Ovation of the Seas, Cruise On A Royal Caribbean Ship

This marks our very first cruise as a family! Ovation of the Seas is the newest and third ship in the Quantum Class, featuring 30 bumper cars, a view to marvel at from North Star and a wind tunnel that brings you 23 feet high for an indoor skydiving experience. Oh and did I say Dreamworks will be on board to entertain the children as well?

If you are someone who dislikes queueing, squeezing or sharing spaces with a crowd, then a cruise is not for you. Meyer had been dreading sail-off date for the longest time because he anticipated lots of queuing during our vacation. He said, "This is a full ship! 4000 people confined in one ship for four nights. You don't think we will have to queue for food, queue for play and queue for taxi? Oh goodness. It will be so crowded everywhere!"

I told him to chill and stop being so negative. It is after all a very very big ship! 4000 people will get lost somewhere and we won't even feel it.

Know what? I was wrong and he was right. We had to share spaces with a lot of people and it really was not funny when all you wanted to do was go for a quick try on the bumper cars only to find out that you had to queue 90 minutes to get a time-slot. Or an hour under the hot sun to go on the FlowRider surf stimulator. Oh goodness, young children had to queue under the hot sun to play in the water playground! Queueing does not also guarantee you an opportunity to play. If the time is up [activities are opened only at certain times of the day] and you are still far in the queue, they will turn you away. Sorry mate, try again tomorrow! [Okay. To be fair, we went over school holidays]

But on Port Day when everyone left the ship for Phuket? WE LOVED IT! We shared the whole ship with only a handful [few hundreds] of like-minded families and took this chance to enjoy all the activities to our hearts' content.

All said and done, did we have a good time? Looking at the pictures, I think we did. If only there were a thousand people less on board. We like our holidays quiet.

There are eight big tips about the ship that every family should know:
1. Best Age For A Child to go on this cruise would be six [and 106cm tall] in my very honest opinion. To board the North Star and play in the water playground, your child has to be at least 106cm tall. To rock-climb and ride on the bumper cars, your child has to be at least six years old. To iFly and roller skate, three years old. The price for children and adult to cruise is the same. So why not make the best out of it by bringing your child at the right age?
2. Book Your Activities In Advance because you may encounter a fully-booked situation if you didn't! Once you get your reservation confirmation via email, you will be guided to log in to their website to schedule in your activities. If you are not able to pen in any bookings, that is because the ship have closed all bookings. They reserve 50% of activity reservation online and when that is all taken up, the next 50% of passengers will have to book their activities on board the ship.
3. Getting Connected With Wi-Fi. There is no free wi-fi on board. Passengers are required to pay S$17 per day per device. We paid for only one wi-fi connection and shared it by logging in and out. You can log out of your phone to allow your other half to log in to his computer for wi-fi connection. It is flexible and easy to connect. Basically, you can share one wi-fi connection even though the website made it sound like one person will have to buy two connections if he wanted his mobile phone and laptop to be up and running.
4. Download Royal iQ App to book all your activities on board wherever you are instead of heading to Guest Services Counters. Note that this is accessible only when you are physically on the ship and logged onto the purchased Wi-Fi connection. We used this app to plan our daily activities as soon as we board because the online booking system was closed when we were ready to book. Get this settled before you even check in to your rooms! Learn More here.
5. Not All Activities Can Be Pre-Booked - You have to queue for bumper car, roller skating, circus school, rock-climbing, table-tennis and FlowRider.
6. Do Not Leave The Ship On Port Day if you want to enjoy all activities on board without having to fight for a slot. We had the BEST TIME OF OUR LIVES on port day when 90% of the passengers left the ship! No one was in the pool, we didn't have to queue forever to rock-climb or surf, the table-tennis tables were available and basically, the whole cruising experience suddenly felt relaxed! If Phuket is somewhere you really wanted to go [our port of call was Phuket], then make a dedicated trip for it. This holiday is after all, all about the ship isn't it?
7. Walk In To Check Availability if you are faced with a full-house situation while pre-booking. You never know! Someone might have booked up the slots but did not turn up because they chicken out on iFlying?
8. Leave The Ship Before 0830 hours if your family is an early riser. Everyone is given a time-slot to leave the ship to keep order and avoid over-crowding. However, we found out that as long as you've got your luggage and you are ready to leave, you can! Any time after 0845 hours, you will be faced with a long queue to leave the ship, immigration and taxi lines. Just take your breakfast on land.  

RipCord by iFly
Cost: Free, By Appointment Only
Minimum Age: 3 years old
Locate: Deck 15

This is the most awesome feature on Ovation of the Seas! I mean, a wind tunnel on board a ship? Of course we will go for it! While the minimum age to take a flight in Sentosa is seven years old [and costs S$89], it is three on Ovation of the Seas. Meyer and I went with Ewan for his first flight and he requested for another session on our last night! That one, he went alone.

