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948 Royal Caribbean Alaska Cruise Reviews

Wanted trip to Alaska, friends were going. Didn't realize how enormous ship was (meaning huge lines for the inadequate number of elevators, time-consuming just to travel to and from cabin to everything). On other cruises, I knew I was ... Read More
Wanted trip to Alaska, friends were going. Didn't realize how enormous ship was (meaning huge lines for the inadequate number of elevators, time-consuming just to travel to and from cabin to everything). On other cruises, I knew I was being squeezed for extra money--on this cruise, it felt like I was constantly being held up by my ankles and shaken for every last penny. The extra-cost Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurant made Chef Boy-ar-dee look good (although Chops was excellent and worth the up-charge). Royal Caribbean apparently believe that they absolutely MUST pipe in loud and unappealling musis to every corner of the ship at every hour of the day. There was literally not restaurant, hallway, bar, or any other venue that did not have constant music being blared over the loudspeakers. There were only two "Alaskan" ports (Juneau and Skagway). To say they had the feel of Caribbean ports would be an understatement. They looked exactly like ports in the Caribbean because the VERY SAME jewelry stores were right there in your face--the owners summer in Alaska and winter in the caribbean. The Yukon Pass train in Skagway was a wonderful excursion, but for the most part the two ports felt like pure tourist trap. Technically, I can say I have been to Alaska but it certainly doesn't feel like it. The day we were supposed to be touring the glacier was too foggy to visit it, so no glacier (but it sure looked like a lot of other ships were going to it and heading back from it while we bided our time "whale watching"). The food in the dining room was mediocre (which surprised me based on our prior RC experience). More drinking than I expected on an Alaska cruise (it felt more like a caribbean party boat). We put our luggage outside our door the last night, properly tagged, as instructed. In port, all but one of our bags had been off-loaded to the right area. We didn't find our last bag in time to leave for our flight, and we filled out the RC form. My attempts to find out about the bag through the customer "service" line was an exercise in Kafka-esque futility. The on-line process they require has proven meaningless. Nearly two weeks after RC took custody and control of our bag, we have now information about it (it was highly distinctive, impossible to overlook if someone actually looked for it). Trying to get information from RC has proven to be an utter waste of time. I can't imagine ever taking an RC cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
I am a Royal only cruiser and this cruise was a huge disappointment for many reasons. I booked a balcony room on the 13th floor. Most of this floor has an obstructed view with support beams and a roof overhang that blocks most of the sky. ... Read More
I am a Royal only cruiser and this cruise was a huge disappointment for many reasons. I booked a balcony room on the 13th floor. Most of this floor has an obstructed view with support beams and a roof overhang that blocks most of the sky. It is NOT sold as "obstructed" I spent the first day of the cruise unpacking, packing ,moving to better view room and unpacking again. This could have been avoided had the room description included obstructed! Secondly, there is a giant smoking area that is not outside and has no ventilation along with the casino that is offensively smoke filled. Thirdly-the MDR's food was inedible...we attempted it the first night and never went back. We opted for the Solarium Bistro which was much better. The crowd control was chaotic on sea days of which there were 3 full days. The stops of Juneau and Skagway were great with great shore excursions. Victoria day was just too short although we did the wine tasting and it was great. All in all....a smaller ship is needed to navigate the Endicott arm. This ship is misrepresenting the term "glacier" cruise. Unless you take an excursion you will not see one. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Just came back from final Alaska run before it re-positioned to Australia and pretty much loved it all. Our group booked the ultimate drinks and dining packages before the cruise to have freedom on board and we're all glad we did. ... Read More
Just came back from final Alaska run before it re-positioned to Australia and pretty much loved it all. Our group booked the ultimate drinks and dining packages before the cruise to have freedom on board and we're all glad we did. Drink package was definitely a deal if you drink water, coffee, juice, soda and 4+ drinks over the course of a day. All the restaurants very good but standouts were Wonderland and Chopt. Absolutely delicious. Tip: when you get on the ship, book all your dinners for the week with Guest Services or Restaurant Services. Lunches are pretty easy to nab there when you want to. Windjammer buffet is fine but pretty crazy, so we opted for sit down breakfast in dining room after day 3. We never ate in dining room but hear it was good. Overall, thumbs up on food and drinks, with lots of options. Our cabin with large balcony (11690) was very clean and well organized for storage. More than enough for two people and plenty of hangars. Glad we brought a power strip and our own shampoo/conditioner, lotion etc., since that wasn't supplied (although someone said you could ask for it). The bathroom is really small but not surprising and always clean. Lots to do on the ship or lots of places to chill and do nothing. We loved the adult solarium and used the warm pools and hot tubs several times. We enjoyed Bingo, which was fun and very popular. The Disco dance party was a lot of fun, thanks to the Cruise Director and team kicking it off, and the bar trivia and musicians kept us all entertained. Of special note is the Spa. We all gave it five stars. Our massages and facials were absolutely terrific and the staff backed off quickly after their obligatory product sell. Highly recommend. Since we had our cards on file, we never had to "check out," and all tips were handled for us. For disembarking, we opted to carry the bags off ourselves and were completely off the ship and in a taxi in 20 minutes. DO THIS. Finally, every staff member we met was friendly and professional and helped make the trip extra special. We had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Like most things, one can make it great, which is what we did after adjusting our expectations. All the good... Blazing fast embarkation. 10/10 on the new method RCL. The staff, aside from one waiter, is probably the best staff ... Read More
Like most things, one can make it great, which is what we did after adjusting our expectations. All the good... Blazing fast embarkation. 10/10 on the new method RCL. The staff, aside from one waiter, is probably the best staff we have ever had. In the past I have felt the staff were urged to make their presence known. As in “look what I am doing for you right now.” This staff you knew they were there as things just magically happened. I swear one waiter would walk by our table, without stopping, and fill our water goblet and never miss a step. Austin in Wonderland was incredIble! Our cabin steward always had our cabin picture perfect and only saw him 2X the entire trip. The bar staff knew I liked the fresh OJ mixed with sparkling water in the morning and had it waiting for me when I stepped up to the bar. Popped over a few times over to guest services and they we all kind, helpful, and communicated effectively. Best staff ever! We tipped many with additional cash at the end of the trip. The showers in the bathroom were slightly large and much more comfortable to bath in than other ships. The cruise director made even the most bland show entertaining, honestly some shows we would attend just to enjoy him as MC. Areas that came up short from previous experiences. HATED the new compass layout!!! In past we would do an activity, then check the time and find another activity to hop over to the next event. The new Cruise Compass is broken up into “interests”. So you have to check every single block, find if there is something going on, then check the neck block to see if something else is more interesting. I did about 1/3 the activities I would normally do because it would take 15 minutes to figure this all out and it was frustrating. I actually was excited when we were in port purely for the fact I didn’t have to deal with the stupid new Compass layout. After a few days, every morning we would “plan” our day. For us, that is not how we cruised in the past and enjoyed the spontaneous of the day. But, it is the reason I only gave the cruise a 4 and not a 5. WARNING! There are no locker rooms available in the fitness center. Zero. Nada. This was disappointing. So much nicer to workout, hop in the sauna, shower, then going about the day. This had been a “ritual” on every cruise. They offered us to purchase Thermal suite access to have access to lockers and Sauna. Thankfully this time are cabin was close to the fitness center. Things that I didn’t notice until they were gone... Silly as this may sound, but I missed the art. There are pictures, and I LOVED the walkway to the Two70, but overall lacking interesting artwork compared to Freedom and Voyager class ships. We made adjustments, and enjoyed our time. The staff truly made the trip. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This is a gorgeous ship! The layout is very unlike most of the other RCCL ships because it was made for a different type of itinerary. We did Alaska in mid-September. The outdoor pool was heated, and we had no issue swimming in it. But ... Read More
This is a gorgeous ship! The layout is very unlike most of the other RCCL ships because it was made for a different type of itinerary. We did Alaska in mid-September. The outdoor pool was heated, and we had no issue swimming in it. But there is also a covered pool and an adults-only solarium with some smaller soaking-type pools. It's all very comfortable with plenty of space to watch the scenery go by. If the sun is shining, don't hesitate to try the walking/jogging track above the pool level. We saw so many whales, and all we needed was a light jacket and/or sweatshirt and we were perfectly comfortable. The food was excellent and pretty much on par with food on most RCCL ships; so if you generally like the food on RCCL cruises, the Ovation will be mostly the same. The cafe@Two70 was a welcome addition with some nice sandwiches. Pixels is the one show you need reservations for. It's an impressive show with talented performers, but it wasn't really our taste (kind of modern and weird). Plus, we sat toward the back, which made it near impossible to see anything. If you go to the show, get there early so you can find a seat up close to the action. The rest of the entertainment (production shows, singers, a magician, etc.) all seemed to be a notch above what I've seen on other cruises. The Music Hall, Boleros, and the Schooner Bar also always had wonderful musicians. The casino has the nicest layout I've seen on any cruise ship. It is very spacious, and you can walk around without bumping into a bunch of people. I would sail the Ovation of the Seas again in a heartbeat. The staff of course was wonderful, but more than that, the ship is simply spectacular. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Prior to sailing: We purchased "The Key" which was a very good investment for us both. I also pre-scheduled our excursions (2 directly from Royal Caribbean International and 2 from other vendors) and activities such as IFly and ... Read More
Prior to sailing: We purchased "The Key" which was a very good investment for us both. I also pre-scheduled our excursions (2 directly from Royal Caribbean International and 2 from other vendors) and activities such as IFly and the North Star along with pre-booking our night to see Pixels and the Escape Room. I drafted a calendar of events, activities, and dinner times and places we wanted to do from prior cruise compasses with lots of time to add more while on the ship. Months prior to cruising, I signed us up for the Meet and Mingle Roll Call, and participated on the review boards for our particular cruise and met many nice and funny people. This is a great way to meet others prior to sailing. Thursday: Seattle, Washington - We flew into Seattle a day before the cruise and arrived early and dropped our bags off at "The State Hotel" just steps away from Pike Place Market. It was our first stop and we watched the fishing sailing through the air. The booths are endless - we saw crab legs as long as our arms, an abundance of flowers and many local crafts. Prior to returning to our hotel, we enjoyed dinner at "Pike Place Bar & Grill." The Steamed Manilla Clams and the Cod Fish and Chips dinner were delicious. Best fresh cod ever! Embarkation and Day of Sailing - Seattle, Washington: Due to the time change and going to bed early, my husband and I had morning coffee at the "The State Hotel" and explore more of the area. Our Lyft picked us up at the hotel and we arrived at the ship minutes later at the Port terminal (before 10:00 a.m.). As I was a disabled veteran he made sure we were dropped off close to the entry doors - the cost $16. Upon showing our Sea Passes - we were quickly ushered in the line for "Key" members and sat in the area to await a wheelchair for me. Time quickly flew and before we knew it - the activity director took us aboard the largest ship we have ever seen. This was the fastest and easiest embarkation we have ever experienced. Ovation of the Seas - She is a very beautiful ship with plenty to do and see. It would take weeks to accomplish all on her. Our balcony cabin was mid-ship on the 11th floor - 11180. Knowing it would not be ready until 1:00 p.m.; we went to Guest Relations and purchased the Wow Bands for $4.99. These bands are surely worth it as I used it often for unlocking our cabin door throughout the