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Ovation of the Seas Live Blog - Day 7 - Sea Day

In:
15 Oct 2021

Today is a sea day and the last day onboard Ovation of the Seas. This sailing has been magnificent all around, and while I'm sad to see it coming to an end, I was happy to have one more day onboard.

My morning ritual at sea is grabbing a latte from one of Ovation's many coffee bars, such as Cafe at Two70, La Patisserie, or the Windjammer. I purchased the Cafe Select Coffee Card for this sailing, which is a punch card that can be used for up to 15 espresso-based beverages.

I took my latte to the Windjammer to enjoy chocolate chip pancakes. After breakfast came an early morning hot tub session at the indoor pool. I prefer going to the pool decks really early in the morning before it gets too crowded so I can fully relax.

The outdoor decks were closed for most of the day yesterday due to high seas, so I was happy to see that the decks were open again. I took advantage of the somewhat calmer weather and walked around the running track deck.

The FlowRider was up and running for one of the first times on this sailing. However, the rock climbing wall and North Star remained closed due to the windy weather.

Today's lunch was in American Icon, one of the dining rooms onboard. American Icon features classic americana decor and offers the standard Main Dining Room menu. Since our dinner table is in the Silk venue, it was nice to try out another dining room onboard.

I had never eaten lunch in the Main Dining Room before, but enjoyed the slower pace of a sit-down meal compared to a quick lunch in the Windjammer.

Our lunch included a caprese salad, mozzarella sticks, a hamburger, and lentil chili. For dessert we ordered the Floating Island, which is meringue on a bed of vanilla custard. It was really, really good!

After a long week of exploring and checking out all the fun activities onboard Ovation of the Seas, we were feeling pretty exhausted and decided to take it easy the rest of the day.

The afternoon included attending a virtual concert at Two70, relaxing on the pool deck, and packing our bags for tomorrow's departure.

Dinner tonight was at the Windjammer, which may have been the best meal there yet. Tonight was kabob night and there was a large selection of freshly grilled skewers to choose from. There was also a variety of expertly decorated cakes available tonight to wish guests farewell.

As I packed my suitcase, I could not help but reflect on all the lifelong memories that were made this week. Alaska is an absolutely gorgeous place. Being on a cruise ship meant we were able to sail through scenery completely inaccessible by road and witness the rugged landscape of Alaska through the state’s intricate fjords and passages. 

It is certainly a completely different experience than a Caribbean sailing and one that should be on everyone’s bucket list. While it did rain quite a lot throughout the sailing, it did not take away from my experience in Alaska at all. I’m so grateful my dad and I were able to experience Alaska’s beauty and make such wonderful memories together!

Looking back on this past week, I put together a few final thoughts about this sailing.

Top Port:

My first glimpse of Alaska was Ketchikan and it ended up being my favorite port! The town itself is SO cute and most attractions are conveniently located next to the pier. I enjoyed Ketchikan’s short walking path through the forest and exploring historic Creek Street.

Of course, originally Ovation of the Seas was supposed to go to Sitka instead of Ketchikan. This is one of the reasons to always remain flexible on a cruise. A destination you didn’t even plan to go to may end up being your favorite port of all!

Top Establishment:

The Red Dog Saloon in Juneau was extremely fun, with funky decor throughout the building as well as unique drink options. My dad and I have been talking about how good the Duck Fart Shot was for days!

Top Excursion:

I enjoyed each one of my excursions, but I especially loved going on the White Pass & Yukon Railway in Skagway. This is a must do excursion if your cruise docks in Skagway because the views are out of this world. Watching the landscape change from autumn to winter in just a few minutes really put the grandeur of Alaska’s wilderness to scale. Plus, since the ride is only about two and a half hours, it leaves plenty of time to explore Skagway on your own afterwards. 

Stray Observations:

I noticed some nice outlets near the comfy couches in the back of the Shore Excursions area. Outlets can be hard to come by in public areas onboard, so this is a great option for those who may have work to do on a cruise.

The pools and hot tubs in the Solarium do not open until 9am. As a morning person, I wish they were open a bit earlier. The hot tubs on the pool deck open earlier, though, so there are options for early risers.

The cookies at Cafe Promenade are so good! Today’s cookie offerings included a white chocolate chip raspberry cookie and a sugar free chocolate chip cookie. Yum!

Thank you for following along on this week’s live blog from Ovation of the Seas! Make sure you are subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel so you can be updated when we post new videos, including the upcoming FULL ship tour of Ovation of the Seas.

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Ovation of the Seas Live Blog - Day 6 - Sea Day and Glacier Views

In:
14 Oct 2021

Today was bittersweet as we said goodbye to Alaska's gorgeous scenery and entered the open ocean on our way to Seattle.