I wonder where my four year old gets his guts from. He was praised all night by strangers for his confidence, disposition and social skills [ahhh we all know he's also very impolite to people who doesn't play his way too].

If you have experienced skydiving before, you would know that the basic stance is to keep your hands open at eye level. Look at him. He had it closed because he said, "That's what Superman does when he flies what." He was such a good sport that his instructors [different for both sessions] gave him a somesault spin before they let him out of the tube. What an amazing experience! What a life this boy leads. Watch him fly here.

My dad and Pat went for it too!

Faye, poor Faye. She was eager to go but was rejected even though she is just two months shy of turning three. She kept saying, "But mommy. I brought my socks already. I cannot go? I am taller already you know?" Know what little girl? You will have your chance and you will never stop flying. I promise.

Cost: Free, Queue Only
Minimum Height: 132cm tall
Locate: Deck 15

I had my first flow experience on board the ship and I must say, they should have advised riders on proper swim attire!

I got myself ready in a bikini and Meyer told me to pull a top over in case it flew off! Ok sure! I did that because I didn't want anything to fly off would I?

I jumped into the waves with my board, ready to rock this ride when my bikini bottom slid off my bum! Nobody quite saw it because the splashes at the top saved me from all embarassment. Only the instructor and I knew but he just shrugged it off and told me to go again if I wanted. I did. After I borrowed a pair of tights from my aunt, I went again! Woohoo! I must have handled the waves pretty well for the instructor to guide me one step further to go up on my knees for the surf! Alas, I lost my balance and ended my session with a hard bang at the back of the flowrider.

They removed the centre divider for solo riders and I went for a solo session once again! This time with my aunt's tights but the waves were even strong this time without the barrier and my tights came off too! IN FRONT OF A CROWD!

I don't mind sharing my shameful story here just to warn you ladies [and men]. If you ever want to do this, please wear a proper wetsuit that cannot come off in any situation whatever!

Told my whole family over dinner that evening for a good laugh and my daddy said, "Aiya! No big deal la. What you have, I also have. Many women lost their bikini tops coming own the old Big Splash in East Coast Park too!"

My son's reaction when I told him, "I lost my pants just now at flowrider Ewan!", he went WAHAHHAHAHHHHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAH followed by a slap on his thigh.

I had a lot of fun and learnt a good lesson to wear a wetsuit next time. I wonder how many ladies in the queue backed out after they saw what happened to me!

Cost: Free, By Appointment Only
Minimum Height: 106cm tall
Locate: Deck 15

We were looking forward to boarding North Star and pre-booked it for Port Day. We saw it go up several times on Day One and decided a view of the bare horizon can be boring. So maybe, going up on Port Day would be a better idea to capture the life of Phuket!

It is a jewel-shaped capsule that ascends over 300 feet above sea level and is one of the most anticipated feature on this ship!

Now the disappointment came when North Star broke down on Day Two of cruise day. We waited for it to be back in operation but they could not get it up during the whole trip. Besides, there is a minimum height of 106cm for all riders and my children could not go on it.

Why is there a height restriction you might ask? For safety. In case North Star gets stuck up there, children below the height of 106cm will not be able to fit the harness.

    Cost: Free, Queue Only
    Roller Skating: min 3 years old 
    Bumper Car: min 5 years old to ride, 8 years old to drive
    Table Tennis, Basketball and Football: Everyone
    Locate: Deck 15

    The SeaPlex is the largest indoor active space at sea!It is a distinctive sporting venue with thrilling new features that will inspire guests to let loose and connect with their playful sides. Featuring first-ever at sea experiences such as bumper cars, roller skating and a circus school with trapeze, SeaPlex is free and fun for all ages.

    The only problem I saw was the the queue. Time allocation will be given at the start of the session and there are limited spaces. Once all bands are given out, you will have to leave the queue for another day. Because of that, people come way early to queue just to get a slot! We just couldn't do it. How they can queue 90 minutes to get a slot on Bumper Cars is just beyond me.

    Our strategy? Play all games on Port Day when everyone is down at Phuket!

    The Open Sports Court was really fun! Anyone can enter as long as we had proper shoes. Ewan, Faye, daddy and I had a good time kicking goalies together.

    Cost: Free, Queue Only
    Locate: Follow Daily Planner On Time

    Free to photograph yes. But boy was I surprised that I was not allowed to use my own camera to photograph my children with Tigeress and Po! They had their official photographer on duty and a bouncer to stop people from snapping away. I know it's an opportunity to make more money but erm, if my photograph did not turn out as well as the professional photographer's, I would pay for it wouldn't I?

    I was pleasantly surprised that the other appearances by Shrek and Princess Fiona allowed us to use our own cameras. Maybe the characters from Kung Fu Pandas are considered Premium! *shrugs*

    Do not forget to book yourselves into Breakfast with DreamWorks! Although it is chargeable, I believe it will be an experience of a lifetime for the family. We were too slow at booking and all four days of DreamWorks breakfasts were booked out.

