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twangster

Ovation Goes North, Way North to Alaska! 11 Nights, May 13, 2019

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Something else I forgot to mention...

Normally the SeaPass cards on ships that use RFID can't be punched because you could cut the antenna embedded into the card.  Here on Ovation the RFID cards come pre-punched in the lower left corner.  This means traditional lanyards are back in play.

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This is the first I've seen this, granted my last RFID ship was back in November.

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2 minutes ago, twangster said:

Something else I forgot to mention...

Normally the SeaPass cards on ships that use RFID can't be punched because you could cut the antenna embedded into the card.  Here on Ovation the RFID cards come pre-punched in the lower left corner.  This means traditional lanyards are back in play.

 

This is the first I've seen this, granted my last RFID ship was back in November.

woohooo!

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1 hour ago, SpeedNoodles said:

I think MN has a better chance :)

At the moment cloud cover is our enemy.  

https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/aurora-30-minute-forecast

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A new restaurant is being installed during this sailing.

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2019/05/13/fish-and-ships-specialty-restaurant-coming-ovation-of-the-seas

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Looking back at embarkation in the waiting area across from me was a contractor.  Given his bag of tools and dress he was boarding to work.  He had a large bag of tools so it was sort of logical he wasn't a guest bringing a large number of tools with them to go on a cruise :).  My guess is he is working on the Fish & Ships on the pool deck.

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When ever I sail on Quantum class I drop by the SeaPlex and take a picture of the activity times.  While they may be listed in the cruise compass, you only learn those the day the cruise compass is left in your cabin.  Sometimes it's good to know days ahead when each activity will be so you can leave time for them as the cruise progresses.

While these times are unique to this 11 night cruise, this should give you an idea of when these activities are planned.

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In the RoyalIQ app used on Ovation (until it is converted to the new app) they have listed some Shore Excursions with pricing.  Pricing in the cruise planner before sailing was better and in some cases sales were offered prior to sailing.   

I booked this one for $318.99:

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I booked this one in advance in the cruise planner for $100:

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I didn't book this one but I'll post it here for a point of reference:

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As you see you can save some money when you purchase in advance and you can save even more if you watch for sales in the cruise planner in the months before cruising.

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18 hours ago, twangster said:

Day 1 - Getting To The Ship

I left my hotel at 9am walking 1/2 mile to the light rail Bridgeport station.  It's concrete sidewalks all the way so managing my two spinner suitcases wasn't as bad as I feared it might be.  Drivers here respect the crosswalks unlike some big cities where crosswalks are target zones for pedestrians.

The two zone fare one-way was $4.20 CAD or $3.12 USD.  Pretty inexpensive transfer to the ship.  I purchased with my credit card having notified them of my international travel plans before hand.  If you take the train from YVR airport there is an additional fee when leaving the airport.  That fee didn't apply to me since I boarded the train further down the line.

Since the Canada Line services the YVR airport luggage isn't an anomaly although there isn't a luggage rack.  I slid mine into a window seat next to me while I sat in the aisle seat. 

The first "Waterfront" train that arrived at the station was packed with daily commuters on this Monday morning so I waited for the next train that was nearly empty.

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Arriving at the end of the line the Waterfront station is approximately one 1/4 mile from Canada Place in downtown Vancouver.  I used the elevator from the train platform to reach street level and made the right turn to head towards Canada Place.  The paper ticket card I purchased is needed to exit the platform so keep your ticket handy at all times.   

Once at Canada Place the cruise terminal is accessed by going down the ramp following the signs.  Taxis, shuttles or private cars would drive down the ramp.

I arrived shortly before 10am.  Total transfer time from my hotel including walking to the train and to Canada Place was around 50 minutes.

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Departing guests were making their way up while I headed down.

The terminal uses four stages to mark the embarkation process with signs for them labelled one through four.  Step 1 is the baggage drop which is geared for vehicle traffic down on the P2 level of the parking garage below the terminal.  For pedestrian arrivals you can use a parking elevator to reach the P2 level.

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Following the signs in the parking garage I was led to the baggage drop off in the parking garage.

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There is a desk set up for guests who did not print luggage tags at home.

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Guests with tags already on their bags can skip this and go directly to the drop area.

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This is organized by forward cabins to the left and and aft cabins further down.

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With baggage dropped off, it was back up to the terminal using the same elevators or stairs.  Here there were signs for step 2, check in,  up the escalator.

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The check in hall is up one floor following the signs for step 2.

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Terminal contractors with tablets were here to greet me, scan my SetSail pass and passport, take my photo and finally stamp my setSail pass.

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Following the signs for the loop around to step 3 the path takes you outside along the edge of the building to an escalator down to security.

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At the bottom of the escalator I was directed through to security where I didn't take any pictures but it's clearly marked for step 3.

Typical cruise security with carry on through X-Ray and guests through metal detectors much like airport security.  

After this was step 4, US Customs and Immigration.  No pictures but it was nice to pre-clear US customs here so we wouldn't have to deal with it mid-cruise.  They have kiosks where you scan your passport, make your declarations and proceed.  

With that complete I was led to a holding area since guests were still debarking the ship.  Time at this point was 10:25am.

