We booked through Cruiseabout on 21/06/2016 for our January 19th 2018 sailing to the South Pacific. We initially booked for a party of 2 adults and 2 children (one 15 years old, the other 11- both girls). As it turned out my sister and ... Read More
We booked through Cruiseabout on 21/06/2016 for our January 19th 2018 sailing to the South Pacific. We initially booked for a party of 2 adults and 2 children (one 15 years old, the other 11- both girls). As it turned out my sister and brother in law also booked shortly afterward to make our trip extra special. The Ovation came to Adelaide in December 2017 for a stopover, so we were able to view her from the dock and witness firsthand her immense size and beauty.
We decided to travel from our home in Adelaide to Sydney 2 days prior so as to show our 11 year old around who had never been. We booked at the Swissotel in Market Street, right down the road from the Pitt Street Mall- great location!! Swissotel was wonderful- room spacious, staff excellent, facilities awesome. My girls especially loved the gym, pool and large spa. We all shared a Swiss Advantage room (booked on Booking.com) featuring 2 queen beds. There is a funky bar in the lobby, which we didn't actually get to as our days proved so full we were exhausted later at night!
Sydney was fantastic- we had earlier booked a BridgeClimb online, which we scheduled for the day prior to sailing, and I had cashed in my flybuys points on a reward that gave us tickets to The Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum and the Sydney Aquarium. We also visited Bondi for a swim and my youngest daughter met a Bondi Rescue Lifeguard and had her photo taken with him!
Couldn't believe how well organised and smooth the process was- we were on in no time and drinking our first pina colada on our balcony! There is lots of assistance in directing passengers to the right area and what documentation to be holding ready. Customs was swift also. Remember to always remove hat and sunglasses at checkpoints!
We were in 9168- a Superior Oceanview Stateroom. The bedding configuration consisted of 2 single beds put together and a sofa bed for the girls. Every night our stateroom attendant Dewa would prepare the sofa bed (with a towel animal left on the "master" bed) and every morning pack it back up again. There was lots of storage- above the master bed was two hinged cupboards (where I kept my clothes in my Kathmandu storage cubes), 2 small wardrobes (with hangers) either side of the master bed, a room safe and a desk with drawers. The bathroom was great- a proper shower screen and excellent water pressure. There was a hairdryer in the drawer, a kettle and tea bags and long life milk capsules. Nothing in the mini-bar. Please note- don't request any water from your stateroom attendant - we found Evian water (large bottles) in our fridge and $14 went on our bill! Oops - unnecessary expense. It didn't matter that we all had deluxe drink packages- this wasn't covered in those. Get your water at the bars yourself.
We brought with us a mini whiteboard, that we wrote messages to our attendant if we required anything. My daughter needed a latex pillow and the sofa bed was a bit hard, so we requested some more mattress padding- which were supplied. The other beds were very comfortable.
We got into a routine of breakfast in the 270 lounge cafe - lovely bagels and oatmeal, then lunch at the Windjammer main dining room (try the cappuccino cheesecake) and dinner was initially at Silk, but then chose every night from then on the American Icon Grille, due to the wonderful service of Flory and Jason. They honestly could not do enough for us and made our dining experience a most memorable one. The menus were lovely - my eldest daughter and I tasted escargot for the first time and my husband got hooked on the prawn cocktails and steak dishes. We always walked out at the end of the meal thoroughly satisfied and feeling pampered. We had booked times for My Time Dining, but were sometimes late due to the wealth of activities onboard, but they would always manage to get us a table within 5 minutes or so, so no "hangry" teenagers! There was a line-up for those with no reservations on My Time Dining. We had booked all of our times online before we left. Mainly 6pm and 7.45pm.
We had arranged the Deluxe beverage packages from ourselves and the refreshment for our 2 teens, and are so glad we did- we didn't have to worry about a big bill at the end. We bought ours online for $63 for the adult beverage in October 2017.
"Pixels" - a futuristic dance, high energy show- was excellent- book online before you go.
"Live, Love, Legs" - a Vegas style song and dance show with the ladies wearing feathers. Was lots of fun.
