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February 12, 2017

Voyage of endless fun

A variety of exciting activities, plush accommodation and good nosh has Audrey Ng booking a second trip on the Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas for another fantastic holiday

AS I scrolled through my past photos on social media, I paused to look at last year’s photos of our trip on Ovation of the Seas.

My husband and I had gone on a three-night cruise to Kuala Lumpur on Royal Caribbean International’s largest and most revolutionary ship in Asia, which was launched last year.

We were both really impressed by its sheer size and the cool activities on board. My only other time on a cruise was when I was still in school, and it was not memorable.

But the Ovation of the Seas completely blew our minds!

Who knew that a moving mega hotel over the sea could be so big and have so many things to do, from bumper cars and skydiving to a high-tech entertainment facility.

We had felt our trip was too short to experience the ship fully.

With hubby’s birthday coming up in March, I decided to surprise him and book our first holiday this year back on Ovation of the Seas, for a longer trip this time — a five-night cruise to Phuket and Penang.

I like that the comprehensive package allows us time to take in the culture and delicious food of these two cities and still make the most of the facilities on board.

The cruise arrives in Phuket early in the morning and departs in the evening, so that would give us the whole day for some beach activities and exploring the city.

The next morning, it arrives in Penang, a place where we both have been wanting to go to. We will have the whole day to roam around George Town and try all the authentic hawker food.

Luxurious living

On our last cruise, we stayed in the virtual balcony interior stateroom, a revolutionary type of accommodation at sea. The room had a large digital screen that shows a real-time view of the sea and ports.

This time, I picked the balcony stateroom, which is more spacious and comes with its own private balcony. I can already picture us having breakfast on the balcony with a perfect view of the vast ocean and enjoying the gentle sea breeze.

Who knows, if we come back for a third time — perhaps for one of our wedding anniversaries — I might be tempted to pamper ourselves with one of the loft suites.

After all, those who book a loft suite have access to a Royal Genie, a personal concierge service that offers exclusive personalised VIP experiences such as handling the unpacking, laundry service, making restaurant and show reservations and even planning the perfect date night.

The fun never stops

What made our first cruise so enjoyable were also the cool activities available. What’s more, most of these are all included at no additional cost.

We totally loved the simulated skydiving of RipCord by iFly, which lets you experience the sheer thrill and exhilaration of flying in an air machine while still being in a safe and controlled environment.

Another thrilling activity was the FlowRider at the back of the ship, a surf simulator that lets you feel what it is like to surf over the strong ocean waves. This time, hubby and I will compete to see who can keep standing the longest.

There is also the SeaPlex, a huge indoor active sporting and entertainment venue with bumper cars and a full-sized basketball court. I cannot wait to get on the bumper cars again, and I also plan to roller skate.

This cool place also transforms into a dance spot at night and there is even a floating DJ booth!

But our favourite entertainment venue is the Two70°, which spans almost three decks with its floor-to-ceiling glass walls that offer a 270-degree panoramic sea view.

During the day, it is a living room space, and has a library on top and café below, great for chilling out. But at night, the venue’s high-tech sound system and theatrical lighting provide a visual feast with video and digital scenery of the show’s backdrop. There are also live performers and aerialists.

Another spot for amazing views is the North Star on the top deck. The jewel-shaped glass capsule takes guests to over 90m above the ocean for an all-round view and a perfect photo opportunity.

Satisfied stomachs, happy travellers

It is not a proper holiday without good food and the variety available, from casual fare to grand restaurants, kept us well fed the last time.

Besides the complimentary restaurants that are included in the cruise fare, I plan to give hubby a birthday treat at one of the specialty restaurants. Just pay a cover charge and you can order any dish on the menu!

I have not been to Jamie’s Italian since it opened in Singapore but there is one on the ship.

Alternatively, I am also considering Wonderland, an intimate restaurant that serves eclectic fare.

The menu has five categories — Sun, Ice, Fire, Water, Earth and Dreams — each with a selection of dishes that can be shared, such as flash-frozen ice cream over tender pork belly or wasabi caviar mingled with spicy tuna cones.

For after-dinner drinks, the coolest place for a tipple is definitely the sleek and swanky Bionic Bar where you place your order via an iPad and watch two robotic hands mix your cocktail for you.

Pretty cool, right?

Get in on the fun

Ovation of the Seas will be back in Singapore in March and April for a special season to offer more of the Quantum Class experience to cruise fans here.

There are 10 sailing dates to choose from such as the 3-Night Penang Cruise, 5-Night Phuket & Penang Cruise and 5-Night Bangkok Cruise with an overnight stop.

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