We spent 11 nights on the Royal Carribean Ovation of the Seas cruise ship. Departing from Circular Quay, Sydney, in front of the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Ovation of the Seas took us to New Caledonia, Vanuatu and New Zealand as part of a South Pacific feast of cultures and experiences. This is the summary of what is onboard the Ovation of The Seas and the time spent on the cruise, including the things we really liked and things that were not quite our style. For people who have done every possible type of travel, this was certainly a unique and memorable experience for both of us.
Entertainment on the Ovation of The Seas
Northstar: Highest viewing deck on a cruise ship
The Northstar is the onboard viewing capsule that literally is like a crane bringing guests up more than 90m above the sea to have an awe-inspiring 360-degree view with the boat and the sea. Book in advance instead of waiting in line for the open sessions, you won’t regret it. Unfortunately, our first booking was cancelled due to the terrible weather conditions, but we were thankful enough to reschedule thanks to last-minute cancellations and having some wasta being media.
iFly: Flying in the middle of the ocean
The Ovation of the Seas is not missing any adventure activities for sure with its iFly. All guests have a free skydiving simulation session at RipCord® by iFLY® in the wind tunnel. You must book in advance and hurry to do it because the spots do fill up. All guests get a complimentary flight, but again, limited spots.
Everything is quite quick, you get there, check-in, watch the safety video with your suit, after that you put your earplugs, glasses and hat, then that’s it, up you go in the chamber and the activity starts. You only get one go so use it to the fullest! If you like it so much, you can book a longer training, which is obviously paid. Photos are taken from the staff which you have to buy on the spot if you want them as they DON’T go to the photo store.
Flowrider: Surf wave for all to enjoy
You can attend the sessions for standing surfing, boogie boarding, surf under the stars, the team is quite clear with the schedule on the sessions! You must line up and it is first come first serve! A jump on the 40-foot-long FlowRider® surf simulator is very well worth it and a quite nice photo opportunity onboard the Ovation of The Seas. It was always full so we did not get a chance to do it, so if you don’t like waiting, either book a private lesson or skip it.
Rock Climbing wall
We didn’t take some time to participate when the weather was good, but if you want to try something new, rock climbing on a ship is pretty nice. From the views of it, the reward of a nice view once up isn’t so rewarding but it still quite an activity to offer on the cruise ship! This activity is offered for all levels from beginners to speed climbers. This activity is also complimentary, everyone can enjoy the climb 40 feet above deck with no reservation required. First come first serve and the activity isn’t always running so you will need to check the cruise schedule giving every night for the next day. Climbing really isn’t our thing but if it was you could spend hours there.
This was probably my favourite area of the whole boat personally, I could go there at virtually any time of the day and a cool event or sport was on. When the court was free, you could shoot hoops or kick the ball around. They had skating session and even bumper cars for adults and kids to enjoy. They also had volleyball, football and Basketball tournaments to join in. On the upstairs level, they had Pool, table tennis, Futsal, Air hockey, video games and other cool arcade activities. One of the things I did not particularly enjoy about the area was that some young kids tended to take over the courts playing football which was a bit of a danger to other people, however, this was an outlier and the rest of the time was very enjoyable.
On the same floor, you will find an arcade area where anyone can participate. These arcades require payment for each game rounds unlike the other activities on the upper level. Not really our style but there was enough to keep young kids busy for hours. Thuymi and I played the cars and of course, I beat her haha
One of the many incredible shows the boat had, this one has its own article as we enjoyed it so much! You can find it out HERE
Shows by Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean does not disappoint in terms of entertainment and has many surprises in the hat to make sure the guests are always having a good time. On top of Pixels, there are many other comedy shows, singing shows but also musicals. During our trip, there was an original production of RC musical which we quite enjoyed. There are not only shows at night, but they’re also showing during the day, and they generally really are exciting spectacles. Some of the shows you will need to book your seat in advance as there is limited seating. That can all be done on the Royal Caribbean app which will help you stay organised.
