As usual, I want to write about my cruise experience while it's still fresh. New trip is coming in a week, and I want to have this blog post up before that for everyone to learn more about the cruise life. I noticed the sudden up in interest with this kind of luxury chill type of exploring, getting direct message inquiries on my social media postings. Even my own family is already dreaming of a cruise for my mom's 60th birthday next year, my sister prefers the same ship I've tried HAHA (Ovation of the Seas)! It's that GOOD!
Anyway, in this post I will try to include: A ship tour (get ready for a photo loaded post), some stuff I experienced and learned while on a ship for 7 days, rates, and a lot of your FAQs answered by Ms. Alexa of Royal Caribbean.
So if you're also piqued with interest on the cruise life, read more below and see why this is an experience you should try at least once in your life (but I doubt you won't want to go back again after the first try!)! 🚢❤
Hong Kong >> Full Day Cruise >>; Danang, Vietnam >> Nha Trang, Vietnam >> Ho Chi Minh Vietnam >> Full Day Cruise >> Singapore
We flew from Manila to Hong Kong (port of departure) early morning via PAL (airfare is separate from cruise fare). Then we took a private bus to the port. There are several procedures required to enter the ship, much like in airports when checking in for your flight. Our luggages were tagged, passports were checked, bags were scanned, and before we knew it we're already inside the ship looking for our assigned rooms.
They will also give each guest the most essential item you have to always keep and bring around with you during your whole stay inside the ship: An ID card with your name on it aka the SeaPass. You tap the card to enter or open the electricity of your room just like in hotels, or when you play in the arcade, order in the Bionic Bar, and you will also use the SeaPass every time you leave and reenter the ship during port stops. Never ever lose this or leave your SeaPass, it serves as your main identification since they will also collect and keep all passports during the whole duration of the cruise.
This is the immigration where we surrendered our passports:
Some stuff that happened during embarkation: You have the option to carry your own luggages with you to your room, or leave it by the entrance for the staff to carry for you--but it will take hours till you get your things again. We preferred the first option even though it was hard to pull my two luggages on our fully-carpeted hallway! Haha.
My extension cord, which I always bring during travels, was confiscated during the scanning procedure. They gave me a paper to claim it back when we're in Singapore and completely leaving the ship already, but I forgot about it and left it na huhu. So don't bring one na!
We were also given an envelope with several papers containing our Guest Ticket Booklet and Daily Planner.
Some things to know aside from not bringing an extension cord: Alcohol is not allowed except for a maximum of TWO bottles of wine or champagne brought only during embarkation day. Bring them via carry-on bag with no box. Gratuities per day are already automatically paid for by each guest through their SeaPass account. Also, EVERYONE is required to attend a Muster Drill before the ship sails to learn more about the ship's safety procedures. The drill will also be shown on your room's TV so you can review it.
SHIP TOUR: Welcome to Ovation of the Seas!
Let me take you on a virtual tour of our home for 7 days.
Beautiful clear glass elevators will take you to the different decks:
They change the flooring of the elevators EVERYDAY! I guess you lose sense of time when you're on a ship, haha!
No photos allowed during the whole protocol, much like when you enter immigration for your flight. Deck 2 is where we enter and exit the ship.
Again, no photos of the casino area. I think my favorite parts of Deck 3 are the restaurants! Windjammer Marketplace in Deck 14 is the main buffet area in the ship, it is so huge and it offers a lot of selection! But it also tends to get crowded, and seats fill up easily, so our group prefers to go to Chic (buffet breakfast) and The Grande (ala carte dinner).
I think we had 2-3 breakfasts and one lunch in Chic. Chic has a modest-sized buffet table with your favorite breakfasts including cereals and grains, cheese, eggs station, breads and pastries, fruits, hashbrown, assorted meats, etc. Coffee, tea, and water will be served to you on your table c/o Chic's very attentive waiters.
The Grande, to me, is the fanciest dining area inside Ovation of the Seas. The interiors made me want to dress up in a ballgown and hold a glass of red wine while listening to violin music, haha! Table is by reservation, while food is served ala carte, you will get a menu upon seating and choose an appetizer, main course, and dessert. They will also serve you water, but drinks like juice or soda are also available with separate fee.
