🛳 My first cruise

Ovation of the Seas ship docked in Sydney

I went on my first cruise over the weekend. Nick is no stranger to cruising, and certainly not a stranger to cruise ships, so he told me what to expect. Overall, I had a good time! Perhaps my expectations were a little high, but there was nothing to complain about in terms of the cruise itself.

I’d never been on a cruise because I was never interested. I had my own opinions about cruising despite never going on one: I didn’t think it was a great way to travel because I like rolling out my own itinerary, and I was very unaware of the entertainment and food options on cruise ships. I thought it would be boring and not really my thing. I was quite wrong about all of this.

The cruise ship we went on was Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, and it was a sampler cruise that went for three nights, leaving Friday evening and arriving back in Sydney on Monday morning. It didn’t stop anywhere since it was a short cruise, so it just went up the coast, around in a few circles, and came back. Nick would probably be glad to guest post some information about Royal Caribbean’s other ships but feel free to ask him more about that. I’m just focussing on my experience for the purpose of this post.

Initial thoughts

There are many appeals to cruising as opposed to other methods of travel. One of them is boarding the ship and being able to do activities or eat straight away. There is no need to worry about travel time like when you’re on a train or an airplane. I enjoyed just being able to walk on the ship and get settled in straight away, being able to explore straight away.

I’ve always thought it was interesting that a cruise ship is like a city on water. It was huge! After seeing all the elevators and all the floors, I felt like I was in a regular building overlooking the harbour. And when we started moving, it felt like a moving building. The views, of course, given Sydney harbour, were lovely, and sailing away and watching the sun set was pretty cool. It was a rainy day and Brandon even sent me a video of hailstones in the backyard at home, but by the time we were sailing away it had cleared a little bit.

View of the Sydney Opera House
I’ve gotta admit, I have never had a few of the Opera House this good
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Do you remember when I climbed the bridge?
A closer view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from our room
View of the bridge from our stateroom
Circular Quay from a distance
Goodbye for now, Sydney
The sun setting on the water with Sydney city in the distance
Beautiful sunset

It’s probably worth mentioning that the ship didn’t feel “squashy” at all. I don’t know if anyone has those kinds of concerns, but considering how many people are on board the one ship, it doesn’t have a crowded feel. There might be long lines for some activities, but you can also pre-book. Areas like the pool might be busy, and lines for drinks at the bar may be long, but it’s pretty standard if you’ve ever been to a public pool or ordered a drink at a bar during your life (you probably have).

The staterooms (the accommodation) were all very quiet and well away from busy areas. My first impression was that ours was smaller than I’d imagined, but it’s not a big deal when you spend most of your time outside your room. And it’s big enough for what you need. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t actually have anything to complain about, rooms included.

Bionic Bar where robots make drinks
Bionic bar – the robots make drinks for you

No internet!

OK, I had no internet for the duration of the trip. You get used to it after a while, especially when you have company, and it’s relieving to be away from the “noise”. At the same time, you feel like you’re missing out, but I always find that when you don’t have internet is when you usually get far fewer emails and notifications, haha!

The cost of internet was very expensive, and it wasn’t worth it, especially since we could be occupied with so many other things.

First evening

I had worked late hours during the week and through lunchtimes so I could leave a little earlier on Friday, so I left at 2pm and Nick and I caught a train to the harbour. It’s only a short train ride from where we work. Boarding the ship was an interesting new experience. It was pretty speedy because we had sorted out some of the checkin stuff beforehand, and we just had to leave our bags and they would be delivered to our room. Getting up close to the ship I started to get excited, haha!

While the ship was still in the harbour we had a late lunch in the buffet area. I hadn’t had anything to eat for lunch yet so I just grabbed as much food as I felt like eating. Turns out I was hungry as fuck, haha, so I had two helpings of tacos with a crap ton of cheese. 🌮😄

Nick gazing to the side with his hands folded on a table with a drink
Dreamboat 😘
Octopus statue around the pool deck area
Obviously this octopus caught my eye
Me and Nick with the octopus in the background
Selfie with the octopus!

Second day

We started the morning by doing a behind-the-scenes tour. That was actually a lot of fun and I learned a lot of stuff about how the ship works and what the crew’s duties are. I’m glad we did it. That came at an extra cost though, it was not included.

The chef telling us about the duties of the kitchen crew
Glimpse into the workings of the kitchen
The guy working with the produce and food supplies
Chefs cook your food, but these guys deal with the produce and supplies!
Crew members sorting garbage into bins of different types
Manually sorting garbage is difficult when different countries have different guidelines
Inside the engine control room with a lot of computer screens
We didn’t see the engine room, just the engine control room
Nick leaning against a U-shaped bit of piping
I took this photo of Nick as we waited for half of our group to look in the engine control room
A view of the side of the ship, from the bridge at the front
A view of the side of the ship, from the bridge at the front
Bridge officers in the bridge area
Bridge officers in the bridge

It was actually such nice weather when we came up above sea level again. Most of the tour didn’t have any windows to look out of. Funny because the weather actually took a turn for the worse later on.