The second to last day of our sailing is technically a sea day, but has a brief stop to view the Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier from the ship.

Breakfast today was at Cafe at Two70. My favorite area to hang out on a Quantum Class ship is, by far, Two70.

Not much is more relaxing than sipping a coffee in the morning while watching the ship's wake pass through the fjords from Two70’s floor to ceiling windows.

Ovation of the Seas was due to arrive at the glacier around 9:30am, so we grabbed a chair at the indoor pool after breakfast to watch the scenery.

Apparently everyone else had the same idea as us. The pool deck was packed with passengers hoping to find a good spot to view the glacier. Waiters even came around offering hot chocolate and Baileys.

Sailing through the fjord was particularly impressive. Fog and mist covered the peaks and ice began to float along the sides of the ship. A few larger icebergs passed as well.

Unfortunately, due to the amount of ice in the water, we were unable to get super close to Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier, but were still able to snap pictures from further away.

The surrounding scenery was so stunning that it didn't even matter to us if we couldn't see the glacier up close!

The rest of the morning was spent at a table in the Windjammer catching our last close-up glimpses of Alaska through our binoculars.

 

For lunch, we decided to try out something different than usual. Ovation of the Seas has a restaurant offered on only a few Royal Caribbean ships, Fish and Ships.

The restaurant is located on the outdoor pool deck and offers classic fish and chips as well as other options like chicken tenders and fish sandwiches. These options are complimentary, although Fish and Ships also offers options like calamari and lobster which come at an extra cost.

I ordered the fish and chips. It was a nicely sized portion for lunch and I found the meal to be quite tasty! While I think I prefer El Loco Fresh being on the pool deck (who doesn't love tacos?), I enjoyed Fish and Ships and would eat there again.

My dad decided to try lunch at the SeaPlex Doghouse, which offers several types of hot dogs, brats, and sausages to choose from.

There are a variety of toppings available such as sauerkraut, onions, and condiments as well as a couple sides like coleslaw and potato salad.

After lunch and a quick round of airport code trivia, I decided to explore more of the ship and film content for the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel. Having just been on Odyssey of the Seas to film a ship tour, I could not help but compare the two Quantum Class ships.

I think I prefer Odyssey's upgraded SeaPlex with a Playmakers inside to Ovation's SeaPlex. However, I absolutely love the outdoor seating area at the Windjammer on Ovation. I also really like the atmosphere of Vintages, the wine bar onboard. These two areas do not exist on Odyssey of the Seas, which has Giovanni's Wine Bar instead and no outdoor seating at the Windjammer.

Therefore, I find it difficult to “rate” a ship, or pick the “best” Royal Caribbean ship. Each ship offers a variety of venues and amenities that may appeal to different groups of people. Some guests may never care to step foot in a sports bar like Playmakers, but would love a quiet library onboard, and vice versa.

My final stop while exploring Ovation of the Seas was to Vitality Fitness to get a quick workout in before dinner. Following this, the captain closed off all outside decks for the rest of the day due to high winds, and the ship was rocking a lot for the rest of the evening.

Tonight was formal night in the Main Dining Room and it was a bit busier than normal.

Baked Alaska was one of the desserts offered, and since we are on an Alaskan cruise, we had to give it a try. Strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream wrapped in cake? Yes, please!

The evening called for a drink and live music. I hadn't been to the Music Hall yet on this sailing, so I grabbed a drink there before heading to this evening's show at Two70.

We attended "Jazz & More with the Band" from the Ovation of the Seas orchestra and it was PHENOMENAL. We enjoyed it so much that we stayed for the second show!

I love listening to jazz and the musicians brought so much energy to the performance. They were clearly having a blast, passengers were dancing, and it was all around a good time. I’d say that tonight’s show was the best performance of any kind that I’ve seen on a cruise ship thus far!

After the show, it was time for bed. Tomorrow is a sea day and is the last day of our cruise.

Stray Observations:

The tables are extremely close together in the main dining rooms. Therefore, there is not much privacy since you can hear the conversations of people nearby. This makes things a little awkward when trying to enjoy a private dinner, although it is great if you plan to chat with people at the tables next to you.

There is a really nice, covered seating area outside on the promenade deck, but it is a smoking section. I wish there was a similar area that is not a smoking section. It would be nice to have covered seating outside on deck 5 for non-smokers.

The live music on Ovation of the Seas has been outstanding! While there is great music on all ships, I've been extremely impressed with the musicians on Ovation. The guitarists, piano players, jazz musicians, and singers have amazing talent.

Live Blog Index

Ovation of the Seas Live Blog - Day 5 - Skagway

In:
13 Oct 2021

Today was another wonderful day in Alaska as we explored Skagway, our last port of call.