    Cost: Free
    Minimum Height: 106cm tall
    Locate: Deck 14
    Opens: 0900 to 1800 hours on Regular Days | 0900 to 1100 and 1500 to 1800 hours on Port Day

    To our disappointment, my children cannot play at the Splashaway Bay water slides! I was looking forward throughout the cruise to bring Ewan and Faye to play on Port Day [Ya, sorry. We just want to avoid the crowd and cramped everything on Port Day when everyone left the ship] only to find a height measure in front of the playground.

    Oh well, they qualified for Baby Splash Pool which was fun too.

    Cost: Free
    Locate: Deck 11 and Deck 12

    This is basically the KIDS CLUB! YAY! There is a Kids Club on board the ship! We checked it out because it looked like fun. There is an indoor playground which allows all children of all ages to enter for free play.

    For the Kids Club, children are operated into different age categories though - 0 to 2 years, 3 - 5 years, 6 to 8 years and 9 to 11 years. It is unfortunate that Ewan and Faye would have to be separated as they are four and two respectively. If Faye has no Ewan, she would not want to be left alone. Therefore, there is no chance for Meyer and I to drop both kids together at Kids Club at the same time for some couple time. Thankfully, our family came along for this trip and we could drop off the children for a bit to "get away".

    The daily programme and theme at the Kids Club are different. It looked so enticing on some days, making your Superhero cape,  that Ewan requested to go right after breakfast.

    Here is an example of how a regular Kids Club Day would look like - Day 2 Kids Planner.

    The educators were fantastic and what I liked best about it is that we get a handy from the Kids Club each time we dropped Ewan off. The handy is used for when our kid wants us to pick them up before the programme ends. Nice! We are always contactable both ways.

    We stayed in a Stateroom with Balcony which offers two twin beds that were converted to a Royal King, sitting area with sofa, bathroom and private balcony. The best part of this stateroom is how the sofa can be converted into a bed for the children! It opens up so big that the children do not get banged up against each other while rolling their tiny bodies around the whole night.

    I must add that their bedding are so soft, I felt like I had a good rest every night.

    Room service are free of charge for most items as well. We can order Continental Breakfasts, cereals and milk for the whole family to dine out in our private balcony.

    The size this stateroom is, in fact, larger than the size of our room at M Social Singapore where we staycated right after disembarking!

    In my past, before I became a mother, I was a hotelier. Naturally, I am always critical when come faced to faced with service providers. I was trained by one of the best hotels in Singapore and our call of duty is, "At Your Service". 

    I am impressed with the level of service standards extended to us throughout our cruise. 

    The liner had 4000 people to feed throughout the day. Food for breakfast, food for lunch, food for dinner and food for snacks. Not to mention, room service requests in the middle of the night. Dinner in several restaurants run concurrently at the same time in two seatings. For a moment, I thought about my banquet service in the hotel I worked. 

    Whenever we had a sit-down wedding requesting for a personalised Western menu, we would encourage our client to help by informing us the choices of each guest. It is important for us to, you know not screw up, when faced with 250 guests wanting different appetisers and main courses at the same time. 

    Yet, there at the cruise, they had to fire dishes for 4000 guests [2000 each seating] from a menu with six choices of appetisers, main courses and desserts without us informing them in advance! On top of that, they have to accede to special Kids Meals requests too. That explains why Ovation of the Seas hires 200-over chefs on board to execute meals with no mishaps. 

    Well, I know how they work because I understand kitchen operations and I would like to compliment the team for a job well done. 

    Lastly, the passengers are made of mostly self-entitled Singaporeans [me included]. You must know how impolite we can get when we demand for things or request for "top service". I observed and must give it up to the Royal Caribbean crew. They listened, no rush whatsoever, and explained their predicament to seek guests' understanding as much as possible. They may hear the same questions over and over again. We as guests may ask only once but they repeat the same answers more than a dozen times a day with no signs of impatience. I was getting impatient myself hearing them repeat after themselves! 

    So. To the crew of Ovation of the Seas, know that there will bound to be someone on the ship who appreciates all that you have given. I don't know how you guys do it, turning over the ship for the next batch of 4000 with no rest. Even airline crews get day offs immediately after a flight!

    Note: Royal Caribbean International is officially Gay Travel Approved. The global cruise line, a leading innovator of adventurous vacation experiences has shown an ongoing commitment to the LGBTQ community by demonstrating a spirit of diversity and inclusion on all of its 25 ships that visit exciting destinations around the world.

    I understand many people are opinionated about LGBT rights and how they will not support any event or organisation that embraces this community. For us, we believe in respecting every person, every religion and every belief. This newly-appointed award will not make or break our decision in cruising with Royal Caribbean International.

    Our little Travel companions 
    March School Holidays 2017 - Ewan at 4 years old and Faye at 2 years old 
    Click on our Travel tab to read all about our travel tips and tricks

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    A stay at home mum, blogging to widen her social life. 
    We want to echo the sound of love through our lives to inspire other mothers alike.


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