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Discover Alaska: Is Ovation Of The Seas Perfect For Your Family?

It can be overwhelming choosing a cruise line and ship for Alaska. For those wanting to embark in Seattle, an Ovation of the Seas Alaska cruise aims to exceed your expectation with its cutting-edge innovations and vast dining options.

Traditionally, small and mid-sized vessels cruised to Alaska. However, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International have added mega-ships, which have proven to be a hit with cruise passengers.

So, when seeking the best cruise to Alaska for a multi-generational family, consider the Ovation if the cruising vessel is top priority over the itinerary.

Whether you’re twenty-something, retired, traveling solo, or with children, here are some great reasons to cruise Alaska on Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas.

It’s Family-friendly

While some cruise lines cater to adults, the Ovation of the Seas is a vessel for all ages. As more and more families begin to cruise, they want their children to have access to kid-focused activities.

Traditional lines like Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity, and Carnival have kids’ clubs, but Royal Caribbean goes one step further on its Quantum-class ships.

Its Splashaway Bay outdoor water park is the best I’ve seen on a cruise ship. The splash zone features a small lazy river that swirls the kids around a pool. This zone is generally open from 10 am to 5 pm.

The children can use an indoor pool if the Alaska weather isn’t cooperating.

Ovation of the Seas Splashaway Bay
Ovation of the Seas Splashaway Bay

In addition to the Adventure Ocean program for ages 3 to 17, children can join groups for roller skating, rock climbing, basketball, pickleball, dodgeball, scavenger hunts, and more.

Adventure Ocean also offers babysitting for toddlers three and under at the cost of USD 6 an hour. An excellent option to give mom and dad a night out or have a romantic dinner at sea!

If you’re traveling with teenagers, the Ovation has many connected staterooms. If you’re making the journey with younger children, the standard cabins are spacious and feature lots of storage for three or four in one room.

The only negative is that families must book a suite if they require a bathtub instead of a shower.

Enjoy Views From 300 Feet High

The Quantum-class cruise ships feature a pod on the outer deck, modeled from the London Eye. The “North Star” lifts guests 300 feet above the ocean and rotates to each side of the ship. It’s a view that rivals what’s seen in London.

North Star in Endicott Arm
North Star in Endicott Arm

The North Star is an impressive feat of engineering and provides a fantastic experience for guests onboard. The pod can accommodate twelve people and is wheelchair accessible.

Guests must first book a time slot using the Royal Caribbean app through the complimentary WiFi to ride the pod. Time slots in port are free, but the cruise line charges USD 15 for spots on sea days. Spaces are available every 20 minutes when the North Star is operating.

The paid time slots feature a 16-minute extended ride. However, guests often experience an introductory ride (under 10 minutes) on a free booking. Royal Caribbean charges no shows on complimentary time spots a USD 25 no-show fee.

If the ship is sailing at the maximum capacity of 5,000, we found it difficult to snag a complimentary time. We only had access to a few days after embarkation, so it’s essential to keep checking each day to reserve a time.

For the Alaska’s ultimate glacier viewing experience, try booking a time in Endicott Arm. While this is a premium area, Royal Caribbean charges a USD 70 fee per person for glacier viewing in the North Star.

During rough seas or strong winds, the North Star will not operate due to safety reasons.

It Has Virtual Balconies

Virtual balcony cabin
Virtual balcony cabin

While most frequent cruisers to Alaska will say you “must” book a balcony cabin, in reality, it’s not within everyone’s budget. Royal Caribbean has added a surprise element to its interior cabins, making them more attractive to passengers.

Marketed as “Virtual Balconies,” the inside rooms have large LCD TV screens mounted to the walls. The screen shows a “live view” of the scenery outside. Curtains on either side allow guests to close off the light and view as if it were a real balcony.

While I had heard negative reviews of these screens, I wanted to see one myself. Surprisingly, the giant screen looked good, making the small interior room seem less claustrophobic. While guests won’t have the added benefit of fresh air, the screen brings some of the outside into the room.