cruise saving time for searching for my Sea Pass which I left often in the light switch. Not only did Glen, our room attendant, kept our cabin neat and clean each day, he left multiple towel animals for us to enjoy. I took Traveler's Ginger Candy (Gin Gin Company) with me and only had to savor two of them during the cruise. I share most of the bag with others who were experiencing seasickness even wearing the patch. Friday: Day 1 - At noon, we went to the Main Dining to eat with other Key Members and enjoyed a Chops Grille luncheon. Hubby had the Colossal Shrimp Cocktail, Everything Crusted Tuna and the New York Cheesecake. I had the Caesars Salad with their signature dressing, Petite Filet Mignon with three dipping sauces and the New York Cheesecake. This meal was scrumptious! After eating lunch, we explore the ship unto our way to the cabin. The large towel I pre-purchased was in the room, but the Polar Bear Alaska Blanket for two was missing. I spoke to the attendant and he did not know if one could be found. This was distressing for me, as I had purchased it months ago. A few days later the Deck Supervisor found a brand new blanket and gave it to me - it surely made my day that the personnel on the ship took extra lengths to ensure our cruise would be delightful. We saw our Key envelopes and entered our passwords for the VOOM and notice that we had a letter stating our special departure times for each port. Our next stop was at the Sky Bar where we met our Cruisers from our Roll Call. It was great seeing who I had been conversing with online prior to sailing. Muster was at 3:15 and we made our way down to the Schooner Bar. Go a tad bit early for Muster to obtain a seat. Muster went flawlessly. At 6:00 p.m. while hubby was relaxing and watching out our balcony, I went to see and purchase the Alaska Survival Kit. Many store vendors had their selections out and I was able to purchase gifts for our kids. I preselected our "My Time Dining" for 7:00 p.m. and we went to eat at the Silk. This dinner was disappointing after having a fantastic luncheon with Chops Grille. Although we were seated quickly, it took a while to take our orders. Hubby and I ordered the Escargot that was swimming in butter and parsley. I love eating escargot but the Silk's mostly tasted like butter and was bland. Maybe Silk could try cooking the escargot with less butter, add garlic and mushrooms to it like they used to do in the early 2000s. The rest of the meal was neither remarkable nor memorable as the prime rib was overcooked. The service was sporadic and we miss the old days of the traditional MDR days with the greeting from the Head Waiter, Waiter and Assistant Waiter all of whom worked together. I believe the seating arrangement made it more difficult and all of these restaurant venues with "My Time Dining" made it more difficult for the wait staff and guests. I highly suggest two of the venues return to the traditional MDR. After dinner, we went to Comedy Night on Decks 4/5. The show was average and was disrupted many times by guests leaving. We sat in the handicap area and the attendant was a tad bit annoyed with us sitting there. I guess she did not see my cane nor my leg brace. Her sour demeanor was quickly forgotten. After the show, we stopped in the Royal Casino and the host gave us our gold coins to try our luck at the special slot machine. While hubby played Blackjack, I tried my hand at Roulette. We both had a good night and won some. We strolled Deck 5 and found the smoking area. We made friends there that we would see often throughout the cruise. By the time we got to our room our luggage had arrived and morning came fast. Thanks to other cruise reviews, I had most of our important items in our carry-on. Saturday: Day 2 - Cruising: After having morning coffee, hubby and I went up to Deck 16 and were excited to experience the North Star. Even though I do not like heights, this was an awesome experience. Hubby took many pictures and we were able to see far off in the distance including the entire ship. Upon standing in line, the attendant escorted to the elevator to take me to the doors of the North Star so I can experience it without struggling the stairs. Just a FYI there are many times in which the North Star does not cost the guest any extra monies and as a "Key" guest we were able to experience it without lines a 2nd time. Port Shopping Show - I went to the Port Shopping Show and learned the best places to visit for shopping form multiple beautiful gems to see and possibly buy. Bingo and Blackjack Qualifying Round - Oh my - had so much fun playing bingo and won an extra bingo shirt. I came so close to winning cash. Hubby went to the Blackjack Qualifying Round and placed for the tournament. Balcony and Deck 5: - Spent the afternoon relaxing and watching for whales and Orcas and saw many. It truly was an awesome experience. Formal Night - Hubby and I dressed to the max and it was such a delight. We went to the second seating at Silk. If we thought the first dinner was disappointing, this dinner was worse. I decided to try the Seafood with Linguini. It was terrible, the shrimp tasted old, clams cold and the bay scallops were still frozen. I pushed my plate aside and the waiter came and was told I was done. Another waiter stopped and asked if I wanted to try something else. Once again I stated I was no longer hungry and this time described the meal quietly as to not disturb the other guests. We saw him walk quickly to the Supervisor as we were leaving. Hubby told me to keep going as the Chef was now running behind us. We left the area, went to Sorrento's and ate pizza. Needlessly to say we miss MDR dining. After dinner, we went to the Comedy Show and it was great! So glad to try to see another comedy show. Afterwards we strolled the deck in the moonlight then changed clothes for the Casino and played a few rounds. Sunday: Day 3 - Alaska Inside Passage/Juneau - Once again we enjoyed a light breakfast at Two70 (Deck 5) of coffee, juice and Panini. We went to our Meet and Mingle in Vintages and were greeted by others who posted prior to cruising. Tony and his wife were experienced cruisers and were very friendly. Tony gave each us beautiful bracelets. Thanks Tony! We met families with children who were bored and suggested the Adventure Ocean program. Two families sought us out later and told us they had a hard time getting their children to leave. Juneau, Alaska - Due to the Key, we went to the Music Hall (Deck 3) at noon to await our departure for Juneau. Within minutes, we were off the ship and going down the gangway. Upon hitting the boardwalk, a Pedicab took us to the Mount Roberts Tramway in which we purchased our tickets to the Tram and to AJ Mine/Gastineau Mining Tour. We took the tram to the top and we were able to see Eagles and view the authentic Alaska Native Arts and purchased items in their gift shop. We took the Tram down and were met by our guide for our mining excursion. This was a quaint excursion as it was shared with one other couple. We saw this same mining company on the Discovery Channel. Our guide was a retired miner and kept us entertain while exploring the inside of the mine. We learned the history of the mine and it was quite an experience. Once outside the mine, two young guides taught us how to pan for gold and garnets of which we each found almost entire vial worth of both. This is a must see excursion which I found online. Upon returning to Port, hubby and I went shopping and I was able to collect my charms to add to my bracelet while looking at Gold Quartz jewelry, Korite (Ammolite), Tanzanite, an array of Northern Lights jewelry the rare Alexandrite collection and the Crown of Lite jewelry collection. If you are a coffee lover like us - visit the Heritage Coffee Roasting Company. The aromas are intoxicating. While most people were eating at Tracy's Crabshack and eating arm length crab legs, hubby and I had a delicious dinner at the Twisted Fish Company. Their clams in wine sauce, crab cakes and calamari were scrumptious! We went back to the ship by 8:00 p.m. and took our purchases to our room. Upon leaving our cabin, we saw the telephone message light blinking and quickly learned how our Klukwan Native Culture Excursion was canceled due to "lack of participation." Although the Shore Excursion Desk stated for us to come by and book another excursion I took time to look at the Royal IQ app and saw there were none that interest us. I searched Google and learned this excursion had closed for the season the week prior. This left a bad taste as you would think the Shore Excursion would verify all excursion to ensure none closed early for the season prior to the sailing. Needless to say, we went to Deck 5, met up with friends and were invited to join them for the Jeep excursion to the Yukon. Shortly there afterwards we went up to the top deck to take photos of the ever changing sculptures on the pier and watched the sail away at 9:00 p.m. A while later we stopped in at Schooners and listen to piano music, visit the Casino, ate late night pizza at Sorrento's, met more friends on Deck 5 and had an enjoyable night. Monday: Day 4 - Skagway, Alaska - Morning came quickly and we picked up breakfast at Two70 and sat in the Deck 5 lounge. Shortly thereafter, the four of us left the ship (with our passports) and we walked to town (take the tram and ride it as it is 1/2 mile hike). Before you know it, we were in the jeep driving towards the Yukon. Our GPS (jokingly our landmark book) did not take us directly to the Yukon, as it did not account for the road closure and detour. Before we knew it, we arrived at the Yukon Suspension Bridge. We took our time, crossed the bridge and saw its beauty. Afterwards we had lunch at their cafe of bison chili that was mouthwatering. I purchase bison chips, crackers and cheese to enjoy later. After an hour out we turned around and the road was already paved, and we were on our way to Carcass and saw the smallest desert. We stopped in Carcross for drinks, snacks, and some shopping (a nice small town with plenty to see and buy including readers). The ice cream was delicious. Within minutes, we saw a bear by the side of the road and took pictures. We saw so much wildlife on our way to Emerald Lake. So cool to see and many photo ops there too. Soon we arrived at Emerald Lake and the view was spectacular. We took our time traveling back to Skagway and came upon another bear - this one was very large standing in the middle of the road. After taking a few pictures, the bear retreated into the woods nearby. The four of us went shopping and picked up trinkets, postcards and the train charms for our bracelets. We were back on the ship by 5:00 p.m. in time to relax for dinner. Tonight we had reservations for the Solarium. This is a quaint dinner spot that is included in your cruise to partake if one so desired. Many people just ate from their buffet, but Hubby and I chose from their menu and their buffet. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was very relaxing. The tables were nicely spaced and the wait staff made sure each guest was enjoying oneself. After dinner, I went to the Rossalite Gems show - these gems are beautiful!! Hubby and I watch the sunset and off to play at the Casino. Tuesday: Day 5 - Endicott Arm/Dawes Glacier - hubby and woke up early and went to Two70 for coffee and carried our breakfast to the Deck 5 lounge where we could Glacier Watch. This did not occur ,as the Captain of the Ship was wise to turn us around when he saw how big the icebergs under the water were and was smart enough to put our safety first. Many understood but there were others who were angry until other guests explain that small iceberg on top of the water is much smaller than what is not seen under the water. The Captain took his time and the entire ship went whale watching with many to see. Prior to lunch, I went to the room to pick up my bingo shirts and daubers and purchase my bingo cards. I was awarded extra free bingo cards for each shirt and dauber and was given the B3 Blue Bingo Fish (which gave me an extra bingo card on day 3 - win a cruise bingo). No wins for me but came close and had an enjoyable time. After bingo, we went and saw the Love and Marriage Show - this show is a must to see and everyone seem to enjoy themselves. Afterwards I dropped off my bingo gear and was met by the 11th Deck Supervisor who surprised me with the Polar Bear Winter Blanket! Yeah!! Escape Room - this activity was pre-booked prior to cruising. Hubby and I never experienced and it was quite intriguing. There were 12 of us working together in which you collect clues, solve puzzles to escape and only had 1 hour to do so. Hubby found most of the locked boxes and we helped solved many of the puzzles to collect clues and were able to escape. This was a very fun activity and everyone should try it. I do know not all the ships have this activity but they should as it is a very enjoyable experience and does not take up much room to play it. Windjammer - Hubby and I went exploring another part of the ship and dropped our Custom Form off at Guest Relations. Unbelievable as there is still so much to see and experienced. Dinner was upon us and we decided to try the Windjammer. We were met with "Washy Washy" which sounded delightful in her singsong manner. A table was easily found and we went to look at the array of foods. Chad made me a delicious plate of my own ingredients for Lo Mein. I thought I was full until the dumped a fresh batch of French fries at a station nearby and off I went to get a small plate of them with Malt Vinegar. Oh my - I was in heaven!! The array of desserts will make your mouth water once again. Another familiar feature was seen in the Windjammer was see fruit carvings - the fish in the watermelon was totally spectacular! After dinner, we strolled the deck to walk off dinner prior to an evening out with hubby. I missed out as I fell asleep while waiting for hubby taking a shower. He went to the Casino with friends. So nice that I was able to catch up on my sleep which is hard to do on such a fun cruise. Wednesday: Day 6 - Cruising - Yep we had coffee from Two70 and taking breakfast away to Deck 5 lounge and relaxed watching