Friday, 16 December 2016

Time To Sail Away

Grey and rainy skies continued to dominate the Sydney skyline. We breakfasted at Chic, one of the other dining rooms with a limited buffet selection. Family members who opted for A La Carte offerings at the Grande reported a very slow service time with meals not being brought out until 45 minutes after the orders were made.

With cruise plans synced, it was time to have fun. I went to the...gasp...gym! Thank you to Sharon who dragged me along. Unfortunately for us, we couldn't resist pressure from the lady next to us who couldn’t keep her mouth shut. She kindly told us that we were only on "warm up" mode. What?!! What do you mean?!? Despite being on death's door, we upped our difficulty level on the elliptical trainer. Surely we couldn't be that unfit...

We survived our gym escapade and a quick exploration of the ship followed, followed by a reconnaissance trip to two70 for the evening show, Pixels. A game plan was needed to get seats for 24. Lunch was off the ship to satisfy the parental's need for one last "good" Asian meal. Chat Thai won the honours and the family feasted on authentic Thai food. The cheapskate in me was protesting that free food was awaiting me onboard however my stomach won over and I tucked in.

Our morning view

She dominated Circular Quay making everything around seem small

Sticking out the end of the International Passengers Terminal

Breakfast at Chic, discussing the day's plans
Without trying to be overly negative, logistics for this cruise has been disorganised all around. There were issues with getting simple information preboarding and this continued on board. Finding out dress codes for the cruise turned out to be a 60 minute exercise with one staff saying there were no formal nights, another telling us it was formal night everyday and the last one who didn't know!

We left guest services for our very first onboard trivia, but didn't fare too well. Nevermind, it was finally time to sail away. We sailed out of Sydney towards our next destination of Hobart. Disappointingly there wasn't too much fanfare. It wasn't like when the Disney Magic first visited Malta and a 21 gun salute was brought out!

Something we did manage to finally sort out was our reservations for specialty dining. There was major issues with the online booking systems and our reservations were a mess. Children were meant to be free but were charged. There were specials that were not honoured. The list of issues was long. However, again this took having to speak to the head of restaurants to organise. Dining never seemed so completely difficult on previous cruises including previous Royal Caribbean cruises!

Dinner was faster this evening however our waiter was still disorganised. He kept forgetting who ordered which dish! Whilst this was not a big deal, the service did not hold up to service on other cruises. There were three shows on board for which we had to make reservations. One of them was Pixels, our show for the evening. It was technologically quite impressive but lacked cohesive story telling which took away from the show a little. Unfortunately, there was also a technical failure midshow! After about 5 minutes, the show resumed with no further glitches.

On a more positive note, we were able to try Royal Caribbean's new internet service called Voom available on their ships. The speed didn't disappoint, being only a touch slower than internet on land. However, it didn't come cheap at nearly USD 16 per day! As we go along, I'll try to post various areas of the ship.

Finally! Pulling away from the International Passengers Terminal

The ship turning in the Harbour

The tugboats guiding the ship out of the Harbour

Goodbye Opera House

I went to the gym!

Uni friends finally on a cruise together! The indoor pool area

The library

Pixels at two70. The theatre has a panoramic view in the daytime and screens come down to convert it to a theatre when needed

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Ovation Of The Seas

A cold and wet welcome to Ovation of the Seas from Sydney
 After more than a year of booking, the day has finally come for our cruise on Ovation Of The Seas. There was excitement on multiple levels. Ovation, one of the Royal Caribbean's newest ships, is also the biggest ever to sail into Sydney Harbour. The grey and drizzly skies could not dampen the family's buzz in the morning. A 23 strong family group was picked up by our chartered bus and transported to Circular Quay where our mammoth ship awaited us. Check in was surprisingly smooth. As soon as our bus stopped at the port, our luggage was whisked off from the bus straight onto trolleys. There were "mobile" check in staff rather than the usual fixed check in counters. Even though the International Passengers Terminal was full of people, there was a steady flow and we were kept moving. Before long, we were onboard and in Windjammer's enjoying buffet with a view!
Waiting patiently for our bus...

Here it is!

Just to be sure....yup its our bus

Buffet! Yay!

Buffet with a view! Yay yay!
 We had access to our cabins by 1pm and we were lucky to have our luggage arrive soon after.  It was time to explore the ship! But not before the walkie talkies were tested and codenames issued...after all we just HAD to keep in touch with each other. With 6 walkies talkies between us, we were the communication commandos. A quick tour of the ship's highlights, followed by a spin on the dodgems and the obligatory boarding day swim accompanied by the pool deck soft serve were a hit with the children. It wasn't long before it was time for the mandatory fire drill and dinner. We chose traditional early dining and we were allocated The Grande restaurant, an elegant restaurant in line with most restaurants on cruise lines. Minor seating issues were fixed quickly, although the meal was on the slow side.

With the ship docked in Sydney Harbour overnight, some of the adults chose to venture out into the city for drinks. Unfortunately, it was babysitting duties for me. Perhaps a date with the robotic bar tender instead in the near future!

Access to our cabin

The view from our Deck 13 cabin balcony

The robot bar tender looks somewhat like Wall- E

Michael has his own pub!

The North Star on its way up

The Bahari Clan


We found the all important soft serve station

Had our swim with a view of The Rocks

Dinner at The Grande restaurant

Let the feasting begin!

How did Mum and Dad score champagne in their cabin?!?!