Saturday, January 28, 2017

Ovation of the Seas - Saturday 28 January, Embarkation Day!

Ovation of the Seas here we coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooome! Cruise day is finally here and we can not wait to get on board!

We checked out of our hotel and headed over to Central to get to Circular Quay (where our ship was waiting for us) but I had read online that the trains where being replaced by buses due to trackwork. We hadn't seen any signs anywhere yesterday so thought they may have cancelled the work, nope the trains for the City Circle weren't running. We had to get a bus from the opposite side of Central to where we were and then it dropped us off a street back from Circular Quay. Probably wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't a day when 3 cruise ships (Ovation, Radiance and the Eden) were in so many people had suitcases. We managed ok but there were quite a few older people who would have found it a bit tiring.

Ovations of the Seas!!
We dropped our suitcases at the OPT at around 9.30am and went to Maccas for brekky. I just have to note that the moment I saw our ship I did freak out a bit. It is GINORMOUS! I knew it was big but when you see it in real life you realise how BIG it is!! I was a bit nervous wondering if I'd get lost a lot and how busy it would be!

Our check in time was set for 11.30am so we had a couple of hours to wander around and take piccies. The Radiance of the Seas was anchored in the harbour, it was meant to dock at the OPT but the Ovation took it's spot after they extended it's stay in Australia. The logistics for the Radiance would have been HUGE. They had to do everything via ferries - restock, get passengers off and on. Apparently they didn't leave Sydney until around 11pm that night. It didn't make any difference to their itinerary.

Before going back to the OPT we stopped at a money exchange place under Circular Quay station just to get a little bit of NZ dollars. We changed $50 (Australia) and received $40 (New Zealand), I had thought we would get roughly $50NZ but when we looked at the receipt we were charged a $10 transaction fee!! We thought that was a bit of a rip off.

Radiance of the Seas
On the Royal Caribbean website it says that check in from kerb to ship is 10 minutes. I didn't see how this would be possible, especially when there are around 4,000 passengers! We got to the check in area at our allotted time (11.30am) and were sitting on the Pool Deck 14 at 11.47am. We were on board within 10 minutes! Very efficient! I wouldn't have believed it if we hadn't of done it. Their checking in is well organised and, I guess, as long as you do all of your precheckin before hand (I did it all online at home) you'll be on board in no time!

Splash zone - deck 14. Part of the main pool area.
Our cabin wasn't ready yet. There was a sign on the main door which lead to the corridor and our cabin saying it would be ready at 1pm. No problem. We only had our handbags with us (mum did have a small slightly heavy carry bag as it had our wine in it) so we decided to head for the buffet, of course! Windjammers is on Deck 14 at the rear. It has a 'washy washy' station before you can enter the main food part. I didn't get a photo of this and forgot during the cruise! It's a smallish curved room that has a row of sinks, taps and soap dispensers and paper towels. You must wash your hands before entering the buffet. There is always a staff member or two standing near it saying 'washy washy' and making sure everyone does washy washy! There were also the standard hand sanitisers around the food areas so there was no excuse not to have clean hands. It still surprises me how many people walk straight passed these! I guess that's why they now have the washy washy station for the buffet!

There were about 10 or so different food stations, which I thought could have been laid out better for a much easier flow but it still wasn't too bad. The food was plentiful, as always, and there seemed to be a lot to choose from. Indian, Chinese, American, Mexican, salads, soups, sandwiches, wraps, roasts etc etc You are very hard to please if you couldn't find something you liked! I had some delicious pasta salad, a slice of pizza and a sweet (or two!). There desserts and cakes were so yummy, very hard to resists when you walked by! I had read before we cruised that the seating could get quite busy and that it was best to head out to the back area of the Windjammer in the busier times, as people don't generally like to walk too far, so there was quite often plenty of seats down there. Seeing as we were one of the first to board it was pretty quiet, relatively speaking when the ship holds 4,000, so we didn't have any problems finding a lovely table with a view.

During lunch they did announce over the speakers that all cabins were ready, yay. After we'd finished (stuffing our faces) eating we went for a bit of a wander around the top decks to try and get a lay of the land. What a gorgeous ship, what a big ship! So far so good! We also stopped by the ice cream station on deck 14 :-) This isn't self serve but is free. I think it's a good idea having someone serve you, much less mess! Chocolate, Vanilla or Chocolate/Vanilla swirl.

Yum! It was quite warm so it's a bit melted and I've eaten some!

We excitedly headed down to our cabin which, surprisingly, was quite easy to find! Deck 13 just down from the main front stairs and lifts. Mum's cruise card was waiting for her at our door - we needed this to get into our cabin as well as for everything else on board. We took some 'yay we're at our cabin photos' and headed in. Very lovely room and very roomy! The bathroom was to the left when we walked in, then there was a wardrobe and large lounge on the left and opposite it a desk with chair and an area with the kettle. Under that was the bar fridge and next to that lots of drawers. Further into the cabin was another wardrobe plus the room safe and our beds (and my cruise card, yippee!) and then passed the beds was the door out to our balcony!! The beds have a curved edge to make getting passed them easier, very nifty idea.

I had noticed some bags a bit further down our corridor so went and had a look to see if my suitcase was there, yay it was. I asked one of the cabin peeps if it was ok to take and away I went. Not long afterwards mum got her suitcase. We unpacked, plenty of wardrobe space and drawers - I could have packed more although my suitcase was already heavy enough! After unpacking I put my suitcase in my wardrobe and mum put hers under her bed.

We put our wine in the fridge. You are allow two bottles of wine per cabin although mum had both of the bottles in her carry bag and they didn't question her. Maybe if I had wine in my bag they may have but we did go through the security scanners separately so they wouldn't have actually known we were together. We did see a lady later on in the evening going to guest services to collect her suitcase as she had put her wine in her suitcase. They do say if you bring any wine on board it must be in your carry on luggage. As usual, people don't bother to read or do what is requested!

Cabin 568 Deck 13 - our first towel animal

Anyway, we're happy and excited to finally be on board the Ovation. We booked it back in October, which for us is very early and so glad the day has finally come!

We had muster to do which was all the way down on deck 5 (remember we're on deck 13) so checked out the back of our cabin door to find the instructions on how to get there. Pretty easy. Straight down the stairs to deck 5 and hang a left into Chops Grille. All the life jackets are stored here and around the ships, there aren't any in the cabins. It was a bit hard to see or hear the drill but we've done a few musters so have a pretty good idea of what we need to do in an emergency. Thankfully we didn't have to test out our mustering skills!

Off for another little wander around before it was time to say goodbye to Sydney and head off on our cruise. We sat on our balcony for sailaway - we loved our balcony! The Pacific Eden went out about an hour before us and the Radiance headed out at approx. 11pm later that night.

The Pacific Eden heading off on her cruise
Dinner reservations for tonight was for 7.45pm in the My Time restaurants which we found out were located on deck 4. (This was printed on our seapass card) American Icon or Silk. We had a quick freshen up and then headed downstairs to find our restaurant. We found it! To begin with I thought it was if you had reservations you went to American Icon and if you didn't you went to Silk but a few days in I realised you could go to either, they just had separate lines for with reservations and without reservations. The menus are the same in all four main restaurants it's just the decor which was different. If we had the set dining (5.30pm or 8pm) we would have been in the restaurants on deck 3 - The Grande or Chic.

We didn't wait long at all and were being shown to our table. Beautiful restaurant, we loved the Icon! Now the hard part, deciding what to eat :-)

Our first dinner menu on the Ovation

Enjoying our first of many delicious dinners in the Icon

Dessert menu!!

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