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Ovation review “Best of Asia” 5/16/18-5/25/18


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I read the previous reviews on this ship and was aware that the collective evaluations give this ship 3 1/2 stars. I had no intention of doing a review, but I feel that I need to. I echo those evaluations. I concur that this cruise was a 3 1/2 Star Cruise. Disorganization runs rampant and one would think that this was the maiden voyage as this ship does not have it’s act together.

EMBARKATION

Ran smooth and might be 4 stars

THE SHIP

Is beautiful and state of the art. The artwork is beautiful and interesting. The technology is most impressive. The look of the ship is 4 stars.

CABIN

We each has a studio balcony and they are excellent. They are surprisingly roomy with quite a bit of storage for one person and a balcony that is more than large enough. The bed was a bit too hard for me. Towels animals were made about half of the time. I would give the cabin 4 Stars.

TELEVISION

In the cabin was dreadful. I am well aware that this was a primarily Chinese cruise. There were many channels with Chinese movies, a kids’ channel, toddlers’ channel, teen channel, BBC World News, and BBC HD. That was it! The teen network plays old Doogie Houser, Family Ties, and Everyone loves Raymond. It’s not horrible for me in a pinch except it will only play at a very low volume. It wasn’t my TV because my sister’s cabin was exactly the same. All previous cruises I have taken showed the show that was featured on a particular day on your cabin tv the following day. No such thing here. There were more than enough English speakers onboard to give us a movie channel. Oh wait, I almost forgot that for just $11.99 you can buy an on-demand movie in your room. The nickel and dimming is ridiculous. I give the TV 1 star.

SHARED RESTROOMS

The signage is poor and it is not clear where the restrooms can be found. There were at least a few times when the toilet seat covers and soap was empty. 1 or 2 of the toilets did not flush. On a ship that squirts hand sanitizer in you at every return and makes continual announcements about hand washing, clean the shared restrooms. I would give the shared restrooms 1 1/2 stars.

ACTIVITIES

There were next to none. This was not much if a problem in port days, but on sea days when bad weather prevailed, it was boring. If you did not sign up for advanced napkin folding, there was not much else, there were no port talks and we could have used them. There were 4 different talks on Egypt. I am not sure why. I would give the onboard activities 1 3/4 stars.

IFLY

I am separating IFLY. I t was great, but we paid $29.99 per person on RCL ONLINE ABOUT 2-3 months ago. I was aware that this had been offered for free on the Ovation on all previous cruises. When we arrived at IFLY, we were told that it was free and that we would receive a refund. I fly was great and this is $69.99 in the states though that is for 2 minutes and this was 1 minute. We went to guest services afterwards and made sure that we got our refund. They confirmed that the decision to make this complimentary was last minute by RCL. I would rate IFLY at 4 1/2 stars.

NEXT CRUISE

I stopped at the Next Cruise desk to ask a few questions about the Adventure as I have a cruise booked on there for 2/19. I asked if I should expect the same type of dining room food. The lady said that it would be more geared to the American market and that I would probably like it more. I didn’t tell her that I didn’t like the food on the Ovation, but I am sure that others did, which made her assume that I felt that way. If one were to look at the Ovation dining room menus, it would have been difficult to determine that this cruise was geared to Asian tastes. I told her that I wouldn’t have minded if there was good Asian food on this cruise. It seemed as though there standards were lower for the food that they deliver to the Asian market. She told me that they couldn’t find Asian cooks! Hard to believe. RCL must need to offer more $ as I am sure there are enough Asian cooks in Asia for them to find 1 as well as a person to give a talk on the Japanese ports instead of Egypt.

THE MAIN DINING ROOMS

After boarding the ship we proceeded to one of the main dining rooms to request our seating. We had booked the early seating (5:30) after being told from my TA and Crown and Anchor that this cruise did not offer “My Time Dining.” There was a woman ahead of us that was furious as she told the maitre de that she was promised she could dine at anytime. We were told that we could arrive anytime between 5 and 5:30 pm and that there would be no set nightly seating.

The following morning we dined at The Grand. I ordered an omelette and was told that eggs take 20-30 minutes longer. This is breakfast. The menu was quite limited and apparently they don’t expect people to order eggs for breakfast. We did eventually get our breakfast. It was small. We left there and went to check out.

On another evening I ordered chicken in black bean sauce. It was full of bones and largely inedible. The food is just “acceptable.” You need to ask for an extra roll which is not very good quality. It was a constant struggle to get more coffee at breakfast. We also ate at the Solarium Bistro and 270. The food is mediocre in all of the complimentary venues. Cafe Promenade was just ok. I was on the Navigator several years ago and remember it on there as being much better. Both formal nights offered no lobster and nothing special. From looking at the menu, one would never dream that this was a formal night. It is easy to see why others on the board think RCL might have a plan to force people into either specialty dining or the Windjammer. Dining coordination was very poor as the times of dining and shows did not line up. If you went to your 5-5:30 dining, you either needed to be a speed eater to see the 6:30 show or wait until 8:30-9:45 to see the featured show. It would seem as though when the ship switched from “Anytime Dining” to set times, they forgot to adjust the entertainment schedule. I was disappointed that they did not sell the “10 drink card” that I had read so much about. All of the complimentary dining venues earns 2 1/2 stars

THE WINDJAMMER (buffet)

It was a madhouse. The food was unappealing, tasteless, and it was difficult to find a seat. It is clear that they cannot handle the number of people and the ship is too big to manage. The buffet eared 2 1/4 stars.

