I was recently invited aboard the Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas for a 4D3N stay on its maiden voyage to Port Klang from Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore. Obviously, I was really excited to go on board, being a cruise virgin myself. I had heard stories from friends and family, of course, that cruises were really boring and for old people. But it didn't deter my excitement to go on this ship. It is touted to be the largest ship in Asia at 374m long and 18 decks high. This (giant) baby is 168,666 gross registered tonnes and is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities on board.
The billion-dollar smartship offers WiFi onboard and connection is fast even out at sea because of RC's own satellite providing uninterrupted connectivity. The ship's total capacity is 4,905 guests for its 2,090 staterooms. I was lucky enough to get one of the balcony rooms near the forward of the ship, which offered breathtaking views of the never ending ocean.
The ship is like a major shopping mall, gliding across the water in absolute grace and steadiness. You won't even realise you're on the ship as it sets sail. Though I am not exactly prone to seasickness, I do believe the vastness of the ship would ease much of the seasickness one would normally succumb to. Just look at the photo below... The lifts take you all the way up to the top deck.
But you know, if you're up for the exercise, you could walk up the carpeted flights of stairs and enjoy the different art pieces from artists all around the world displayed on each landing.
I spent most of my time on deck 14-16 where the Seaplex, pools, RipCord by iFly, North Star and the gym were located. There is an indoor pool for anyone to enjoy. It is fully air-conditioned, but you can still easily get a tan in there.
But I am definitely more of an outdoors person, so I enjoyed the direct heat and light from the sun. That's probably not the greatest thing for my skin, but I really love the feeling of the sun on my skin. The outdoor lounge chairs are also a lot nicer to lie on, while people watching and checking out the fitness buffs running on the running track.
At night, it is a great feeling to lie on the lounge chairs and gaze up at the infinite stars looking down on you, with gentle sounds of the water crashing against the ship in the background.
The outdoor pool area is fully equipped with a children-friendly wet playground, complete with slides and water features. It is also where the hot tub is located, a popular hangout spot for the adults later in the evening.
But one of the must-catch features on board is the North Star - a jewel-shaped glass capsule on the highest deck of the ship. It rises as high as 300 feet above sea level and rotates out to the sides of the ship to provide 360-degree views, when the weather permits. The ride up typically lasts 15 minutes and has a maximum cabin capacity of 14 people. Though this feature is available while the ship is out at sea, it is great to experience it when docked as well. I had the privilege of going on board while we were still docked at Marina Bay Cruise Centre, which afforded me views as gorgeous as this...
After we had ridden on the North Star, many of the media who had brought shoes and socks immediately went on the iFly. But I didn't bring my shoes... so I had to reschedule my session for the next day. So, instead of letting the day go to waste, I went ahead with the bumper cars and rock climbing. I am convinced that when adults go for bumper cars, they're out for the kill. I ended up a with a massive bruise on my knee after the session but I have to say, my inner child was the happiest it's been in a while.
Bruise or not, I wasn't going to let anything stop me from having the time of my life on board, so I threw on my shoes and went straight for the rock climbing wall. Don't be fooled by the colourful, welcoming facade of the wall. It isn't as easy as it looks for beginners! The wall attracted a lot of kids during the entire duration of the cruise and they seemed to have a lot of fun. I, however, was left with aching arms for the next day (because I have zero upper body strength...duh).
I also wanted so badly to try the body boarding, but I had scheduled myself to do it the next day instead of the day I arrived on the ship because I wasn't sure if my luggage had arrived in my room yet. But when I did try it the next day, I had the best time! I got an awesome tan from doing it, too. The instructors are there to kind of teach you how to launch yourself from the top to hit the waves and eventually get up on your knees, if possible. Otherwise, you're most welcome to just enjoy the waves on your belly.
But I think the most memorable part of the activities I tried was the RipCord by iFly. The skydiving simulator is a large 23-foot tall wind tunnel and free for all passengers to try. It is the first of its kind at sea. While you're supposed to feel like you're freefalling, I believe it's a lot more effort than just letting your body go slack as you "fall". We were each briefed for about 10 minutes before going in the machine. We were told to keep our arms bent, maintained at eye level and our legs straight...but this proved to be a lot more challenging once we were in the tunnel with four fans blowing intensely at us.
I think I got a toe cramp amidst the one-minute flight, which proved to be rather uncomfortable. But I would most definitely want to do it again. This seemed to be the most popular activity on board as it was all booked out by the first day for the 4 day voyage!
But if extreme sports really isn't your thing (which would be a shame, really), then there are plenty of other fun activities to check out on board. I never had a bored moment on board. When my body finally gave in and wanted a break, I retreated to the Bionic Bar to grab a drink (when you're out at sea, it is always happy hour!)
At the Bionic Bar, your drinks are not made by humans, but machines! (Machines are taking over this world...) The Bionic Bar is a brainchild of the creatives at Makr Shakr, who brings us a device that makes us cocktails with just a few clicks on an iPad. This is a kind of robot, I would love to have in my house, y'know what I'm saying? Check out the video of the bionic "arm" making my drink.
After grabbing a drink or two, and maybe dinner, you could also head down to the 270 theatre, a cutting edge technological stage, with 270 degree views of the ocean in real time during the day and a spectacular cabaret at night. Spectra's Cabaret is a show created just for Ovation of the Seas, having adopted a similar theme from a sister ship. The theatre seats 500 and is almost always booked out!
It isn't hard to see why. Spectra's Cabaret is an assortment of beautiful, bombastic, bright and loud performances. There are feathers, flags, drums, harmonies, robotics, everything you could imagine in one. In just one hour, Spectra takes you all around the world, from Asia to Europe to South America to Africa. With just 16 performers, you will be entranced by the dancing, singing and choreography.
The next 3 night cruise on Ovation of the Seas sets sail from Singapore on 3 April 2017 from only USD340 per night. Check it out on http://www.royalcaribbean.com/ now.
Also, stay tuned... More about Ovation of the Seas 18 restaurants on board in the coming posts!