the waves. Fab Abs class - OH MY! That was surely a work out! Off to the room to shower so I can enjoy the day. It was not long until it was our time to experience the IFly on Deck 16. IFly - The crew here are very safety conscious and thoroughly enjoys assisting guests with having a fun experience. First, you are asked if you have had any neck and upper back injuries as one cannot safely participate. Next, you are weighed in - thank goodness, they do not say one's weight aloud. Hubby could not participate, as he was a few pounds too heavy for his height, which he was fine with as I think he was more excited to see if I would go through with it. Lol. We watch a short safety video, learned our four hand signals and then suited up. Soon it was our turn to go to the gravity chamber. Since all of us listened and followed their instructions, we were able to fly higher with our instructor in which we spun upward. Such an exhilarating experience!! Bingo for a free cruise - Went to the room, picked up all my bingo gear and given 21 cards to play. So close with 1 number but did not win - maybe next time. It was so nice to see the young gentleman jump up, yell bingo, and win a cruise for 2 while on his honeymoon. Dog House - even with all the variety of food - a good beef hot dog and/or bratwurst with sauerkraut fits the lunch bill easily. Relaxing afternoon - hubby took a much needed nap and I went exploring the shops (be wise and leave your sea pass in the light switch like me - it saves you money - lol). I purchase a few small items and went to relax with friends. I woke hubby for dinner and dressed for our second formal dinner. American Icon Grill - this was chosen as Hubby refused to go back to Silk and he knew I wanted to eat lobster. Dinner service was extraordinary and so unlike what we experienced in the Silk. The Wait Staff were friendly and interactive with the guests. The waiter made dinner suggestions and knew the ingredients for the dishes. Our appetizers were delicious (hubby had the Caesar Salad and I tried the Escargot again - their style of cooking grows on you). Hubby selected the beef tenderloins and asked for rare and was super shocked it was cooked the way he wanted AND very tender. He was enjoying this dinner outing. The Waiter brought me two lobster tails and brought heated butter to the table. Oh my! The lobster melted in your mouth. After dinner, the Waiter cleared the table and knife scraped the tablecloth prior to dessert (an old MDR table method this was the only time seen done). Since this was the 50th year, a special cake with swirled lollipop stick came out with the desserts we selected. Hubby had apple pie ala mode nicely heated with a side of vanilla ice cream. I had the Molten Chocolate Cake that was quite delicious. Hubby and I had another stroll on deck and met up with our friends who had a very enjoyable experience too while dining in Wonderland. We share our dining experiences and discussed what we were going to do in Victoria. We all went to the Casino and knew bed was early as the time change went forward 1 hour - morning would arrive sooner. Thursday: Day 7 - Victoria, British Columbia including the Hop On Hop Off Tour - Hubby and I took the double decker bus to Victoria ($15 roundtrip per person) and saw many sights on our way and was dropped off at the Empress Hotel in time to purchase our tickets for the Hop On Hop Off bus which had a 90 minute tour if you stayed on it. My leg was sore so we chose the tour. The tour guide, Norm was very interesting and we learned about the Gold Rush, the history of Victoria, saw the tiniest through way that Mel Gibson took for Bird on the Wire, Craigdarroch Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, etc. We even saw peacocks and many deer throughout the tour. Once back to the Empress Hotel, we walk towards Irish Pub called the "Irish Times" for lunch. I advise you to be extra hungry as we ordered the O'Hagan's Platter. This platter is huge and contained Chicken wings, loaded fries, sweet potato fries and dry ribs. Hubby and I barely put a dent into it. This platter covered almost the entire table with barely any room for our drinks. We explored some of the shops and purchased a few items to take home. We took the Double Decker bus back to the cruise ship by 4:00 p.m. Both of us took showers and went to meet up with friends to share our Victoria experiences. Later that evening we ate dinner at Windjammer which was quite filling. We took our nightly stroll, headed back to our rooms to pack our luggage, and left it in the hallway for pick up. We went to the Casino, played a few rounds and turned in our remaining Chips and Tokens. Our last stop for the evening was a quick late night pizza at Sorrento's and I went to the library and printed out our plane tickets home. Friday - Day 8 - Vancouver, British Columbia - it is a sad day that this fantastic cruise was coming to an end. Since we had the "Key," hubby and I were treated to breakfast in the American Icon on Deck 4 prior to leaving on Deck 5 near Wonderland. We disembarked in easy and quick manner and our luggage was quickly secured. Our porter took our luggage throughout the terminal and escorted us outside the terminal by the Pacific Hotel where we would meet for the Sear to Air Post Tour Excursion with Landsea Tours. This is a 6-hour tour that included a drop off to the airport. Our tour guide was very interesting and we knew it had changes to it as the Gondola to the Suspension Bridge had been sabotaged a few weeks prior to the tour. Landsea Tours emailed us 2 days after the sabotaged to verify whether we want to continue with the tour as the Suspension Bridge was exchanged for a visit to Grouse Mountain Resort. We first crossed the Lions Gate Bridge and saw the massive entry lions. We took a brief trip to Shannon Falls and it was a breathtaking sight. Next, we went to the Britannia Mine Museum and this was exciting as we had the opportunity to learn how the rocks were broken down until fine sand and then sent to San Francisco to cultivate it for gold, silver, copper. We toured the underground mine and then toured the ground floor of the building learning about the different stages, how hard mining was, and the harsh life of the miners. We panned for a bit and found more gold and copper nuggets. We then took a brief trip to Horseshoe Bay for lunch and saw Howe Sound fjord. People were so friendly throughout the tour. Lastly, we traveled to Grouse Mountain. We took the Skyride Gondola up the mountain and arrived in time to witness the Lumberjack Show that was quite funny and impressive showcasing their skills. The lumberjacks interacted with the audience throughout the show. Vancouver Airport - Once the tour was complete we were dropped at the Airport doors for Westjet and assisted with our luggage. Our flight home late that evening was uneventful except how the Canadians can teach Americans a thing or two about the ease of flying international while disabled. As I was seen struggling trying to obtain luggage tags, a gentleman with Westjet quickly assisted us. Upon seeing me struggling with walking, he secured a wheelchair with a Westjet attendant for me. She took us through security. The Canadians operation for going through security is easily done as is how one travels throughout their airport. First, they swapped out my cane for one of theirs so I can go through scanner without the fear of falling. Next, security was already ready to scan my knee brace quickly and I was whisked away by the Westjet attendant to the appropriate gate. She made sure we reached our gate in a timely manner with time to spare. Unknowingly she reserved future wheel chairs for me for the remaining two connecting flights. Our first flight went from Vancouver to Toronto. Upon arrival, a Westjet attendant whisked me away in a wheelchair and took all the shortcuts to customs. We were there within minutes and a few questions later on our way to our next flight. We were quickly through security and once again, the cane swapping occurs. This was so cool as the disabled were treated with respect and not a hindrance as what I had incurred on the flights with American Air to Seattle. Each airline took care of their own passengers while the airport staff drove the trams to the multiple terminals. Upon our arrival at La Guardia airport, the wheelchair was there and we were quickly taken to the terminal for our last flight with Delta Air. We quickly obtained our luggage and hubby had us on our way home. We had an awesome time celebrating our 34th anniversary on the Ovation of the Seas (such a romantic setting for 2) and now must go back to the real world, but already planning our next cruise for 2. Or maybe with all our adult children to enjoy too OR just plan 2 more cruises??. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Reviews are all about expectations. I read many of these reviews and it is like they were not on the Ovation. Wife and I been on over 160 separate cruises and many on RCI sailings. The ship is beautiful and the staff and crew were ... Read More
Reviews are all about expectations. I read many of these reviews and it is like they were not on the Ovation. Wife and I been on over 160 separate cruises and many on RCI sailings. The ship is beautiful and the staff and crew were very nice and very happy. In my experience a happy crew, equal a happy ship. Embarkation: My family arrived at the Port of Seattle at 1:30 pm. We actually read our documents and came when we requested. NO wait, No problems, and we were in our cabins in 30 minutes. Any immigration situations are not Royals responsibility. We are very high up in our status, but don't take or expect any special treatment. Never arrive early. You will have to wait in lines and fight for a seat in the buffet until they release the cabins. Disembarkation: Very organized and quick. Again, go when you are called. They have a system, use it. The food was as expected. Not Ruth Chris's. We found Jaimes to have the best food for our tastes. If you are a critical person, then cruising is just not for you. Did this cruise go perfect. Of course not. We had three balcony cabins together and brought our 2 year old. She had a great time, but even better, we all had a great time. Pixels is one of the best shows we have seen. The ship is so large, that during sea days, we never felt crowded. I just cannot believe some people who seem to be so critical and think because this is a " Critic " forum, they feel necessary to write that way. I do my homework in regards to the Ports of Call. No surprises there. Reviewing the ship for your bad experience in Juneau, is your fault. Not the ships. Really people. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
I would have given Ovation more stars but right on the docks it started badly. My husband and I both have mobility issues. This was our 50th anniversary cruise and we almost weren't allowed on the ship! When we arrived at the port ... Read More
I would have given Ovation more stars but right on the docks it started badly. My husband and I both have mobility issues. This was our 50th anniversary cruise and we almost weren't allowed on the ship! When we arrived at the port although we were scheduled for pier assistance, we had to walk a LOOOONG way to get there, you don't get to the wheelchairs till you are almost on the ramps! They checked our passports and set sail passes on the first floor of the pier and sent us up the elevator to check in. There were people just off the elevator who again looked at our set sail passes and told us to see a pier administrator. I asked why and where do I go. They did not say why but just said go straight ahead someone will help you. We went straight ahead, talked to yet another person who told us to go to the wheelchair area, who then sent us back to one of the check in desks. Long story short, after at least 6 different people who kept saying they didn't know what was going on, one lady said, "Oh, you can't get on the ship because you owe money!!!" She said we owed $179.62. Not only a strange amt but how could I have printed my set sail pass if I still owed money? Luckily, I had printed all my Paid in full receipts ...cruise, excursions and amenities After repeatedly saying we owed the money but having no idea why, they allowed us on the ship only after I signed papers that said I would settle this on the ship. They also copied all my paid in full receipts. then we went to wait for wheelchairs. When we finally got on the ship, we went directly to guest services to get this taken care of and no one knew what the amount "owed" was for, only that we owed it. They said they'd check it out and get back to me and leave a message on my phone....never happened. This went on for three days, each day a promised call never happened...finally one person at guest services, on the third day said I guarantee you will not be charged for this ...she signed a receipt and the charge did not appear on my bill. Not only was all this a pain, but we were unable to sign up for the escape room and Ifly on boarding because they were gone since we took so long checking in....total time checking in....we were at the pier at 1030a and rooms were open by the time we left GS...so it was after 130p. We got to our room and it was a very nice quiet room, about 15 ft off the elevators, . After unpacking, I went to wash my hands and heard a deep gurgling sound. The hubs thought it sounded like a clogged or blocked pipe. I didn't pay much attention since the toilet and sink worked the rest of the day. The next morning while I was taking a shower I realized the water wasn't going down and before I could get out, the water level had risen to the height of the bathroom door! Luckily it did not go into the room. They sent someone up to rod out the drains, followed by a team to clean and disinfect the bathroom. After that we had no problem with the room. The balcony was large, and comfortable...with 2 chairs and footrests and a small table. The blackout shades worked well and the bed was comfortable. Our room steward "V" (his name was very long and difficult to pronounce so he said just call me V) was great. Replaced the ice as needed, cleaned the room, even