Ovation of the Seas docked in Skagway around 2AM. After enjoying breakfast and coffee in the Windjammer, we grabbed our bags and disembarked the ship.

Today's plans were to travel on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway, a scenic train ride that leaves from the center of Skagway and ends in Canada's Yukon territory. We booked the White Pass Scenic Railway excursion from Royal Caribbean.

The train would not be traveling all the way to the Yukon, of course. Our ride would be approximately two hours round trip and take us 2,000 feet up to a stop called Glacier Station.

Another popular excursion offered by Royal Caribbean is on the same train, but it travels even further into the mountains to the White Pass Summit. This is under maintenance in 2021 but should be available for the 2022 season.

Boarding the White Pass is super convenient, as the train has a stop directly in front of the port.

Inside the train car are large windows to view Alaska's scenery. Each car also has a heater to keep the train warm as it passes through the snowy landscape.

Once everyone boarded, the train began heading into the forest. Our engine ended up having a technical issue a few minutes into the ride and we made a quick detour back to town, but a few minutes later we were on our way.

The railway has an antique feel to it, with train cars designed from the Gold Rush era. A conductor came through each car to collect tickets and it almost felt like we had stepped back in time.

The ride starts by passing through Skagway and the historic Gold Rush Cemetery near town. It continues along a river and begins to gain elevation. The guide onboard highlights interesting points along the way, telling the history of Skagway's role in the Gold Rush era.

At around 900 feet elevation, the autumn colored landscape below was now covered in snow. It was absolutely beautiful and like a true winter wonderland.

Even though it was cold, the best spot to view the landscape is from the outside platforms at the front and back of each car.

When we reached Glacier Station, the engine car was moved to the back (now front) of the train, our seats flipped around to face the other way, and we rode back to Skagway.

Once we got off the train, it was time to explore Skagway. Similar to Ketchikan, the architecture in Skagway was like something you could see in an old western movie. Shops, saloons, and restaurants lined the streets.

It was much colder today than in our previous ports of Ketchikan and Juneau, and since this sailing is the last ship to go to Skagway for the 2021 season, many businesses in town were closed. However, we were still able to find several places to explore.

First up was Klondike Doughboy, a small store which makes Alaskan Fry Bread. Fry Bread is a giant piece of sweet fried dough covered in cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Shivering and hungry, my dad and I split a giant warm, sweet fry bread and it was undoubtedly delicious. I highly recommend visiting Klondike Doughboy if your cruise docks in Skagway!

Conveniently located next to the warm, doughy fry bread was Glacial Coffeehouse, where we enjoyed hot chocolate while looking through the window at Skagway's rainy streets.

After warming up in the coffeehouse, we continued walking through town and checking out the shops.

The weather was unfortunately very cold and wet, so we called it a day a little early and got back onboard with one thing in mind: the hot tub.

The indoor pool area on Ovation of the Seas has two large hot tubs, so we relaxed there for a while before getting ready for dinner.

Dinner tonight was in the Main Dining Room. We watched the choppy waters pass by as we sailed out of Skagway while enjoying our meal. From steak to curry, ice cream, and apple pie, it was excellent.

Dinner was followed by live piano music at Schooner Bar and later the guitarist at the pub. I love how there are so many places to listen to live music onboard and it is always a nice way to end the day.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed all of our port stops in Alaska and am already itching to visit again! Tomorrow we will sightsee at the Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier while staying on the ship before starting the journey back to Seattle.

Stray Observations:

I was happy I booked the train excursion today because Skagway did not have much going on. This probably isn’t the case in summer, but since it was the last day of the season, there wasn’t much to do.

The pub guitarist on this sailing is awesome!

I prefer a larger Main Dining Room to the smaller venues offered on Ovation of the Seas. The small venues have nice decor, but I miss the big open feeling of one large dining room.

The internet onboard has remained consistently good throughout this sailing. If you’re booking an Alaskan sailing and need good internet, a newer ship like Ovation of the Seas would be a good option.

Getting from the ship to the center of Skagway was a longer walk than in Ketchikan and Juneau but there were small shuttles available.

It may have been cold and rainy some of the time, but don’t let the weather forecast scare you when selecting a date for your Alaska sailing. The weather in Alaska seems to change every five minutes! Plus, going to Alaska later in the season brings wonderful fall colors and snow capped peaks.

Live Blog Index

Ovation of the Seas Live Blog - Day 4 - Juneau

In:
12 Oct 2021

Today was filled with glaciers, "duck farts", and amazing views of the Alaskan Inside Passage. Here's everything we did on day four of our sailing to Alaska on Ovation of the Seas:

We were not due to arrive in Juneau until 10AM, so had a few hours this morning to relax onboard.

