On Board the Ovation of the Seas
As a fan of watching movies and tv shows, I often come across a situation where a character goes on a cruise and just disappears for a few episodes. Most of the time, what you’d hear from them is how much they loved being on a cruise and how amazing it was. The character then suggests everyone to go on a cruise too because they will love it. I’ve always fantasized about being on a while sipping a nice cold drink while looking at the different hues of the ocean. A month ago, my friends from Royal Caribbean Philippines reached out and asked if I was interested in joining them on a 7-day trip at sea on board the Ovation of the Seas. Of course, I immediately said yes! I was so set to finally make that fantasy a reality. My expectations were high. All these TV shows/movies I grew up watching can’t stop raving about how amazing being on a cruise is. But to be honest, I also had my worries. I never really researched much about what goes on in a cruise. Do I have to pay for my meals? What if I starve and we’re in the middle of the ocean? I was going through a roller coaster of emotions as the trip drew nearer but I was mostly excited! Our ship was set to sail from Hong Kong - Vietnam - Singapore.
Ovation of the Seas - Hong Kong
Fast forward to sail day! We flew to Hong Kong to get on board the Ovation of the Seas which was docked at Kai Tak Terminal in Hong Kong. All that was going through my mind was “Oh my gosh, this is finally happening! I’m finally going inside the ship!” Of course, to ease my mind and rid my worries, I asked Alexa, our rep from RCP, about the food situation. Magic words came flying out her mouth as she said “Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner are all complimentary. There is also a 24-hour (yes 24) cafe that serves cookies, coffee, tea, pizza, sandwiches, and more snacks. And yes, it is also complimentary.” (In short Alexa was telling us that there is food available at all times and is free!) I secretly wanted to scream because my worries about starving were definitely out of the window! I can finally relax and enjoy the trip!
Before boarding the ship, we were handed our SeaPass cards that had our name, account, dinner reservation, assembly station, and our date of disembarkation. This will be our room key and identification card while in the ship so we had to keep it with us at all times. This will also serve as a “credit” card for our transactions on board (buying alcoholic drinks, shopping, etc.). Transactions can be paid in cash or card at the Guest Services area where you settle most of your accounts. You can opt to approach guest services and register your credit card so you can go cashless the whole trip! You can also check your current balance in your room via your television. If you are using a cash account, a day before your final day at sea, you will be reminded to settle your remaining balance at the guest services counter. I settled mine a night before the final sailing day as the lines become really long when you do it at the final sailing day.
After settling in our room, we went up to have lunch. We spent most of the day checking out the ship, asking more questions about what happens in the ship, and emotionally preparing ourselves for what was scheduled for the evening. A day before the trip, we were told that on our first evening on board, we were trying out the RipCord by iFly. Basically it’s a skydiving simulator on board (yes on board!) the ship. — oh did I mention that they also have a surfing simulator on board? There were so many things to try!
Anyway, while in line for the RipCord, we were watching the demo videos and I was terrified. I never really planned on trying this thing out ever! But you’ve probably seen the photo below. I ended up trying it and it was actually really fun! For a person like me who is terrified of most extreme activities, this was more fun than scary. I suggest if ever you’re on board, to give it a try because it’s definitely a unique experience!
We were given a quick tour around the ship after breakfast. We were introduced to all of the facilities of the ship (there were so many that I was unable to keep up with everything). We began the tour at Deck 16 (yes the ship is that big!) and worked our way down until Deck 3 where the casino is located. Basically, most outdoor activities are located at Deck 15 & 16. There is an indoor and outdoor pool with jacuzzis! There is also an area called Solarium (16+ only. Sorry kids!) which also has a jacuzzi inside and a bar. You also get a full view from the front of the ship. Also found on the these decks are the RipCord (sky diving sim), FlowRider (surfing sim), and the SeaPlex. The SeaPlex is a multi fuction area where at different times, you are offered different activities. Rollerskating, basketball, football, bumper cars, and even a trapeze school! The SeaPlex also has a food truck by it where you can grab snacks (and yes it’s complimentary!). Wall climbing is also available on board. On Deck 16, you also have the North Star. The North Star is a round looking pod that will take you 300 feet above the ship to get a nice panoramic and aerial view of the ship. I shared some photos at the latter part of this post! There is also a spa available and a gym!
