked ... Read More
Initially we were enticed to sail on the Ovation at relatively short notice due to a great deal that was being offered on a Balcony Guarantee cabin only a few days before the sail date. For those new to RCI Australia, don't get sucked in by the sale 'countdown timer' on the RCI website when booking, I can guarantee that as soon as one sale finishes another begins so don't feel pressured to buy because of the countdown timer. The Ovation is absolutely enormous and yes, RCI will pretty much sell every cabin on board prior to the sale date so don't make any assumptions that you will score a 'free' upgrade or have the lions share of the boat to yourself. Whilst super cruising is new to Australia, it was clear from our time on the Ovation that port infrastructure in the region simply cannot handle the vast number of people that these boats bring. Sydney's OPT could not be in a more perfect location, mere minutes from both public transport and some of the best sights in the country. However the OPT itself is vastly undersized to handle a boat of this size and this was evident during both the embark and disembark processes. Expect to jump between levels around a mass of temporary hoardings (which I think are only there to hide the true length of the cues of people waiting inside) as you bounce from one station to another. Interestingly the staff at the OPT did not enforce the 'check-in' times listed on the Set Sail Pass and pretty much let anyone in from 11am on wards. After approx. 45mins of waiting in lines inside the terminal we were finally on board and allowed to peruse the public areas as the staterooms were prepared. The Royal IQ App was something that we found to be very useful throughout the trip to book activities and schedule events from the cruise compass. It only started working once our set sail pass was scanned once on board the ship (vice in the terminal) but once registered we were able to book all activities that we listed as 'unavailable' online including iFly and North Star. You can also message others through the app for a $7.95 fee throughout the cruise. However, we found that iMessage/Facetime would work with anyone on the boat or ashore when you were connected to their wifi network (even if you hadn't purchased a wifi package) so give that some thought before spending money. The activities on board were fun but were often let down by long waiting times or rude/inattentive Adventure Staff. Some of the staff were absolutely excellent whilst others would spend their time watching YouTube videos whilst long lines for activities formed. Some staff members would overtly comment on some passenger’s appearance or behaviours, which I was inclined to agree with in some instances, however it came off as very unprofessional and unfriendly. I'm not sure if the Adventure Staff had a supervisor or not but it certainly seemed like they could get away with anything. Dining wasn't an issue at all, we transferred from Fixed Dining to My Time Dining after a 2 minute chat with one of the head waiters and enjoyed excellent service and food throughout the cruise. The specialty restaurants are very good however I would only recommend going to them as part of a dining package as they are simply too overpriced to go on an individual basis. RCI do some good deals on dining packages before the cruise so keep an eye out. We only purchased a Soda drink package prior to sailing however every other Aussie on board had purchased a full alcoholic beverage package and made it matter of pride to use this package as a status symbol to inform as many other passengers as possible of how they intended to profit from it. For us the maths simply didn't add up (as you had to buy the package for everyone in your stateroom not just those who wanted to drink) and we found it cheaper to purchase alcohol individually. However going by the amount of Aussies we saw getting escorted by police after being kicked off the boat for drunkenness (literally in every port we stopped at) I'm guessing some people maybe did manage to turn a profit on the package. Entertainment aboard was varying. RCI have clearly pumped a lot of investment into their production shows and I have to say that they were excellent and exceeded our expectations by a long way. However some of the acts they brought in from outside really missed the mark. The comedians seemed 3rd tier and recycled a lot of material from YouTube or other comedians. I'm not sure whether RCI instructs them to keep it clean or whether the comedians know that Australian families will bring kids along to any show regardless of its nature or the time of day. But they just weren't that funny. One performer, a comedy magician, seemed like he was hired straight out of the yellow pages for a 4y.o.'s birthday party. But like I said, it wasn't all bad, production shows and musical talents were excellent. As Aussies we are often a hard people to please and re-affirmed in this sailing that we are once again gold medallists when it comes to the art of whinging. Comments that I observed from fellow Aussies this cruise included; 'I don't understand why they won't let us steal pool towels'; 'My Iced Smoothie is too cold'; 'The kids will look after themselves, we were at the bar till 3am last night'; and my favourite 'The ship is rocking too much, can you ask if we can pull in somewhere for a few hours so I can sleep'. As a result, the staff did their best to appease people but there were no shortages of yelling and downright obnoxiousness. The biggest downside for me on this ship were the public spaces. Whilst there was plenty of them they were simply too small and inadequately sized to host the number of passengers on board. You often had to show up 30 mins early to get a seat and they always felt cramped and clustered. It seems as if RCI really focussed on the bottom line when designing this shape as they’ve crammed as many balcony staterooms as possible (70% of total cabins) in the design and then