Breakfast today was at the Solarium Bistro. I enjoy eating at the Solarium Bistro because not many people even know it exists! Therefore, it is always much quieter and peaceful than eating in the Windjammer or Main Dining Room.

The breakfast food is similar to what you will find in the Windjammer at breakfast, with eggs, potatoes, bacon, pastries, parfaits, and more. At dinner, the bistro features a Mediterranean-inspired menu and offers plenty of healthier and vegetarian-friendly options.

After breakfast, I grabbed a latte from La Patisserie and brought it up to the running track deck to catch some incredible views of the Inside Passage as we made our way to Juneau.

While drizzling slightly, the weather was fairly mild this morning and many passengers were walking the track. We stood by the railing watching the mountains go by on both sides of the ship. Waterfalls flowed from snow-capped peaks and the sun continued rising from the clouds as Ovation of the Seas sailed through the calm water.

We even caught a few quick glimpses of whales popping in and out of the water, which is always beautiful to see.

It started raining and we took a seat at the upper area of the North Star Bar to continue watching the scenery. I think this is one of the best areas to sit and sightsee on an Alaskan sailing since it is covered and not very windy. We stayed outside for about two hours until Ovation docked in Juneau.

After a quick pit stop to my cabin to grab my waterproof backpack, which I am very glad I brought with me, we disembarked the ship.

While we had no shore excursions planned for Juneau, I wanted to visit Mendenhall Glacier. Luckily, there was a ticket booth at the port offering round trip tickets on the Glacier Express bus to Mendenhall for a reasonable price.

The ride on the Glacier Express took about twenty minutes, and the driver pointed out interesting sights and history of Juneau along the way. The ride was in a school bus, so it wasn't the most comfortable ride, but doable for twenty minutes. We also saw a few sneak peak glances at the glacier.

Upon arrival at the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, stunning views were in every direction we looked. I could not stop looking up at the rocky peaks, wildlife, and, of course, Mendenhall Glacier itself.

We walked on a sandbar to catch great views of the glacier and snap some photos. Its magnitude is difficult to capture in a photo, and I can only imagine how incredible it would be to view the glacier above from a helicopter or plane.

To the right of the glacier is Nugget Falls, which is accessible via a short, 2-mile round trip walk on a paved path. At the end of the path, you can view the powerful waterfall up close.

We stayed in this area for a while enjoying the scenery and looking through our binoculars. I highly recommend bringing a pair of binoculars on an Alaskan cruise.

It started to rain more heavily, so we walked back to the Visitor's Center, which offers information about the glacier and has an indoor viewing area, before boarding the bus back to town.

For lunch in Juneau, I ordered traditional Russian dumplings at Pel'meni near the port.

Pelmeni are small dumplings filled with potatoes or meat. Topped with curry flavor, butter, cilantro, and vinegar-based sauce, the pelmeni were delicious and unlike anything I had ever tried before. It was a perfect warm and hearty meal to enjoy in the cold, rainy weather that we encountered in the afternoon.

I had one task left for the day in Juneau: to try the Alaskan Duck Fart shot, and the best spot to try it in Juneau is at the Red Dog Saloon.

The Red Dog Saloon was established over a hundred and twenty years ago and it has a very fun atmosphere, with frontier-themed decor and live music.

We tried the Alaskan Duck Fart, made with Kahlúa, Crown Royal, and Baileys. I'm glad I didn't know about this in college!

The saloon also has food and the prices of both food and drinks are reasonable.

The weather did not seem to be improving, so we went back onboard. Dinner tonight was at the Windjammer. After a long day in port, I did not feel like having a long sit down dinner. Since the buffet is open for dinner on this sailing, we were able to have a quick, casual meal while sailing out of Juneau.

After dinner, we relaxed in Two70 for a while before going to the SeaPlex to try Ripcord by iFLY.

Ovation of the Seas is offering a 1-minute flight option that is complementary and a 2-minute flight option for $49. Since this was my first time trying the skydiving simulator, I opted for the complimentary option.

It was SO fun! The instructors guided my group on how to position our bodies for the best flying experience, and we put our skills to the test as we tried to fly in the chamber. I definitely will not miss the chance to fly again whenever I am on a Quantum class ship.

After flying, we walked around the Royal Esplanade for a bit before heading to bed.

Tomorrow morning we arrive in Skagway for another adventure-filled day!

Stray Observations:

A few fellow cruisers at the Red Dog Saloon commented that they wished Royal Caribbean offered more entertainment in the afternoon before dinnertime. Most shows and live music don't start until about 8pm on port days, and I agree that it would be nice to have more going on onboard before then! 

In this season, bringing a rain coat is essential and I am very grateful I have one!