GUEST SERVICES

After all the trouble with the website, it seemed as though RCL had no use for customer feedback. And didn’t care about customer satisfaction. I was wrong. We had occasion to visit guest services. A man ahead of us was Diamond and was there to complain about the lack of Diamond amenities that were offered on this cruise. We were there to ask for a refund in the “Royal IQ” texting as it did not work at all. We were given the refund.

We met our cabin attendant after boarding. I asked that we get ice and wine glasses daily. We did not receive them. If RCL allows you to bring on wine, they need to give you wine glasses. The cabin attendant told me that he did bring me ice. If he did, they must have measured out 1 cup of ice as there was very little and it was melted. After complaining to customer service, room service left chocolate covered strawberries in my room. Thereafter, I had more than enough wine glasses and ice. Guest services called and sent both of us a complimentary bottle of wine. They did tell me that ordinarily there is a charge to have room service bring you wine glasses. If they allow you to bring wine onboard, they should provide wine glasses. I want to stress that the employees on the Ovation cannot do enough for you, but there seems to be some inadequate management that doesn’t get it right the first time. It is clear that they do not want unhappy guests. I would give customer service 4 1/4 stars for their efforts to correct their imperfections.

SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS

We dined at WONDERLAND on our first night and I could not say enough about the fabulous food, presentation, and experience. Do not miss it. It is a 5 Star experience.

JAIME’S was very good and also very worthwhile. I would give it 4 stars.

CHOPS was very good, but if it were to be compared to a fine steakhouse, I give it 3 1/4 stars.

I resent that there is such a stark difference between the dining room food and specialty restaurant food. The cruise includes the price of the dining room food and the buffet. It should be better than “Bearly edible.”

ENTERTAINMENT

The entertainment was very good. Pixels and the productions shows are worth seeing and the performers on the other nights were very good to excellent. Monique, a singer from the Philippines was one night’s entertainment and she was outstanding. There was an Irish magician another night. He was very good and entertaining. There was only one night that we did not enjoy the entertainment. It was The Groove Line, a group that attempted to sing Motown. Yoomi, the Korean violinist was excellent. I would give the entertainment 4 1/2 stars, but there was not 1 adult movie shown onboard so I must lower this to 4 1/4 stars.

ESPLANADE

It was disappointing that the Promenades that are on many other RCL ships were replaced by an ESPLANADE. Gone are the city street effects and the festive musical parades. They have been replaced by continual overpriced watches and purses. This open area gets 1 Star.

SHORE EXCURSIONS/DISEMBARKATION

We did not book our excursions through the ship, but the process of moving people off the ship at each port was dreadful. It was horribly disorganized and appeared that they had never done this before. The worst was moving people once off the ship in Shimonoseki. RCL offered roundtrip bus tickets to the city market (mall) for $20.00 per person. The Cruise Director announced that if we exited the ship at 10 am, we would avoid the crowds and be able to get right into town. This was not the case. The lines to get in a bus was truly endless. I asked an RCL employee where the buses would go and if they made stops. He had no idea about anything other than collecting your $20.00. He offered to find out and reported back that they only made 1 stop at the mall and back. The taxi line was quite long also. We opted for a taxi and found 2 other passengers to share. The taxi line was pretty long, but not compared to the bus line. We paid about $10-11.00 roundtrip for 2 of us. RCL gave us a slip with the port address on it to show the taxi driver. It was not clear as it took us quite awhile to get the taxi driver to understand where we wanted to go. Sadly, I need to rate disembarkment/people moving with 1 Star.

PORTS

RCL had some shore excursions posted on the cruise planner for all the ports exception of Shimonoseki. They sold out quickly though there seemed to be many to book once onboard.

FUKUOKA

We arranged for a Goodwill Tour guide. This is a complimentary service offered in many Japanese cities. Our guide was a 70 year old retiree who took us to Dazaifu using public transportation, which was an experience in itself. We went to lunch and ended our day in a market (mall).

NAGASAKI

We arranged a tour and were taken to the Atomic Bomb Museum, Peace Park, Dejima, lunch, and a shopping market.

KUMAMOTO

For me this was our best day. We arranged a tour with Schingo of Tourism Gokanosho, https://gokanosho.com/. Skype: hashizaki.schingo.rocks

WhatsApp: +81 90 1976 1812

LINE: Hashizaki Schingo Schingo is a licensed private tour guide. He has a van that holds 7 passengers in addition to him. He drove us through the countryside, a magnificently beautiful drive, to Kumamoto Castle. From there we went to cave and then for a sushi lunch. Schingo is extremely knowledgeable about the area and Japan. He filled us with information and answered questions from the minute we started until the end. He showed us a wonderful day.