when we said don't bother and kept us supplied with towels and some towel animals. We did not use the MDR as we ate whenever we felt hungry. We used the Windjammer and the food was actually very good. Loved the soups but they were loaded with salt! Finding a seat however was another story. We also ate at Sorrento's Pizza...which was very good. They had antipasto type dishes and pizza. Cafe Promenade was not as good as on the Oasis class ships. Desserts, pastries and cakes on the whole, were not very good. But this was expected since they were no better on any other RCI ship I have been on. The casino was drab and smoke filled. It seemed that there were very few slot machines and the only ones paying or interesting enough to play were in the smoking section. I did hit a jackpot for $1180 and was very happy it was $20 under the taxable limit...they have signs all over the casino stating that there is a 30% tax on wins of $1200 or more!!! 30%...that's HUGE! As far as the excursions/ports....Loved Juneau and Skagway but transportation in Skagway left a lot to be desired. Whale watching and wild life excursion in Juneau was a big disappointment ...seeing only the water blow and a whale's back was not very exciting. We saw about 5 sea lions on one bouy ...the extent of the wildlife. The captain said he saw an eagle fly by. The excursion boat was old, smelly and the stairs were so steep they were very difficult to maneuver even for able bodied persons. Skagway was beautiful and the White Mountain Pass Railway is a must do. We used luggage valet through RCI and it was great! It was easy and free. We left our luggage outside our door on Friday night and never saw it again till we landed in Chicago. Disembarkation and airport transport was a joke really. We bought and paid for 2 ...then got an instruction sheet very late...after 8pm with instructions for everyone but those with transfers...all it said was Transfers booked with us? Please see below...but the "below" was not there...many people were in line at GS just after 8pm on Friday for help trying to figure out what to do. The next morning, we found our way to the wheel chair assistance area, I needed to use the restrooms and tried to go to the one near the W/C area..I was told I'd have to walk up or down one floor or take an elevator (you know how crowded they are when everyone is leaving the ship).They said the restroom was closed due to security reasons! WHY would they make the restroom close to the handicapped area unavailable?!?!?!? Stupidest thing ever!! Continuing on.....although our flight wasn't until 330pm...we were put on an early bus and had to wait at the airport for 6 hours!!!! They also, wanted to put us on a different bus but the bus driver was nowhere to be found...so they loaded us all up on yet another bus. Also there was no manifest of names for people who paid nor did anyone have a physical ticket. Honestly, anyone could have gotten in the transport line and boarded one of the buses for free. Where the buses leave you at the airport was VERY far from the check in area....a good 4 blocks...there were however, wheelchairs for those that needed them. The ship, on the whole, is beautiful and yes, I would go on it again. The hallways are very twisty, turny and not in a straight line like the Oasis class...this makes walking thru those hallways seem very long and for the first time ever I always had difficulty figuring out which direction was the front or back. Also, when the MDR, Windjammer and 270 are closed (they all seemed to be closed at the same time) , there is only free pizza or what is available in the cafe promenade (premade shrimp salad or ham & cheese sandwiches, the same everyday) available. They really need something else. They do have a hot dog hut but it was never opened when we went there. Fish & Ships, by the outdoor pool was never busy. I only saw one or two people there the whole cruise and it was not free. We LOVED both indoor pools but the hot tubs in the solarium were very tiny...and really WHY do people traveling in Alaska open the windows??? Makes for a rather cold indoor pool. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose this cruise to go to areas we have not traveled to previously. My girlfriend and myself would be considered avid cruisers at this point and love every cruise we have taken. This cruise initially tried to frustrate us due to two ... Read More
We chose this cruise to go to areas we have not traveled to previously. My girlfriend and myself would be considered avid cruisers at this point and love every cruise we have taken. This cruise initially tried to frustrate us due to two issues we encountered. The first was the cruise terminal on embarkation day. The employees that were dressed in RCCL attire had a very difficult time figuring out the proper procedures for boarding. We had a Grand Suite (Sky Level) and were not allowed to board right away because I was only Emerald and not Pinnacol, D+, or a "KEY" guest. We all know this was incorrect but this happened to us and a couple of Suite guest behind us. We were all told to proceed to a specific area and door. Later I found that this was the wrong door for suite guest but this is the one we were told to go to. Once the announcement was made to start boarding the Suite, Pinnacol, D+, and "KEY" guest, this was when two different employees told us we were Emerald or Gold so we could not board with the proper group. A third employee finally showed up and got the process straightened out after some of the other suite guest started yelling at the employees after they just shrugged off the complaints and rudely ignored us. I do not think it is our responsibility to know their job. This just started the cruise on the wrong note. This was the worst embarkation experience we have encountered over several different terminals. Once on board, the ship was fantastic. Rooms were ready on time and the Grand Suite did not disappoint. Loved having all the outlets and USB connections for charging stuff. Having the outlet by the bed for the CPAP was very convenient. The room was kept immaculate the entire cruise and towel animals were provided and kept my girlfriend very happy. The SPA area did not disappoint. The hair cut I received and the couples message that we had were great. Dining was the only letdown and this may be because of the class of ship and its layout. Our first lunch was in Costal Kitchen and was enjoyed very much. That night we tried the Silk restaurant due to having "My Time Dining". To say we were disappointed is being mild. Service was horrible and caused us to much confusion. I do seriously believe this is due to the design and layout of the dining room. Where in the traditional MDR, the Waiter, Head Waiter, and Assistant Waiter work together as a team and have line of sight communication, this class of ship was not designed for the MDR experience. It originally had four different menus at the four different dining venues. This did not go over well and now they are trying to run the four different venues on the MDR menue for all four spaces. These spaces were not designed in the MDR style conducive to these seating's and causes a bunch of confusion between the different wait staff. I would say that maybe this was the first night jitters with new guest but we tried the "American Icon " the next night and although a little better, this experience fell well shot of what we have experienced on other classes of ship that use the MDR concept. Rather than keep being disappointed, we chose to take the rest of our dining in the Costal Kitchen. I cannot say enough about the staff in the dining venue. They were terrific every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They literally saved our dining experience and was one of the biggest positive aspects to our cruise. We tried the 270 Bistro and the Windjammer and found both of these venues adequate. Another jewel if you are sky class or above, was the Concierge, and the Concierge lounge. Always a nice quiet area to hang out, grab a quick snack, drink, or coffee. The Concierge and staff for this area were great and made everyone feel at home and relaxed throughout the entire cruise. Entertainment and Activities abound on this ship. From the "North Star" to PIXELS in 270, there seemed to always be something to do. We did shore excursions at all three ports and found all to be quite interesting. We found that there wasn't enough time for everything so we will probably have to schedule another Alaska adventure further down the line. Disembarkation was the saving grace for this cruise terminal. The new program of checking your luggage through to your final destination and getting your boarding passes on the ship made the process seamless and a lot less stressful. I love this new program (probably not available at all ports) and would highly recommend its usage to future Alaska cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We arrived in Seattle a day before the cruise . We visited space needle and all tourist spots stayed at Hyatt House across from the space needle so it was convenient for walking . There is a free shuttle from waterfront up to space needle. ... Read More
We arrived in Seattle a day before the cruise . We visited space needle and all tourist spots stayed at Hyatt House across from the space needle so it was convenient for walking . There is a free shuttle from waterfront up to space needle. Took a town car to port terminal it was $60 and very relaxing and Only a few dollars more than a taxi. Ovation is a beautiful ship with plenty to. Solarium is a great spot to pull up a deck chair and watch views plus it’s 16 and over so no kids running around . North Star is a must we did it on dawes glacier day so there is an extra charge ( pre-book). Didn’t get to go on I fly the sky dive simulator as the top deck was closed due to weather so watch for that . All pubs and bars were good watch for trivia nights they are fun . 270 at the aft of the ship is a great spot there is a small stop for specialty coffee and at breakfast and lunch they offer breakfast sandwiches and sandwiches for change instead of windjammer. Windjammer was good and offered a decent variety. Our cabin was 8204 a balcony room and we witnessed whales and seals etc from our balcony . Room attendants were great and as always the hardest workers on the ship . Casino was a little small but plenty of games and my only complaint is that smoking is allowed in approx half of the Casino and it bothered us sometimes and clothes smelled some of cigarettes sometimes. Itinerary was good . Took float planes to a five glacier excursion and was pretty cool . Tram was ok not great . Tracy’s crab shack is a must stop. Skagway is a neat little town . White pass rail ride is a must just to learn history of what people went through on the quest for riches . The red onion saloon tour is an absolute must and the girls working are quite funny . We were quite fortunate at Dawes glacier as the ship got closer than most of the staff could remember most said it mostly foggy and they can’t see the glacier most times so keep that in mind. Victoria is beautiful stop and downtown is a approx 20 minute walk from port . Buchart Gradens is beautiful but you cannot walk there . Royal B.C. museum is an ok stop . Had fish &chips on waterfront at a stop called blue fish red fish and was great . A bit of a lineup but most were locals so you know it’s good . All in all Ovation is a great ship with plenty to do a great itinerary and great friendly staff Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Alaska has always been on my bucket list of cruises and finally got to go for our 24th Anniversary. Weather really worked in our favor- Recommend the Safari Photo Shoot excursion which includes glacier and whale watching. About 45 min ... Read More
Alaska has always been on my bucket list of cruises and finally got to go for our 24th Anniversary. Weather really worked in our favor- Recommend the Safari Photo Shoot excursion which includes glacier and whale watching. About 45 min light hiking to glacier. Our guide was incredibly helpful with appropriate camera settings and other photography tips for outdoors and at water level for whales. Sunny and in high 60s helped! Once hiking was completed-off to a two hour whale excursion. We got to see so many whales and take great pictures. This excursion only had 11 people signed up so it was very interactive. The other excursion I recommend is the 2 hour bicycle tour in Victoria BC. I had no idea how beautiful this city was until we got the chance to tour via bike. Went to beautiful park area with abundance of flowers and greenery. Again, weather played a role in that it was cool and cloudy. We booked the excursion the morning of arrival in Victoria once we had the opportunity to see wether forecast. Apparently others did the same as the tour group had to get extra bikes and 2 additional guides - only delayed by 5 minutes. As far as the ship goes-Royal Caribbean remains at top of my list! Exemplary service top to bottom. Not a big foodie so I didn’t mind the Main Dining Room for dinner. There’s plenty to choose from and if you don’t like what you selected, just ask for something else! And late night pizza is always a treat. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This is a newer ship with new technology and it has some of the best features with updated state rooms, or show rooms. Because it is a bigger ship with more passengers, they have better shows. The talent is the best I have seen on a ... Read More
