Cruising is back, baby and we are HERE. FOR. IT! We recently got back from 10 days aboard Ovation of the Seas around New Zealand and after being initially hesitant about cruising with kids, I’m here to tell you, it’s definitely worth a look at for your next family holiday. My 4 and 10 year old absolutely LOVED every second of it. Check out our FB and IG posts to see the proof!
Ovation Of The Seas holds almost 5,000 people although you wouldn’t know it – once the passengers are spread out between the four pools, twenty restaurants, many bars, theatre, sporting and entertainment facilities means that it feels as spacious as it looks! Plus once you factor in people going ashore for tours and sightseeing, it’s easy to find plenty of quiet spots to relax, enjoy a new activity or be entertained.
This cruise ship literally has EVERYTHING. You would never, ever be bored and no matter whether you are travelling as a couple, a family, a group of friends or even solo there is something for you.
Here are some of the highlights from our trip on Ovation of the Seas
THE FOOD AND DRINKS:
With the exception of alcohol and a the specialty dining restaurants, all food and drinks are included in your cruise package and what a selection! The Windjammer Buffet was my kids idea of a food dream. You couldn’t possibly go hungry. There are options for everyone. From curries to hot dogs, roast dinners to spaghetti, Windjammer is open for breakfast lunch and dinner and was our go to food spot.
When you want a break from the buffet, you can grab a slice of pizza anytime you like from Sorrentos, have morning tea at one of the many cafes, enjoy breakfast with a view or a roast beef roll in CafeTwo70 or enjoy the flavours of the world at the Solarium Bistro Restaurant. The options are endless – oh and there is no extra charge for room service either, so if you feel like a meal in your room, it’s easy as! You can also grab a plate of food and take it back to your room if you want to, or if your kids get a case of the late night hungries like mine do, we made sure the mini fridge in our room had a few bits of fruit and a cookie or two in there in case of emergencies.
You could eat somewhere different every day of your cruise or find a favourite and stick with it! Talking about favourites, the soft serve ice cream got a work out from my family. Ice cream literally on tap – is that not what holiday dreams are made of?!
Even if you are cruising as a family, make sure you stop in at Bionic Bar – in this funky bar, robots make your drink (each robot can make one per minute!), served with a side of technology as the screen tells you the most popular drinks by age group and gender. This bar is a spectacle in itself, so make sure you check it out!
Or you are celebrating a special occasion or just love fine dining, it is well worth booking into one of the specialty restaurants. Be taken on a whimsical culinary adventure in Wonderland, feast on Italian cuisine at Jamie’s Italian, or meet like minded foodies at the Chef’s Table. We visited Wonderland, Izumi Japanese and our highlight meal at Chops Grille where the steaks were sensation and the staff were wonderful – highly recommend. Other members of our group also went to Jamie’s Italian and raved about it. By the time we went to book it was unfortunately sold out but if you want a food tip, Jamie’s and Chops are our pick. If you plan to dine at some of the specialty restaurants it’s a good idea to check out the Specialty Dining Packages before you board, you can save $$ to pre book
Absolutely all dietary requirements can be catered for which is great to know for families.
Drinks wise, included in your package you’ll have access to unlimited water, cordial, tea and filtered coffee. Alcoholic drinks can be paid for as you go, or you can purchase a drinks package before you board which will cover you for almost any alcoholic drink you can think of. Wine by the glass, beer, sprits and cocktails. Drinks package are also available for soft drinks and for coffee. You can read more about those here
If you finish your trip and say there was nothing to do, you are either lying or didn’t cruise properly! I honestly could not imagine any kid honestly claiming to be bored. there is just SO MUCH to do, for adults and kids alike. The kids and teens can spend time in the Adventure Ocean kids club or teen hangout (where adults are strictly prohibited!) while parents relax in the adults only area complete with cascading pools, spas and a bar overlooking the back of the ship. Go rock-climbing, chuck a few laps around the bumper car track, book in a rollerskating session, take it to new heights with Ripcord by iFLY sessions, riding the Flowrider, swimming in the many pools (indoor and outdoor pools are heated), grab a cocktail or an ice cream and watch the kids at Splashaway Bay waterpark or take part in one of the many classes, trivia, BINGO, gameshows and other planned activities organised for each day. There was even a flash mob group who practiced a routine over the trip and performed it on the last day. This was so fun.