Since there are a lot of booths offering tours and shuttles right outside the ship in Juneau, I was glad we didn’t book an excursion before getting off the ship.

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Ovation of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Ketchikan

In:
11 Oct 2021

Our first port stop on Ovation of the Seas brings us to the small town of Ketchikan in southeast Alaska. The scenery, history, and culture of the island far exceeded my expectations, making today a truly unforgettable travel experience.

After waking up just as the sun was rising around 7am, we ate a quick breakfast in the Windjammer. We continued our daily tradition of heading to the Windjammer’s outdoor deck to see some amazing views of Alaska on both sides of the ship.

Prior to my sailing, I researched what Alaskan weather would be like in October and expected every day to be extremely cold, rainy, and windy. However, the weather today was only slightly chilly and had only very light rain throughout the day! Watching the fog roll over the rainforest and the slow movement of the glassy water was a peaceful start to the day.

We took advantage of the nice weather and disembarked the ship around 7:30am. As we booked a shore excursion later in the morning, we had a little time to explore Ketchikan before the tour began.

Ketchikan is known as Alaska’s first city and the salmon capital of the world. Non-natives were attracted to the resources Ketchikan offered, such as fish and lumber, and formally established the town in 1892. Ketchikan is very small and walkable. In fact, there are no roads out of the island and many of the locals I talked with said they do not own cars.

The port is located right in the center of town. Once you get off the ship, there is a Visitor’s Center where you can learn more about the island and excursion opportunities. There are also many souvenir shops and restaurants nearby.

The architecture in Ketchikan reminded me of a historic mining town and it was fun to walk around and explore on our own. The town is dotted with totem poles created by the native Tlingit people of Ketchikan, which was really fascinating to see, and spectacular views were abound everywhere we looked.

At 9am, we headed back to port to board a bus for our shore excursion. Originally, our cruise was not supposed to go to Ketchikan. Due to a storm in the Sitka area, though, our itinerary changed. Therefore, we decided to book the Saxman Native Totem Village excursion in Ketchikan.

This excursion brought us to Saxman, a small town right next to Ketchikan primarily inhabited by the Tlinget people. The tour began with a brief lesson on the history and culture of the Tlinget people, who have inhabited Alaska for thousands of years.

We then enjoyed a dance ceremony by a group of locals dressed in traditional wear. It was fascinating to see and learn about a culture that has existed for so long in the place we were visiting for just a a few hours.

We then walked outside to a path lined with totem poles, which tell traditional stories passed down through history or are created to honor a specific person or animal. The totem poles are traditionally painted black, blue, and red.

After a quick stop to see where the totem poles are carved, we made our way back to the center of Ketchikan to continue exploring on our own.

While we originally planned to eat at the Alaska Fish Market right on the water, the line was pretty long, so we looked for somewhere else to eat. On the way, we passed the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, which looks like a really fun activity to do in Ketchikan.

Lunch took us to the Pioneer Cafe, where we enjoyed classic diner food in a 50’s inspired setting.

There were still a few hours left in port after lunch, so we walked to Creek Street, the former red light district in Ketchikan. This was one of my favorite areas of the city, with historic buildings and walkways lined up against a creek.

We explored the walkways and got out our binoculars to watch two seals playing in the water.

At the end of Creek Street, a path continued into the forest which led to a lodge up the hill. Ketchikan is in the Tongass National Forest and is covered in lush greenery, so the walk was especially beautiful and featured great views of the city, the rushing water, and Ovation of the Seas.

My dad and I have a goal of visiting a brewery in each Alaskan port we visit, and today we visited the Bawden Street Brewing Company in Ketchikan. It was a quaint space with fresh beer on tap and we had no complaints!

Before getting back onboard, we stopped by one of the souvenir shops lining the street in front of the port to buy gifts to bring back home.

Once onboard, I headed to my cabin to relax before walking over to the North Star. Unfortunately, the captain decided to leave port a little earlier to avoid storms at sea, so our North Star time would not be operating. I was hoping to get the chance to get on the North Star on this sailing, but it looks like I may be out of luck since it is fully booked!

Sailaway featured more unbelievable views, and we grabbed a drink at the pool bar to watch the scenery pass by.

Dinner tonight was at Silk, one of the main dining areas on Ovation of the Seas, where we enjoyed Indian curry, chicken parmesan, arugula salad, and dessert.

Tired from a long day of exploring, we relaxed in the Solarium briefly before heading to Two70 to watch Pixel’s Cabaret.

I failed to understand the storyline of the show, but the dancing and technology was impressive as always! So far, my favorite show onboard any Royal Caribbean ship has been “The Book” in Two70 on Odyssey of the Seas.

After Pixel’s Cabaret, I brought my laptop to the pub to listen to the guitarist and write this blog post. And now I’m off to bed!

