Yesterday, we were lucky enough to spend the night on board Royal Caribbean’s newest arrival, Ovation of the Seas, before it begins a series of taster cruises, followed by an epic 52-night ‘Grand Voyage’ repositioning cruise to its future home port of Tianjin.
Check-in was effortless and we were happy to find that ship deck plans were to be found all over the ship, along with plenty of lifts. Getting around was a breeze. Our first port of call once on board was the pool deck, despite it being a grey old day in Southampton. Family favourite Johnny Rockets has been replaced with a noodle restaurant based on Disney’s popular Kung Fu Panda, whilst the colourful Splashaway Bay managed to bring a rainbow of colour to Southampton. After checking out the North Star, we headed to the Solarium for a warm. With two jacuzzis, a tiered pool, plenty of loungers, a bar and a gorgeous Solarium Bistro, this spot promises to be popular on sea days.
Seaplex was abuzz with excitement as we took our turn on the bumper cars and attempted to keep our balance on roller skates (you’re never too old!). The Dog House was dishing out hot dogs in various guises but we had taken far too much advantage of the various nibbles available around the ship to give them a try. Next time! After visiting the arcade and cool kids hangout area, we headed out on deck to check out the RipCord skydiving simulator and the FlowRider surf simulator. Royal Caribbean’s signature climbing wall was looking as colourful as ever, although we were sad to see that we had missed the arrival of Ovation’s mascots – a giant panda and its cub – by just a day!
A tour of the spa unearthed cosy treatment rooms, including two for couples, a thermal suite, hair salon, beauty salon and even a dedicated area for the guys. With everything from teeth whitening to lash extensions, blow drys and mens facials on offer, it’s a great place to spend a sea day before formal night.
We ventured back inside and discovered a buffet as extensive as it was tasty in the Windjammer Cafe, arriving just in time to hear rave reviews of the adjoining Coastal Kitchen too, a restaurant exclusively for Suite Class guests. Jamie’s Italian dished up the tasty pastas and platters for which it has become so renowned, whilst waiters channelled Willy Wonka in Wonderland, where we tucked into savoury ice creams merging fresh crab meat and avocado puree – delicious! Michael’s Genuine Pub was as good as any British boozer we’ve ever been in, the Baker caps and braces of the servers’ outfits just adding the the ambience. We dined at Silk, one of the ship’s complimentary restaurants and a stunning dining room clad in red velvet and hung with Oriental lanterns. Service was fantastic and the food was to die for – seared tuna, filet mignon and warm apple pie giving us a chance to sample some of the most popular dishes of each complimentary dining room on board.
Ovation of the Seas has plenty to offer in terms of entertainment. We were lucky enough to catch a rehearsal of a mesmerising aerial performance in the Two70 Lounge, whilst Broadway shows were warming up in the plush Royal Theatre. The Wild Boys helped the whole ship relive their youth in the Music Hall, with an 80s mixtape made up of the kind of classics you can’t help but dance to. After filling the ship with the sounds of live salsa earlier in the day, Bolero’s later hosted the singing talents of the vocally gifted passengers on board. Who doesn’t love karaoke?
Ovation of the Seas is every bit as impressive as her Quantum-class counterparts and promises family holidays full of fun and fantastic food. A huge casino, additional high-end boutiques and subtle Chinese signage around the ship means there is no mistaking her final destination in her homeport of Tianjin. The ship certainly has the WOW factor and is sure to thrill the guests who experience her inaugural season.