At 166 sq. feet, the Ovation of the Seas Virtual Balcony cabins are larger than others on competitive cruise lines. While the staterooms are missing the couch, they still feature the same bathroom, closet, dresser, and multi-purpose desk.

Try Sky Diving At Sea

For thrill-seekers, the Ovation of the Seas RipCord by iFly, allows guests to practice their skydiving skills without jumping out of a plane. Modelled on the iFly venues on land, cruise guests can enjoy the activity at sea.

Tying iFly skying in the wind tunnel
Tying iFly skying in the wind tunnel

The wind tunnel, located at the aft, overlooking the FlowRider, is suitable for all ages. I watched my husband try the venue with a group of 12, including a child under five years of age.

To try iFly, guests must book a time slot using the Royal Caribbean app. Royal Caribbean offers complimentary time slots when docked and charges USD 29 at sea. The experience takes 50 minutes, including a safety video, getting suited with a body suit, ear plugs, helmet, and eye protection.

When trying iFly with a family member, book two different time slots so each person can video the experience. Before going to the iFly platform, guests must remove all jewelry, empty pockets and leave smartphones behind.

Guests can only enjoy one complimentary and one paid iFly session per sailing. Also, Royal Caribbean charges USD 25 for no-shows.

Enjoy Long Port Days

Alaska cruises are all about glacier viewing and port days. Before booking a cruise, you should compare the number of hours in port. Some itineraries only spend a half day or, in some cases, four hours in port.

Except for a short stop in Victoria, Canada, the Ovation of the Seas Alaska cruises average 8 to 12 hours in port. The Ovation offers cruises from Seattle for the remainder of the 2024 seaon, then it’s replaced by the Anthem of the Seas in 2025.

With maximum hours, guests can enjoy Mendenhall Glacier and whale watching in Juneau, the White Pass & Yukon Route train in Skagway, and still have time to shop or enjoy some Alaskan seafood.

The competition, Norwegian Encore and Bliss, dock in Ward Cove in Ketchikan. Since it’s a distance from downtown, cruise passengers have the hassle of needing a shuttle to access the tourist area and excursions.

Enjoy Two Indoor Pools

Solarium adult-only pool
Solarium adult-only pool

It’s no secret that guests may experience cold and wet weather in Alaska, regardless of the sailing month. Having an indoor pool and hot tubs are a must!

The Ovation not only offers an interior pool, but it has two! Located on deck 14 bow, the Solarium is a dreamy retreat for adults only.

With the Sunshine Bar and Solarium Bistro, you can spend an entire sea day relaxing and bathing.

The retreat features tier swimming pools and four hot tubs under a canopy of glass ceilings. With floor to ceiling windows, the Alaska scenery is viewable from every seat.

Mid-ship, an additional pool provides space for the whole family. While the larger pool here is 5′ to 5′ 4″ deep, many children used it with the aid of life vests provided by Royal Caribbean.

Adjacent to the large pool, a smaller pool provides shallow waters for the little ones if it’s too cold to use Splashaway Bay outside.

Ovation of the Seas indoor pool
Ovation of the Seas indoor pool

The family pool area has two hot tubs set with a lower water temperature, ideal for all ages.

It Has 20 Dining Venues

Foodies might need more time than a 7-day Alaska cruise on the Ovation of the Seas to try all its venues. With 20 dining choices, there’s no excuse for hunger on this Quantum-class vessel.

Unlike smaller ships with one main dining room, the Ovation has four. The Grande and Chic offer contemporary venues on deck three. One deck higher, Silk and American Icon Grill have different décor.

While the color schemes vary in each restaurant, the food and menus remain the same. Guests can choose from early or late seating or “my time dining.”

Jamie’s Italian is a Royal Caribbean pasta restaurant developed by Jamie Oliver. It offers freshly made pasta, out-of-this-world garlic bread, and entrees that will make you drool.