SHIMONOSEKI

RCL had no shore excursions or information posted for this port before the cruise, We just took a taxi to the mall for a day of shopping.

CONCLUSION

It is a shame that there were so many 4 + Star aspects of the cruise that I must give it 3 1/2 stars, but let’s face it, food it a big thing on a cruise. The bottom line is that if RCL is going to build a ship this big, they had better have a way to move the people and serve descent food. If not, start building smaller ships. Charge a little more, provide descent food and a movie or 2. This was my second cruise with RCL and I have another booked with friends. I do believe that it will be my last on RCL.

FUNNY FOOTNOTE

 

Throughout the entire cruise and after each night’s entertainment, Mike, the cruise director, give his talk about what the next day would hold for us. He would be followed by Kitty, who talked 3 times as long as him in Chinese. As we were waiting to depart the ship, we sat with a Chinese man from Hong Kong, who told us that Kitty had spoke in Mandarin and people from Hong Kong speak Cantonese, a totally different dialect.

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We are very close to booking the Ovation 18 night Sydney to Honolulu cruise in 2020. Have been seeing many 1-3 star ratings on the Asian cruises and 3-5 star ratings on the Sydney and New Zealand cruises. How much of your low rating is due to your trip just being in Asia. What would your opinion be of the Sydney to Hawaii cruise be if it was mostly Westerners and the Asian motif was replaced. I can not believe Royal would not make big changes to a ship spending the season in Alaska. Don't base your poor opinion on it being a large ship, we have done transatlantics on Allure, Oasis and upcoming Symphony. These mega ships all deserve a 4 star or better, they run like clockwork .

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My impression was that they could not handle all of the people. Maybe that wasn’t it, but I think that they should have it mastered by now. I’m not sure why standards would be lower because it was an Asian cruise with a largely Asian crowd. Don’t the Asians deserve the same quality? There were hardly any Asian dishes on the dinner menu and the little that there was in the Windjammer was not good. It is difficult for me to believe that RCL has no quality control. They were not prepared to move the large number of people in Shimonseki. It appeared that there was no planning or forethought. Why were they giving “IFLY” for free up until this Asian cruise and then dropped the charge at the last minute. This did not run like clockwork. It was mass disorganization. The guest services was great in trying to make up for any problems, but there were a lot of them.

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This is disturbing... I wonder what makes Anthem reviews so

Much better than Ovation’s? Ship size, amenities, number of passengers to move, menus, etc mostly all the same. The only differences I believe are the staff (top down incl captain) and where she’s sailing from (demographics).

 

Reminds me 2013 when Vision was refurbished. I was on the first few cruises out of Miami and Colon. Myself, Max’s’mom and several other regulars here in CC gave Vision first class reviews over several months... simply excellent sailings.

 

The Vision was redeployed (Tampa I believe?) different captain, likely different staff (less Spanish/Latin American immersion), different portS. The massive negative reviews started rolling in.

 

Those Alaskan/ Seattle itineraries and portS have been in RCL’s wheelhouse for over 10 years. Explorer came back from Oz/Asia after 6 years and had no problems with Alaskan itineraries even though she’s been away from North America for so long. I pray the same positive outcome will happen with Ovation.

 

 

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Just out of curiosity I looked at the reviews from Majestic Princess which has Asia as a home port. Very similar to the reviews of Ovation. Long disorganized lines, smoking everywhere , messy public spaces, a crew that dosen't seem to care. And a lot of 1 and 2 star reviews. After Ovations season in Alaska it only sails Australia and New Zealand, no more Asia. .

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There was not smoking everywhere on the Ovation. There was only part of the casino that was for smoking and an area by the pool. I did not think that the crew did not care. After reading the pages and pages of complaints about the website, my staff expectations were low. The crew members never made me feel like they didn’t care. I actually expected that, but I don’t believe it was the case. Crew members really went out of their way to honor your requests. It just seemed as though nothing was done right the first time. Maybe it is not staffed sufficiently. I was never offered a second cup of coffee in the dining room without almost tripping someone to get it.

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I was on this cruise and agree with most of the OP’s post. I did not like the magician at all, but OP missed the last night’s entertainer, Steve Carte - he was fantastically funny.

 

As a Diamond member I was more than happy with what was offered. Drinks were in Vintage, a lovely venue and we had our own restaurant for breakfast. Proper coffee (lattes and cappuccinos) were available free of charge all day. I can’t imagine why anyone would complain.

 

I booked I Fly and North Star prior to boarding and was charged $29 and $20 respectively per person. A fellow guest mentioned he was not charged so I enquired at guest services. I was told the Activities Manager should have arranged a refund! To be fair it was then refunded but if I had not enquired nothing would have been done.

 

We were allocated 5pm dining but went at 7.45. The restaurant was never full and apart from asking and noting our cabin number (why?) that was fine. Food was underwhelming but ok I suppose.

 

There are definite cultural differences which really stood out on this cruise.

 

 

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