This is a newer ship with new technology and it has some of the best features with updated state rooms, or show rooms. Because it is a bigger ship with more passengers, they have better shows. The talent is the best I have seen on a cruise ship. The showroom in the back of the ship has stages that go up and down and holes open in the ceiling where people come down on a wire to put on a great show. There are more lounge acts with more entertainment. But those are the good things. The bad part is the music is way too loud and they think that people like it that way. But I saw people leaving the show because they didn’t like it. I wore my ear plugs and was ok. The ship is set up for all ages and they do a good job at keeping young folks on deck 15 and gamblers in the casino on deck 3 that is away from everything else. But the folks that like to go on this ship are people that like bumper cars, rock climbing, the flow rider, etc.... I have never seen so many people with tattoos and people wearing old T-shirt’s on a cruise ship. Formal night is a joke. Only 20 percent of the people put on a jacket or wore a tie. The rest of the folks were comfortable in T-shirt’s or whatever they were wearing that day. Most of the people in the lounge or walking around the deck look like they just came from Walmart. Maybe this is what some folks like, but it is not for me. The food and service is much better on Celebrity and Princess. The people working on this ship do a great job or the best they can. But there are about 3 passengers for 1 crew member on this ship while Princess has 2.5 and Celebrity has 2 and Crystal might have 1.3. The difference can really be seen in the dining room with long delays and having to wait on your waiter. We have no regrets taking this cruise, but I think others ships in this price range are better. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We like Royal Caribbean cruise line and this specific trip included all the things we wanted to see and do. The excursions we took we fantastic especially the white water rafting in Juneau. Suspension bridge and train in Skagway was also ... Read More
We like Royal Caribbean cruise line and this specific trip included all the things we wanted to see and do. The excursions we took we fantastic especially the white water rafting in Juneau. Suspension bridge and train in Skagway was also excellent. Saw some whales on our excursion at Icy Strait and the excursion-"Lighthouse Totem Poles and Eagles" in Kitchikan was lots of fun especially when one of the crew members broke out in song-A Drunken Sailor". The evening entertainment was way above what we had seen in the past, with the shows in the theater top notch and the performers in the various venues being wonderful. A big plus for us was the offering of pickleball that we got to do three times while cruising. Seeing the Hubbard Glacier with perfect weather was a huge event for us.The land part of our trip was just as good with a most interesting tour guide(Michelle) who kept us entertained throughout our journey. She went out of her way to take my wife and some other other guests on a late night adventure to see the northern lights. We saw Mt. Danali fully which makes us 10% of those that go to see this magnificent mountain. In conclusion I will say this probably was the best ever trip we have taken. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Just returned today from 7 night Alaskan cruise on Ovation. Reserved a room with a virtual balcony as did my sister and her husband. We both were very happy with the experience of this new technology. Our other sister had a balcony room ... Read More
Just returned today from 7 night Alaskan cruise on Ovation. Reserved a room with a virtual balcony as did my sister and her husband. We both were very happy with the experience of this new technology. Our other sister had a balcony room and that was very nice of course. The first time I cruised to Alaska we had a balcony but it was too cold and windy to enjoy it! This time, however, the weather was very nice and the balcony was great for them. It was so nice to be able to have the balcony views on our virtual balcony though. It worked well and had a night light if you wanted it. The night light in the bathrooms were a nice added touch too. The food was excellent and the service is great. A very nice added service this time was the luggage being checked through straight to the airport from your stateroom! WOW was that great to put your bags out the night before (as usual) and not have to see it again until you pick it up once your at your final destination! THANKS ROYAL CARIBBEAN! The beds were on the firm side and one of my sisters slept on the pull out couch bed and said it was like sleeping on concrete. The entertainment was ok but not spectacular this time. This was a very relaxing cruise for us. We have had exciting and super fun on other trips but this was more low key for us and we felt pampered and well cared for by the very friendly and caring staff. The North Star is great and my sister and her husband loved the I-Fly experience. They waited in line for an hour to ride the bumper cars for 2 or 3 minutes so that wasn't great. The Solarium is very nice and comfortable as it is enclosed in glass so the views are always enjoyable. I was not happy with having to upload our pictures in the registration process so we didn't and that is totally fine. They take your picture there and even my sisters who had already uploaded their photos had their pictures re-taken anyway so I don't know why they even bother you about trying to do it before hand. We went to Seattle 2 days before so we could spend a day at the San Juan Islands which was fantastic! We went on a whale watching trip from Seattle and had a great time doing that and exploring Friday Harbor. You see a lot of whales on the cruise too! We took the Link light rail from the airport and saved a ton of money doing that! We stayed near the Seattle Center so we took the light rail from the airport to the Westlake Station and then took an Uber to the hotel. Light rail is $3.00 for adult ($1.00 for over 65) and the Uber was about 6 dollars. We stayed at the Inn at Queen Anne. Old but clean and a good location and price. One of my sisters needed to rent a scooter and that was available for $200.00 for the entire time. (she has difficulty walking) It's too big to keep in the room so you have to have the attendant park it elsewhere at night which they are happy to do. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This cruise was started by my sister and we decided to travel with a group. My wife and I have always cruised as the two of us. On our last cruise we traveled with another couple. On this cruise about 30 friends and family. We ... Read More
This cruise was started by my sister and we decided to travel with a group. My wife and I have always cruised as the two of us. On our last cruise we traveled with another couple. On this cruise about 30 friends and family. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Space Needle for a couple of days prior. They offered a $10 shuttle to the port. Embarkation was pretty easy but there was no Diamond line and so waited a bit longer than usual. The Sea Pass cards and Coke cups were at the room and as we arrives around noon this was somewhat inconvenient. Swung into the Windjammer and used our Set Sail passes for drinks. Large Windjammer with some outside seating. Pretty typical Windjammer experience. Food is generally a step above an on shore buffet with more fresh options. Most of the food has this strange bent to it as chefs are not typically American. Indian foods are frequently the best on the buffets. Although always some staples like hot dogs, hamburgers and salad. There are Coke Freestyles in the Windjammer, always a plus. Ship is amazing. Clean and newish. Got to our cabin 9200. Nice sized balcony cabin. Big enough for 3 of us. Shower had great space for a cruise ship and a bar to put up a foot for ladies to shave legs. Plenty of storage although the safe is rather small and not big enough for a laptop. Internet coverage was good except on the outdoor walking track on deck 15. The walking track is 18.24 laps for a 10k (about .3 miles per lap). This was an Alaska cruise si most stuff was inside. The Schooner bar was the favorite (love trivia) followed by Music Hall. Joseph st the Schooner was the best bartender I have had. Learned my preferences by day 2 and would create drinks that were almost always great. Had dinner with the group on 2 nights in the Dining Room (first and last night when the dress code was lax. I don't take pants only shorts on a cruise) and one night at Jamie's Italian. The appetizers and desserts were amazing, my main course mixed fried seafood was ok. MDR was a step above Windjammer and they worked hard to make it a class experience. Also tried Izumi and the sushi was quite tasty. Breakfasts in the Windjammer were typical Royal. Occasional lunches there were also typical. The solarium was wonderful and spent a lot of time in the pools and hot tubs. Seattle was a fantastic city to take out of. Juneau was OK. Wish I would have done more research and found the trail to Mt. Robert's sooner. They had to cancel most of the shore excursions due to wind. We were planning to just walk around anyway so we did. Not a bad stop, but not much there. The later stop in Juneau allowed us to have lunch and dinner there. Skagway was really a neat and long stop. Went for a long hike and then around the city. Out to the graveyard and falls. Great hike and good scenery here. The long stop meant lunch and dinner on shore again. The glacier stop was quite cool from a distance. And even nicer from a hot tub. Victoria was a pretty city and very walkable. We ate lunch there and walked quite a bit. Didn't do any production shows but the rock n roll night at 270 was a lot of fun. Loved having the Deluxe rink package. Then back to reality day. We did the Port Valet, great service as we had a late flight and didn't have to lug suitcases. Cabin was well maintained throughout but make sure you don't leave the do not disturb sign out they take that very seriously. Loved the trip on Ovation. I will add we are very simple cruisers and don't so much scheduled and manage to make the trips great doing this. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Perfect all-weather ship, and therefore perfect for Alaska. Excellent range of options for both indoor and outdoor viewing, sports, entertainment, food, drinks, ... Embarkation and disembarkation went extremely fast (also thanks to ... Read More
Perfect all-weather ship, and therefore perfect for Alaska. Excellent range of options for both indoor and outdoor viewing, sports, entertainment, food, drinks, ... Embarkation and disembarkation went extremely fast (also thanks to "The Key" :-) ...). Upon arrival at the pier around 10:30 a.m., there were zero (0) passengers before me in line. (At least as a solo traveller, I can only recommend "The Key" programme!) Dining in the MDR was rather disappointing, but truly great food in the Windjammer, and plenty of (always different) options. Never a problem to find an empty table. Entertainment was of the usual high RCI quality. The perks of the Quantum class are obviously great, the Solarium is truly the highlight of the ship for an adult, particularly in Alaska, as is North Star (with premium viewing at an extra fee in some key locations, also going to the side of the ship). The fitness center was surprisingly small and rather oddly equipped (only a handful of bikes!). Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Arrived one day early in Vancouver. (Make sure you use a no foreign trans. fee credit card. (USA exchange rate automatically calculated.) Took the taxi (2 couples) and fare was $30.00 US currency to Blue Horizon Hotel. Boarding was fairly ... Read More
Arrived one day early in Vancouver. (Make sure you use a no foreign trans. fee credit card. (USA exchange rate automatically calculated.) Took the taxi (2 couples) and fare was $30.00 US currency to Blue Horizon Hotel. Boarding was fairly quick but did involve a lot of walking, but there were no long lines. Only did the dining room once and had no complaints. Regarding formal night - not everyone dresses up and it seems to be a more laid back dress code. We personally preferred the windjammer with all the different choices. All the food in the windjammer was great. Loved the ice cream machine. Make sure you enjoy the windjammer on the last night- Alaskan seafood was fantastic. Pools were heated and were used by many, especially since we encountered no rain during our whole cruise and temperatures were in the 60s and 70s. Solarium does need updating (if they would just get rid of all the fake greenery). All employees were very nice and quite attentive. Evening entertainment was very lacking and mediocre. Most ships have karaoke (which can be quite enjoyable), but not this ship. Be prepared for oldies music sung in the centrum which is ok but not for the whole week. The casino was awful with cigarette smoke, there seems to be no ventilation. The highlight of the cruise was Hubbard Glacier. The captain did an amazing job to steer the ship so everyone had an awesome view. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We did this same itinerary on the Legend of the Seas in 1995 and were curious to see it all again. On the 1995 cruise the weather was cloudy with a lot of rain but this time around we had blue sky days the entire week. The ship was ... Read More
We did this same itinerary on the Legend of the Seas in 1995 and were curious to see it all again. On the 1995 cruise the weather was cloudy with a lot of rain but this time around we had blue sky days the entire week. The ship was beautiful, service outstanding, food - very good - especially at the Chef's Table dinner. We also enjoyed Chop's one night and Jamie's Italian on 2 nights. The cruise through the fiord up to Dawes Glacier was a highlight for us as the scenery was spectacular.. As we got closer to the glacier we passed more and more icebergs and there was a special beauty about them. The water was a glacial green that enhanced the blue white colors in the ice. As we neared the glacier the ice pack got thicker requiring the ship to stop a mile or 2 away from where the glacier enters the water. The captain at this time put the ship through a 360 degree turn allowing everyone to get a nice view. It was a special day. We visited Skagway and Juneau and Victoria. In Victoria we did a food tour with Andy ( A Taste of Victoria ) who was just wonderful. We booked this on our own - not through the ship. Overall I would highly recommend the Ovation of the Seas and this Alaska itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I cruised this ship for the itinerary and also wanted to try Royal Caribbean for a change. I have been on a short RCCL cruise on a newer ship, and I knew this was an older smaller ship. The ship itself while worn, was very nice with ... Read More
