Looking for Ovation of the Seas reviews? Here’s an honest one. We recently went on a 9 night repositioning cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii. It was a very economical family cruise trip for us, clocking in at around $3300 for 4 of us for two weeks (including flight and hotel in Honolulu for a few nights). This was thanks to using a combination of credit card Aventura points and RBC Avion points for a one way flight from Honolulu to Vancouver. Here’s my review of the Ovation of the Seas.
Royal Carribbean has been voted as one of the top cruise lines in the world, and has the title for the Best Cruise Line overall for 20 years in a row.
Ovation of the Seas is a Quantum class ship (one of the largest ships that Royal Carribbean has) and started the first sailing in 2016. Ships in the Quantum class are very large, the Ovation of the Seas’ has a passenger capacity of almost 5000 people. It’s a massive ship. The Quantum class ships also have a lot of features other smaller ships might not have, such as things like Flow Rider, North Star observation pod, a wind tunnel or skydiving simulator, and rock climbing.
Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas is usually in the Pacific Northwest and does an Alaska sailing in the summer and in the fall months it makes its way across the Pacific Ocean to the South Pacific, New Zealand, and cruise from Sydney Australia. After we got off the ship in Honolulu, the Ovation of the Seas goes from Honolulu to Sydney and later on it returns from Sydney to Honolulu.
We went on a Vancouver to Hawaii cruise with Ovation of the Seas where one day was just cruising beside the Napali Coast of Kauai.
Table of Contents
My First Impression of the Ovation of the Seas
This is my first time sailing with Royal Carribbean and I certainly had high expectations. I had been on a Holland America cruise before and a Carnival cruise. I had heard that Royal Caribbean is a great ship for families and in general higher ‘class’ than something like Carnival, haha.
When I first saw Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas docked in Vancouver, I thought that the ship looked huge. It is very modern and has great art decor. The art and decor of the Ovation of the Seas is unique. There’s a large panda on the ship and each floor had unique art at the stair landing. It certainly felt like a newer ship and didn’t have the 90’s style tan coloured wall paint like the Carnival ship had.
Ovation of the Seas Staterooms
We of course were frugal and booked an interior stateroom. I didn’t mind booking an interior stateroom since they have a screen that shows in real-time what the outside looks like (images from a camera). It is kind of like a fake window.
It was a bit warm to touch but the black out blinds covered it up when we needed to sleep. I also didn’t mind an interior stateroom because I have an irrational fear my curious children would keep going out on the balcony unsupervised even when I tell them not to.
I checked out my friends’ balcony cabin and it was the same size as our interior stateroom except it had a balcony.
What’s the stateroom accessibility and convenience like?
The stateroom was accessible and the Ovation of the Seas deck plan was easy to follow and quite intuitive after a while. There are two sets of elevators one near the front of the ship and one near the back of the ship.
Also the hallways and corridors are very wide for a cruise ship.
Food Aboard the Ovation of the Seas
There are four dining rooms that have different designs but all serve the same meals. They just have different decor.
The dress code on the Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas was not too strict.
There were one to two elegant attire days, one Hawaiian themed day, one all white day, and one Rock and Roll day. The good thing is they weren’t very strict with the attire policy when dining at the Main Dining room. So if you didn’t have elegant attire, it’s not like you would be denied seating.
Main Dining Attractions
When you sign up for your cruise, you can pick your fixed dining time (usually around 5:30pm and around 7:30pm) or you can sign up for “My Time” dining when you go around 6:45pm. You can’t switch between the two. You either miss your fixed dining time and eat at the Windjammer, or you show up at your fixed dining time.
Was the food good? Surprisingly we felt that the food on our Carnival cruise was better. With the Royal Carribbean food it seemed like you had to pay extra if you wanted a lobster tail or a better cut of beef.
We didn’t try any specialty dining or specialty restaurants because fine dining with children is just not my cup of tea, but found the main dining room had different enough options for food anyway. The Coastal Kitchen on the Ovation of the seas is exlusively for grand suite guests and Pinnacle club members. There was also Jamie’s Italian (yes as in Jamie Oliver) available. Even fancier is Chef’s table.
Room service is also included for continental breakfast but there is a small charge if you order it for other meals.
We didn’t get the drink package but a friend we knew on the cruise did. It was something like $80 USD a day but it included all alcoholic drinks and if you like Starbucks lattes that is included too.
Some of the bars available on the ship are Schooner bar, sky bar, sunshine bar (near the pool), and the North Star bar.