Both Chic and The Grande are already part of your cruise fare, so avail it if you can!
We eat early dinner several times in The Grande, so the view of the sea next to our table is nice and instantly sets the vibe of luxury cruise life. They also always have at least one vegetarian option in their menu, which I really appreciate.
We take time eating our meals here, enjoying the slow pace and each other's company. And every night, palaging may ganap from the chefs and the crew. There's a night when the chef belted out a song, and on our last night there were dancing and even audience participation! We always have the grandest time in The Grande!
Michael's Genuine Pub
Another favorite deck in the ship is Deck 4, just because this is where we have our nightly cookie and pizza fix! Right next to each other is a deli and cafe called the Cafe Promenade, La Patisserie and Sorrento's, where they serve pastries, cookies, coffee, tea, water, pizza, etcetera 24/7.
Our group's habit throughout our cruise life is to go here every night for their chocolate chip cookies, the brown variant is just tooo addicting! We even brought some home haha! What we do is we grab a plate and bring them to our room with either a glass of milk, water, or even decaf coffee!
Feel free to get whatever you want! Everything's on the house / already part of your fare! And the staff here are sooo friendly and even funny! One time we asked for three cookies, and they'll jokingly fill our plate with five! Haha! No diets here, and I think our enthusiasm shows! 😜
Always a good night whenever I have a cookie and decaf coffee, which I bring and enjoy in our room!
Nightly conversations and bonding with my fellow bloggers / 'grammers were held in Cafe Promenade.
Sorrento's serve these goooey cheesy slices of pizza which I regret I only tried during our last night!
Also in Deck 4 are shops and other restaurants with door charges like Boleros and Michael's Genuine Pub. In the middle is a "bazaar" where they showcase designer stuff on SALE! One night they had a designer perfume sale for as low as Php 1500, skincare sale featuring Kiehls and Origins, then another night they had a bags and wallets sale featuring Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Coach, etc! All prices are in US Dollars.
We love going around this area! Btw, they also have an ATM in this deck that dispenses money in USD for the last-minute tempted shoppers! Hehehe.
Focus Photo Gallery
Shore Excursions and Dining Reservations
Some of the restaurants, bars and lounges with door charges (excluded in the cruise fare) are located in Deck 5, including Izumi (Japanese, Schooner Bar, and Chops Grille). They are beautiful, though, and worth dining in!
One of my favorite meals during the cruise is a lunch in Jamie's Italian by Jamie Oliver! They also have a door charge, but you can order anything na from the menu! Jamie's, as expected, offers delicious Italian selections from cheese platters, pasta, pizza, and desserts. Eating here is must!
We also had one dinner in Wonderland, a treat not just to the tastebuds but to all our five senses. Every detail and every food served here are in-theme and well-thought-out. Wonderland takes its name from Alice in Wonderland, and it might be because entering this whimsical restaurant leads you down the rabbit hole of endless delicious gastronomic choices! Haha! 🌙✨
They also prepared separate vegetarian dishes for me, a very thoughtful and very considerate move is that the servers made sure to ask all the guests for their food restrictions before serving the meals. A++ in my books!
Very creative! We had to "paint" on a frame in front of us to see the menu:
Food served were inspired by elements of Wind, Ice, Fire, Water, Earth and Dreams— each with a selection of small or shareable fantasies. We also had drinks in goblets. It was hard not to take out my camera every time they bring out a new dish!
For night cap, we tried the super hightech Bionic Bar where two robotic bartenders create your drink for you!! They have several cocktail combinations, but you can also customize your order. Place your mix through the tablets located in front of the bar, and watch the bionic mixologist concoct your drink!
We weren't able to explore this part of Deck 5, but also on this floor you can check out and book for your next cruise:
Dine in Cafe @ Two70:
Two70 is the ship's venue with an expansive 270° floor-to-ceiling view of the ocean! You can grab a hand-crafted cocktail while enjoying the view of the ocean, or watch the live entertainment. Two70 also transforms into a nightclub every night!
From Two70, head up for The Library and The Workshop:
All of our meet-up point before a tour is at the Royal Theatre. They also hold several performances here every night. We watched one show called PIXELS (free, but by reservations), where they combined music and technology to showcase a fun and one of a kind production! You will never get bored when on this ship!!