I cruised this ship for the itinerary and also wanted to try Royal Caribbean for a change. I have been on a short RCCL cruise on a newer ship, and I knew this was an older smaller ship. The ship itself while worn, was very nice with alot of beautiful windows making it perfect for Alaska. The room attendant was amazing, the general service of the bar staff was great. The LIDO/Windjammer was better than the main dining room for breakfast and some dinners. The specialty restaurant chops was amazing. The light bites at Lattetudes and the solarium were not very good at all and the staff at the solarium at night a gentleman there was really rude to people. My biggest complaint was the main dining dinners were extremely over seasoned (salted) and any steak was just completely tough and/or over cooked. So the starters, salads and desserts were great, but most of the main dishes were barely passible. When the LIDO does a better job on the meats and breakfast there is something seriously wrong in your dining room. Entertainment was ok, and just average. The production dance/singers were given old and not to unique shows to do . The nightlife was barely there. A couple of places for music, but nothing really stood out. The magician was funnier than our comedian, the El Gaucho show was funny and very entertaining. Most of the staff were absolutely amazing and this did have one of the best guest services desks I have seen on many cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
My wife started her cancer treatments on 1 August 2018. I told her that she would be done with her treatments and well enough by next year. I booked the trip with a the 2 Aug 2019 sailing (we left the house on 1 Aug 2019). We made it!! ... Read More
My wife started her cancer treatments on 1 August 2018. I told her that she would be done with her treatments and well enough by next year. I booked the trip with a the 2 Aug 2019 sailing (we left the house on 1 Aug 2019). We made it!! We flew into Anchorage with a connection through Atlanta, and straight on to ACH.The flight from from ATL made for a looooong day (7 hours to Anchorage). The hotel in Anchorage (Crown Plaza, booked through Royal) and transfer to the train (transfer through Royal) went smoothly. Having lived in Alaska many years prior, I had the opportunity to drive to Seward. I much prefer the train from Anchorage, as it is very relaxing, and the narration down to Seward was first rate. Dropped our bags, and didn't see them until the ship! We were able to check in to our ship state rooms and get our SeaPass at the train station in Anchorage!!. Thought we were home (ship) free with this. However, when we arrived at Seward, we needed to stand in a long line to get photographed. It would have been nice to get all that taken care of in Anchorage, or just do it all in Seward. Would have made it quicker in Seward. I think Royal needs an embarkation software update so they can complete the ship check in at the train depot in Anchorage. We were on the ship in time to drop our bags in the room, and get to the Windjammer for a quick bite, then to our muster station. About an hour before the drill. The ship was great. Showing her age, but all in all, we were on a cruise in Alaska!! it was great. One of the highlights onboard was the Chefs Table experience. Three hours, and the food and wine parings were excellent. Was able to get the recipe for the smoked tomato soup. Just need to make it for four, not 50 :-0. Would highly recommend that, and do it again. Were with a group of 8 who do that on every cruise they are on. I can see why. The cabin was a good choice, (8598) on the bubble, and very close to the elevators. No noise. We glacier watched, whale watched, Orca watched, Eagle watched, sea otter watched, from the balcony. The day at Hubbard Glacier was nice. The wait staff brought round spiked hot chocolate! We were able to get within a half mile of the face. Those on the $400.00 excursion were able to get about a quarter mile away. Close enough for us to hear the glacier making its groans as if calved. We booked the tram in Juneau. Nice ride and sights. O did I say, the weather was fantastic. No rain until the last sea day, and the port days were in the lower 70's. In Skagway we did the requisite YWPRR train ride, then walked the town. We bused up to Frasier, then took the Train down. That was enough. Our favorite port was was Icy Strait Point. We had booked a tour on our own with Tok River Outfitters for halibut fishing. I gave this place 5 stars, but would have liked to give them 10. We shipped two fish home! Very highly recommended (at least by us, and a lot on Trip Advisor). Off the boat at 6:30, and was fishing by 7:30 am. And back before noon. The port area was also great. Had a fantastic King and Dungeness crab lunch. This port had mostly native wares, just a few "made in china" and no Diamonds International :-) (we did get the charms in all the ports). Ketchikan was a shopping port for us. From Berth 3, the town opened up to us right off the gangway. The final sea day was spent next to the pool playing cribbage and whale and orca watching (from deck 11). We pulled into port and took the take-your-own-bags-off option. Was not too bad, but make sure your suitcase tracks true, We saw a lot of the ship just trying to wrestle one of the bags.. Off in less then 20 minutes once they started the process. We grabbed a rental car, and headed south as the next stop was a family visit just north of Portland. The entire cruise itinerary was just what we had expected; a great time, and a southern Alaska experience. We would recommend this one. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I selected this ship for the activities for my grandchildren, ages 7, 8 and 10. They checked out the kids activities program and quickly left. The ship itself is nice and the fact that there is a heated, covered pool is very nice as ... Read More
I selected this ship for the activities for my grandchildren, ages 7, 8 and 10. They checked out the kids activities program and quickly left. The ship itself is nice and the fact that there is a heated, covered pool is very nice as well. All pool areas have lifeguards on duty. The itinerary was not all that it was cracked up to be as far as the scenic cruising and Dawes glacier. Never did see the glacier at all and the scenic cruising wasn't anything spectacular. I've been on 2 other Alaska cruises, where we went to much nicer areas. Take a cruise that goes to Mendenhall and Ketchikan. This ship does neither. I thought I'd try something different and was very disappointed. There are a ton of people on this ship, but I must say that check-in and getting on board was a breeze, as well as disembarkation. Very smooth. The lines at Guest Services tend to be very long, since there are only 4 positions (6 sometimes), but only 2 people working on average. The cabin was o.k. (we had a balcony on deck 12). No table though other than a tiny one on the balcony and no writing material. The one thing I absolutely disliked was the high cost of everything from additional charges for food (Halibut fish and chips was $5.00) to extremely overpriced wine with no discount for Crown and Anchor members. And speaking of food: I was very disappointed that there was no meal with Alaskan fresh fish on any night. Farm raised salmon was on the daily menu. Shore excursions prices were very much higher compared to other cruise lines as well. Activities such as IFly and Northstar need to be reserved, which wasn't easy. My grandson couldn't take my place on the iFly, because he had done it once before, but I could give my place to a stranger. Really....??? Decided to keep my spot for myself. The cruise overall was "just ok" compared to the other many cruises I've been on. My suggestion: look at other options. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I travelled to Seattle with my family for this Alaska cruise. My daughter is in a wheelchair so we had booked an accessible cabin. Our taxi driver was waiting for us at the airport and it took about 30 minutes to reach the cruise ... Read More
I travelled to Seattle with my family for this Alaska cruise. My daughter is in a wheelchair so we had booked an accessible cabin. Our taxi driver was waiting for us at the airport and it took about 30 minutes to reach the cruise terminal. Embarkation was smooth and problem-free. Our cabin, an accessible oceanview on Deck 3, was spacious and comfortable. Dining in both the restaurant and Windjammer buffet was a great experience, with plenty of choices and great service. We had anytime dining and we rotated between the two restaurants (Silk and American Icon) for dinner. We ate breakfast in the Solarium Bistro, which was lovely as it is smaller and not so busy as the Windjammer. Entertainment was generally good with a variety of shows in the theatre and musicians for all tastes in the various bars and lounges. We loved the bumper cars, but were disappointed that we were unable to experience the North Star as it was fully booked for the entire cruise. The port stops (Juneau, Skagway and Victoria BC) were great. We were able to walk off the ship and straight into each port without needing to use any shuttles. The only slight disappointment was the glacier stop. Although the scenery was breathtaking we were not able to actually see the glacier itself. All in all this was a very enjoyable cruise on a great ship, with plenty to do onboard and excellent service all round. Disembarkation was easy and problem-free. Our taxi arrived to pick us up just after we disembarked. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Bottom line: I recommend strongly against sailing with Royal Caribbean unless you are "priority" to them. Getting off the boat was quite literally the worst process I have ever seen anywhere. I started the morning on deck 8 ... Read More
Bottom line: I recommend strongly against sailing with Royal Caribbean unless you are "priority" to them. Getting off the boat was quite literally the worst process I have ever seen anywhere. I started the morning on deck 8 trying to go down to deck 5 to get off the boat Due to priority service needed, I was kicked off the elevator I was on (originally going down), on deck 10. Almost 2 hours later and I'm finally able to get off the boat due to full elevators, other passengers not moving or respectful of lines. Furthermore, I ran into the assistant front desk manager who was unable to assist in anyway and kept saying they did not have the manpower to assist as they have now put me further away from the exit. His inability to assist with the problem the boat/company had created makes me wonder about the quality of their customer service. While the rest of the cruise was enjoyable to include the cabin being well kept (thanks to our great stateroom attendant), entertainment as expected on a cruise ship and dining on par, should the first place runner of a race trip before the finish line they would not win. As such, the experience at the end of this trip was absolutely terrible that as of now, I strongly recommend against Royal Caribbean and do not expect to sail with them again (even if given the free cruise offered by their survey where my sentiments were also noted). Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this ship for the destination and because our group of 13 had 3 children who we thought would enjoy the variety of activities. I was disappointed in the Ovation and will not likely use RCI again. This was our second cruise and ... Read More
We chose this ship for the destination and because our group of 13 had 3 children who we thought would enjoy the variety of activities. I was disappointed in the Ovation and will not likely use RCI again. This was our second cruise and if it had been our first, it likely would have been our last. Embarkation was a mess to put it bluntly, just throngs of people milling around with no clear direction. There wasn’t enough room on the decks/buffet to find 2 seats together while waiting for our cabins to be ready. Once we got to our cabin, it was very nice. It was spacious with lots of storage. Later that night, we discovered that the bed is awful! It was very hard and uncomfortable, the pillow were like rocks. We did ask for extra pillows the next day but found those just as uncomfortable. The amount of hooks in the bathroom was great! Disembarkation was no better. We were assigned to report to the Theater at 9:20, we headed that way at 9:00 only to be stopped by a crew member and yelled at ( yes voice was raised) that we had missed our number being called and to hurry and get off the ship! Dining in the dining room was great. The food was tasty and service impeccable. We ate breakfast and dinner in the dining room most days. The buffet seemed to have a wide variety of food but it was always difficult to find a table. In addition, being told over the PA to eat quickly so others can sit is not conducive to a pleasant meal. No lingering over a cup of tea and enjoying the view! Sorrentos pizza was very good and became a late night stop every night for our group for the yummy pizza. The availability of popular activities like bumper cars, iFly etc needs to be expanded. The wait times are ridiculous. I was extremely disappointed that I was only able to book Pixels online before the cruise. We never got to do iFly which I was really looking forward to. I’m not sure how a passenger is supposed to register online for these things by 11 as suggested when my boarding time is 12:30? AFTER the cruise, I learned that there is an escape room. There was nothing about this on the website; my group would have lived to do this. Clearly there is not a large enough activities staff to cover the amount of activities on board. I was very disappointed in the IQ app as a messaging tool. To use it I had to constantly reconnect to WiFi to send or check messages as did my entire group. This made communication and planning in a group difficult. It is ridiculous that they charge 7.95 for this. A trip to guest services and the answer was that’s the way it works and showing me how to connect to WiFi on my phone like I’m dumb. 270 is an amazing venue, but it is small especially for some of the activities that they literally cram in there. Loved the indoor pool and solarium; the kids in my group are too old for the kid section but I did wonder about it as it never seemed to be open. The constant up selling was ridiculous and aggravating. Despite our disappointment with the ship, an Alaskan Cruise is amazing and a wonderful way to see some of the majestic beauty of the United States. Juneau was spectacular, we did a whale watching tour and Mendenhall Glacier. Skagway also had stunning beauty, we took a ferry to Haines and did a walk through the state park. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