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Initially there was seating for around 250 guests but with the ship delaying embarkation they expanded this and added another 250 seats, then another 250 seats.  

The terminal appeared to have wifi available but it didn't work.

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Instead my phone switched to 3G cellular this far into the interior of the terminal away from the LTE signal I had been enjoying outside.  T-Mobile includes Canada and Mexico in my home area so my phone works no different compared to being at home with no additional charges. 

Terminal contractors were very apologetic stating it doesn't usually take this long before the ship is ready.  I suspect departing guests were slow to leave as we could see a few heading off and through the terminal from time to time as we waited.  Finally the ship was ready for us and we were led to the typical embarkation photo area and outside to the gangway.   

Time to start boarding - 11:25am.

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They were busy loading the ship down on the dock below us.

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Up the covered gangway and onto the ship.

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It was a very organized embarkation with the four steps clearly labelled and easy to follow.  In fact it may be one of the most logical and easier embarkations I've experienced.

We stayed in the Fairmont on West George street for a week last September (straight up the road form the port).  We walked down the hill to the port for our cruise on a HAL ship.  I agree with you about the crosswalk thing, its nice they respect it but if you are in it when the light changes they start blowing their horns.   I also liked the embarkation, it was smooth but you do a lot of walking to finally get to the waiting area.

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On ‎5‎/‎8‎/‎2019 at 6:10 PM, monctonguy said:

Could very well be....I am not too tech savvy...but I can see pretty much anyone else's except his when he posts.......when I am a work so makes sense.

me too, I think work block the hosting site too :(

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6 minutes ago, monctonguy said:

weird...his pictures I could see for the first couple pages..and then starting yesterday once aboard the ship I could no longer see them....maybe work doesn't want me daydreaming about cruising all day!..lol

 

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Day two afternoon included an enrichment lecture in Two70° featuring a guest speaker focused on Alaska.  I caught the tail end and it was informative.  

I noticed another event in the cruise compass shortly after the enrichment lecture.  "The Royal Caribbean Story, Part 1".  This was the name of the documentary I watched on the Symphony Transatlantic so I was hoping it was related. 

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It was!  Instead of just playing the video they took the narration from the video that the Cruise Director and Activities Director took turns reading in between interviews and clips that played from the original video.  

It provides great insight into the history of Royal Caribbean.  Part 1 covers 1968 - 1999.  Part 2 coming later in the cruise covers the second video presumably which covers 2000 - somewhere around when Oasis class was announced and being built if I recall correctly from watching it on Symphony.

This is the stuff that @Matt trivia is made of.  Don't miss it.  

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10 minutes ago, twangster said:

Whales spotted off the port side!

The distinctive sprout of water appeared in the distance too far off to get a picture.  They are out there, heading North to their summer feeding grounds.  

Thanks, we will keep an eye out.  Saw some yesterday morning on the Starboard side, also around 0900.

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Day Two Evening - Pixels

Pixels is the only show that uses reservations on Ovation.  It's sort of a techno show at times that also features some strong vocal parts and the solitary call of a saxophone with an aerial artist at other times. 

It starts with some background images projected onto the Vistarama screen that lowered soon after guests started entering to find a seat. The backgrounds had a distinct Asia-Pacific theme to them.

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The backgrounds change with a ripple effect

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Our main character and leader of the Pixels gets the show off to a start.

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Love the sound of the sax.

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One of the harmony sisters.

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Shout out to the bots out there.

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These same robo singers "perform" on Anthem.

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Girl in a drum.  She's very athletic, moving and holding different positions to the rhythm of the music.

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The grand finale.

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All in all a great show that I enjoyed more than Spectra's Cabaret on Anthem.

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After the show there was an Elvis impersonator in the main theater but that isn't my genre so I skipped it. 

The cloud cover remained but i saw a sliver of a sunset on the horizon forward.

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I left my cabin to see what I could capture of this so called "sunset" from the Solarium. 

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The bridge wings were closed so I had to settle for a shot through the glass with a reflection in it.

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Out of the Solarium and back into the indoor pool area where there are windows that slide open.

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By this time most guests had settled in for the night so I used the opportunity to take some pictures around the ship.  Here are some:

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The VIA:

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The lobby art is in motion.  It's a series of paddle like blades that swing back in forth.

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Finally the Esplanade without hordes of people.

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This next piece of art is from artist Celilia Lueza called "Epiphany II":

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Izumi:

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Wonderland:

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Some folks may not have sailed this class or a ship with similar decor so here is a typical elevator lobby :

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With that it was bed time.

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1 hour ago, hayley_bopp said:

Love the photos of Pixels. 

Technical question: How do you get such fantastic shots if the shows? Do you use camera on phone or DSLR? What kind of settings do you use?

TIA

I use cameras that capture in the RAW format.  This allows for a lot of options to "fix" pictures later in software.  For indoor or dark shows I tend to use around 1/80th or for skating shows 1/250th shutter speed to avoid motion blur and I let the auto-ISO of the camera go crazy high, then I apply noise reduction later in software to remove the noise that is typical with high ISO photos.

The Pixel shots were captured with a Sony RX100M6.  It's not inexpensive but small, discrete and it shoots in RAW just like my bigger mirrorless camera does.  It's a very capable little camera.

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