Cruising just got bigger – and more techy

Cruising holidays have boomed in recent years, not least because of the introduction of more modern ships and the excellent value for money many cruises offer. This is never more evident that during the summer when there’s a different ship every other day in Sydney Harbour.

So there was much excitement and anticipation when Royal Caribbean announced it was bringing their newest mega ship to Australia. The Ovation of the Seas was launched in April 2016 and arrived in Sydney in December as the largest and newest ship based in Australian waters.

What sets the Ovation apart from other liners are the figures behind the vessel: Ovation is 348m long  – that’s the length of three and a half football fields, 18 decks high and with a capacity for 5,000 passengers. Besides this, it’s also the most technologically progressive, with advanced computers and GPS assisted manoeuvrability. It also has small nozzles in the hull through which compressed air is pumped out so that the ship is propelled forward on a blanket of small air bubbles, reducing friction and in turn means reduced fuel consumption.

Bionic Bar
Bionic Bar

This size means that it’s a floating resort rather than a ship, as it has more bars and restaurants than most – 16 eateries and almost as many bars. It’s so big people bring walkie-talkies to communicate with each other on board as maritime phone internet costs are prohibitive.

When all the eating gets too much, consider the activities on offer: dodgem cars, roller skating, trapeze, soccer, ping pong, rock climbing, a surf machine, skydiving simulator and a walking and jogging track are alongside the traditional pursuits of exercising in the supersize gym or swimming in one of the three pools or the kids’ water-play park.

For passengers, the technology starts when you arrive at the wharf where check-in is done by staff with tablets. In fact it’s such an efficient operation that the time between stepping out of the dockside taxi to sitting down for lunch on board took this passenger all of 20 minutes.

If you opt to take an internet package on board, you’ll also experience the fastest internet at sea. The cost is approximately $17 for one device and is as fast as broadband on land that can stream Netflix with no interruptions. The Wifi can be accessed throughout the whole ship, including the cabins.

Because of its size, Ovation would suite any age group. In fact the most popular groups are

Northstar Observation Pod
Northstar Observation Pod

the multi-generational family groups; mums, dads, kids and grandkids all happily travelling together, with activities, bars, lounges and pool areas to keep everyone entertained and busy 24 hours a day. Well, almost.

One aspect of travel that’s in the back of everyone’s mind is terrorism. The cruise industry has spent millions to comply with strict new regulations introduced after 9/11 by the Safety Alliance at Sea. This includes x-raying all luggage and goods loaded on the ship; all passengers and crew must pass through metal detectors and scan their seapass when embarking and disembarking the ship – this is linked to your security photo so strangers can’t use your seapass to board.

The Ovation’s next season is on sale for cruises to the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. Prices start from $899 per person, twin share for an inside cabin. For more information on Ovation of the Seas, call Cherrybrook Travel.

_____________________________________________________________________Monique Monsees, Cherrybrook Travel, Westleigh

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