Chops Grille, my husband’s favorite, delights the carnivores with its 16 oz. Ribeye steak or 12 oz. New York Strip. Alternatively, the Izumi Japanese restaurant offers a la carte, from sushi rolls and ramen to Teriyaki and Gyoza dumplings.

ComplimentaryFor A Fee
The GrandeLa Patisserie
ChicJamie’s Italian
American Icon GrillIzumi
Solarium BistroChops Grille
Windjammer MarketplaceChef’s Table
The Café @ Two70Amber and Oak Pub
SeaPlex DoghouseFish & Chips
Sorrento’s PizzeriaRoom Service
Café Promenade
Coastal Kitchen
20 places to enjoy food on the Ovation of the Seas

While guests can’t try every venue on a 7-day cruise, it’s possible on back-to-back cruises to Alaska and Hawaii. Do note that some items at Fish & Chips are complimentary, as is contintental breakfast.

It Has Studio Staterooms

The Ovation of the Seas has 28 studio staterooms, allowing solo travelers to forego the pesky single supplement.

Solo cruisers can choose from one of 16 solo inside staterooms from decks 6 to 13. These measure 101 sq. feet and have a double bed instead of the Royal King.

Traditionally, solo passengers only had the choice of solo inside cabins. If they wanted a balcony stateroom, they’d have to pay for two in that cabin class.

A studio balcony stateroom
A studio balcony stateroom

However, the Ovation offers 12 solo rooms in the balcony category. These are divided between decks six and seven. These are slightly bigger at 119 sq. feet and feature a full bathroom and double bed.

Since these are located where the ship’s walls veer out, cabins 6248, 6648, 7248, and 7648 have huge angled balconies. Adjacent staterooms 6250, 6650, 7250, and 7650 have slightly smaller balconies.

Guests Can Surf At Sea

If skydiving at sea isn’t enough for thrill seekers, the Quantum-class vessels offer surfing too. Located at the aft, the innovative “FlowRider” pumps out thousands of gallons of heated water to simulate a surfing wave.

The water moves at 40 MPH and recirculates across the FlowRider deck to provide a surfing venue at sea. So, those have wanted to try surfing but aren’t good swimmers, the Ovation offers that opportunity.

The experience is complimentary to all guests, and passengers can go multiple times to improve their skills. To participate, check the Royal Caribbean app to view the FlowRider times. There’s no need to register or book a time. However, participants will need to watch a safety video.

The FlowRider usually opens for two hours at a time, and participants can go multiple times in the two-hour window. Newcomers need to start with boogie boarding, where guests start in the laying position.

With guidance from a sports staff, participants move to their knees and practice their balancing skills without touching the board. Throughout the Alaska cruise, the venue offers multiple times for different skill levels.

Since the weather in Alaska can be unpredictable, wearing a long-sleeved Rashguard shirt will provide sun protection on hot days and an extra layer for warmth on cooler days.

Larger Balconies For Glacier Viewing

Large balcony on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship
Large balcony size

The Ovation of the Seas balcony spaces are surprisingly larger than other cruise ships. Most cruise ship balconies can accommodate two chairs and a small table. However, there usually isn’t much room between the chair and the glass.

When using the balcony for glacier viewing, I always found we had to move the furniture, so we had space to stand and move around.

On this Quantum-class vessel, the balconies are much deeper, so Royal Caribbean provided additional footstools to turn our chairs into loungers. A nice touch!

So, with that extra space, there was no need to rearrange the patio furniture (so to speak) to optimize the views. While some of the staterooms are classed as “spacious balconies,” guests don’t have to upgrade to get one with more room.

Ride Bumper Cars

The Quantum-class cruise ships have a multi-use indoor space called the Sea Plex. During select scheduled times, we relived our youth by riding bumper cars in the arena. The event doesn’t require a reservation but does get quite busy on sea days.