For something really special take a trip in the North Star – a jewel shaped capsule that will take you 90 metres above sea level so you can check out the views from above in complete 360 degree glory! Each passenger will get one free ride in the North Star but I really recommend booking an extended experience and trying to time it on a day where the views are something like the below. What a unique experience.
There are plenty of quiet activities too, trivia, hanging out in the library, catching a movie in the theatre or an outside movie on the pool deck, playing pool or checking out the incredible artwork all over the ship.
Once aboard you can access the Royal Caribbean app where you can get a run down of all the activities on offer for that day, and there is A LOT so it’s a good idea to use it so you don’t miss anything.
When Robbie Williams said “Let Me Entertain You”, I’m pretty sure he was singing on behalf of the Royal Caribbean crew! The Royal Theatre seats almost 500 people and stages Broadway style shows, bands, comedians, movies and more. The entertainment area at Two70 is spectacular and the technology behind the staging and AV will blow your mind. Head to the bars for musicians, head along to a 70’s night or get involved with another themed night!
I loved to see what I refer to as “SURPRISE AND DELIGHT” aspects in any experience and there are plenty of things onboard the Ovation Of The Seas that will surprise and delight you! As you get into the lifts, look down – here you’ll find the day of the week which changes daily so holiday makers can keep track of what day it is. So simple, but very cool! Along the centre of the ship, you’ll find a butterfly wall – touch the butterflies and watch them flutter across the screen. There is a trick to getting all the butterflies to fly at once, but we were sworn to secrecy! See if you can convince one of the crew members to let you in on the secret! There is something to see and something to do at any minute at any spot on this ship.
Is there any other holiday that offers FREE kids club from 9am – 10pm every day?? I can’t think of one.
There are a few options available onboard if you want to sneak off for a drink or dinner alone. Adventure Ocean programs (kids clubs) are divided up into age groups. Aquanauts (age 3-5) Explorers (age 6-8) and Voyagers (age 9-11)
There are three sessions per day from 9am-12pm, 2pm – 5pm and then 7pm – 10pm. Go to one or go to all three.
I can’t tell you exactly what they do in those sessions but what I can tell you is that my 4 year old BEGGED to go back every day and actually cried if we came to pick her up early!! From what she told me there were plenty of games, craft, movie nights, dancing, a pj night, a birthday night. She absolutely LOVED it, which was wonderful because it meant we got some time with eldest daughter, and even some time to grab a drink ALONE!! Yes kids club……YES!
Older kids can attend the Tween and Teen programs onboard. Organised games, sports and parties and teen-only hang out spots looked great and were popular. There are also paid babysitting options for babies or after hours.
There are a range of room types available aboard Ovation of the Seas. From interior, ocean view or balcony staterooms right up to Royal Suites you’ll find something to suit your family size and budget. We chose a balcony stateroom and we were happy with our choice, especially being able to wake up to view like the below and go out on the deck to see seals swimming underneath us, or waterfalls rushing from above. If you’re worried about seasickness I think having direct access to fresh air is important too, so I’d pay the bit extra for a balcony if you can. If you’d like some tips on what to pack visit our Crusing with Kids feature here
The staff were a real highlight for us! They really know how to make your kids feel welcome and went out of their way to make sure they were having fun. From our room attendant Wayan who came each morning and night to make up and pack up our fold out couch/bed and left us a towel animal on the bed each day, to the WONDERFUL Fernanda (allllll the way from Mexico whoop whoop), to Ilias at Windjammer who knew my daughter’s name from day one and made her feel so special every time we visited. The staff were a real highlight and a credit to Royal Caribbean. It really feels like they love their job.
Special shout out to the Kids Club crew. I don’t know what you guys got up to there at Adventure Ocean but whatever it was, keep doing it. My 4 year old could not get enough and begged to go back each day for more.
YOUR QUESTIONS FROM INSTAGRAM
While we were onboard I asked our IG audience to ask any cruising questions they had for me to answer. Here are a few of the most common questions.
Did we get seasick?