filled the empty spaces with public venues. Having said that my favourite venue was the Radio City Music Hall which, in my opinion, is a great idea and design for many acts however was unfortunately underutilised during this cruise. Disembarkation wasn’t too bad in our experience as we weren’t in a hurry however there was a long queue of Aussies complaining that they weren’t allowed off the ship at the crack of dawn as they were previously informed. Ultimately I blame this on Sydney’s OPT again as they are physically limited by how many passengers they can process every hour and despite hiring scores of people to literally yell at passengers to keep walking as they depart the building, congestion continues to occur and slows everyone down. We'll probably steer clear of RCI and the other major lines when cruising out of Australia in future but if you've got a large family looking for a cheap holiday or are couple who can tolerate a lot of rowdy (unsupervised) kids then this might be a good option for you. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
I had an assumption that all cruise`s were for old fat people, how wrong I was, my parents shouted my wife and 3 boys aged 4-8-11 and my brother and my two nieces. Absolutely blown away staff are some of the most beautiful people we have ... Read More
I had an assumption that all cruise`s were for old fat people, how wrong I was, my parents shouted my wife and 3 boys aged 4-8-11 and my brother and my two nieces. Absolutely blown away staff are some of the most beautiful people we have meet they remind me of the fijian`s, warm, humble, caring, genuine they were the highlight of the trip without a doubt. The boat is almost as good its is better than some 5 star hotels we had a junior suite that was well appointed had two bathrooms and plenty of room four us and storage for all our stuff was on deck 10 room 218 been mid ship when there is a bit of a swell is a blessing less movement. Hard to find information about activities before you, go but easy enough once on board. Book things as soon as you get on as you may miss out especially for I-Fly and North star the viewing arm thingy majig. Food is really good caters for al,l my wife is a vegetarian even she was happy. Take a clothes line as they charge like wounded bulls for laundry. If you like a drink or to get the drinks package they make the drinks strong so none of those weak bar drinks here !. For kids suits under 3 and over 8 years of age, our 4 year old fell in the weird zone things like bumper cars, rock wall, trapeze and roller skating he was to young to do. They do have a great kids club for all ages but we never used it. great used to taking the stairs the lifts are pain full none seem to be available always full. We will remember this for a lifetime helped when my parents paid for it stunning stunning stunning Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We just sailed on Ovation of the Seas to New Zealand with a party of 10 between 11 and 76. Like others I was concerned abut the lines and waiting times on the ship due to the number of passengers. There were 4913 on board. I don't ... Read More
We just sailed on Ovation of the Seas to New Zealand with a party of 10 between 11 and 76. Like others I was concerned abut the lines and waiting times on the ship due to the number of passengers. There were 4913 on board. I don't see what others are complaining about, the longest we lined up for dinner at my time dining (we were a party of 10) was approx 5 mins. we had a standard reservation that we booked on line prior to departure at 7.45pm. The longest queues was for the dogems cars (yes this was a long line at times) and the flow rider but I would expect anything less in school holidays. Service, food and entertainment was great. There was never a problem with waitstaff in the solarium or shows for drinks. Even offered service whilst on the adults only pool. Solarium was lovely but a bit warm, we had amazing weather in New Zealand on the trip. The Sounds were amazing, so lucky with clear skies and with the ship being able to rotate on a dime in the Milford Sounds so all sides of the ship could appreciate the scenery was remarkable. The ship is great for families, so much to do. My mother commented she did prefer a smaller ship but didn't have an issue with crowds. Port days were lovely. No issues and delays in disembarking the ship and most ports we cleared customs early and were off before expected. We would love to sail on Oasis or Symphony of the seas next to experience another big ship but I think the Freedom class is the best so far for our taste. For all those naysayers, lightening up and enjoy the cruise...... Life if to short! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
A new ship and we love the ships we have been on. Voyager, Radience, Adventure, Explorer. The Ovation is first rate. Extremely friendly staff, all helpful, pleasant and happy. The facilities on the Ovation are wonderful. Bump cars, sports, ... Read More
A new ship and we love the ships we have been on. Voyager, Radience, Adventure, Explorer. The Ovation is first rate. Extremely friendly staff, all helpful, pleasant and happy. The facilities on the Ovation are wonderful. Bump cars, sports, full size basketball court plus I fly, Northern Star, rock climbing, flow rider etc plus great live entertainment. Food could be a little better but still enjoyable. We experienced a lot of misinformation when planning this holiday. We were told we had to book ALL the entertainment and activities in advance by people who had been on previous Ovation cruises. This is NOT the case. You must check when you are doing your initial booking as Pixels is definitely a booking but we found out that you can still get in if prepared to wait. You must be in the Royal Theatre at least a half hour before start time to ensure a good seat. We had no trouble at all getting tables in the Windjammer Bistro or dining rooms. For a ship with around 5,000 passengers we hardly experienced any problems at all. Our three grandsons loved the cruise and the sporting activities. Some of the sports area staff are abrupt and not helpful which let the other staff down. Overall don't hesitate to book on this ship. We had a balcony cabin on the 12th floor. Great balcony area. Extremely comfortable room and top room service. The staff in the American Icon restaurant were first class. Couldn't do enough for us. Well done RCC Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