Complimentary Dining on the Ovation of The Seas
Main Dining Room
With four different settings, Chic, Grande, Silk and American Icon Grill, there are food types for everyone. Feeding a small army of 3000 people is a tough task, but with split eating times, buffet areas for any time eating. Each of the four dining outlets is absolute class and run like a well-oiled machine. On the ship, depending on your package type, you are allocated an area to eat and from there you can choose if you want the buffet options or the ala carte menus. During the land days, there will be no lunch but for the sea days, they also provide lunch options which are a huge variation from all over the globe. One thing that we really enjoyed was the personalities that came through the waiting staff. They knew everyone’s names and made a large effort to know us better, what we liked and did not enjoy to eat. This made the eating experience a lot more enjoyable.
At Windjammer, there is literally a counter for every type of food that you want. In regards to healthy food, personally I did not find that many incredible options, but it is there if you show a little discipline. If you are a healthy eater, there will be temptation everywhere. Chips, hotdogs, hashbrowns, icecreams, soft drinks are scattered everywhere so if you are a bit of a food snob, then maybe bring some nuts or pre-arranged food.
The food here is ample and buffet-style so you can have as much as you like. The food time is a full-on process and seating is at a premium. There is a salad bar, juice bar, bakery, drinks station, dessert area, meats such as chicken, steaks and of course, plenty of seafood to go around.
You can go for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We haven’t tried lunch and dinner there but every time we passed by the menu, it was lovely! During our cruise, they served a lot of Mediterranean influenced dishes. The solarium has an emphasis on freshness. It offers the very best of health-conscious dining at sea. Breakfast is the lightest of them all and less crowded so we did enjoy having breakfast there twice. Considering the bistro is located in an adult-only area, that could be a reason that it is less crowded.
Pro-Tip: Did you know that for China sailings only, the Solarium Bistro becomes Hot Pot? We are legit so gutted because we LOVE our hot pot haha.
Dog House serves up gourmet hot dogs for all to enjoy. We totally loved it and only had it once because, of course, watching our diet, unfortunately! You can choose delicious sausages and hot dogs from different origins and flavours. Don’t miss out on this, it is another cruiser’s favourite!
Pro-Tip: Both port and sea days, Dog House closes at 7 PM.
Fish & Ships
With complimentary fish and chips, chicken strips and chips, Alaskan pollock, you can also pay a little bit more for other option, Fish & Ships is super popular during the cruise! It is not always open but sure is from 3 PM and everyone walks around at that time with a fish and chips bucket which is amazing! This seaside seafood spot is just a few steps away from the pool. It can be super busy so try and time it when the line up is not so long.
One of my favourite places on the ship was Sorento’s, which was like walking through the streets of New York and finding a pizza place! They have pizza on demand, yep, that’s right. So good as well. If you are looking for a healthier option, they also have Italian salads and bread that you can feast on. This place is always full, but you never ever have to wait too long or a slice of pizza, they have speed down to an art. They are open until 3 am most mornings, so if you go and have a few quiet drinks you can finish the night off with a great slice.
Pro-Tip: Sorrento’s is also open late-night. Imagine the late nighters that just finished their parties and post-casino session haha! Paradise!
Located right in the Royal Esplanade, this is the perfect spot to people watch and take it easy. This was the place located closest to our Level 3 cabin, we came up here all the time for our dose of cookies and coffees. Plenty of sandwiches here as well to take out and eat. Close to all the shopping area as well.
The Café @ TWO70
We found ourselves at Cafe 270 at least once a day while on the cruise ship. Located right at the back of the boat, there are dozens of tables that are great to sit and chill, enjoy and watch the view. The cafe has baked good, sandwiches, doughnuts, free coffees and a menu that changes so much. There are shows, quizzes and events that all happen around the cafe so it is always a hub of activity.
Speciality Dining on the Ovation of The Seas
Located down the far end of Chops Grille, the table serves every night and delivers a six-course meal which is selectively paired with a wine. We did not eat here so cannot comment on the quality of the experience. However, a typical menu can look like: caviars, soups, salads, meat dish, dessert and liquor to finish it off. The experience lasts generally about 3 hours and is limited to 12-16 people a night. The chef will go through and talk about his drink and food pairings and tell stories of the food origins.