The Pool Bar was definitely one of my favorite areas in the ship. Usually every after shore excursion, we’d either opt to have merienda at one of the restaurants/cafes or hang out in the jacuzzi to relax while waiting for dinner (we even sometimes ending up doing both lol!).
Windjammer Restaurant is one of the many complimentary restaurants available on board. It is a buffet style restaurant where they offer a wide range of choices.
For lunch after our quick tour around the ship, we checked out Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Jamie’s Italian on board. For restaurants that are not complimentary, like this one, you will be charged for a fee to be able to dine. From what I remember (correct me if I’m wrong), the fee for Jamie’s Italian is 39.99 USD. Upon paying the fee, you are able to order anything on the menu to your heart’s content (yaaay!). Alcoholic drinks however will require a separate fee. I tried my best to take a the best photos of the dishes I enjoyed.
Besides the Windjammer restaurant, people can also opt to check out The Grande located at Deck 3. The Grande is a different experience from the Windjammer. If you feel like having dinner in a formal setting, you can opt to dine here. I thoroughly enjoyed all the meals we had here. You are seated at the table indicated in your SeaPass card and will be served by one of the friendly waiters assigned to your table. The menu is different every night so I would suggest to at least check this place out when you are on board. This restaurant is also complimentary!
Woke up to an amazing sunrise and view. After spending a whole day sailing, it was nice to see land! We' finally arrived in Vietnam. It was my first time in Vietnam so I was pretty excited to see what Vietnam has in store. Our first stop in Vietnam was Hue/Danang (Chan May).
Hoi An, Vietnam
Our group opted for the Hoi An free & easy tour. From Da Nang port, we took our bus and drove to Hoi An for about an hour and a half. I really love how alive and colorful the area is. As you walk around, you would notice the bright colored buildings. Inside these buildings are colorful products ranging from souvenirs, clothes, shoes, bags, and many more. Some streets are also lined with beautiful lanterns hanging from one building to the other. Aside from the many stores you can check out, you can also check out museums and temples in the area. There are quite a few restaurants to choose from as well. There is definitely a lot to do in the area and I feel bad for not being able to explore all of it.
Before heading back to the bus that will take us back to the ship, we decided to grab an ice cold beer before saying good bye to this beautiful place. I wish I got to spend more time in this place. I heard that this place is even more beautiful at night! Hopefully I get to visit this place again soon! It was such a good start to my first taste of Vietnam! Beautiful everything!
After a whole day walking under the sun, we settled back to our rooms and prepared for dinner. We had our dinner in Wonderland. For an additional fee, you are served an exciting multi-course dinner. As you are seated, you are handed a blank photo frame. After a few moments, you are given a small dish of water and will be handed a paint brush. You are then asked to paint over the blank frame with the water provided to reveal your menu for the night! A pretty cool way to begin an exciting meal! The dishes on the menu are categorized into: Sun, Ice, Fire, Sea, and Earth. At this point I was even more excited to eat since reading the menu got me even more curious with what’s going to be served.
NHA TRANG, VIETNAM
Always happy to see land when I wake up. Our next stop: Nha Trang, Vietnam. It’s definitely a place I haven’t really heard before. Thanks to the internet, I found out that it is a coastal city that is known for their beach and resorts. I was pretty excited to check Nha Trang out since it’s very different from our first port, Da Nang. As soon as we got to the port (well, we were tendered so technically, we had to take a jetty to the dock) , you’d feel how different the place was from Hoi An. From the ship, you can actually see an amusement park from afar. You can also see cable cars moving from one stop to the other.
Upon looking at the itinerary, it says that we were gonna have beach time! I was pretty excited for that so basically throughout the whole tour, all I could think about was the beach. Haha! But aside from beach time, we explored a few temples and got in a bit of a mini work out from climbing stairs under the scorching sun. Getting to the top of the temples were worth it though! We first checked out Po Nagar, This place was beautiful, albeit the number of people in the area. I suggest to check this place out early so there won’t be too many people and it won’t be too hot. I felt like it was extra hot that day (plus I decided to wear a long-sleeved shirt. Yay me! Ha!)