This was our second cruise our first was earlier in the year and was a 4 day sampler on Pacific eden which we loved . Both cruises we have goen into with little expectations we have a pact amongst the family that it will be what it will be ... Read More
This was our second cruise our first was earlier in the year and was a 4 day sampler on Pacific eden which we loved . Both cruises we have goen into with little expectations we have a pact amongst the family that it will be what it will be and we won’t let anything get us down . Travelling this time was my wife and 2 kids and eldest kids boyfriend . Firstly this ship is big – you know that by now you’ve seen plenty of pictures but when you arrive at the dock you just can’t prepare yourself for how big it truly is . We had a boarding time of 12.30 and as luck would have it our taxi driver dropped us right on 12.30 however we quickly discovered boarding times mean nothing – the queues were extensive and long and slow , winding round endlessly – finally through passport check and onto the ship ! This was the only real queue we encountered in our 11 days aboard. On board we had a couple of immediate plans – book the escape room and do North Star – both of which were easily done ! Rather than go step by step through our cruise lets look at the good and the not so good – there was no Bad . The Good . Dining was exceptional – we only went to the free options and had my time dining – we loved SILK the Best for Dinner and had breakfast mostly at Grande – Staff were amazing in both , nothing was too much trouble – food was always hot and plentiful . Windjammer was more than adequate – food was fresh and replenished regularly – it’s a regret of mine that we didn’t eat here more often but the MDRs were just sooo good ! We never had a problem getting a table Sorrentos served up some of the best pizza I’ve ever had for snacks . Bought the soft drink package –redeem at any bars or use the machines - too easy North Star – amazing – went several times – don’t worry if you haven’t booked – most we waited was maybe 30 minutes maximum – we tried to do it every port day Ifly – amazing Flowrider – too much fun ! Dodgems – great – a bit of a queue ( 35 mins) one time but put it down to school holidays Our room – balcony level 12 – neatly appointed very comfortable for 3 of us but a bit let down by room steward ( more later) Entertainment was great mostly ( freddy mercury tribute – INXS show – comedian – yoyo guy – Aussie Boys )– more later Pools and Jacuzzis great Free ice cream was a nice touch by the pool The cruise director Joff was brilliant ! Absolute credit to the company . Do the escape room was a ton of fun – mind you if we didn’t have that other young couple helping us we may still be in the room ! ALL staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful Shore days were handled efficiently as was disembarkation Everything was on time – If they said something happened at 10.15 it most certainly did happen at 10.15 – very efficient Track everything on your TV Not so Good Am I the only one not overwhelmed by Pixels ? and the other Entertainment team shows ie: Live Love Legs and the other one I forget , Apart from the technology which was truly amazing the show it itself was well rather ordinary – sorry – I thought the P&O entertainment left Ovations for dead Onboard activities like trivia – yes they were OK but the hosts always seemed to rush through it and it was over in 20 minutes – On the P & O cruise they were true events with lots of laughter and interactions etc and went for an hour Ok our Room Steward – we were in a 3 person room – our steward made the 3rd bed up on top of the sofa – it wasn’t till we were leaving the boat we saw other rooms with a pull out sofa – we checked ours and yes it could have been pulled out too – on top was very hard and uncomfortable the pullout was much more comfortable – Also our steward had to be frequently reminded there were 3 of us in the room ie : 3 towels , 3 glassess etc but he was a nice guy ! People pushing in – queueing at say the Dodgems someone would be in the queue and then all of a sudden 10-15 other family members or friends would join them – not cool to those folks behind – likewise in the theatre one person minding 10 seats again not cool . Lifts were at times slow Smoking area on level 14 – sorry smokers but this area is Not appropriate – right beside the pools where kids are – it’s on a major thoroughfare that you have to walk through plumes of smoke – just not an appropriate area for smokers sorry All in All a fantastic cruise - don't worry about the size of the boat or number of passengers there is plenty of space to find for your selves - we were blessed witht eh weather and cruising NZ is truly spectacular Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We chose this cruise because we love cruising and being the newest, biggest ship we thought it would be the ship our family would enjoy the most with the fun activities on board. We travelled with two Teenage children ages 15 & 17. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we love cruising and being the newest, biggest ship we thought it would be the ship our family would enjoy the most with the fun activities on board. We travelled with two Teenage children ages 15 & 17. Embarkation went surprisingly smoothly having 5000 ppl on board. We chose not to be in a hurry to avoid disappointment. Cabin was 7706 & 7708 and was modern and new. Our cabin wasn’t the cleanest it could of been when we boarded but we Blame the quick turn around time and pressure on staff for this. There was hair all over the sofa lounge and grubby finger marks on the stainless steel light switches above queen bed. Dinning was the most disappointing. Food was dry, tasteless some too salty and not enough variety. Windjammer was the best to dine at for its variety but after 12 days we were eager to have decent food. Entertainment was good but daily activities wernt fresh and exciting. Got boring and old with it being the same activities, different day. We found other cruise liners had 5 star dinning and organised activities compared to the Ovation. When asking our teenage children should we rebook they begged us to do Carnival cruise again as they had much more fun. Ovation lacked atmosphere especially with no sail away party and the staff lacked that personal attention we have received on other liners. All in all for the money spent we would recommend going on a Carnival Cruise Liner especially with Teenagers. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We went with Royal Caribbean for a 13 day 12 night cruise over Christmas and New Years. I have a few issues and a few disappointments whilst we were onboard. 1) If you are traveling with kids, kids cub does not accept kids that are ... Read More
We went with Royal Caribbean for a 13 day 12 night cruise over Christmas and New Years. I have a few issues and a few disappointments whilst we were onboard. 1) If you are traveling with kids, kids cub does not accept kids that are crying or ones who say they do not wish to go to kids club. I have 3 kids 1 who is 8.5 years old who was fine and wanted to go every session. I also have 4.5 year old twins, the twins don't love daycare as it is. Once they are there they are fine, we got lucky and they both joined in but we did get a call a few times to say they were fighting with each other. We had to pick them up a few times due to this, they are brothers and this is normal they were not hurting other children just each other. 2) The food was very poor, we have been with carnival before and they offered great amounts of food and different food. During our time for lunch was Curries, Hamburgers, hot chips, spaghetti bol for lunch, dinner was not much different to the above foods and it was every day. Hamburger rolls were stale meats were mostly dry with not a lot of flavour. 3) Our stateroom bed was TERRIBLE!!!! Both myself and partner woke up everyday with headaches due to the lack of sleep, the bed was super hard and we did not get much sleep during our holiday. 4) Level 14 smoking area is pretty much right across from the kids water park and outdoor pool. Unlike carnival you could not smoke on deck 15 in the open, this was a little disappointing being right next to all the kids stuff. 5) Bumper cars were for 5+ years and over 42cm, my boys were just under 5 they are 3 months out. They hit the height limit with flying colours as they are taller kids. The checks for this depends on the staff running the activities, some younger kids got on then they had a hand over and wanted sea pass cards. I found a lot of things were for over 5 which was bit of a disappointment. 6) This is a bigger ship, the only way I found it bigger was more staterooms. The main areas on the boat are no bigger than previous smaller cruises we have been on. Getting on and off the boat was slower but due to the amount of people it is to be expected. Get off day was TERRIBLE we got off early to try beat the crowds and took our own stuff off. Problem here was there was no instruction no signs just massive lines, you couldn't be sure if you were in the right line or not. 7) Leaving Australia going around New Zealand was a pain on this ship. You need USD for the boat and then NZD. I understand it is an American ship but unlike carnival who goes to Australian $$ it does add up fairly quickly and is a complete pain. The ships transfer is ALOT lower than other places but who was to know. In saying all of that we did enjoy our time but it could have been better, I personally would not go with Royal again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Embarkation - We elected to embark early at 11:30 to beat the crowds. Process was very quick and easy provided you had followed RCIs instructions to upload photos and information before arrival. For those that didn't do this ... Read More
Embarkation - We elected to embark early at 11:30 to beat the crowds. Process was very quick and easy provided you had followed RCIs instructions to upload photos and information before arrival. For those that didn't do this (many) the process was more lengthy. Whilst not a long delay the processing through security and scanning took the longest - only three x-ray machines operating. Cabin - We had two adults and two pre-teen children in Cabin 172 on Deck 12. The cabin was clean, quite large and the modern decor. Unlike Carnival there are not bunk beds so Room Attendant had to set up and take down the sofa bed each day. After day two I figured out how to put the bed away to provide us with some room before we left for the day. With the sofa bed out the room becomes very pokey and leaves little room to move about or get to the balcony. Blackout curtains are excellent. Bathroom was simple but sufficient for our needs. Storage was excellent with plenty of drawers and hanging space. The rooms are not very sound proof however. We could hear the TV from both sides into the early hours of the morning & people walking along the hallways, doors slamming etc. Luckily we were a few doors down from the honeymooners otherwise the children would likely have had a near first-hand update to their personal relationships education. Whilst the room appeared clean, an observation under the bed & sofa on top of the paintings revealed a fair amount of dust. If you suffer from asthma or hay-fever I'd be sure to check before you sleep in the room the first night. Sheets were not