Tomorrow we are due to arrive in Juneau at 10AM.

Stray Observations:

The shows and activities filled up quickly on this sailing due to a higher capacity. If you’re sailing soon, be sure to book entertainment and activities as soon as they appear in the Cruise Planner.

Royal Caribbean’s app often has several tech problems. The biggest problem I’ve encountered is that there is no option to change a time of a reservation without canceling the reservation first. I wanted to switch the time of our Ripcord by iFLY flight, but I had to cancel the reservation first and then the time I planned to switch to was no longer available.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Gene from Massachusetts informed me today at the pool bar that there are no Ovation of the Seas magnets available to purchase onboard, so he can’t add to his collection!

Don’t trust the weather forecast too much in Alaska. Like in the Caribbean, the weather changes frequently throughout the day here. I thought it would rain all day today, but the rain was very light and only happened on and off throughout the day.

Live Blog Index

Ovation of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

In:
10 Oct 2021

The first full day on our Ovation of the Seas sailing was a sea day. Today we sailed off the western coast of Vancouver Island and British Columbia on our way to Ketchikan. 

I woke up around 7am and met my dad for breakfast at the Windjammer. Since we are so far north and winter is approaching, the sunrise was not until around 7:30am. We grabbed a quick breakfast at the buffet and sat down at a table near a window to watch the water go by.

So far, the weather on our way to Alaska has been quite unpredictable. This morning, it was very overcast but only slightly chilly. We took a walk to the outdoor seating area at the back of the Windjammer to catch views of the aft. I think this is the best view of any dining location onboard Ovation of the Seas.

After breakfast, we planned to walk around the running track, but the windy and wet weather prevented us from doing so. Instead, we headed to the Solarium to relax for a while. The seas this morning were rougher than those I had encountered on my previous Caribbean sailings. They even had seasickness bags available in the stairwell! The ship didn’t rock too much, though, and we spent about an hour watching the ship make its way through the dense fog around us.

Later that morning, we went down to Schooner Bar for a quick round of trivia. Interestingly, several of the trivia questions seemed to be geared for guests primarily from Australia. Since Ovation often sails around Australia and New Zealand, I suppose this makes sense, and now I can say I know some random facts about Australia.

The Schooner bar also features a digital map so guests can see where in the world the ship is sailing.

Following trivia, I grabbed a quick snack at Cafe at Two70 before heading back up to the indoor pool to relax until lunch.

Today’s lunch was at one of my favorite specialty restaurants onboard, Jamie’s Italian. The restaurant is located in “The Via” area on Ovation of the Seas and features colorful decor and views of the promenade deck.

We started the meal with the crispy black truffle arancini rice balls and tomato bruschetta drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

For the main course, we ordered the eggplant parmigiana and baked lasagne with penne pomodoro. All of the food was extremely fresh, especially the pasta, which is made from scratch daily! I also really enjoyed the arugula salad I got with my meal.

Our lunch came to an abrupt halt, though, following the main course. The captain came on the loudspeaker to announce that there were whales spotted on both sides of the ship. We immediately ran out to the promenade deck and saw around fifteen whales pop up ever so slightly above the water.

I had never seen a whale in the wild before, and while I wish I could say I got better photos of the whale sightings, I was simply too excited in the moment to even think about taking pictures. 

It was a cool experience to see everyone running out to the deck to catch a glance of such magnificent creatures. This is something you wouldn’t normally see on a Caribbean cruise!

After our lunch hiatus, we finished our meal with dessert. The epic brownie and raspberry pavlova were a perfect end to a delicious lunch at Jamie's Italian.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of walking around the windy running track, listening to classical guitar at Boleros, and looking out at the ocean hoping to see more whales.

Then came time to try an activity I haven’t done before onboard: bumper cars. It is nice to be on a Quantum Class ship for this cold-weather sailing so we can take advantage of the indoor activities offered in the SeaPlex such as bumper cars. While the line for bumper cars can get long, it went by quickly, and it was fun to try an activity I normally wouldn’t do at home. With music and commentary from guests and staff, the atmosphere in the SeaPlex during bumper cars was really exciting as well. 

The weather cleared up nicely in the evening, leading to a wonderful sunset at sea featuring a gigantic rainbow.

After the sun went down, I headed back to my cabin to get ready for our first port day. Tomorrow we will reach Alaska and spend the day in Ketchikan.

Stray Observations:

While often misty or sprinkling, the weather is a bit warmer than I thought it would be.

This is the first ship I’ve been on with an indoor pool and I really enjoy having an indoor option aside from the Solarium. It would be nice to have this on all ships so there are more options in case of inclement weather.

