Ovation of the Seas - April 2016
Helen Worthington – 14/04/16
I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced not just one, but two, of Royal Caribbean’s ground breaking Quantum Class ships, having just spent a night on the latest addition to the fleet – ‘Ovation of the Seas’. Previously blown away by the innovative ship wide features on ‘Anthem of the Seas’, I took this opportunity to take a younger set of eyes with me (in the shape of my daughter), as I was interested to see how she reacted to this fabulous Class of ships. I was not disappointed, she spent a lot of time ‘instagramming’ her non cruising boyfriend and he is fast becoming a convert!
‘Ovation’ has the same WOW! Factor as ‘Anthem’ and I think that this makes the Quantum Class my favourite of all Royal Caribbean classes of ship. The Freedom class ships (Independence, Freedom and Liberty) premiered iconic advances in their day, as did the mammoth Oasis class ships (Oasis, Allure and the soon to be launched, Harmony) but it’s the cutting edge technical and technological aspects of the Quantum Class that impress me the most!
‘Ovation of the Seas’ was built in Germany and completed on April 8th 2016. She weighs 168,666 gross tonnes, is 1142 feet long and only has a 28’ draught. She has a maximum speed of 22 knots and carries 4,180 passengers at double occupancy.
For activity junkies there is a gym with cardio equipment, weights and spinning bikes, Flo Rider, Ripcord by IFly (sky diving experience), dodgem cars, roller skating or circus training and table tennis, air hockey, foosball or pool in SeaPlex (the largest sports and entertainment complex at sea), a rock climbing wall and 2.91 laps of the deck is one mile!
The Royal Promenade (first introduced by Royal Caribbean on their Voyager class ships) is still in evidence, albeit in the slightly altered format of the Royal Esplanade. It is home to the Bionic Bar (cocktail mixing by the robotic waiters Ro & Bot) and a selection of shops and eateries like Sorrento’s (just the ticket for late night pizza), the complementary Cafe Promenade and the Starbuck-esque La Patisserie with supplementary charged goodies including a huge range of macarons, pastries, gateaux and premium branded drinks. In my view, it’s still the best place on board to sit and people watch over a coffee or bowl of granola!
Opposite the Bionic Bar is ‘Wonderland’ the quirky speciality restaurant based on ‘Alice in Wonderland’, with menus on slates that reveal their secrets at the stroke of a seemingly magic paint brush, whilst at the head of the Esplanade sits Michael’s Genuine Pub (American gastro pub cum sports bar) with Izumi (a Japanese restaurant) above.
Strolling aft, along the ‘Via’, you come to ‘Jamie’s Italian’ (Jamie Oliver’s restaurant at sea, complete with his signature deep fried polenta pieces), ‘Vintages’ wine bar and the absolutely phenomenal multi functional space known as ‘Two70’. To get to the stern of the ship you have to walk and gawp past the most amazing displays of art and sculpture – all showcasing different mediums. It may not all be to your taste, but has to be admired for its sheer inventiveness and thinking ‘outside the box’ mentality, which has inspired so much throughout the whole of this ship.
We saw the excellent Gareth Oliver (ventriloquist) and a really accomplished band playing cover versions of popular hits in ‘Two70’ – complemented by wraps and a cake from ‘Café @Two70’, a glass of something suitable from the Champagne Bar there and a brief viewing of the ‘Vistarama’ effects.
There are four complementary restaurants (a sort of de constructed main dining room) , also aft, in a block of 2 venues opposite and above each other on decks 3 & 4. As on ‘Anthem’, you can partake in ‘Dynamic Dining’ or ‘Classic Dining’ options for your evening meal and thereby experience each of the 4 restaurants. When the ship relocates to Asia you will be able to access ‘Cosmopolitan Dining’ as well (a combination of Dynamic & Classic styles – your choice of fixed time dining wherever you want!) Perhaps you would prefer something more casual in ‘Windjammer Marketplace’ (buffet restaurant), the ‘SeaPlex Dog House’ food truck or the Solarium Bistro - in place of ‘Devinly Decadence’, found on ‘Anthem’. It is ideal for a light meal whilst enjoying the tranquil ambience of the adult only Solarium. It serves light bites (including fresh salads and snacks), but I have to confess that I preferred the special twist on spa cuisine that Devin Alexander brought, adding to the full spectrum of eating on a ship (but sadly now no longer on ‘Anthem of the Seas’).
Naturally, there are a lot of similarities between all the Quantum Class ships – there is the unique (to the Class) North Star 360 degree, 7 tonne, glass observation capsule, soaring 300’ above the sea. Chop’s Grille speciality restaurant is found on all Royal Caribbean ships and there are a plethora of bars (some of which, like The Schooner Bar) are also common to the whole brand. There are some noticeable ‘tweeks’ as well – aimed at the Asian market in some cases: ‘Johnny Rockets’ has been replaced by ‘Kung Foo Panda Noodles’, the casino is larger, the gym and Vitality Spa smaller. All signage is in dual languages, even the pizza menus at Sorrento’s!
The artwork on view has different aspects too – although the door knockers in ‘Silk’ and the USA map in ‘American Icon’ are on both ships, the plank pictures in the latter restaurant are of more rural American scenes than those on ‘Anthem’. The themes in the lifts are different too – animals wearing glasses on ‘Anthem’ but girl’s faces with sunglasses, shades of blue and sand, on ‘Ovation’. Similarly, the polished mirror and stainless steel sculpture (Eve), outside Jamie’s Italian on ‘Anthem’ has been replaced by a moving red curtain of shimmering butterfly effects, giving a new perspective when viewed from different angles. There are still the LED displays as well as a curtain type mural along the aft lift lobby wall (in place of ‘The Healing Garden’) and sculptures and wall effects in all the usual places. Round every corner there is something new and interesting to stop and marvel at.
The cabins are the same on ‘Ovation’ as on ‘Anthem’ and I would point you to my blog and photos of ‘Anthem’ to avoid repetition. Interestingly, look out for the larger balcony areas attached to the cabins where the ship changes shape, eg. Cabin number 12562 & 12564. I know that 12564 doesn’t look any bigger on the deck plans, but as it was my cabin for the night, I can talk from first hand experience!
‘Ovation of the Seas’ is not just an extraordinary ship she really is a ‘SmartShip’ as well. She boasts VOOM - the fastest internet service at sea, high-definition screens with access to Skype and Xbox Lives – so you can stay connected with whoever you wish at home, WOW bands (aka RFID readers – Radio Frequency Identification bracelets) rather than plastic Sea Passes and Royal iQ apps allowing you to book shore excursions and make spa and restaurant reservations, even pre cruise. All this means that SMART Check-Ins take less than 10 minutes and you can even track your luggage (which will probably take longer to reach your cabin than you will!)
All in all, Royal Caribbean are to be applauded on the launch of this new ship – there are now 3 Quantum Class ships in total, so there must be one sailing in an area you would also like to cruise in – get in touch and I can let you know! In the meantime, I am offering a standing ovation to ‘Ovation of the Seas’.