changed from what I could gather - simply remade daily. Towels were provided as required although a little small for a six foot, 100kg man. Ship - On first step aboard the ship presents very well. New, modern and clean. Unlike other ships I'd sailed on before the OotS has what I can only described as a 'confused' lay out. Whilst the crew and RCI talk a lot about the Royal Esplanade this area is quite cluttered and certainly not open or expansive. With 6000 people on board + Christmas decorations + constant watch sale stalls the area felt tight & confined at times. The Casino is well located away on deck 3 and away from everything which was nice as opposed to other ships that have the Casino as a feature you have to wander through to get anywhere. There are plenty of activities on board if you are so inclined - iFly, Rock Climbing, Waverider, Bumper Cars, Skating, Basketball, some Xboxes, an arcade, pools, spas, table tennis, air hockey, jogging track, North Star observation..... some of these are free and some you have to pay extra for (arcade, air hockey). There were 4 X-Boxes for a never ending stream of teenage boys - far too light on really but most children seemed to not mind the wait. The gym was well equipped and generally clean and well maintained. Dining - The "My Time Dining" is an absurdity. We opted for this prior to cruising but once on board were strongly recommended to book a table and time. The problem with this is that you lose flexibility in when you dine. The bigger problem is that most people follow this advice and book a table and time which then leaves those who are genuinely "My Time Dining" to long waits and tables which inevitably end up near the kitchen (very, very noisy) doors. The food in the Restaurants for "My Time Dining" was poor. Presentation was okay however meat was either tougher than a leather boot or undercooked. One night I ordered steak and was presented with what can only be described as boiled brisket with layers of fat attached. If you are lucky you get one small serve of a vegetable (usually a few carrots julienne style) and a lack-lustre mashed potato. Entree (Appetisers) was followed by a main (Entree) within a minute or two - good to get you out quickly but doesn't do much for an enjoyable and leisurely meal. After a few days of this rather horrendous experience we decided to eat the rest of our meals either at the Pizza Place (limited range - only ever three pizzas on offer) or the Windjammer buffet. Food in Windjammer was plentiful and fairly good although a heavy reliance on burgers, fried food, rice and curries. Desserts were good by-and-large although area was typically crowded particularly if you wanted ice cream. The biscuits (oat, oat and fruit) were plentiful and good quality. Choc Chip cookies went quickly. Fruit was not great. Most of it was either not ripe (honeydew and rockmelons) or too ripe (watermelon). Apples were the safest bet and was disappointed that no bananas or grapes ever seemed to be on board. Salads were okay. Range of vegetables was minimal and some seem to come straight out of a tin (peas & corn in particular). The handwashing area at Windjammer felt a little 'cattle' like but good to see it being enforced. Area could do with more regular cleaning. Service in Windjammer was usually good although when it's busy the place is clearly lacking in staff members to clean tables to cope with rotating crowds. Drinks - I highly recommend getting one soft-drink package for the family if you have children. I don't drink alcohol but my wife had a pre-purchased alcohol package. These packages, whilst they seem expensive, are well worth it - they give you specialist coffee as well as soft drinks and/or alcohol depending on which package you go for. Two or three coffees a day + a glass or two of wine during the day and maybe a cocktail or two and you'll be ahead. The other benefit is not having to sign for drinks every time you order and the service seemed to be quicker once the waiter realised you had a card. Behind the Scenes Tour - We paid extra for this and were quite excited. The best part was being on the Bridge. Tour of the kitchen was interesting but very noisy and hard to hear what the Chef was saying. Tour of the refrigeration, waste room & engine room were far too long especially with a big group who could barely fit inside some of these spaces. The laundry tour lasted for an eternity with hot dryers and machines making it unbearable. Character Breakfast - This was a disgrace. Billed as a breakfast with the characters of Dreamworks ... table was located in a side room from which we could not see which didn't really matter in the end as the only 'decorations' they'd bothered with was to hang up a sheet with a couple of Dreamworks characters and then bring out only three characters over the entire breakfast. Unlike similar experiences on Carnival this was a huge disappointment and seemed like an inconvenience to the staff. The food and service at this event was also nothing short of terrible. Just a really disappointing last morning to our cruise. Tours - Tours were generally well arranged and ran smoothly along with the tender process where necessary. Only issue was at Auckland when they kept us on board until 9am for trips to Hobbiton which meant we were late arriving, early leaving and had little time to relax on site. Hobbiton experience itself was excellent and food there was one of the better meals for the holiday. The Cruise on the Lake as part of the Rotorua tour was awful. The small paddle steamer was dirty, cobwebs everywhere and a spider on our table wall. The food was not good and you could not hear the guide say a single word over the noise of the room and the engine of the engine. Train trip out of Dunedin was awesome - can not say enough about how great this experience was. I would not recommend the half day bus tour but rather just head to the local museum a few blocks for the station. Picton was great - small town but nicely presented