Photo with the cast of PIXELS! I think 2 or 3 of them are Filipinos!
Majority of Decks 6 to 13 are dedicated for all the rooms of the guests. Ours is located on Deck 12. I wasn't able to explore the Adventure Ocean although it's on the same floor as ours.
Here's how hallways in staterooms look like. It gets confusing to me sometimes as everything looks the same, haha! I also got lost while looking for Kerwin and Jelito's room and realized the size of our ship!
Aside from elevators, they also have several staircases in the ship, and they are all well-designed too! I love looking at framed artworks displayed on every floor.
Cleanliness! For the OC, I love that every floor, corner, and entrances of our ship has this hand sanitizer machine.
But anyway, let me take you inside our Balcony Room:
I shared the Balcony Room with Asta of The Poor Traveler. The fully-carpeted room has a queen sized bed that's convertible to two solo beds. There's also a comfortable couch by the balcony, where Asta loves to sleep!! Beds are comfortable, and you can modify the room temperature so we always have nice cool sleep every night. Aircon automatically shuts down the moment you open the balcony door.
They have a charging outlet right next to the beds, but they also have two USB types and other sockets located at the table below the vanity mirror.
Stay updated online, and keep in touch with loved ones with the great internet connection they have on the ship. VOOM WiFi is FAST even when we were sailing in the middle of the ocean!! You have to pay for a code though, but it's an option for the social media kids like me who uses their Instagram stories and Facebook all the time, or even to those who still needs to work a little while on vacation. Again, internet is fast and very impressive!
Room's size is comparable to Japanese Airbnbs I've stayed in before, especially the shower and toilet area. It is small, but every space is maximized, clean, and complete. I have to commend our stateroom attendant, who kept our room and restroom very clean every single day during our stay. Aside from doing his job well, he always greets us by the hallway every single time we go out of our room for meals or our daily schedule!
I also enjoy heading out to our balcony every morning when I wake up. I either have a view of our next destination, or just endless water and the horizon. Sobrang ganda! I super recommend staying in a room with balcony, it's a refreshing experience having the view of the sea the moment you wake up and before you retire at night.
One time after a long day of just cruising through endless seas, I was amazed to wake up and finally see land from our balcony! Hello Vietnam!
I remember on our first night and the first time our ship sailed from the port of Hong Kong, I returned to our room as the waves were a bit strong, and saw Asta chilling by our balcony. I went out with her and just watched the bright city lights of Hong Kong go from blinding to tiny specks, as our boat goes farther and further away to the pitch black ocean.
The Living Room
One of the constant places we go to while on the ship is the Windjammer Marketplace, Royal Caribbean's main dining area for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They serve an assortment of global cuisines, buffet style! You know how buffets often compromise taste by giving you variety of selections (quantity over quality), but for Windjammer, everything's GOOD even with all the varieties and serving sizes they offer every single day!
I love that EVERYONE has to pass through these sinks first to wash their hands before they enter the buffet. You will be greeted by one of the service crews with a happy smile! It's easy to feel at home in this ship.
They also serve the cookies here! And the pastry chef is Pinay! Most of the crew of Ovation of the Seas are Filipinos, sharing their world-class service to all the guests! Nakaka proud a.
I love all the fresh fruits I get to eat here everyday.
Drinks stations are also found in every corner of Windjammer. They serve unlimited water, coffee, tea, and juices. Again, you can bring them up to your room if you want more!
Also located on the same deck is the Solarium Bistro, where we had our breakfast once.
The indoor pool is also located inside the Solarium, where only adults can avail the pool and the hot tubs. It also has a Pool Bar and several lounge chairs where guests hang out with their drinks, to rest, or to read a book. This is my favorite area for swimming!! You can even rent towels for free by just presenting your tap card.
Free ice cream! Located in between the Solarium and the outdoor pool decks.
Just outside the Solarium is the pool deck, Royal Caribbean's large outdoor pool area! They have the H2O Zone aqua park for the kids, hot tubs, a pool, and a 220 square foot movie screen that runs movies or live sporting events. Movie nights are held in this area, so imagine swimming while watching a Marvel movie before ending the day!
North Star Bar
Rock Climbing Wall
Vitality Spa and Salon
Vitality Spa and Salon
Again, you will not run out of things to do while inside Ovation of the Seas. We are always in Deck 15 as it has the best photo areas for your Instagram! Haha.