My stateroom is directly below Adventure Ocean and it is pretty loud in the evening with kids running around above the cabin. While I will sleep through it fine, this is something to consider when selecting a cabin if you sail on Ovation of the Seas.

The internet is much better onboard than I thought it would be and I haven't had any connectivity issues so far.

A short note: I am so excited to experience the nature and culture of Alaska and cannot wait for tomorrow!

Ovation of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation

In:
09 Oct 2021

The time has come to board Ovation of the Seas and begin an adventure from Seattle to Alaska! Over the next seven days, I’ll be blogging from the Pacific Ocean on Royal Caribbean’s final Alaska sailing of the 2021 season.

Luckily I had no time difference to adjust to, so I spent the morning exploring downtown Seattle with my dad. He will be joining me on this sailing for his first cruise ever! We enjoyed walking around the famous Pike Place Market before heading back to the hotel.

Our hotel arranged a shuttle service to the pier at noon, so we arrived at Pier 91 about forty five minutes prior to our scheduled check-in time. As expected, we were unable to board early, but the weather was perfect and it was nice to look up at the ship before boarding.

The terminal was certainly much busier than my previous sailings this year. There are around 3,000 guests onboard Ovation of the Seas this week, making it the ship’s highest capacity this whole season. With a capacity of 4,180 guests, the ship is around 75% capacity.

Check-in went smoothly and we were onboard by 1:15. After completing the eMuster drill, we headed to our staterooms. I was excited to see red velvet cupcakes and room decor waiting for us, courtesy of our travel agents at MEI Travel! It was a fantastic welcome gift to kick off a grand adventure. And yes, the cupcakes were delicious.

After a quick lunch at the Windjammer, I took advantage of today’s sunny and warm afternoon in Seattle and explored the pool deck. I love the blue colors incorporated throughout the pool deck, which help to bring a sea-themed design onboard the ship. Ovation of the Seas also has a large indoor pool area which will be really nice in the chilly weather we are sure to encounter this week.

We ended up not exploring a ton of the ship this afternoon because we couldn’t stop looking out at the beautiful views around us. Seattle has a gorgeous skyline and it was peaceful to watch sailboats and ships make their way to the city.

The best view, though, was when Mt. Rainer poked out of the clouds. At 14,411 feet, the mountain is mesmerizing and it was the best view I have seen from a cruise ship so far! Therefore, we decided to pull up a couple chairs on the running deck and look out at the beautiful landscape of Seattle.

Sailaway was at 6PM. We got ready for sailaway in the best way possible… by grabbing a drink, of course! We headed down to the indoor Pool Bar, where I ordered a Mai Tai and my dad ordered a Manhattan.

While waiting for our drinks, an announcement from the bridge came on and we found out that our sailing had an itinerary change. We were originally going to visit Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka, Alaska. Due to high seas and wind, we will now be visiting Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. I don’t mind the change, and I am excited to see what Ketchikan has to offer!

Drinks in hand, we headed back up to deck 15 just as the ship began to sail away from Seattle. Sailing out of port at sunset with incredible scenery around us made for my favorite sailaway yet.

As the sun fell behind the mountains, it got pretty cold outside and we decided to head to the “Main Dining Room” for dinner. I say “Main Dining Room” because, on Ovation of the Seas, there are four different “restaurants” that comprise what would usually just be one large Main Dining Room.

When Ovation of the Seas was built in 2016, Royal Caribbean was testing out a concept called Dynamic Dining. Instead of one Main Dining Room, they built four separate restaurants in its place, each with their own menu and atmosphere. This concept was eventually phased out, though, and Royal Caribbean has gone back to building its ships with just one Main Dining Room.

Nowadays, since there is no longer dynamic dining, the four venues have the same standard menu offered in the Main Dining Room on all ships. We ate in the venue called Silk, which was very colorful with Asian-inspired decor.

On my previous two sailings, I primarily ate at specialty restaurants onboard. Therefore, on this sailing, I wanted to get a better idea of what is available in the Main Dining Room.

We started our meal with a butternut squash soup and artisan cheese plate. I found the soup under “Vegan options” on the digital version of the Main Dining Room menu. So if you’re looking for more dinner options, don’t forget to check out what vegan options are listed as well (since they don’t appear on the regular paper menu).

For the main course, I ordered the herb-crusted salmon and my dad tried the spaghetti bolognese. And for dessert, we shared the creme brulée and a tahini banana soft serve.

We lucked out with a table right near a window, so we enjoyed our meal with a wonderful view sailing through the Puget Sound.

After dinner, I was pretty exhausted from a long day of exploring Seattle and taking videos around the ship for the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube channel, so I decided to call it a night.

Overall, the trip is off to a great start and I am excited to continue exploring the ship tomorrow during a sea day on the way to Ketchikan.