and plenty to do if not just sit around and relax in the beautiful park or in one of the cafes. Bay of Islands we did the Maori boats up the river - this was first class and highly recommend it. Entertainment - It was a bit hit and miss. The Onboard "orchestra" are awesome and the Pixels show is worth putting aside the time. Schooner bar pianists are good although towards the end of the cruise it started to turn into karaoke which was not great as more inebriated men thought they were the next Elvis or Billy Joel. Bingo is very expensive. Trivia is progressive so makes it a little difficult to join in. Movies in the Royal Theatre and Pool deck were good. Service - Overall the service was good but not great. Room attendant and a couple of people in the Windjammer went above and beyond but our experience in the restaurants, cafes and bars was cursory and certainly not above average. Overall - On day One I said I'd never go back to Carnival. By the final day I'd changed my mind. Whilst Carnival is a little less "fancy" and certainly the decor is more gaudy the overall experience on Carnival was more enjoyable, with better food and service and a better overall "vibe" onboard. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
This was my favorite cruise vacation. The Ovation is amazing. Its different than most of the RCCL fleet but didn't take long to get used to. The staff was outstanding. The food wasn't much different than any other ship. It was ... Read More
This was my favorite cruise vacation. The Ovation is amazing. Its different than most of the RCCL fleet but didn't take long to get used to. The staff was outstanding. The food wasn't much different than any other ship. It was good. We went to Chops, Wonderland and my favorite, Jaime's but in reality we would have been just as happy in the dining room. The Diamond lounge was on deck 4, the staff was outstanding. Everyone was so friendly. We made some great Aussie friends. The weather was awesome, we were able to make it through the sounds and to all the ports. New Zealand is incredible. We stayed in 2 balcony cabins which they opened for us which was great. We spent a lot of time in the solarium, the spas were all nice and warm and the levels are all warm. One of my favorite areas was 270. We spent a lot of mornings there eating breakfast and watching the wake. The shows were fine, Pixels was outstanding. I have nothing bad to say aside from I had hot water issues in my stateroom on and off and wasn't fully fixed until day 10 but they worked hard at it. This was a bucket list vacation and fully exceeded all my expectations. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
My 10 night cruise on Ovation of the Seas ( Sydney to NZ and return) was my 8th cruise so I know what I like by now and what I expect. Mainly I want a comfortable room for my friend and I. am in my 60s and my friend is early 70s. I go on ... Read More
My 10 night cruise on Ovation of the Seas ( Sydney to NZ and return) was my 8th cruise so I know what I like by now and what I expect. Mainly I want a comfortable room for my friend and I. am in my 60s and my friend is early 70s. I go on cruises to relax and love to be in the water so a good pools and jacuzzis and thermal suite is what I want. Disembarkation was not so good, We keep our bags and go off when we like which was about 9am. The queue went for a long way winding around past the elvavtor area where people are trying to access. Not good. One thing unsettling on this cruise was the first ship ever that we did not have our life jackets in the room. At the muster station practice, we were told, in an emergency they would be handed out to us here. There must have been 200-300 in our area, crammed in like sardines in a hallway/walkway. TVs popped out of the walls but with so many people I could not see it. Can you imagine how long this would take to bring over 4000 life jackets and distribute them? I shudder to think. Panic and chaos. I believe I have the right to my own life jacket 24 hours a day and that is in my room. Our Cabin- was on DECK 6 starboard. Paid for a balcony and got a view of the tender boat. Did not even sit out there once. Also there is the smoking tent on Deck 5 starboard side.Disgusting! Why can they not have an exhaust fan instead of it blowing up on to balconies above. Also party people down there at night, They should not be doing bar service to here. Let them suck on their cig and go back inside, not sit out their for hours. Room has so much mysterious noises. I had no sleep even with ear plugs. Maintenance man was called and he could hear one of the noises from the window area and he said I am hearing this from many rooms. I said I have never heard noise like this on any other cruise ship. Neither had he and he had worked on many. I will be making a you tube clip on this noise problem in the future. FOOD- was not so good, I like unpretentious food but on a cruise I expect a bit special. Irish Stew is not special. 4/10 nights I got food from buffet and took it to my room. Walked out of a dining room after no service apart from water for over 15 minutes. The gluten free section is helpful but everyone uses it and this can lead to cross-contamination which voids the whole concept. Only one meal is GF on menu in dining room or sometimes the same as what you had last night- very poor. I had salmon- not special have this at home once a week. Boring. Staff on cruise ships need to dining ettiquette. Leaving your cutlery on the side means you are still eating. Placing them straight up and close in front of you means I am finished. Stop taking peoples plates! Thermal suite is a few heated tile beds, I think 6? with 2 sauna and 1 shower at either end of the beds looking at the door, No view of the sea. NO SPAS to sit in and have a chat to others, so I didn't pay. for that Cramped tiny room. SO disappointed! The solarium is great but kids wander in here all the time which is annoying. There is nothing to do during sea