The drinks were actually quite reasonably priced. You could get a glass of wine for $12 or a beer for under $10 USD. It wasn’t like a $22 USD Mai Tai or anything like that.
Complimentary Casual Dining Options
The Windjammer Marketplace has casual dining and I especially liked the design as you enter the dining area, you are led into a room to wash your hands before you pig out on buffet style food. Prior to this, you are encouraged to wash your hands while they say “Washy washy before yummy yummy”.
We also tried eating at the Solarium bistro once and it has similar food to the Windjammer except it is a la carte (it is still included and complimentary) just dished out on small individual plates. It had healthier fare like fish, hummus, and meditaranean inspired cuisine.
Sorrento’s pizza is open late and had great tasting pizza, it wasn’t busy and there was usually a place to sit.
Entertainment and Activities on the Ovation
Royal Carribbean certainly has got their expterise on entertainment and activities polished. There were so many things to do, we didn’t feel bored, even with five sea days.
To book these specialty activities, you have to book using the Royal Carribbean app on your phone. Some of them book up quickly.
RipCord by iFly
This was a cool experience and something you would normally paying over $100 to experience elsewhere. With this, you can experience similated sky diving for one minute in a wind tunnel. We had to watch a safety video and remove all jewelery (because anything loose will just get blown up into the wind tunnel) and wear a jump suit.
Other than unflattering pictures of my cheeks looking quite saggy, it was a cool experience. Even 4 year olds are allowed to do it. The staff make sure you’re safe and hold your leg even if needed.
The Seaplex sports area on deck 15 is a sports complex where you can play pickleball in the morning and it turns into bumper cars in the afternoon. There’s also basketball, soccer, dance classes, and even roller skating.
For bumper cars, you have to be older than 5 years of age and they check each passenger’s name and age on a list so don’t even think about lying about your child’s age!
Our kids enjoyed watching people attempt the FlowRider and wipe out. We didn’t try it ourselves though. The FlowRider is a similated surfing and boogyboard activitiy. There’s a current of water that similates the ocean or a wave.
The staff teach you how to get on the board but even then it can be quite difficult to balance.
With the North Star it is like a big viewing platform that goes 300 feet above sea level. It’s very safe and the views of the ship are great. If you’re claustrophobic you might want to think twice before booking it.
There are free options to go aboard the North Star and there are pay options (with extended duration of the ride). Again, you book using your Royal app, this one books up quickly.
Evening Shows and Performances
Finally, I thought that the Royal Carribbean really outshone itself with the evening shows and performances. The Royal Theatre doubled as a movie theatre during the day and had live entertainment in the evenings.
There was one show that you had to reserve ahead of time and it was Spectra’s Cabaret because it was at the Two70 area. It was a great show despite limited seating and very well done. The lights, sounds, and dancing were mesmerizing even if the plot didn’t make sense (the plot never really makes sense for these shows anyway).
There were also outdoor movies but seating was difficult to find and it was kind of cold to be watching movies outdoors on certain days.
Ovation of the Seas Pools and Fitness Center
As for the pool areas, there are two larger pools in the middle of the ship. One is an outdoor pool and one is an indoor pool both would be considered a family pool. Around the pool deck there’s lots of lounger chairs. One area is very shallow and meant for babies or lounging in a lounger with a few inches of water.
The pools were closed during the rough sea days. Watching the large waves in the pools mimic the large waves in the ocean was mesmerizing.
There are a few hot tubs too and these were open when the larger pool was not on the rough sea days. It was windy though and I remember getting hot tub water getting whipped in my face while trying to enjoy the ambiance.
There’s a Splashaway Bay area for kids. In the Splashaway Bay area there are two mini-water slides. These were closed during the colder rough sea days. Closer to Hawaii, our kids did the water slides non-stop for about two hours, two days in a row. There’s also a mini lazy river.
There is an adults only hot tub area with mini-infinity pools in the Solarium area.
The Ovation of the Seas has a gym and spa, but fitness centre hours were not that great. The fitness centre closed at 9pm and didn’t open until 7:00am. The water fountain was difficult to drink from (and you could not fill your water bottle with it). In addition, there is no shower at the fitness centre (unlike the Carnival ship I was last on where their shower stalls were huge in the fitness center).
There were fitness classes available, some of them had an additional fee.
Tech and Connectivity
The Royal App
The Royal Caribbean app was a bit difficult to navigate. I had to bring it to customer service the first few days to get it fixed because I wasn’t able to sign up for anything. It was something to do with my sign up email or something. However once that got sorted it was easy to see what activities were available.