Bumper cars usually operate for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, then the staff removes the cars for charging. Don’t be surprised to see a colossal lineup wrap around the Sea Plex on sea days. Cars can take up to two riders, although most want to drive their own vehicle.

Bumper cars in the Sea Plex
Sea Plex bumper cars

Guests can enjoy the venue for other activities when the bumper cars are charging. These include pickleball, volleyball, dodgeball, soccer, basketball, and roller skating.

Roller skating does require a reservation via the app. It’s an activity not recommended for those with previous injuries or at risk of breaking a bone.

The Sea Plex has trainer frames for those new to roller skating. The skates provided are the older four-wheeled style, and guests can use elbow and knee pads if needed.

An area overlooking the Sea Plex contained additional play space for families. The fun continues with ping pong, air hockey, foosball, and complimentary X-Box machines.

Find A Stowaway Piano Player

Royal Caribbean International has featured Stowaway Piano Players on some of its ships for over half a dozen years. The concept is simple; it requires a traveling musician and a movable piano.

The pianos are a little out of the ordinary, with steampunk fittings, pipes, and vintage elements. During our cruise, we found the “Piano Man” in elevators several times and usually played for 45-minute intervals.

Then the piano is wheeled out and pops up somewhere else later. The piano player accepts requests, and some guests (like us) ride up and down, enjoying the singalong.

Be aware that the elevator can get quite crowded if too many guests want to join the fun.

For others (who have never heard of the Stowaway Piano Player), the thought of getting in the elevator was quite scary. Us, we enjoyed seeing people’s reactions when the elevator doors opened as much as the impromptu tunes.

Enjoy An Immersive Dining Experience

Wonderland specialty restaurant food
Wonderland food

For foodies, specialty restaurant Wonderland offers an immersive dining experience based on Alice in Wonderland. The restaurant’s décor is quirky, with mismatched chairs and invisible menus which can only be read once painted with water.

The waiters dress in red velvet jackets with tails, reminiscent of the white rabbit’s attire.

The food is created on the earth, sun, sea, ice, and fire categories. Some of it looks too good to eat, but it’s all edible! We thought the drinks were equally creative, one with a cotton candy topping.

Enjoy Ground-Breaking Technology In The Two70

Located on deck five aft, the Two70 gets its name from the 270 degrees enjoyed from this multi-levelled space. How, this venue offers more than a place to watch the wake.

Suspended from the ceiling, six giant screens on robotic arms create an electrifying show in the evenings. Reservations are required through the app, but the show is complimentary.

During the day, Royal Caribbean uses the space for games and events. When nothing is going on, it’s a great place to chill and enjoy lunch from the Two70 Café next door.

The Two70 was our favorite place onboard. When it isn’t being used for events, it was a great place to take our laptops to work as digital nomads.

Enjoy A Bionic Bartender Drink

Bionic Bar
Bionic Bar

While a bit gimmicky, the Ovation features two robotic bartenders at the Bionic Bar on deck 5, overlooking the Royal Esplanade. The machines can make pre-selected drinks, or guests can choose ingredients to create a one-of-a-kind cocktail.

Drinks are ordered through an iPad, and the cost is shown before confirmation if guests did not purchase a drink package. On the wall, a large screen shows the selections in queue and the ingredients of the drink.

Although the machines are pretty precise, sometimes, they spill ingredients. We had fun watching the Bionic Bartender make a drink, even when we weren’t buying.

Once the Bionic Bar makes the drink, it pours it into a plastic cup. Then, the guest must swipe their cruise card to retrieve their cocktail. We tried the Bionic Bar and found it interesting, that we could create a drink by listing ingredients.

As you can see, the Ovation of the Seas makes an excellent choice for cruising to Alaska. With so many onboard experiences, guests will create many wonderful memories while enjoying the incredible landscapes.

North Star, on the Ovation of the Seas in Alaska