As the passengers pour into Ovation of the Seas one thing is crystal clear – every generation, every age group loves this ship.
In front of me, I see 80 and 90-year-olds with walkers, teenagers busting to explore and parents juggling carry-on bags, passports and schedules.
More families are cottoning on to cruising as a way to holiday with grandparents, parents and kids. It’s rare to find a holiday where everyone seems happy.
Rachel from Royal Carribean tells me multi-generation families are the fastest growing booking type for cruises. The cruise ship even has wheelchair access and pool hoists to allow everyone to enjoy their time on board. It has accessible cabins and accessible toilets.
“Cruises have something for everyone on board and they make multi-generation holidays so easy,” she says.
Ovation of the Seas is the largest cruise ship serving Australia. It is 347.1 metres long, 41 metres wide and 62.2 metres tall. In an average week-long cruise they serve 23,000 steaks, 84,400 eggs, 18,000 slices of pizza and 230,000 desserts.
It has 16 guest floors and two staff service floors and 2091 guest cabins, fitting 5011 passengers.
On day one, many families crowd into the Windjammer Marketplace buffet restaurant to get a bite to eat before their rooms are ready.
Toddlers’ eyes widen as they spot the dessert bar. Primary school-age kids wander around with a face that says they can’t believe their luck at being let loose in this slice of heaven. Teens pile their plates up high, their parents glad they don’t have to pay extra to fill those growing stomachs.
An elegantly-dressed woman with perfectly curled grey hair and comfortable shoes pushes a walker in front of her as she moves towards her grandkids. She has placed her plate, knife and fork, on the seat of her walker for easier carrying. The plate is packed with paella, roast beef, salad and potatoes.
Cruises are all-inclusive, so it feels like everything is free. You can sign up to different drinks packages depending on the level and quality of alcohol you intend to consume. The basic unlimited soda package is $15 a day. On board, all the prices are in US dollars – so watch your conversion rate.
Windjammer Marketplace is just the start of the food options on board. It’s the easy option for food with kids – available all day (and night).
But for something a little more special with the family, you will want to book one of Ovation of the Seas restaurants. You can make a reservation and check the menus easily on giant screens throughout the ship.
Perhaps the kids could go to Kids’ Club and you can have dinner with your children. And actually, chat.
Silk restaurant offers Asian fusion food in an exotic dining room filled with large red chairs and hanging lanterns.
Chops Grille promises the best steaks on the high seas. Izumi offers delicate Japanese rolls and ramen. Jamie Oliver’s restaurant is an easy favourite of all ages.
If you do want to treat the kids we suggest heading to the Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant – Wonderland. At this magical restaurant, many dishes come with a theatrical flourish of smoke and the flavours will surprise and delight.
What can the kids do on board?
If you’re cruising on Ovation of the Seas with the grandkids – you will find them on the top deck a the back of the ship. It’s home to the Ripcord iFly skydiving simulator, the Flow Rider surfing simulator and the Seaplex kids zone, a huge basketball court/ dodgem car track/roller skating rink. In short – they won’t ever get bored. You will need to make a set time for them to meet you.
We’ve come on board Royal Carribean’s Ovation of the Seas with Elise Brown, 19, a tunnel athlete and the youngest indoor skydiving instructor at iFly. Elise has brought her own flight suit to take on Royal Carribean’s huge wind tunnel – RipCord iFly. If you’re planning a family cruise with teens – this is one of the biggest reasons to pick Ovation of the Seas. The kids LOVE it.
Elise is one of the first passengers in the tunnel. With the elegance of a gymnast, she swirls through the tube before holding her body in mid-splits position and spinning mid-air.
It doesn’t take long for a crowd to form – most of them teens, tweens and under 40s adults.
Elise tells us skydiving feels like flying. Anyone can do it even over 50s.
“RipCord is heaps of fun, just hold nice and still, nice and calm have a look at the view it’s heaps of fun.”
Around the corner, other teens and tweens marvel at the rock climbing wall, wondering what it would be like to climb once the ship was actually at sea. Would it be swaying? Or would she ship stay stable?
Ovation of the Seas also has an observation arm called The North Star which lifts passengers sky high above the ship. It offers a fantastic view of the city when you are in port.
Concerts and entertainment
You will want to book to see a show while on board.
In the Royal Theatre, you can watch The Dream, the story of a man who dreams his departed soulmate comes back to live and encourages him to rediscover his passion for life. Or catch the Vegas-inspired Live.Love.Legs show – a blend of aerial acrobatics, choreography and song.
The Music Hall is the place to see live bands and dance the night away. You can also head into the karaoke bar for a giggle.
Escape from the kids
Want to get away from the kids? Ovation of the Seas has an adults-only oasis where pools of water cascade underneath towering palm trees. It’s humid inside thanks to the towering glass ceiling.
Tucked into the corner we find a group of six adults packed into a spa with beers. They cheer us as we walk past and we tell them they have found the best spot on the ship.
Here’s a tip if you are going on board – pack your swimmers in your carry-on. That way you can jump into a spa or pool while everyone else waits for their luggage. You could even have a pool all to yourself.
Love cruising? Want to cruise with the kids? Check out these stories for more information. Or head on over to our cruise deals page.