Is Ovation of the Seas Good for Families?
I wasn’t a fan of cruising before having kids, when we went an Alaska cruise pre-kids, it felt like I was at a nursing home waiting for my next meal.
However, after having children I’m a big fan of cruising thanks to the childcare available.
Kids and Youth Areas: Adventure Ocean
Our kids were in different age categories at Adventure Ocean but they managed go to almost daily for at least 2-3 hours. It was a nice break from parenting and really did feel like a restful vacation. They had a great time there were games and activities for the kids. It was structured and also had specific start and end times of the childcare. For example, the morning session was from 9-12, you could drop off and pick up anytime in between 9-12 but you would have to pick up at the latest, 12pm.
They even had evening Adventure Ocean so that parents could go and watch a show on board, but we didn’t participate in that since that was our kids bedtime.
They were pretty fixed about making sure your child walks in willingly to Adventure Ocean without tears, so for our sometimes shy 4 year old, we weren’t able to take her to Adventure Ocean at times.
Beside Adventure Ocean is a play area for younger children with a small slide and it is fenced.
Family-Friendly Entertainment and Activities
Royal Caribbean offered family friendly activities, like scavenger hunts and organized games. They also had some fun lounge areas for teens and also an area for kids with some Rugrats TV playing and an enclosed area.
They also had an area where you could play video games above the SeaPlex and of course an arcade. Each game at the arcade was something like $2 so that can definitely add up quickly.
There were also game shows that were family friendly and also game shows that were adult oriented that were on in the evenings.
Ovation of the Seas Deck Plan
The updated Ovation of the Seas deck plan is here. Deck 5 is where the Royal Theatre is. Deck 6 has cabin rooms and Two70 and access to the library, but you have to go from deck 5’s Two70 to access the library. It’s a small library and is closed when there are shows on at Two70 (obviously, since it’s so loud).
On Deck 4 there is also access to the Royal Theatre and it is where the main dining areas Silk and American Icon Grill are. On Deck 3 are the other main dining areas, Chic and The Grande. As mentioned earlier they all serve the same meals. Deck 3 also has the Casino Royale.
Deck 14 is where Windjammer Marketplace is and where the outdoor pool and Splashaway Bay is.
There’s also a Bionic Bar where a machine can make your drink for you. It’s quite interesting to watch and had the kids entertained for a few minutes, at least.
Ovation of the Seas Reviews
I haven’t been on that many cruise ships (this is my third cruise, but the second cruise this year for our family), but it is a great way to get travel with kids.
I was very pleased with our Ovation of the Seas experience and it was a unique and relatively affordable way to get from Vancouver to Honolulu. The passenger to crew ratio was good, with something like 3000 passengers and over 1300 crew members.
The Pros of Sailing on Ovation of the Seas
The Ovation of the Seas is a large ship and it is modern and new, and the customer service was great. The space within the cabins are very well utilized.
There was a lot of storage space, I could even fit our folded up Bob jogging stroller in the closet.
There was a lot to do and we never felt bored, even with five sea days. There were some rough seas in the middle but it wasn’t too bad and we managed.
The Cons: Considerations Before Booking
There aren’t really any cons, mainly that you have to pick “My Time Dining” or pick the scheduled dining times (you have the same table and servers each time you can’t pick and choose) and stick to that. There wasn’t a very large window to arrive before you are told that you missed your dining time.
Another con is that the fitness centre hours are not great, it would have been nice to be able to get a longer workout in after the kids went to bed, or for my husband, to get a workout in before the kids wake up (like what we usually do at home, haha).
The Internet packages were expensive but the Internet is relatively fast compared to other Internet access on other cruises. There was a moment when Internet was down and everyone was lining up at guest services complaining of course. We live in a time of Internet addiction, that’s for sure.
Concluding the Cruise: Final Thoughts on Ovation of the Seas
Repositioning cruises are much more economical compared to round trip cruises and buying a one way flight ticket (especially on points) is easier on the points wallet.
The cruise on the Ovation was relaxing and the food options were great.
Is the Ovation of the Seas Right for Your Next Voyage?
Would I cruise on Royal Caribbean again? Yes definitely. The customer service was top notch and the ship had wonderful staff.
Would I sail again on Ovation? I think I would, but not in the near future (just because it would be more fun to go on a different ship). I think the next time we go to Hawaii we will just fly there, but I wouldn’t mind cruising there again on a different Royal Caribbean ship. The Quantum of the Seas also heads to Hawaii from Vancouver.
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What is your Ovation of the Seas review?
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