Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ovation of the Seas - Thursday 9 February, Debark day

Debark day, a very sad day indeed as it means our cruise is over and we have to leave our ship for the last time (but not before breakfast!).

Final breakfast in the Solarium
I can't believe that our cruise is already over! Seriously felt like we only just got on and now we have to leave. By the time we opened our curtains at 6am we were already at the OPT luckily we've sailed into Sydney and have been up early enough to take some photos and enjoy the harbour so early in the morning. It is a beautiful harbour.

This is part of the ships Bridge which we got to see on our Behind the Scenes Tour
Our debark time was 8am and we had to be at the Royal at 7.45am so after our cuppa and a shower we headed up to the Solarium for the last time. Shame we couldn't take a doggy bag with us! I took some more photos before heading back to our cabin, freshening up again and making sure we had looked in every drawer and cupboard before leaving our room (I don't wanna go). Just as we got to the Royal our number was called and off we went. I think it was about 7.50am and we were in the OPT collecting our suitcases. Just a note: the only thing that slows the debark process are passengers not doing as instructed. Do not get off the ship before you are called as your suitcase will not be there and do not get off the ship later than you are required to as then your suitcase is in the way! Straight through customs, as we had nothing to declare, and over to Circular Quay to get the train to Central and drop our suitcases off.

We left our suitcases at a storage place under the main part of Central in Eddy Avenue as mum had seen this earlier and the price looked much cheaper than upstairs in the main part of the station. $10 for the day, bargain!

Egyptian Mummies Exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum
10.30am - Powerhouse Museum to see the Egyptian Mummies exhibition. I had booked this before leaving for our trip as I love Egypt and all things old. The museum opens at 10am so we had some time to kill before we could go in and explore. We didn't feel like walking around, we've done enough of that over the last few weeks, so I grabbed a coffee (first coffee in quite awhile) and we sat in the open courtyard near the museum and talked about our next cruise :-)

I loved the exhibition and also quite enjoyed walking around the other exhibits in the museum. We spent about two hours here before heading back to the station to collect our (heavy) suitcases. We thought we might be able to get on an earlier flight but unfortunately by the time we got to the airport our flight was the only flight going to Port Mac!

We were a couple of hours early for our 4.10pm flight so checked in and then headed to the food court for lunch. I had bought a sushi roll on the way to the airport so just bought a Krispy Kreme donut, I'm use to dessert now so needed something sweet! Mum opted for Red Rooster. Busy busy place Sydney airport. The escalator heading up to the check in counters wasn't working and mum and I certainly weren't lugging our bags all the way up them so we went to the lift. A gentleman (I use the term loosely) pushing a wheelchair proceeded to push his way passed all us people with suitcases and give everyone the evil eye. Once we finally got into the lift, they're not very big so it had opened and closed a few times chockers before we could get in, he asked us if we had an aversion to escalators! I promptly told him that only when they weren't working we did. That shut him up. I was over rude people by now.

After lunch we walked over to our departure lounge and waited (and waited). We were flying with Virgin, it's either Virgin or Qantas when you go to Port Mac. Virgin were having difficulties with their system, it had crashed, so that delayed flights and then they had to manually check people in. A Melbourne flight was cancelled and then more flights were delayed, ours included. We ended up changing lounges, thankfully it was just next door, and left an hour late. Virgin talk up how much better they are than other airlines but truthfully I didn't see any difference to Jetstar or Tiger and neither of these airlines have been late when I've flown with them (touchwood!). We got a cup of tea (which mum and I both were dying for - we miss our cabin!) and a lemon bikkie. We had only just taken off when one of the passengers started to order a scotch and coke. The flight attendant had to politely tell him he couldn't get out of his seat until the plane was level and the seat belt sign was turned off. It made me think of dad and him waiting at the airport for us not being able to have a beer or three after bowls :-)

The flight was smooth, I was hoping we'd flying over the harbour so I could get a photo of our ship but we were on the wrong side of the plane, of course! We did see the Guns n Roses plane while we were taxiing along the runway at Sydney.

Guns n Roses plane at Sydney airport
Back home, well back to mums home I've still got a 5 1/2 hour drive ahead of me on Sunday. Mum and I threw all our dirty washing (in the bin) in the washing machine ready for tomorrow and then sat down with a glass of wine. Not quite the same as on our balcony on the Ovation :-)

It was an absolutely amazing trip and cruise and the most spectacular cruise ship I have ever seen or been lucky enough to be on. The negative reviews I read before hand where the complete opposite of what mum and I thought. We never had a bad meal. We never missed out on anything we wanted to do. We never had to queue for long. We never met any unhelpful staff. Surprisingly we never got lost! Our room was spacious, modern, well designed and decorated. The balcony was a good size and we didn't have any issues with our view or the overhang from deck 14 above us (as I had previously read) and we thought the bathroom was great. The only thing I guess that mum missed was the clothes line we've had in other bathrooms but she just used some coat hangers and put them on the back of the chairs on the balcony.

All the shows we saw were sensational, in particular The Dream - just spectacular!! We had prebooked these so had no issues getting in to see them. I spoke to a couple of people who didn't have a booking and they said they managed to get in to see them also.

We never encountered any huge queues or line ups for anything. Obviously there are going to be queues, there are 4,000 passengers, but for our part we were quite surprised how minimal they were and how quickly everything was processed. Right from boarding to getting on and off the tenders and at ports to when we got back to Sydney and left the ship. I think this might have been the quickest embark and debark we've ever had and possibly even for the tendering etc. No complaints there!

The restaurants were all wonderful and our main restaurant The American Icon Grill was near on perfect, from arriving and never having to wait more than 5 minutes to be seated, to the waiters, the decor and ambience and the food (oh my, the food!) everything was perfect! We enjoyed our dinner in the Solarium Bistro but did prefer The Icon probably the main reason was the starters and dessert were buffet style and we got so use to being waiting on it was a bit tough to get our own ;-) Also there were quite a lot of seafood starters which mum doesn't eat but the quality, for the most part, was excellent. I did have a few very well cooked prawns in amongst my starter but it certainly didn't ruin my meal. It's a lovely place to sit and very light and airy, we had a 6.30pm reservation and the sun was setting around 8pm so it was a beautiful place to see the sun set over the water. We often had a window seat or near window seat in the Icon so again got to watch the sun go down. They would close the blinds when it was very bright but you could still see through them a bit so didn't make it dark at all. I find it very hard to understand how anyone could not like the food on this ship. They are very picky if that is the case and I wonder what they were expecting or what they normally eat?? Anyway, for us we give the food a 5 out of 5. Yes there were a couple of things we didn't like but that just comes down to taste and not quality. Although I do have to say the pizza we had in Sorrento's wasn't very nice. I think it had been sitting there for quite some time, maybe a freshly made pizza would have been much nicer but we weren't that hungry and only wanted a slice or two.

The facilities and activities on the Ovation are second to no other ship we have been on! Incredible ship with great public spaces both inside the ship and on the top decks. The Seaplex was fabulous and such a great area for sports and all kinds of activities. All of the pools, especially the Solarium as this is the ones we used, were great. Lots and lots of deck chairs, there were millions of them! We absolutely loved the Solarium pools. Great to just sit in them and laze away the day. Easy to get in and out of using the steps and big enough to not get too crowded.

The incredible Ovation of the Seas!
I think I could go on and on about the Ovation but I'll just say Well Done Royal Caribbean - this is an amazing ship and I hope it keeps coming back to Australia and possibly even stay longer! I also hope I get to go on her again (and again!).

Thanks mum for yet again another wonderful cruise, thanks for wanting to go cruising with me and putting up with. When's the next one???

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