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Ovation of the Seas Review

4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating
671 reviews
5 Awards
Ovation of the Seas
CC Ovation of the Seas Windjammer
Ovation of the Seas Cabin
CC Ovation of the Seas Casino Royale
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Editor Rating
Very Good
Tiana Templeman
Cruise Critic Contributor

Packed with bells and whistles, Ovation of the Seas is the third ground-breaking ship to join Royal Caribbean's Quantum class. There are plenty of similarities with its two sister ships -- Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas -- including the thrilling RipCord by iFly skydiving simulator, the North Star capsule that transports passengers 90 metres (300 feet) above sea level for bird's-eye views, bumper cars, trapeze classes, world-class entertainment and -- in short -- nonstop fun.

Ovation's decor and design reflects the ship's original deployment in China, although the ship will cease sailing here and move to Alaska from 2019. A symbol of good luck and a national treasure of China, a 10-metre tall (32-feet tall) panda and cub were designed with Chinese passengers in mind (joining Felicia the Pink polar bear on Quantum and Gigi the giraffe on Anthem). There is dual-language signage throughout the ship, and the majority of staff in guest services can speak Mandarin, with a high proportion of Mandarin speakers in the shops, casino, restaurants and housekeeping departments as well.

Making its debut on Ovation is the colourful Kung Fu Panda Noodle Shop (replacing Johnny Rockets), plus a new Asian food station in the Windjammer Marketplace buffet restaurant. There is also an enlarged casino, and shops in the Royal Esplanade have been stocked with more high-end designer goods and Asian cosmetic brands.

The ship spends the Australian summer based in Sydney from about December to April. During this brief spell, some of the food, drinks and activities are tailored to local tastes and everything is in English. All of the bars, specialty restaurants, cafes (or anywhere serving coffee), the three pools and FlowRider surfing simulator are much busier than during the Asian sailings, so prepare for queues. However, despite the large number of passengers onboard, staff go out of their way to get to know passengers and make their cruise holiday memorable. Friendly passengers who stand out (in a good way) are treated especially well.

The ship's entertainment scene is outstanding, with Broadway-style theatre shows and cabarets that combine human talent with technical wizardry. All-singing, all-dancing gadgets are not just confined to the stage. Ovation has myriad high-tech features including Royal IQ, a free interactive scheduling service that lets passengers make reservations for dining, entertainment and activities; it's available as an app for mobile devices or can be used via kiosks and tablets throughout the ship. Thanks to a huge investment in satellite Internet, connectivity is fast and efficient. It's good to see USB ports for in-cabin charging and the option for RFID WOWband wristbands, which can be used instead of key cards.

Another exceptional feature is the artwork: An A$5.8 million (US$4.5 million) collection of 11,000 pieces. Much more than just space fillers to adorn blank walls, the installations, paintings and sculptures wouldn't be out of place in the world's top galleries. Sky Wave, over the Royal Esplanade, is the first moving sculpture at sea, and the Flutter Wall, on the way to the Royal Theatre, is a three-metre (120-inch) screen filled with interactive butterflies. Elsewhere are smaller surprises: a retro petrol pump beneath a stairwell; panda and koala faces on human shoulders; and boxed pictures with tiny people inside. It's worth doing a top-to-bottom walking tour of the ship to discover the artwork alone.

With so much to see, do and discover, Ovation delights and excites in equal measure and is ideal for longer itineraries, which give passengers time to enjoy the many onboard attractions to the full.

Health & Safety

Royal Caribbean is mandating vaccination for those 12 and older on Serenade of the Seas sailings from Seattle. Guests younger than the required age will be tested at embarkation, meaning unvaccinated children are allowed on the ships, up to the CDC limits of no more than five percent of the crew and passengers are unvaccinated.

Royal Caribbean ships are sailing with reduced overall capacity.

Before Boarding

  • Proof of completed vaccination at least 14 days prior to sailing
  • Complementary rapid PCR testing is done at embarkation for unvaccinated children ages 2-11 (2-15 in July)
  • Pre-embarkation in-app health questionnaire
  • In-app check-in and arrival time slot required
  • Masks required for all guests over age 2 during the entire embarkation and debarkation process, and while on any form of transportation
  • Passport, or U.S. birth certificate (with photo ID for guests over age 15)