Aside from that, you can also avail these things: A Running Track so you will stay fit even with all the good food of Sorento's, The Grande, and Windjammer:
For a level up fitness life, they also have a guided rock climbing wall:
Speaking of flying, we tried RipCord by iFly on our first night! Located next to the Flow Rider (surfing), experience the exhilaration of skydiving even without leaving the deck! It is safe and fun, and perfect icebreaker for our group!
A funny screencaps of my "flight" haha! It's scary at first, but everyone was able to do it!
For the kids and kids at heart, you can waste time in the arcade and win cool prizes like Funko Pops, Polaroid camera, or GoPro!
SeaPlex is a huge indoor venue, Ovation of the Seas own gym, where you can play or participate in a lot of activities! One time they even had dance classes here!
They also hold trapeze lessons, basketball day, roller skates day, table tennis, and bump cars day here! Just check the daily sched so you won't miss anything. Imagine accomplishing all these cool activities during your cruise, and discovering and getting hooked on a new hobby after your trip! Haha!
There's also an XBOX room:
More gaming zones:
And a free hotdogs booth!
If your goal is more of to relax, they also have Vitality Salon and Spa onboard. They offer facials from USD 113 to USD 190, different massages from USD 111 to 381, body treatments like salt scrubs and cellulite reduction program, shaving and grooming, cut and style, acupuncture, teeth whitening, manicure and pedicure, waxing services, etc! I'd say, they have everything you want!!
Vitality Fitness Center
And lastly, on Deck 16 is the ship's 24 hours gym Vitality Fitness Center. I never exercised during a vacation, but being on a cruise is different! Since the gym is just on the top deck, and we ate so much throughout the day, our group is very enabling when it comes to adding a fitness life to our itinerary for the day! Just 30 minutes on the treadmill is enough to feel a little less guilty after eating so much in the buffet, hehehe.
Right next to the gym is The Studio, where the hold cycling sessions by schedule.
Proper attire (closed shoes) is required to use the fitness center:
They have all the basic equipment in a gym, imagine going here in the morning and watch the sunrise as you run!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
FAQs answered by Ms. Alexa of Royal Caribbean! If you have more inquiries, don't hesitate to leave them on the comment box below so I can redirect them to Ms. Alexa for you. ★
Do you need visas for routes with Japan, Taiwan, China, and other countries that require one?
For PHL passport holder, we do not require visa in Japan if the town/cities are just ports of call meaning guests will not start and end the cruise in Japan. For Taiwan ports visa is waived but for all Shanghai and Beijing, China roundtrip sailings, double entry China visa is needed.
Do you get a stamp on your passport during a cruise?
Most of the countries in Asia do not stamp passports for guests doing the shore excursions, however there are still other countries like Vietnam and Thailand where in Immigration officers go to the ship and stamp the passports.
One of our stops during the cruise is in Hoi An, Vietnam:
Are you required to go down the ship for every stop? Is it recommended to get a tour, and where? Is DIY travel during these stops also possible?
Going down the ship is optional, the freedom on staying onboard and having the ship all by yourself is possible. Should you want to join the tours, you may avail one prior the sailing thru the website or buy tours onboard 1 day prior arriving on the port of call.
There are many ports that has independent car/van for rent for your DIY tours, you just need the address of the port and be at the pier terminal 1hour prior the ship departs.
Is it better and cheaper to book earlier? Are there seasons when fares are cheaper / more expensive?
The ideal time to book is at least 6 months prior where rates are cheaper and you can choose good location of cabins. For Philippine Market the rates will be basically cheaper if booked prior.
What are the different room types?
There are basically four types of cabins, however with Royal Caribbean's new ships we introduced different kind of cabin types.
- Interior - no view
- Oceanview - with view of the ocean thru a window (cannot be open)
- Balcony - with extended area outside the ship
- Suites - with extended area outside the ship and has more exclusive amenities
Cabin Type for Royal Caribbean Ships:
- Interior with Virtual Balcony - with digital panel (floor to ceiling) where guests can see the view outside:
- Promenade - Interior cabin with a window overlooking the ship (onboard Voyager Class ship only) :
- Boardwalk View - (available on Oasis Class ships only)
- Central Park View - (available on Oasis Class ships only)
- Boardwalk view with Balcony - (available on Oasis Class ships only)
- Central Park view with Balcony - (available on Oasis Class ships only)
Are the published rates per room or per head?