days. Limited activities Library is upstairs from TWO70 so noisy and mostly Christian books. We went to a kids 3D movie as there was nothing else to do. The Music Hall is a great venue but it is far too small. Cramped seating areas and access to dance floor in front of where everyone stands as no-where to sit. SHIP AREAS -TWO 70 is the best part of the ship. It is at the aft with huge glass windows and great views. This room is full of high tech and the massive robotic TV screens are the stars of the cruise. One day when I sat in their with nothing to do sewing the hem on my trousers, a short animated film came on using these screens. It was amazing! They should get more cinema like this. It was not even advertised on the program. The TWO &) space is usually full of people as if you don't want to hang about the pool or a bar this is the only place to go. Hence the tiny cafe next to it is overflowing. At one of the entrances of the Cafe TWO 70, they have a tall table with stools right in front of the entry, so people have to walk around it carrying their coffee and balancing a plate. Do people who design these spaces actually use them? They should provide small trays to carry food or someone is going to get hurt or burned. I had to get our coffee while my friend minds the seats in TWO 70 lounge, as if you see a spot you have to grab it. Then I have to go back, queue and get some food. On the first day they had GF bagels here,but never again on the whole cruise. At one point when they said no GF bread here for a sandwich I asked them to call and find some. They did not think to do this. So I had to wait 20 minutes or more for a sandwich. Not good enough. This also happened every time I went to the Cafe Promenade for a snack. No GF sandwiches or cookies. So I said please go get some. This annoyed them as they were busy, but as the cruise went on things improved here. This tiny cafe is always full. This overcrowding could be avoided by doing a high tea at some of the bars. Most of them sit there idle during the day and are under utilised. Put some food in there and the people will use these empty spaces. The theatre is another huge space that is under used. They could put more on here- perhaps a movie EVERY DAY. The movie we saw was Indredibles 2 which is rather old now. There were movies up on deck but it was rather cold. They had blankets there to use, Went to see a move one night at 10.30 pm so they are aimed at youths I suppose. We were the only older people there. On the whole the ship is very crammed. Shops are very ordinary with bad service. My friend wanted to buy a watch and the service was so bad. The attendant went to talk to someone else and after 10 minutes waiting we left. There is no grand atrium. At the captains welcome good luck trying to get a glimpse of the proceedings. The whole ship is just a huge hotel block with a few amusements on top, a theatre that is no bigger than mid size ships. GO 30 minutes earlier to shows to get a seat. FAMILIES AND KIDS- this cruise finished a few days before Christmas and there was lots of big family groups and kids and many teens. Groups of teens were hanging around elevator foyers and kids running up and down hallways and stairs and slamming their room doors. One kid actually ran right into me as I was holding the stair hand rail. I could have taken a tumble down. The ship was crammed to capacity, which I read is to 4,905. I think there must have been this many on board as when I walked down the corridor I could see kids beds made up everywhere crammed in all over the floor. That's another design fault- there seems to be no bunk beds. So a family in one room paying for 4 is only getting 2 real beds. Kids have to sleep on the very hard sofa, which is long but not wide, and a cot on the floor. Good luck moving around your cabin with all that set up. Kids love bunks and it gives them their own space, BRING BACK BUNKS> The program for kids and families was good however. They had some silent discos and Dreamworks characters and photos sessions. Families I talked to seem to be having a good time. LEAKING BATHROOM- Down our hallway there was 2 or 3 fans blowing continuously in a vain attempt to remove the smell on our deck. A bathroom had broken plumbing and it was leaking all over the carpet. I read about this on the internet weeks before and it was still not fixed. I complained and they got a manager out to see the problem. I saw him standing there telling staff to take away the fans. A day or so later I walked by in my sandals and sqwelch my feet and shoes were soaked in someones bathroom waste. I had to go back to my room, wash my feet and the rest of the trip use the hall on far side and walk all the way around the back to avoid it. You could smell the odor from when getting off the elevator. Not good enough, In 10 days they did nothing to repair this. I was assured it was just water, not toilet. Hmmm, water does not smell like that. It is grey water and that is bad, Make sure you wash your hands continuously! The poor people in these rooms had the noise from the fans all day and night. DECOR- my friend had a phrase he repeated everywhere on the ship. When I remarked on the fake laminate tiles in the bathroom to the plastic Buddhas in the shelf in the dining room- cheap as chips, he would say. To sum up, Ovation is nothing special. It is not the grand and luxury ship I was expecting. It sure looks grand and impressive on the outside- but inside it falls terribly short. With crammed dining and public spaces and there is nothing grand about Ovation. Its decor is cheap and the food is basic and no frills, obviously pushing you toward something decent in the pay restaurants. I didn't not bother with these, so cannot comment on them. A huge amount of decor money has gone into a million dollars of art works which are lovely but I feel largely go un-noticed. They could be used to run art tours which would make a fun activity of this wonderful resource. There are things on, that are not advertised so passengers do not know, such as chocolate dessert night in the buffet. My bed was hard, the noises in my room made it intolerable. It was in total the worst ship I have ever been on.The queues for food have been alleviate somewhat as they have set up a buffet breakfast in one of the dining rooms. But you never know when things are open, they change everyday. There is just not enough space to go anywhere or do anything. I will never go on a large ship again and probably back to other companies after this awful cruise and no service or regard for my membership.. I went home and stayed the week in bed and even missed Christmas I was so exhausted. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
