Less then two weeks ago Royal Caribbean took delivery of its third Quantum Class ship Ovation of the Seas. Last week we had the chance to be amongst the first to visit her while she made her maiden visit to Zeebrugge – Belgium.
Ovation of the Seas is the third Quantum-class ship, a class of ships categorized as smart ships as they are built with the most advanced technology available. RFID technology speeds up the boarding process and allows guests to keep track of their luggage every step of the way, while special wristbands allow to quickly navigate the ship, make onboard purchases or serve as the room key. Boatloads of bandwidth keep guests connected at all times and allow them to watch streaming video, check email, share images on social media and enjoy face-to-face video conversations, whenever and weherever, even in the middle of the ocean.
The Quantum Class ships offer first-at-sea experiences no-one else offers. These experiences include the North Star, an observation capsule that rises more than 300 feet in the air to treat guests to breathtaking panoramic views; thrilling skydiving in the RipCord by iFly and surfing on the Flowrider experiences. Two70, a daily social space which transforms into a multifunctional entertainment place in the evening; and SeaPlex, the largest indoor activity space at sea, which includes basketball, roller-skating, bumper cars and a circus school.
What sets Ovation of the Seas apart from her sister ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, is the fact that she is the very first ship that has been built for the Asian market. As you can read in “Royal goes BIG in Asia” the deployment of Ovation of the Seas to China is not the end to Royal Caribbean’s plans for the region.
Last year we had the chance to visit Anthem of the Seas. In “Anthem of the Seas – a visit” you can read an see more from that visit and find more information on the Quantum Class ships.
This year we were lucky to be among the first people to go and explore Royal Caribbean’s 24th ship.
As soon as we received our visitors badge and the majority of the guests had left the ship to visit Bruges, it was time for us to board Ovation of the Seas.
Our first stop was the Bionic Bar where you order your drink on a tablet before watching a bartending “robot” mix up your desired creation.
Other popular bars onboard include Vintages, the Schooner Bar, Michael’s Genuine Pub and Boleros.
One of the many things the Quantum Class ships have in common is a vast collection of contemporary art. Ovation of the Seas’ $4.5 million dollar art collection consists of no less than 11,000 pieces from artists from around the world.
Located on deck 5 just in the Royal Esplanade, ‘Sky Wave’ is the first ever kinetic moving sculpture at sea. Inspired by the ship’s movement, the installation pivots and curves at different points to mirror the flow of both wind and water. Each petal in Sky Wave is made of handcrafted fiberglass and varies in length to make the flawless rolling sway look sharp.
The elevator art on Quantum class is known for selfie-taking, and Ovation of the Seas is elevating the selfie art game with all-new imagery from Chinese photographer Huainan Li’s series, “The World of the Senses”, which features the futuristic faces of women accented in metallic hues and sporting glasses.
Halfway through The Via the rotunda connects mid-ship’s Jamie’s Italian and Vintages. On board Ovation of the Seas guests can enjoy a sculpture by Chinese artist Bieli Liu. The sculpture represents an ancient Chinese legend depicting the red threads that connect Chinese children to their soulmates. A disc may be connected to another, as a pair; and a pair of disks may sprout from a single thread. The installation is designed to suspend from the ceiling forming a vibrant and energetic piece that responds to subtle air currents and movement as the red coils turn, and strands of thread become entangled.
Continuing through The Via past Vintages and Jamie’s Italian we walk past the Next Cruise desk and the Cafe @ TWO70 towards TWO70, a social space during the day which transforms into a multifunctional entertainment place in the evening.
With the introduction of the Quantum Class ships came a new approach to the traditional main dining room. The Dynamic Dining concept reimagined the main dining room as five complimentary, full service restaurants (including one for Suite guests only). Within the Dynamic Dining concept guests can choose from two options to suit their preferences: Dynamic Dining Choice and Dynamic Dining Classic.
Dynamic Dining Choice allows guests to decide when, where, and with whom to dine each evening. Dynamic Dining Classic, which is designed for those who prefer a more traditional experience, accommodates diners in a choice of early or late seating, and rotates them through a preset lineup of the complimentary main dining restaurants along with the same companions and wait staff throughout their cruise.
The complimentary dining restaurants are:
American Icon Grill, serving American style comfort food,
Chic, which serves a more contemporary cuisine
Silk, serving an Asian menu
The Grande, where every night is formal night
and Coastal Kitchen reserved for guests in grand suites and above, plus Crown and Anchor Society Pinnacle members.
Specialty restaurants, which require an additional fee, include Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine where chefs invent a never-before-seen menu of culinary curiosities, Jamie’s Italian, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant serving rustic Italian favorites, Chops Grille steakhouse and Izumi Japanese Cuisine.
Other dining options include the Windjammer Marketplace, The Café @ Two70 and SeaPlex Dog House serving hot dogs in SeaPlex.
The Sea Plex on deck 15 is more than just the place where you go to get a quick hot dog. It is the ultimate indoor activity space to play a game of basketball, roller-skate, ride bumper cars, etc…
Leaving the Sea Plex, using the exit next to the Sea Plex Dog House and turning left leads to more fun and sports.
And finally another eye-catching piece of art ‘Mama and Baby’ depicting a mother panda and her cub, reaching out to one another.
Considered a symbol of good luck and a national treasure in Chinese culture, the peaceful creatures with the distinctive black and white coat were curated with Ovation’sprimarily Chinese guests in mind, and intended to bestow peace and prosperity on all who interact with them. The pandas are also a playful nod to the cruise line’s newly announced partnership with World Wildlife Fund, which focuses on ensuring the long-term health of the oceans its ships sail upon.
Walking towards the front of the ship we pass by North Star, Ovation’s indoor and outdoor pools and the solarium.
Ovation of the Seas is offering a series of short European getaways before setting sail on a 52-night “Global Odyssey” culminating in her arrival to her homeport in Tianjin, China. She will begin her first homeport sailing season in China from Tianjin in June 2016. Ovation of the Seas, together with Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas, will make up the largest fleet of any cruise line sailing in China.
Built by Meyer Werft in Germany at a cost of $1 billion, Ovation of the Seas spans 18 decks, weighs 168,666 tons and has 2,090 staterooms for up to 4,180 guests. She will be the largest cruise ship ever to be based in Hong Kong.