"A Beautiful Dream" - probably the best show - beautiful story- made my sister and I cry. The soprano and singing (and dancing) overall is just magic. Costumes and staging are highly professional and outstanding. We went to the 1pm matinee and scored front row centre seats.
"The Australian Beatles Show" - awesome. There were patrons from 5 years old to 75 in attendance- all boogying on down.
Also saw 2 comedians, and every morning at 10.45am attended Joff's Progressive Quiz, to win the coveted keyring! He was hilarious and made every sea day morning a laugh.
There were bands on the pool decks - the reggae band was great with the steel drums, and you could sit in the pool and watch the tennis as you relaxed. Sounds great, hey? We spent many an hour sitting in the spa being served margaritas and beer by our friendly waiter Marvin, who was very attentive.
We all did the iFly- a MUST do!!! Not scary, just fun- my husband is 59 and I am 51, and we managed it perfectly. It totally WOWED my teens! Book online before you go - gets booked out very quickly. A complimentary activity.
Northstar is wonderful too- got some great photos and video footage on our journey- just wasn't long enough! Again- gets booked out quickly, and is another complimentary activity.
We didn't get to the Rock Climbing Wall or the Flowrider, as there was so much else to do, but the kids went on the Bumper Cars, hung around in the teens area "The Living Room" and had a wonderful time planning their days. They cried the day we left, and we were so depressed also. What!- we actually have to cook and clean and fend for ourselves again at home?? :-((
PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS
We visited Mystery Island and Noumea.
Well organised tender to shore (using their own motorised lifeboats). We were on the first boat off.
Is a small island, but we were entranced by the hermit crabs, snorkelling in the clear water (we brought our own sets to avoid hire charge and stuffing about trying to organise), the massages by the ni-Vanuatu women in the little hut, and my youngest daughter had her hair braided. A great family memory.
We had booked a shore excursion (not through the ship-via Facebook), but abandoned the idea when we were told by a travel agent and others who had tried to use this provider, that he was a bit of a conman and may or may not turn up. We wished we had booked snorkelling through the ship, as we could have gone further afield to view more in the Giant Aquarium.
The entry to the port is pretty non, as you sail past a dirty nickel mine, then dock at a container loading depot, so it wasn't a great start. One is struck by the amount of graffiti in the city too. We had booked a tour (also through Facebook, but this time legit) but had to wait for about a hour before we even took the ferry on tour to Escapade Island. The tour guide stated that Ovation was too big a ship for the port and there weren't enough buses to accommodate the number of passengers. Don't bother with the "market" at the port- it's just crappy cheap souvenirs, and rude French stall holders who bark "Don't Touch" if you want to inspect anything with a view to purchase. Our tour guide stated that he was planning to move his operations back to Vanuatu as he was getting nowhere trying to deal with the French- and he was on the Board of Directors for the New Caledonian Tourist Commission!
The highlight of Escapade Island was swimming with the turtles in the lagoon- the snorkelling there was sublime and we enjoyed it immensely. We had a great lunch of prawns, mussels, lovely salads, a carvery, lovely patisseries. Just be mindful of drink prices - 2 cocktails, 2 cocktails and a beer cost $84 dollars AUS. Ouch! Patrons staying at Escapade Island were complaining about the poor quality of food, no air-conditioning in their overwater bures and the very poor service. We swam in the pool and it was grubby around the sides and a poisonous sea snake was found in the pool where children were swimming. I saw one little fellow virtually walk on water to exit!
A fellow passenger told me at Noumea she disembarks, goes to a shop called "Maxine's" I think, where she gets her half price Chanel makeup and cheap booze. Then she gets back on the ship.
We spent the $7.95 (per device) on the Royal IQ app to be able to communicate with each other, as we didn't buy the internet package. It worked very well in text messaging, but not phone calls. Still, would buy again. Arrange at Guest Services if you aren't tech savvy or via the Royal IQ app.
Loved our family time together- everyone had a ball and we are planning our next cruise soon. Read Less