My little family and I have just returned from our summer holiday on a cruise ship: Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas. This is the first time I have been on this ship. Such a massive boat, and I was pretty impressed! Just warning you though... This is a long post!
We were away for 8 nights and 9 days, cruising from Sydney to the South Pacific Islands of Mystery Island and New Caledonia.
This is the second time I have gone on a cruise. The first I was pregnant with my son (David), this time he was 5. So the first time I could pretty much do whatever I wanted- eat, sleep, relax and watch the shows at night. This time it wasn’t quite so relaxed... but the hubby and I both agree that considering we have a five year old who won’t sit still it was probably the most relaxed and best priced holiday we have been on since having him.
We spent a lot of our time in the pool- David can’t get enough of the pool! They had three largish pool areas with several pools/spas/splash sections- one area was for adults only, so if you were a couple you could easily escape the hustle and bustle of all the kids.
My favorite thing about the last cruise, and this one as well, is the shows! I love being able to go have dinner and then watch a show afterwards. And surprisingly they are really good! (When I first thought of cruise shows I envisaged some dodgy cast that can barely sing, dance or act- get that image out of your head because they are actually really good-especially since its all complimentary!) My favorite was either the Pixels show or the Live Vegas Legs show. Pixels uses animation and graphics on moving tv screens combined with live singing and dancing and trapeze. The Live Vegas Legs show was sort of like a Vegas show girl show, with live singing and dancing and scantily clad performers, but somewhat more family friendly.
I enjoyed the food on this boat more since there were more options. The last boat didn’t have any specialty restaurants (since it was older and much smaller), so it was nice to try “Jamie ‘s Italian” on this cruise, a restaurant by Jamie Oliver. Definitely give it a go if you go on this boat. Very good value for money, $39 per head and you can try anything and everything on the menu for the one price. The dessert plank is to die for... just a wish I had taken a few pics! The pasta was ok, the lamb was beautiful, the entrees and desserts in my opinion are the winners here!
My favorite place to dine, out of the complimentary options on this boat, was the Solarium Bistro. The menu is small and it is then complimented with a small and tasteful buffet, but the food was freshly cooked, the service very personal, and the mains were ordered a la carte. Mostly it’s a Mediterranean/Turkish inspired menu, which suits me fine. They had an amazing skirt steak meal there which was divine!
The excursion to Mystery Island was very pretty, and David loved seeing the tropical fish swimming in the water- he was very excited to see Dory swimming right beside him! David couldn’t get enough of swimming at this little island (the island was about the same size as the boat... very small, but very pretty). And the water was crystal clear and a bright turquoise- stunning! My photos don't do this island justice.
The North Star is a very unique and worthwhile activity to do while on board. Its a viewing deck that rises 300 feet above sea level. It does get booked out very quickly though- it was booked out before we were onboard, except for the days we were at port.
There is also Dodgem Cars, rock climbing, trapeze, x box, basketball, the list goes on. So if you want to be constantly busy then you can be.
Everyone always asks me, can you feel the boat rock in the water? Did you get sea sick? Do you need to take seasickness tablets? So I will say this, if you stop and deliberately think about the boat moving then yes, you notice it. However I found that as a general rule I don’t notice it as I am going throughout my day. Perhaps every now and then a bigger wave might come along, and you may feel it as you walk, but trust me, it’s minimal. A ferry in Sydney harbour has so much more rocking than what a boat this size has. None of us took any sea sickness tablets or medications of any kind, nor did I when I was pregnant on the smaller boat last time.
Another subject I will comment on is cleanliness. I was so impressed with how clean they kept this boat, and how observant they were about everyone, their staff and guests, keeping themselves clean. At every big food venue there was plenty of wash basins, and at smaller venues there was disinfectant, and they insisted that anyone walking into a food venue must wash their hands. (Viruses spread very quickly on a cruise ship so I was really grateful they were so thorough.)
I think if I have a complaint, the boat had too many people for the size of the pools. The pools should either be bigger, or there should b more of them since if you went in at a peak time you could barely move without bumping into someone.
Also, I am not a fan of the big buffet hall, Windjammer, and the other “fine dining” restaurants... well, they use the term “fine” very loosely. The problem with all of these options is that the food all comes from the one kitchen. So it’s all the same. Just presented differently. In the buffet hall it’s as you would think... a big buffet and you serve yourself. For some people this works, but I found with the amount of people on the boat that you must wait in line for everything, then it was hard to find a table, and I hate it when I have luke warm or cold “hot” food. And the problem with the “fine dining” restaurants is the kitchen is the same as the Windjammer but they bring it down to the tables in room service hot dishes and by the time it gets to you the food, once again, is luke warm... and let’s face it, the quality at the buffet is not that great so the food in the restaurants is not that great.
Take it from me, either eat your main meals at the Solarium or one of the specialty restaurants like, Jamie’s Italian, etc. unless you really enjoy buffets or the boat is not as crowded. The buffet is perfect for hungry teenagers and kids! We ate most of our meals at the Solarium.
When all is said and done, the best thing about a cruise, in my opinion, is that all you have to do is get yourself to the port, and you are on holidays! It’s as simple as that. We live only 15-20 minutes drive away from Circular Quay so once we checked our bags in and went through customs (which took about 15 minutes) we headed straight to the pool! So much easier than flying somewhere!
Whenever I plan a holiday, my thoughts go straight to "what am I going to wear?!" So you may be wondering, "What do you recommend to wear on a cruise?"
I feel air conditioning very easily, and every where on the boat is air conditioned except for the pool deck outside, so even though I went in a hot climate, I still needed something warmer. I suggest you take a few long sleeve tops or jackets or at least a few shawls. Something simple like a bolero such as The Silver Bolero or the Black Bowtie Top or the Pink, Aqua and Black Keyhole Graphic Top.
You must definitely take a swim coverup, like a sarong, or my favourite, a kimono. I took this one:
Take a few dresses that you can wear during the day, with flats, but at night you can dress up with heels, like the Retro Red, White and Navy A-Line Dress:
And I always find a pair of shorts handy for the days at port, or just for relaxing around in. Take a look at the Pop Art Flared Shorts for something casual but yet still very unique, fun and elegant.
I also wore my Hot Pink A-Line Skirt a lot too, since its nice and bright, and it goes so well with my Rainbow Bolero!
Have you been on this boat? Have you been on a cruise before? Are there any ships you would recommend? What do you think about cruising? What would be your ultimate wardrobe for a cruise?! Comment below!