Yes, all rates are per person.
Is it same price for kids / senior citizens?
There are sailings where rates for kids and senior citizens are reduced, there are even sailings where kids (12 years old and below) can cruise for free. Also senior citizen would start from the age of 55 and above.
What's the most affordable fare / route?
The rate differs per route, the cheapest would still be the Singapore itinerary for 3nights can go as low as $200-$300 per person (inclusive of food, activities onboard, shows, cabin type-interior)
Here are some screencaps of sample Royale Caribbean cruise routes with rates from the website:
Visit http://www.cruising.com.ph to book your cruise!
What are the restos that have door charges (and how much), and what are the ones that are already included in the payment / fare?
Is the cruise kid-friendly?
Yes! Royal Caribbean is for the whole family with different kind of activities the kids and kids at heart will surely enjoy. Click HERE to know more about onboard activities.
Lastly, ending this post with personal insights about the cruise life with Royal Caribbean' Ovation of the Seas!
1) First of all, TEAM AVAIL will win in life (or the cruise life, that is!). If you want to make the most of the fare that you will pay to be in this ship, make sure to maximize everything your ship has to offer--and they have a lot! They even have language classes and free shows that you can avail, you just have to BOOK for your slots. Most restaurants are also free but have to be reserved prior dining. Review everything on your first day, and grab all that you can during your whole excursion!
2) Sea Sick? Maalon ba? I also got this question so many times and I'd say I only felt the huge waves every time we leave a port. Later on, nasasanay na ako that it doesn't bother me much anymore. Sadly, it's hard to tell for me as I think this is case-to-case basis, medyo hindi kasi ako mahiluhin in general so it's not bothersome for me. The common thing that happened to our group though was during our first night back in the city after the cruise, we all felt na parang nasa boat padin kami! It's the "jetlag" version daw of post-cruise life!
3) What to prepare for a cruise? I made sure to bring casual clothes, a jacket as it gets colder inside the ship especially the theater, gym outfit (although I just used my porma sneakers), swimming outfit so you can enjoy the water amenities, and at least one dressy outfit for that fancy dinner or show at night. This is not required, but better to be prepared! I just packed a black blazer with me which made any of my looks a bit put-together.
Also, bring your medicines! Kremil-S when you had too much to eat and drink (lol), Advil for headaches, Claritin for sudden allergies. They have a clinic though, which you can call from your room if you need anything. I also noticed that my skin got drier while on the ship, so bring moisturizer, sunblock, and lotion! They only gave us bottled water on our first day, keep this and just refill it in any of the restos throughout your stay to keep your body hydrated.
4) It will take a day or two just cruising, did you get bored? Surprisingly, never ako nabore during our cruise. Aside from great company (naks hahaha), there's just so much to see and do (see #1). I thought I will get lots of downtime and watch my Kdrama during the full days of just cruising, but we had so much things we wanted to try! One time when we were touring outside on a hot day, I even heard my friends wanting to just go back "home" aka our ship!! It's the opposite, you will miss the boat!
5) Cruising is for everybody! I thought the cruise life is only for older people and for people who can afford it. But Royal Caribbean has plenty of route options and amenities to cater different people. Cruise is for all ages and for any types of groups--families, group of friends, or even when you just want to be away on your own.
We are so used to on-the-go travels that we forget why vacations were even made in the first place: To relax and be away from your current reality! Going on a cruise for the first time, I realized that I found that much needed disconnection that I want whenever I am on a trip--to be away from the city, with everything I need in one roof, all the food that I want, different hobbies, activities and entertainment that I can try. THIS is a VACATION!
Lastly, I'd like to thank my cruise friends who made a great experience like this even more extra, thank you guys! For the stories, the food trips, gym push, beautiful photos, and extra cookie every night, haha! 😉 And a big thank you to Drew and Ms. Alexa for taking care of us. I am glad that my first international cruise experience is with the BEST!
For more information, follow @royalcaribbeanphilippines on Instagram and visit http://www.cruising.com.ph!