Stray Observations

The Windjammer on Ovation of the Seas features an outdoor seating area, and I love it! While I don’t know how much I will be eating outside on this particular sailing, it is a great option when cruising in warmer months.

Speaking of the Windjammer, it appears to be open for dinner on this sailing! The Windjammer has been closed for dinner on my previous sailings this year due to low capacity. It will be nice to have another dinner option.

This cruise definitely feels more crowded than my other sailings, which were around 25% capacity, but it also feels more lively due to the amount of guests onboard.

The line for the Shore Excursions desk today was insane! I was happy that we booked our excursions ahead of time.

 

Ovation of the Seas 2021 Live Blog - Preview

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04 Oct 2021

Four days from now, I will be boarding Ovation of the Seas ready to take on my most anticipated sailing yet: a 7-night Alaska glacier cruise leaving from Seattle. This particular sailing is Royal Caribbean’s final Alaska sailing of the 2021 season.

Each day, I will be live blogging here to share with you what it is like to go on an Alaskan cruise on a Royal Caribbean ship. Whether sailing through the Alaska inside passage, hopping onboard a train through the mountains, or enjoying the views from onboard, it is certainly going to be one epic adventure.

The Cruise

I am expecting a totally different experience on an Alaskan cruise compared to my Caribbean sailings in August and September. From sand and sunshine to glaciers and snow, the landscape and ports of call in Alaska are, of course, much different than the Caribbean.

Our seven-night sailing departs from Seattle on Friday, October 8th and brings us to three ports. We will dock in Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka, Alaska.

In addition, we will spend a morning sailing around the Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier. While we don’t get off the ship that day, I am excited to hopefully catch some stunning views of the glacier.

Read moreTop 10 tips for planning your Alaska cruise

This will be my first time on Ovation of the Seas, a Quantum-class ship built in 2016. If Ovation of the Seas is anything like the Odyssey of the Seas, which I was on last month, there should be a plethora of both indoor and outdoor locations onboard to view Alaska’s scenery.

Weather-wise, October is not necessarily the most ideal time to go on an Alaskan cruise. I am fully prepared to be flexible in case of any itinerary changes and unpredictable weather. That being said, the snow capped peaks and the possibility of seeing the northern lights are two benefits of sailing to Alaska later in the season.

Read moreWhat is the best time to cruise to Alaska?

Stateroom

I will be staying in an interior room with a virtual balcony. This is my first time having a virtual balcony, so I am looking forward to comparing Ovation's interior cabin experience with the interior cabin I stayed in on Odyssey of the Seas last month.

When I booked this cruise one month ago, Royal Caribbean was not charging a single supplement fee. As I am bringing my dad along for this Alaskan adventure, this worked in our favor. We were able to book two separate interior cabins for around the same price of staying in the same cabin together.

This is one of the benefits of booking a cruise with a travel agent or at Next Cruise onboard. I did not see any advertisements or notices on Royal Caribbean’s website stating that the single supplement fee was waived. If I had booked it myself, I likely would have just booked one room for the two of us without knowing about this great deal.

The Itinerary

With three ports, one half-day sailing to the Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier, and two seas days, the itinerary has a good mix of time on land and at sea.

Alaskan cruises offer really unique shore excursions and activities, so I spent quite some time researching what I wanted to do in port. As I have never been to Alaska before, I wanted to experience a good mix of historical, cultural, and outdoors activities.

I decided to book Royal Caribbean shore excursions in both Skagway and Sitka. In Skagway, we booked the “White Pass Scenic Railway,” a two and a half hour journey on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad in a vintage train car. The tour also includes a guide that will share stories of the Klondike Gold Rush.

In Sitka, we booked the “Best of Sitka” tour. This is a three and a half hour tour that visits the Fortress of the Bear, Sitka National Historic Park, and the Alaska Raptor Center.

The days in Skagway and Sitka are fairly long, which should allow for plenty of time to explore the towns independently after the shore excursions end.

I do not have anything booked in Juneau, but plan to get a taxi to visit Mendenhall Glacier and do some hiking, weather permitting. 

Read moreHow to choose the right Alaska cruise itinerary

What’s Next

When my Ovation of the Seas sailing begins on Friday, October 8th, I’ll be sharing updates on the blog. Be sure to follow the Royal Caribbean Blog Facebook page so you can receive updates when a new live blog is posted.

In addition, I will be filming an extensive full ship tour of Ovation of the Seas and videos highlighting the ports of call. Make sure you are subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel to be notified when we premiere these videos.

I am interested to hear your thoughts, tips, and experiences cruising in Alaska! Feel free to comment or ask questions on this blog post and our Facebook page.

Stay tuned for exciting updates from Alaska; I can’t wait to set sail!

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