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Ovation of the Seas

Excitement is building as Ovation of the Seas is close to completion. Australia has grown used to ships that aren’t necessarily the latest builds – but it’s not to be this way for much longer, writes editor-at-sea John Pond.

Ovation of the Seas is the third largest cruise ship in the world and the biggest, newest and most technologically advanced ship ever to call Australia home during our cruise season. This major milestone signifies the ship has reached the final stages of construction and soon she will arrive in Australia.

This ship will proudly claim the title of the newest, largest and most technologically advanced cruise ship to ever sail in our waters,” Royal Caribbean’s regional commercial director Adam Armstrong said. “Ovation of the Seas has been purpose-built for the Asia-Pacific region and continues Royal Caribbean’s unique strategy of bringing the very best cruise ships to Australia. We’re extremely excited that she is now in the water and look forward to welcoming her to Sydney Harbor.”

Ovation of the Seas will claim the title of equal third largest cruise ship in the world, eclipsed only by Royal Caribbean’s twin ships Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas. She is the third ship in the groundbreaking Quantum Class and introduces a new set of first-at-sea onboard experiences to Australia.

Ovation has reimagined dining onboard with the introduction of “Dynamic Dining” where guests can choose from 18 unique restaurant concepts, including Jamie’s Italian, Michael’s Genuine Pub, the enchanting Wonderland and Royal Caribbean favorites, including Chops Grille steakhouse and Izumi Japanese.

Ovation of the Seas offers high speed internet with more bandwidth so guests can connect and stream as quickly as they would onshore. There is even an application that makes keeping track of your onboard schedule simple with all bookings and cruise details stored and updated automatically.

At the end of her Asian season, she will set sail on a 15-night Singapore to Sydney voyage via Fremantle. Her new home port down under will be Sydney, where she will offer several Australian and New Zealand cruises as well as a repositioning cruise to Singapore.

Ovation of the Seas will be based at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay for its maiden 2016/17 Australian summer season. This huge ship is not able to fit under the Harbour Bridge.

The decision to name Australia as Ovation of the Seas’ first homeport represents the continuing growth of cruising in the domestic market. Last season saw more than 600 ship visits by 36 ships to ports around Australia.

RCI has announced that they are to extend Ovation’s cruise season down under with four extra cruises due to increased interest and bookings. This will put her repositioning cruise Sydney/Singapore forward by a month.

Choosing a ship
I am so often asked by my fellow seniors “what ship should I choose?” This is a very difficult question, as the answer may vary depending on the circumstances.

Some of the variables to consider are:

  • Cruising by yourself
  • Cruising as a couple
  • Cruising with children/grandchildren
  • Cruising for the first time
  • On a budget
  • Not on a budget
  • Do you have medical problems?

My answer in each of the above cases could well be different.

Most cruisers, especially first timers, tend to look at price and destinations. More seasoned cruisers look more into the ship and what she has to offer.

If you are worried about medical conditions, insurances, etc. I recommend one of the many great Australian cruises on offer. All cruise ships have a doctor or doctors on board. The larger ships have hospital facilities and even basic operating theatres. These facilities can be expensive and are not covered by Medicare or regular Australian health insurance. Take out separate travel insurance. The plus on cruising around Australia is that you are never more than a day from an Australian port, when onshore, all your regular benefits become available.

The larger the ship, the more onboard attractions, bigger shows, more entertainment, restaurants and things to do.

I find on smaller ships, it’s easier to make new friends; passengers tend to talk more to each other.

Whatever category you fit in, consult with a registered cruise advisor, it cost no more than booking direct with the shipping lines and their advice can be very valuable. Look for an agent that regularly cruises and take their advice.

Exciting new ships from MSC
With extraordinary new-era design with innovative technology and spectacular entertainment options, “Meraviglia”, or “Wonder” in English, is the feeling of being amazed when we see something new, extraordinary or unimaginable. Construction is well at the STX shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France, for MSC Meraviglia, the new MSC Cruises flagship.

MSC Meraviglia is a sophisticated combination of state-of-the-art-technology, a love of the sea, design, comfort and practicality. It is a cruise ship that will dazzle her travellers. MSC Meraviglia will be able to dock at any cruise port around the world, expanding your choice of itineraries and destinations: a huge added bonus for any traveller.

The luxury MSC Yacht Club area will be expanded, where passengers will discover a private and exclusive area only for those sailing in MSC Yacht Club, a place where one can savor exclusivity and privacy in a world of choice and indulge in the luxury of a private club, while enjoying access to the myriad of recreation and entertainment possibilities that the rest of the ship affords.

The whole ceiling of the inside promenade will be covered with a giant 5167 sq.ft. LED screen: a digital sky, capable of transmitting vistas, events, sunrises, sunsets and the starry skies at night.

Accommodating 5700 passengers, this ship is sure to please when she comes online in June 2017.

Two more Meraviglia Plus ships are on the way. With 200 more cabins, these bigger ships will feature the first and only classic and contemporary fine art museums at sea.

These ships are due for arrival in October 2019 and September 2020.

The seafaring Aponte family love affair with the sea started over 300 years ago, in Sorrento, Italy. Building on the experience and expertise gained over the centuries, this family of ship owners and captains went on to create MSC Cruises, now the largest privately owned cruise company in the world.

I have had the pleasure of cruising twice with MSC, their ships, food, entertainment and service leave nothing to be desired.

See you on a cruise soon… John

John Pond
John is a seasoned Australian cruiser based in Sydney. He writes regularly for a host of cruising publications including The Retiree. His early career was as a producer/director in the film and television industry, later switching to hotel and casino management, both in Australia and United States.

For further information or to make a booking, visit, phone 1800 754 500 or see your local travel agent.

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Alana Lowes

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