The Ovation is a large modern ship with numerous activities built in. All over the ship there are things to do, or that's how it might seem. The ship appears to have everything a cruiser would want. It has the usual RCI flow rider, ... Read More
The Ovation is a large modern ship with numerous activities built in. All over the ship there are things to do, or that's how it might seem. The ship appears to have everything a cruiser would want. It has the usual RCI flow rider, rockwall (poor), many pools, Spas(Whirlpools) and a wonderful Solarium as well as the Seaplex, a marvelous area in which nearly every active sport is played (basketball, dodgeball, cricket, table tennis, etc.,) as well as the Bumper Cars which were a lot of fun for adults and kids alike. There is also the North Star and Rip Cord iFly in which you can learn to sky dive (booking required and is free). So, with so many things to do, one would think that you would always be busy...well, no.
Aft in the ship (level 5) is the truly magnificent room called the Two 70, a very large high-tech room and bar in which many functions and lectures are held, as well as trivia etc. The robotic screens and main screen (rear windows) simply must be experienced to describe.
So many magnificent things to do and see, but not everyone can or wants to fly, surf, play basketball, table tennis, drive bumper cars, or sit in a large bar with loud music (no matter how good it is). When the weather was bad (and we had several days) the outside activities are simply not possible and the ship's small activities (or lack thereof) was sadly exposed. There were not enough things to do, the little things that most guests like to see or participate in. Baggo, ring toss (quoits), deck xxx, paper plane making and flying and golf putting were conspicuous by their absence. There were a few activities but very much diminished, I suspect because the activities crew are used to the big-ticket items doing much of their work for them. So much trivia, but little else.
But overall, huge and grand though the ship may be, it is poorly laid out and designed to be functional for passengers. The library is poked away on deck 6, but you can only enter it by going through the Two70 on deck 5. It is poorly stocked and very small for a ship of its size and if a show or function is in the Two70, then you can’t get to the library.
Finding your way around also did not at times make a lot of sense. Maybe they designed it to be a 'rabbit warren'. Sometimes you need to walk through a restaurant to get to somewhere else and there's little choice but to do so. The Schooner Bar is poorly located and designed, and it is impossible to listen to quiet piano music while the rock band is playing underneath in the music hall. A constant thump, thump and a vibrating floor puts an end to that. The Royal Esplanade is also too narrow and when there are sales on board (every day) it is difficult to get through from one end to the other or to use the cafes located immediately off the esplanade. Because so many things are built in, the design seems to be very disjointed and nothing seems to 'flow'.
The entertainment brought on for this cruise was first class, and amongst the best we've seen on any ship, but the design of the Royal Theatre is also poor with many seats unable to view the show due to pillars or overhang. Get there early and get a good seat.
The My-time dining room was the most disorganised we've ever encountered, but the food was good but not outstanding. The service from all staff, front of house and back, was also excellent and up with the best.
The Fitness centre is well equipped and was not busy. Great place to welcome the day, but many guests still do not wipe down the equipment after each use.
Embarkation and disembarkation were effortless and timely.
We also did not feel that there were as many staff as there used to be either in the dining rooms or around the bars. The staff they have are very good, but there just doesn't seem as though there are many to look after us any more. The price of drinks is exorbitant, but I think that this reflects the cheaper cruise prices these days and they must recoup somehow. If you don't drink, cruises are cheaper than ever.
Although we didn't have kids on board, we were aware that they are very well catered for on the cruise. Overall, a good cruise, but not our preferred ship despite the multi hi-tech active things to do. For us, we prefer the Voyager Class in RCI. Read Less