So far consider this one of the WORST cruises we have ever been on (out of 27) and to be honest, that includes our Carnival cruise from hell back in 1998. This one is worse because I had such high expectations for it. One thing after ... Read More
So far consider this one of the WORST cruises we have ever been on (out of 27) and to be honest, that includes our Carnival cruise from hell back in 1998. This one is worse because I had such high expectations for it. One thing after another have turned this into the cruise from hell. The worst part for me is that I am constantly disappointing my kids and grandkids. So many things we had planned to do that I had been trying to arrange for months are “not available.” Reservations I have had for months are suddenly gone. But that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I guess I should begin at the beginning—getting onboard. The worst boarding experience ever. When we had filled out our boarding pass information pre-cruise, we were asked what form of identification we wished to provide for boarding. Because our passports needed renewing, we chose the Royal Caribbean listed choice of using our Nexus cards. If you are unfamiliar with the Nexus card it gives us easy entry into Canada by land, TSA Precheck at all airports, Global entry and more. We had to go through all the interviews, fingerprinting and background check to get them that you do for any Global Entry type card. And it was a choice on the RCL website that we could use to check in with. I even called RCL pre-cruise to make ABSOLUTELY sure that we could use them before I sent our passports in for renewal. I have an e-mail verifying that we can use it. Guess what? RCL forgot to tell the people at the Port of Seattle that they would accept Nexus, so our friends with passports and our kids with just birth certificates were allowed to board. But we were held outside the security area until someone came from the ship to tell them that it was OK to take Nexus cards. Are you kidding me? Were we really the first people the entire Alaska season to walk up with Nexus cards? Give me a break. Our friends from Canada had also tried boarding with their Nexus cards and the same thing happened to them but luckily they had brought their passports as well. Ours were (and are) someplace in the State Department being renewed. Once we got that screw-up fixed (it took almost an hour), we were told we could go through security and that the young man (who looked to be 12) would scan our cards and our boarding passes. Of course he messed that up because he scanned Kathleen’s boarding pass and paired it with my Nexus card and then could not figure out how to undo what he had done. So we had to wait while someone could escort us up through the security line, get us cleared through the X-ray machines and then take us to someone who could fix the young man’s screw up. All this time, our family and friends were getting further and further ahead of us. I know that may not seem like a big deal for you but I paid for the kids to go so I could see their faces when they first boarded a cruise ship. Thankfully we did get almost everything cleared up in time for us to do that, but… One of the other things the woman fixing the mistake told us was that we were now on a completely cash account. She said the credit card we had registered when we did our boarding passes had been compromised and somehow been linked to another stateroom with a family named Anderson in it and NOT Bellomo. She apologized but said that meant that we could not use that card. I told her that the Andersons were my daughter, her husband and her two grandkids and that my card was supposed to be covering the charges to their room as I was treating to this cruise as their Christmas presents. The woman could not fathom that? But she finally understood and got it straightened out. At this point they started boarding the ship in the absolute worst way I have ever experienced in 27 cruises. Even Carnival never did that back in 2001. No numbers, no lines, no priority, just everyone going for the door. Mass chaos. Total anarchy. Thankfully most of the people waiting were nice about it but I still can’t believe there was next to no supervision. From time to time someone would make a totally unintelligible announcement on the public address system but after hearing at least six of them, I have NO IDEA WHAT WAS SAID ON ANY OF THEM. Sounded like the Muppets Swedish Chef speaking Korean. I was told later that he was announcing that Crown and Anchor Diamond members (their loyalty club) and some info for Celebrity Solstice that was also boarding at the same time. So now we are with our kids going out of the terminal and up the gangplank. We get to the top to get on the ship and we get on! Yeah! But wait, the kids and grandkids who have been cleared and even have giant RCL stickers on their boarding passes that says 
“CHECKED IN” are told, “You haven’t checked in yet.” Please excuse my French but WHAT THE HELL! How did they get through to that point and how did they those big CHECKED IN stickers on their boarding passes. Luckily a very nice lady from the ship got them taken care of in about 10 minutes but once again, a Royal screw-up. Once the entire family was onboard (our Canadian friends were way ahead of us), I was sure that everything was going to finally get better but I was wrong. We decided to go get lunch (we had planned to do some other reservations before lunch but we were held up for so long, the kids were really hungry and you don’t mess with a five year old’s lunchtime) at the 270 Cafe, a little bistro type place that Kathleen and I had scouted out on our travel agent visit two weeks before. They served (from the looks of it when we went by on our visit) sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts. They did but it was our first introduction to Ovation food and it has proven to be true through lunch today—their food sucks. Only dinner last night was remotely passable. And we lucked into that one. Will explain what I mean by that later. The paninis were sad little things that remotely resembled a panini sandwich, a tiny slice of meat with some melted cheese that they microwaved, not pressed. Awful. After trying the sandwich I decided to try one of the salads so I ordered the “chopped salad.” The guy at the counter scooped me up a bunch of lettuce mixed with a few other ingredients, tossed it in a bowl and said, “Here you go.” I said, isn’t a “chopped salad” supposed to be chopped? He shrugged. I said, “Could I at least get some dressing on this?” His answer was that It was already dressed. Well you could have fooled me. And this was one of the better things I have eaten. For dinner we have early seating, which means we have two tables of six for us and our Canadian friends, right next to each other in the dining room. Early seating on this ship is 5:00 pm (our Brit friends Paul and Gail call that lunch) and at 5:15 they close the doors. We had not planned on eating in the dining room on our first night. For the first night we had decided that the one thing the kids really wanted to do was drive the bumper cars. And the only time they do bumper cars is 4:00 to 6:00 pm. What the heck? The only time? OMG. Talk about ridiculous. And there are more ridiculous scheduling things to talk about later. But let’s get back to dinner. We went ahead and did the bumper cars (which were tons of fun—pics below) but then thought we would head to the buffet to eat dinner. But this time it is 5:10 and the kids are getting hungry. We get to the door of the buffet and it is closed. It doesn’t open until 6:00. Again, WTH? SO we rush down to the 3rd floor and barely slide into the dining room (I think they were letting people in late because it was the first night.) We get seated and have a wonderful time service-wise. Our waiter and our assistant waiter are awesome. But the food was mediocre. Had I had any of it on a Celebrity ship, I would have sent it back. The prime rib was fatty, I ordered escargot to gross our my grandson and to dare him to try some and amazingly he did and liked them. Who would have guessed. But it was sad. Four tiny escargot swimming on a flat plate of melted butter. We did have a nice key lime pie for dessert. Breakfast and lunch on our second day were in the buffet and the place was a freaking zoo. Seriously. They make constant announcements asking people to eat and leave so others can sit down. I have NEVER heard anything like this before and hope to never hear it again. The food is some of the worst buffet food I have seen. Really bad. Even the lemonade is beyond watery. It’s yellow colored water. So sad. The burgers were cold, the pizza lukewarm, the salads mediocre to say the least. It’s not just the food. It’s the crowds. They are oppressive. And because of the poor systems for handling them on the ship, it makes it worse. What I mean by that is that everything is controlled in a really poor way. Let me give you an example. After lunch on the first day we took the kids to the outdoor pool. It was a beautiful day and the pool wasn’t as crowded as we thought it would be. There are three parts to the outdoor pool area. There is a large pool that is about 5 feet deep, a small round pool for younger kids. They can get in it and go around and around. And there is a bunch of water slides and sprinklers for kids as well. When we first went out and went to the pool, it was about 1:00 pm. The two parts for little kids were closed. When I asked a lifeguard when it was open and he said 2:00 pm. Great, we nursed the kids through an hour of swimming and ice cream cones and then went to see them open the kids area. Guess what, they only opened the round pool. We never did see the water slide area open—The one thing the kids really wanted to do. RCL—open your damn facilities. We found this to be true so often. For instance, the bumper cars which you have to strand in line for, are only open between 4:00 and 6:00 pm. And that’s when they schedule dinner. Get it together people! We can’t count the number of times we have seen people wandering around empty venues with no one to open them. The activity staff on this ship must either have very few people or they get a lot of time off. We have had a really hard time finding things for the kids to do. We took them to the “Ocean Adventures’ Royal’s highly regarded children’s program and my daughter and son-in-law were met by some of the most bored and uninterested in children people on the ship. Their answer to what the kids would be doing, is a gesture and them saying, “playing in here.” Nothing was going on. Add to that, that our granddaughter who will turn 6 next month was put in the 3-5 year old group while our grandson is in the 6-8 year old group. Our granddaughter is quite mature for her age, she reads and she is very old for her age but she did NOT want be left in a room full of three years olds while her brother had a good time with friends more her maturity level. So that program was out the window for us. Then we have the daily schedule for a ship where almost half the people onboard are under the age of 12 and practically nothing for them to do. I am going to put a copy of today’s schedule online when I get home and point out all the things that are available for kids (next to nothing). We ended up spending the entire morning in the arcade, spending grandpa’s money playing skeeball and air hockey and some free foosball. Even if the Kid’s Club had been viable for our kids, they have a limit of how many kids can participate at one time and they exceeded that as many parents just want to dump their kids for as much time as possible. Then on the second afternoon at lunch, the cherry on the top of all this. I asked Joel (my son-in-law) to make sure it showed on his daily schedule that they had reservations for the evening show that night. It was the only thing I had been able to reserve before the cruise. Nothing else had been available for reservation (even thought now that we are onboard we keep hearing crew ask us if we made reservations). I have tried on a regular basis for at least 12 weeks to reserve things like the iFly, the Northstar and other attractions and not been able to do so. The only thing I could reserve was things that cost money. If they couldn’t charge you for it, it wasn’t available to reserve. I even went so far as to call Royal’s travel agent line and discuss with them why we weren’t able to make reservations. We were told not to worry, that we would be able to make reservations once on board. Excuse my language but that was BULL! At no time could we make a reservation for any of those activities but the only thing we could make reservations for was this show, Pixels. So I did. I made the reservations for us, my kids and my grandkids. And they showed up on our reservation cruise planner right up until we came aboard. Then all of a sudden when I checked at lunch time today, my kids and grandkids no longer had reservations. I went to Customer Relations and they couldn’t figure it out and all they could do for us was offer us the show tomorrow night, immediately after we get back from a day-long excursion. The show starts at 7:00 and we don’t get back in time to eat dinner before the show. The woman who arranged it for me suggested we drop by the buffet for dinner after the show. She obviously has never had hungry 5 