The ship has everything and the staff are great but there are just too many people on board. Queing is the main passtime if you want to use the ifly, flowrider, dodgems or the North Star. But one of the biggest issues is finding a seat ... Read More
The ship has everything and the staff are great but there are just too many people on board. Queing is the main passtime if you want to use the ifly, flowrider, dodgems or the North Star. But one of the biggest issues is finding a seat for the Buffet restraunt especially lunch times. There are multiple restraunts that carry an extra charge and these are usually half empty especially the pool side resraunt where you can pay $8 US for a meager portion of fish and chips. If they turned this into an included burger or bbq restraunt it would relieve a huge amount of room in the buffet. The Solarium adult only area was great and gave a much needed break from the 1300 kids on board. Another issue is the lack of elevators at the rear of the ship. At busy times there can be a long wait for the central elevators as they are quiet offen full to bursting when the doors open especially on the middle levels. The entertainment is ok with a couple of really good royal Caribbean shows but some of the others are a little slow. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Embarkment at Sydney was a long long snake line & took a great deal of time to board. Disembarkation was a breeze. Take your own bags off, super fast. Take extra cloths! As there is only a laundry service for a small bag ... Read More
Embarkment at Sydney was a long long snake line & took a great deal of time to board. Disembarkation was a breeze. Take your own bags off, super fast. Take extra cloths! As there is only a laundry service for a small bag that cost Aprox $37 US. No laundries for guests to use Very hard when you travel with children Everything is charged in US dollars. Take some washing soap so you can wash out small's. Food was fantastic! Rooms kept tidy always, great service. Shows outstanding. I fly I didn't know that each guest only has one turn for 1 min for the entire cruise. So have that camera ready to capture the action. Or you will miss it like I did! Please note when travelling with grandchildren with a different surname as yours. Have that guardianship letter from the parents with all that is stated in the guide lines. It must be certified by a JP. Ports: Wellington was a nightmare to get off the ship. Took us one & half hours for our turn to go ashore, get that number early. Other ports were easy to go off the ship the locals were organised with the buses. The adults only section with the beautiful pools & spar's closes at 6pm Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Sailed from Sydney New Zealand with extended family. Firstly, I have to say that embarkation and disembarkation ran extremely smoothly given the large volume of passengers. We all had balcony cabins and I must rate these very highly as ... Read More
Sailed from Sydney New Zealand with extended family. Firstly, I have to say that embarkation and disembarkation ran extremely smoothly given the large volume of passengers. We all had balcony cabins and I must rate these very highly as they were stylish, comfortable and well designed. Our cabins were kept impeccably clean by our room attendant Seby, so thank you to him. There were many activities on the ship, however as others have posted, some me of the more popular actives such as the North Star and dodgem cars did have queues due to the large volume of guests. My teenagers liked the teen club and enjoyed all the activities- particularly the silent discos! Loved the adults only solarium which was a very relaxing area with great views going in and out of ports. In terms of food, overall it was of a good standard, however I have had better food on smaller Royal Caribbean ships and on Celebrity Solstice. The service in the dining rooms was also very hit and miss. Whilst the staff were friendly, basic mistakes like leaving main course plates on the table when bringing out dessert indicates to me that the staff require more training. There was often a long wait for drinks (i.e not getting your first drink until you were well into your second course). I do recommend cafe 270 for breakfast as it is similar to what I would get in a coffee shop at home with yoghurt cups, fruit cups, toasted croissants and was a place to buy a decent coffee! The pizza place (forget the name!) did great pizza and was handy when you just wanted a slice for a snack. We ate at two specialty restaurants - they were good, but once again have had better on other ships. The bar staff were excellent and I want to give a particular thanks to Guilherme in the Music Hall who was truly fabulous and impressed us with a multitude various gin based cocktails for us and was a lot of fun to chat to. Joff the entertainment director is also excellent at his role and kept large crowds entertained throughout the cruise. Overall the shows on board were of a high standard and very entertaining. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
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 3.9
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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