  • Guests not required to wear masks onboard in their staterooms, outdoors, or indoors while seated and actively eating or drinking
  • Children under age 2 do not need to wear a mask
  • Unvaccinated guests are provided specific hours to utilize some facilities like the fitness center; others, like the Casino Royal and Casino Bar, will be unavailable to unvaccinated guests throughout the cruise
  • Vaccinated guests and children too young to be vaccinated receive COVID-19 Assistance in the form of no-charge onboard medical treatment for COVID-19 and more lenient refund policies for cancellations or changes due to COVID-19
  • Additional screenings are done as needed
  • Capacity limits in bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues
  • Buffet food is served by staff
  • Physical distancing is suggested
  • Dining reservations are strongly recommended; parties are limited to eight and must be with your travel party or those of a linked reservation
  • Muster drill done individually using the Royal Caribbean App and/or the stateroom TV, followed by a check-in with your muster station
  • Sanitizing and hand-washing stations all over the ship
  • End of cruise testing required for unvaccinated guests over age 2

Off the ship

  • Vaccinated guests may explore independently in all ports of call
  • Unvaccinated guests are limited to controlled tours in ports


An amazing mega-liner filled with high-tech entertainment and attractions


Drinking, dining and entertainment venues struggle at peak times

Bottom Line


Passengers : 4,180 (maximum capacity 4,905)
Crew : 1,500
Passenger to Crew : 2.79:1
Launched : 2016
Shore Excursions : 340


Included with your cruise fare:

  • All meals in the three main dining rooms (plus Coastal Kitchen for Grand Suite guests and above) and Windjammer Marketplace; snacks and meals at Solarium Bistro, Cafe @Two70, Cafe Promenade, Sorrento’s Pizza and SeaPlex Dog House; also Continental breakfast room service
  • Shows in the main theater, plus most activities and events, except as noted below or onboard
  • Use of the gym (excluding most classes)
  • Use of the sports complex, Flowrider surfing simulator, mini-golf, climbing wall and Ripcord by iFly skydiving simulator
  • North Star rides (excluding on Alaska and China itineraries)
  • Activities in SeaPlex, including bumper car rides
  • Adventure Ocean Kids Programs until 10 p.m.
  • Daily gratuities, only if you booked your cruise in Australia and New Zealand in AU and NZ dollars

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • Daily gratuities ($14.50 per person, per day for Junior Suites and below; $17.50 per person, per day for Grand Suites and above)
  • Drinks, excluding water, tea (including iced tea), coffee, lemonade and selected juices from the buffet
  • Most specialty dining
  • Auto-gratuities of 18 percent on all specialty dining, beverage, spa and salon purchases
  • Room Service (excluding continental breakfast)
  • Use of the North Star on Alaska and China voyages
  • Spa and salon services
  • Most fitness classes
  • Activities including, but not limited to, arcade play, bingo, alcohol tastings, sushi-making classes, arts and crafts classes, shopping events, the bottomless galley brunch and casino gaming
  • Evening Adventure Ocean kids programs after 10:00 p.m.
  • Shore Excursions
  • Wi-Fi packages
  • Photos and artwork

Fellow Passengers

With its age-appropriate children's clubs and huge SeaPlex sports and entertainment complex, Ovation is a magnet for families, so expect to see plenty of kids during school holidays. It also attracts pleasure-seeking, fun-loving singles, couples and groups of friends across the age spectrum. With the ship sailing from China and Australia (and Alaska from 2019), the onboard demographic sees a shift from the US and UK passengers that make up the majority of cruisers on Royal Caribbean's other ships. Chinese travellers fill the ship in China, while Australians and New Zealanders dominate Down Under.

Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas Dress Code

Daytime: Cruise casual is the way to go during the day, with shorts, cropped trousers, jeans, T-shirts, vest tops, swimsuits, cover-ups and sundresses for women; for men, think swimwear, shorts, jeans, polo shirts and T-shirts.

Evening: At dinner, the dress code is smart casual for women, which Royal Caribbean sets out as skirt or trousers (no holes, rips or tears) with a blouse. While jeans are perfectly acceptable, many women do opt for dresses and a smarter look. For men, the code is trousers (no holes, rips or tears) with a collared shirt. For passengers who prefer to dress up in the evening, feel free to wear a cocktail dress or trouser suit for ladies and dress shirts, ties and jackets for men.

Not permitted: T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops/thongs are acceptable for lunch, but swimsuits, robes, bare feet, vest tops, baseball caps and pool wear are not allowed in the main restaurants or speciality restaurants.

For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Royal Caribbean.

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Find an Ovation of the Seas Cruise from A$390

More about Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas

Where does Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas sail from?

Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas departs from Seattle, Sydney, Vancouver and Honolulu

How much does it cost to go on Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas?

Cruises on Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas start from A$390 per person.

Is Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas a good ship to cruise on?

Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas won 5 awards over the years.
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