For the most part, no. I woke up on the first day feeling a bit iffy but that may have been due to one too many excited Proseccos the night before. It was nothing that a few laps around the deck in the fresh air and a couple of Buderim Ginger Bears didn’t fix. The entire rest of the trip none of us felt sea sick. I did see a few families looking a bit green around the gills so I would definitely suggest packing some Kwells, some ginger tea or ginger bears and maybe a few Sea-Bands just in case.
What was the food like?
We thought the food was great! Plenty of it, plenty of variety and the buffet was my kids DREAM. Pasta every night as well as burgers, hot dogs, curries, soups, salads, fried chicken, stirfries and SO MANY DESSERTS. So many….so, so many! We also went to 3 of the speciality restaurants with the highlight for us being Chops Grille where we found the food delicious and the staff excellent. Other members of our group went to Jamie’s Italian and raved about it, by the time we tried to get in it had booked out 🙁
What it expensive?
We paid just over $8000 for 10 nights. 2 adults + 2 kids in an Ocean View Balcony room. This price covers the room + food from the main restaurants and/or the buffet, unlimited hotdogs, pizza, fish and chips and ice creams + basic drinks (water, filter coffee and juice) + activities onboard including the pools, iFLY, FloRider, Rock Climbing and the North Star. Activities at the SeaPlex which is an indoor sports facility with rollerskating, dodgem cars, air hockey, table tennis. You’ll also get free entry to the live shows AND you also get free access to the kids club! Our cruise left from Sydney so we had to also pay for flights, which brought the total to $8500 which is really not too bad for an overseas holiday for a family of 4.
What’s not included in that price?
– Alcoholic drinks are not included in the price and you’ll need to add a drinks package or pay for them as you go. There is also a kids drinks package for unlimited soft drinks, and a coffee package for the coffee lovers. There is free filter coffee and tea available but if you love your coffee you might want to consider the coffee package so you can go your hardest at the onboard Starbucks.
Look out for the drink package specials that you’ll be emailed after you’ve booked. You can save heaps.
– Any services from the day spa have a fee
– Extra or extended sessions on iFLY have a fee as well as extended or 1:1 FloRider sessions
– North Star also offers extended sessions at an extra price.
– Specialty Dining – There are quite a few speciality restaurants onboard Ovation of the Seas which come at an extra price. These include Jamie’s Italian, Chops Grille, Wonderland and Izumi Japanese. Take a look at the menus and if you’d like to try them you’re probably going to save some money by purchasing a dining package
Is there WiFi or Internet?
First of all, these are two separate things onboard. The ship has FREE WiFi which allows you to connect to the Royal Caribbean app on your phone and to make reservations, see what activities are happening for the day. This feature is great and really helpful for planning your day, seeing what’s on, booking shows etc. It also includes a chat function where you can message other members of your group, but we found that the connection for this was really glitchy and we all kept dropping in and out, making it virtually impossible to communicate between the 15 people who were in our group
The internet however, wasn’t great.
To access the internet onboard you’ll need to purchase a VOOM package. The cost varies depending on the number of devices and type of package you purchase but it was roughly $25ish per device per day. I tried one day to connect my laptop and check emails but gave up after a very frustrating 30 minutes of trying. There are locations on the ship where the WiFi definitely works better than others, but when you’re paying a couple of hundred bucks to access it I thought it would be better. Maybe it was just our ship or our destination, not sure but we were disappointed with the internet.
If you’d like to know more specific information about cruising with kids, what to pack, what not to pack, tips, tricks and FAQ check out our Cruising with Kids post here.
Ovation Of The Seas has a range of itineraries ranging across multiple cruise lengths and endless destinations. The Australian Summer Season will kick off from November ’24 next year packed with returning favourites, firsts, and new itineraries across three award-winning ships. Click here for all of the cruise options available
Check out the Royal Caribbean International website for all of the details and to get booking!
Or for some holiday inspo or just to tease yourself, follow Royal Caribbean Aus/NZ on Instagram.
We paid for this cruise entirely from our own pocket, but after we had booked we were very lucky to be given 2 drinks packages + 3 restaurant dining package + VOOM internet from Royal Caribbean so we could experience everything onboard and write a full review. I was not paid anything for this review.