Certainly, a memorable dining experience, make sure you allow yourself at least 2 hours for all 3 courses to come so you can enjoy them. Known for the wide range of meats, from seafood to steak, Chops certainly exceeded expectations with a great cut of Japanese beef and some incredible seafood soups. It has a very dark ambience, so its ideal for something more intimate and romantic and not so much for families. We had to rush our meal but to the staffs’ credit, they handled us really well. This place is certainly not for vegetarians and only open for dinner.
Pro-Tip: It is open for lunch on sea days!
Offering everything seafood, in particular, the Japanese cuisine, we had a feast here ordering a wide range of food, from Deep Fried prawns, sushi, sashimi and signature rolls. The Chef is right in front of you cooking so you can see our plate be created right before your eyes. There are only a dozen seats so it is limited seating, so you must book in advance to get a table.
Although we didn’t get to experience Wonderland on our cruise, the restaurant follows an Alice in Wonderland theme and looked seriously cool. We can’t speak about the food, but going inside reminding us exactly about the movie, and that is a good thing.
Jamie’s Italian By Jamie Oliver
Open for lunch and dinner, if you are looking for some Italian, head over here! Order Tuscan-inspired dishes crafted by the famous chef from the UK, Jamie Oliver. Find delicious pasta made in-house fresh daily. There is also a good selection of grills, entrees, small plates and desserts you can order, all at a fixed price. We did not go eat there as we didn’t feel much like Italian and when we wanted a pizza, we simply went to Sorrento’s for a quick slice!
Bar & Lounges
Vintages, Schooner Bar, TWO70 Bar, Boleros, North Star Bat, Diamond Club, Sunshine Bar, Bionic Bar, the Pool Bar and the English pub, not to also mention the bar at the Music Hall, you will have plenty of places to sit and chill with a drink.
Wellness on the Ovation of The Seas
They are full Spa facilities and a big fitness centre onboard. We did not get the chance to visit the Spa much but spent a whole lot of time in the jacuzzis all around the ship. The spa had a sauna, steam room, relaxation area, singles and couples massage spots and a wide range of massages available. The gym is complete and quite busy unless you go early and 7-8 AM, 4-8 PM are the times that are the busiest. In terms of facilities, they have absolutely everything that a regular city gym would expect to have. They have heavy dumbbells, a wide range of machines, over a dozen treadmills and a huge stretching space. The only things they do not have, and we are being picky, is an Olympic bar and barbell weight. However, as you can understand, in the middle of the ocean the boat can move a move, so it is a safety measure.
Wet areas on the Ovation of The Seas
There were pools aplenty onboard the cruise. There are pools everywhere! And they all have a lifeguard so it is very safe as well. The pools are primarily on Pool Deck 12 and some are in the sun, some are inside. My favourite was the adults-only section, full of waterfall pools and four jacuzzies for the adults to relax and unwind. One thing that must be noted, is that the main kid’s pool gets full fast, and sometimes you will be sharing the jacuzzi with quite a few people. But in our experience, this never lasted too long and we were able to enjoy serenity quite often. When the seas got rough, they had to close down the pools which we were a bit disappointed, but we are super happy that safety is their main priority.
Well, there you have it. I think we have barely scratched the surface on what this monstrous ship contains, but these are certainly the things that stand out the most for us. Is a Royal Caribbean cruise for everyone? Not at all. If you prefer to sit on a beach and dry land then the cruise may not be your best holiday choice. However, if you want to be pampered, not think about anything and have a go-with-the-flow holiday, this one may be perfect. We thought the service went above and beyond hat we expected and for how much a holiday is worth, you certainly will get more than your money worth.
Disclaimer: Our trip with the Ovation of The Seas was part of an organized trip by Royal Caribbean Arabia. All of the opinions about our trip and tips are entirely ours. Thanks.