After checking out Po Nagar, we headed to Long Son Pagoda where you will be greeted by a giant statue of Buddha when you enter the area. On the side of the temple are stairs that lead up to so you can get a closer look at the statue. I have to admit, I almost gave up and had thoughts of just skipping the trip up but one tourist, on her way down, told us “You guys should go! It’s just a couple of minutes up and it’s beautiful.” So we ended up going all the way up. I have to admit, It was worth the trip up! You really get to appreciate it more up close since you see how big the whole statue is. Besides the statue, you also get to see a view of the city from above which is a pretty cool perspective.
Finally we were headed to the beach! Well, technically, we won’t be staying long. We’re just going to have lunch at the restaurant that was by the beach. Wish we could’ve stayed longer though. The coast line was beautiful! Although it was scorching hot, my friends and I couldn’t resist not to let our feet meet the water. It was such a refreshing feeling after all the walking! Again, Vietnam has left me speechless and wishing I had more time to explore but we had to part with the beach and head back to the ship.
A view of our huge and beautiful ship from afar. I can’t believe that something this big floats on water!
This is such a random photo and I just wanted to share this because I got to touch the ship from the outside! Haha!
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
After two ports in Vietnam, we finally arrived at our last one in Ho Chi Minh. I’ve always wanted to visit this city but I never really got the chance to. So happy I finally get to visit even just for a few hours. What I love about all the ports we checked out is how different each one is. You get a taste of something different for every port which makes the whole cruise even more interesting.
We first checked out Thien Hau Temple in the city. As you enter, you would smell incense burning, hear papers rustling, and people busy going around the temple. It was quite a busy day for the temple as the place had quite a number of people inside.
After the temples and lunch, we walked to a nearby landmark which is the Independence Palace. Inside you will see massive rooms with different functions. Back during the Vietnam War, it is said that the president of South Vietnam lived and worked in this Palace. It was also where the Vietnam war ended when a tank of North Vietnam barged through the gates of the palace.
Just a few minutes away from the Palace, you will see Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon. Such a beautiful building. Just sad to see the scaffolding on the sides of the cathedral. Hopefully next time I come here, It would be in a better shape and the weather would be much more enjoyable. Right next to the Cathedral is the Saigon Central Post office. Another beautiful and well-preserved building. I am really loving how well preserved most of their structures are in Vietnam. And I’m definitely a big fan of the colorful buildings you see while going around the city. The weather turned sour after snapping the photos below but thankfully it stopped right away. In our tour schedule, we were given about an hour to go around downtown and see the different shops in the area.
Some of us were super excited for free time because we’ve been wanting to see the Cafe Apartment in Ho Chi Minh. Luckily, we were dropped off right behind the building so we didn’t really have a hard time looking for it. I’ve seen this Cafe Apartment online and I’ve always wanted to see it in person. We were super psyched but at the same time bummed because we don’t really have enough time to check the whole place but wow, this place was amazing. We took the stairs up and checked out about 5 our of the 9 floors of cafes. We had a hard time picking where we want to have coffee and time was running out so we decided to just go to a cafe on the 3rd floor that served donuts. We downed our coffees, rushed down the stairs and back into the bus! Just in time!
Our last day at sea was spent savoring the last hours we had on the ship. The food, the view, the facilities, just everything that you can enjoy while on board. Always a bittersweet feeling when a trip is ending. I can’t believe that 7 days flew by so fast. It was such an amazing experience and I promised myself that this won’t be my last cruise experience.
I hope I was able to take you with me during my trip with Royal Caribbean Philippines in exploring a bit of Vietnam and also what’s it like to be on board a cruise.
Also big +++ to all the staff of the ship. They made our experience extra enjoyable. Thank you.
To those who’ve been debating if they should get on a cruise or not, I say do it. It’s worth it. I swear.
Disclosure: I was invited to be part of a press trip with Royal Caribbean Philippines. All opinions are my own.
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