and 8 year olds. Just another screw up. It’s funny how the only things they have not screwed up is things we pay money for. All the shore excursions I paid big bucks for are there just fine but the reservations I made at exactly the same time, disappear. On our third morning, we had another half of a sea day as we didn’t get into Juneau until 12:30. During that time we had our Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle. The Meet and Mingle was somewhat eye-opening and interesting. The crew member hosting the event was the Groups Coordinator. Kathleen and I were two of the first people to arrive and she made the mistake of asking me how our cruise was going…I let her have it. Now, not in a nasty way, just the unvarnished truth of why I felt this was one of the worst cruises we have been on. She handled it well but offered me no solutions. She was SHOCKED about the announcements in the buffet and not surprised by my other complaints about scheduling and reservations. The Meet and Mingle itself was very nice. The Activities Director came by with a bunch of freebie stuff to give away in a door prize raffle. There were about 15 parties there and about 30 people and I think someone in every group got something. We got to meet a lot of nice people that we had been conversing with online pre-cruise and I was thanked a number of times for my Seattle expertise and recommendations. One of the people we got to meet had posted a lot on the Roll Call and she helped be understand Royal Caribbean and this cruise a little bit better. She is a long time RCL cruiser and asked me how our cruise was going. When I told her she was surprised. She said her party of more than 20 was have a great time and she asked me for specifics. When I told her about the buffet she said she wouldn’t know since they never went to the buffet…or the dining rooms. They were Diamond Plus on Royal (the second highest level in their loyalty club) and so they ate many meals in the Concierge Club (only open to those people at her level of loyalty and those in suites). She also said that she had purchased the “Ultimate Dining Package” for everyone in their group. That means that they could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day in specialty restaurants. When I mentioned the fact that we couldn’t get the kids or the grandkids reservations to do many of the activities they wanted to do or had to stand in line for an hour to do something, she replied that they didn’t have to do that since they had pre-purchased what RCL calls The Key. The Key is like a Disney Fast Pass. It lets you jump the line numerous times on just about any activity or in making reservations for any activity. It costs (depending on the age of the person you are buying it for) is approximately $30 per person, per day. So that just showed me that to really enjoy this cruise, Grandpa (me) screwed up. I should have sucked it up and spent another $4,000 to get both the Ultimate Dining Package and The Key for all of us. Excuse my French again, that’s BULL! We were arriving in Juneau at 12:30 so after the Cruise Critic event, we went to get ready and to meet the kids for lunch before we got off the ship. And here is another example of RCL just not getting it. The majority of people on board have families. We were told that we needed to meet for our shore excursion at 11:45 in the Royal Theater. The only trouble was that not a single (insert my favorite expletive here) food venue was open before 11:30. Has anyone reading this ever tried to get a five year old and an eight year old to sit down and eat in less than 15 minutes? It’s NOT possible. Especially when you can’t even get into a venue to eat until 11:30. Luckily for us, the pizza place opened at 11:20 so we were able to grab a couple of slices and find someplace to sit and eat it. We then proceeded to the theater, got checked in for our excursion and were told to sit and wait for 45 minutes (we didn’t even dock until noon) in a section of the theater. I think the best thing we saw while waiting was a dad come in from the pizza place (quite a walk away from the theater) carrying six plates of pizza to feed his kids. Great scheduling RCL. BTW: I didn’t want RCL to schedule the shore excursion later, I wanted them to open the food venues earlier. If they have more than 1000 people (that’s how many were in the theater) that need to eat before they leave, then open the restaurants and the buffet at 11:00. Just don’t get it. Another huge disappointment for many onboard was our day in the glaciers. So here's what I think happened with Ovation and the glaciers. The US Government in its many entities hands out permits for the cruise lines to sail into the various glacier areas. These permits are passed out on a grandfathered-in basis. The longer the cruise line has been in Alaska, the better choice they get of where they want to go. For instance, Holland America has been in Alaska for years and years and they get Glacier Bay (the hardest one to get). Princess and a few other lines have those permits as well. Others go to Hubbard Glacier (BellKat's favorite), Tracy Arm and what we got...Dawes...the bottom of the list...because it is so hard to get into and has the most of the ice that stopped us from getting there. 
 My belief is that RCL had planned on moving Ovation to Alaska from Asia in 2020 not this year. But NCL did so well with Bliss last year, selling out and them bringing NCL Joy here this year that they pushed Ovation up. Which meant they didn't have space for berthing in Ketchikan and that they had to take the bottom of the barrel when it came to glacier views. Next year they have announced that Ovation will go to Glacier Bay but my guess is that they had the permits set up for this long ago but then when they decided to come a year early, they took what they could get. 
 I was ticked we didn't go up the fjord. I thought the captain was a wimp but on second thought, I don't think he made the decision. I think that was a corporate decision. But what really ticks me off is that this was as far as Ovation has gotten all summer long and yet they still sold Northstar Glacier Views for an additional $50 per person. If they really didn't think they were going to get up to the glacier, that was out and out fraud and shame on them. If you go back to reviews of past cruises this year, there are lots of people that have complained that they have not sent the ship up to the glacier. I spoke to one woman who paid the $50 for the Northstar at the Glacier but was NOT offered (at least as of the sixth night of the cruise) any kind of refund for that "experience." That is just wrong. 
 That's my theory. If anyone else knows differently or has a better theory, let me know. On the fourth day of our cruise we awoke in Skagway, Alaska, a tiny town that had less people than the ship we were on. Which by the way is part of the problem Ovation has. The ship had too many people on it. Not that other ships can't handle that number of people, but Ovation really can't. It just had a hard time handling the number of people we had on board. I think I already mentioned that there were (with all cabins full) almost 5,000 people on board, 1,000 of them kids. I had a thought when we were in Seattle moored next to Celebrity's Solstice, a ship we have sailed on (or one of her almost identical sister ships) many times. Sitting next to each other, the two ships (Ovation and Solstice) don't look that much bigger than each other (Ovation has two more decks). In fact when we were onboard I noticed that Ovation was built at the same shipyard as the Solstice class ships. And they are very much alike. Most of our cruises have been on RCL's sister line, Celebrity. One of the things I have always felt I didn't like about Celebrity's Solstice class was that they only had two banks of elevators—one at the front of the ship and one in the middle of the ship. On Solstice (with slightly more than 3,000 people when it is full) it just means you have to walk further to get to an elevator. On Ovation with almost 5,000 people, it means that people wait and wait and wait for an elevator on a 16 deck ship. An example: I almost always take the stairs on a cruise. I do that to fight any weight gain from all the food and drink. Kathleen with her hip replaced can't do that (one day I climbed 58 flights–yes I am nuts) so she takes the elevator. Normally I arrive after a four or five flight climb to find her waiting for me at the top of the stairs. But on this cruise, most of the time, I could climb 10 or 12 flights of stairs and then have to wait another four or five minutes for her elevator to arrive. That's nuts and just a symptom of the problems Ovation has. I heard so many complaints about the elevators, it just got old. And this is the same reason that we were hearing announcements about eating quick in the buffet. The buffet is the same physical size as Solstice (or not much larger) and feeding 2,000 more people. When we returned from our train trip excursion in Skagway, we took a short walk around the town and headed back to the ship. Because Ovation was moored at the very end of the pier, it was a really long walk in windy conditions. When we got back on the kids really wanted to go to the buffet and grandpa got outvoted so off we went. Surprise, there was an improvement in find a a place to sit. Because so many people were still in Skagway, we easily found a table but sadly, the food was just as bad as it had been before. Cold burgers, cold hot dogs, lukewarm pizza and warm plates for salads. It was just sad. How could a food program that produces pretty good food in the dining room be so bad in the buffet. After lunch the kids and grandkids wanted to try rock climbing and we hoped that there would be less of a crowd than there had been a few days before and we were right. Only trouble was that the first time they had done rock climbing a few days earlier, Maylee (who was well over the 42 inches they require to rock climb) was denied because she is only five (she turns six in three weeks). But why deny her now and not on the second night of the cruise? I don't understand. Consistency Ovation! Let's talk what I loved about our Ovation of the Seas cruise to Alaska with our kids and grandkids. So many of you have commented that every thing seems to have been horrible and now where should they take their kids on a cruise if not Royal. Well I am here to say, go ahead and take them on Royal Caribbean, just have lower expectations and a different mindset of what is important. Here are the five things I loved about our cruise. Number 1: Spending the week with my grandkids and their parents. It was a sheer joy to have my two grandkids knock on our door every day before breakfast and say, "room service," laughing the entire time. Even standing in line for hours with them was great. We had so many interesting conversations. I have never played so much foosball and loved it. Mason and I have a particular bond (I was lucky enough to get to take care of him when he was really little when his Mom was teaching and his Dad had to work) and we have always just been simpatico. He's my best buddy and I am his. So spending time with him is a joy for me. And Maylee loves me and adores her Grandma K. All the hassles we had on this cruise from start to finish are overshadowed by the incredible time we had with those two and their parents. It was a vacation we will all remember for a very long time. Number 2: Our stateroom. In 28 cruises (barring the one time we had a suite) this was the nicest room we have ever been in. It was the best designed, had the most storage, was the most comfortable as far as just being in it. Sure, the shower could have been a little bigger but at least it was an enclosure and didn't have a shower curtain. And the bed was one of the worst we have ever slept on (but that didn't detract from the great stateroom design). We should mention there are entire Cruise Critic threads out there about people bringing air mattresses because the beds are so bad. Number 3: The service team in the dining room. Res and Putu were actually better than pretty much any other serving team we have ever had. After having Richard and his team in Blu (on Reflection in Iceland) I didn't think it could get any better. But I was wrong. And the fact that I was wrong is what makes RCL the right place to take kids. You see even though the management has scheduling conflicts and the kid's club people were just ho-hum in their interactions with our kids, the real star of the ship for kids are the adults who "get" how to deal with kids. From our room steward Shetty who talked to the kids every time he saw them to the guy running the Flowrider who took time to work with kids on trying new things (he didn't have to do that) these people got kids. And above all, these two amazing people who served us each night in the dining room charmed our kids. Especially Res who just knew how to deal with kids so well. Number 4: The gym. It was spiffy! That's the best word I can give it. I went every morning for an hour and as usual it was packed on day one and almost empty on day six. But all the equipment is still like new. Best stationary bike I have ridden that I didn't own. The place was kept VERY clean. Number 5: The ship itself. Ovation is new and beautiful. It has been quite a while since we have been on a ship this new. Everything is still clean and sparkly compared to many other, older ships we have sailed on—even though Ovation is almost three years old. She has been well taken care of and if you are considering a cruise on her you will love the ship itself. I especially loved the artwork in all the stairwells. Of course you have to take the stairs to see it all, but the elevators are so slow, you can take your time on the stairs. That about does it. Not perfection but not horrible either. And I can say this unequivocally—if I had to do it again, and I could avoid a few of the bigger problems (like having a passport—that we just got back from renewal today) I would. Just avoid the buffet, eat in the dining room and take your grandkids. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
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