The wake of the ship
The wake of the ship
Me and Nick with our sunglasses on
Selfie in the sun

We had a nap in the afternoon. After getting up we went to the gym. I was really looking forward to this, haha. At first I really could not be bothered getting up, but I was very keen so off we went. OK, I gotta admit, I love the fact that there is a gym on board. 😉 Nick really wanted to go to a “Fab Abs” class at 6:00pm so we arrived at the gym a little bit after 5:00pm, did our usual workout and then met the instructor in an open area where we set up mats and began our exercise. I enjoyed doing my usual workout and went super hard on the cross-trainer for fifteen minutes. I also used the shoulder press machine, which felt good – usually I hate it. 😆

The abs class was great, it burned our core to all hell, though. It felt very good, and there were some exercises we could pick up and do at home for sure. I actually don’t work out my abs very much. Since my dancing days, they have remained strong, but I was reminded that they do need a challenge every now and then, haha!

We chilled out near the pool area on a comfy summery couch. It was one of those made of straw or bamboo but with fitted cushions and pillows. It was raining outside and the lightning was pretty intense, but we could still see the sun just up ahead.

My feet and Nick’s feet with our running shoes on, outstretched with the ocean in the background
Interesting weather

That night we had a nice restaurant dinner and then saw a Beatles tribute band playing for a short time. I wanted to stay longer but we had booked a viewing of the Live. Love. Legs. show that was on later that night. It was really enjoyable and fun to watch, though. The costumes were very extravagant and there was a lot of singing and dancing from both men and women. It was an awesome combination and I admired their voices and their moves! 🕺🏻💃🏻

Third day

The third day was pretty relaxing, at the same time lazy. We had a massage at 12:45. We went and relaxed in the spa for a bit before going for our massage.

The massage itself very relaxing. We had a ginger and lime scrub down our bodies and then got a half-body massage, which was basically just the back and neck. This was actually one of Nick’s Christmas presents for me. Thank you baby 😍

Afterwards we actually just lounged around watching television. There were some free channels on the television in our room, and there was a Dreamworks channel. Nick had his laptop and was playing games for a bit. I ended up watching Bee Movie and Madagascar 3 since they were on. I’ve seen the former, but not the latter. It was a good way to chill out, haha.

We went for another lovely dinner before walking around the ship again and retiring for the night.

Morning of departure

Wow. I wish I was fully awake to have seen it, but Nick opened the curtains just before sunrise and I could see the pretty lights of the buildings in the city as everything slowly began to wake up. I fell asleep again but that was really lovely to see. At least, what my half-asleep self saw. ☺️

Eventually we got up and had breakfast in the buffet area before packing our bags. I have to admit, it was great not having the usual 80-minute commute I’m so used to having every morning. We just had to catch a quick train!

Conclusion

I really enjoyed the cruise even though I am not totally hyper about it. I’d go on another cruise, though I’m not in a big rush to do so. I also think that cruises are a really big thing in the Western world – they have obviously been around for at least a century, given stories like that of Titanic, and boats being the only means of travelling long distances at the time. That said, it was a completely new experience for me and vacationing on a boat just wasn’t in my bones. I told Nick that I felt the novelty would wear off for me, personally, the novelty of being on a floating city. That is why I think I would like to try a longer cruise that stops at a few places. It would change things up a bit for me.

Panda statues set up so the mother on the roof is reaching for its cub on the ground
Pandaaaaa!

I particularly enjoyed the view even though I didn’t immerse myself in it. I also enjoyed the food. Some of it was average, some of it was very good. The quality of the restaurant food was something I couldn’t fault either. The thing I really liked was the fact that everything was so chilled out and relaxed. You could go back to your room at any time, and food was pretty much available at any reasonable time (and you could take it back to your room too).

There were activities available that I didn’t take part in or check out – comedy shows, rock climbing (even though I did want to go, but I couldn’t be bothered), and bumper cars. I can’t judge those, but I think many people would find them fun, and I hope I have an opportunity to try those kinds of activities next time.

Bumper cars on a court, mid-action
Do you call them bumper cars or dodgem cars?

Also, although cruising is great in summer, I’m just not a big fan of the sun and I still get sunburned even if I put sunscreen on. Just something I have to deal with, I guess, haha.

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Comments on this post

My in-laws have gone on several cruises (seems like they go on one almost every year), but we’ve never been on one. We almost did, but couldn’t afford it at the time, so we backed out. It’s something I’d definitely like to try! Thanks for sharing your experience! 🙂

The ship does look huge! The bionic bar also looks sophisticated, and the bottled drinks are upside down (or is it a mirror?)! I’ve never been on a cruise before. However, I would like to go if the ship travels from Florida to the Bahamas.

Out of curiosity, what about at night? Are you guys allowed to stay out and stargaze?

Yes, the bottles are upside-down! 😄 There are nibs attached and the arm just kind of pumps at the bottleneck to retrieve the alcohol. I am definitely keen on going on a cruise that stops places. This one was just a sampler!

Yes we are definitely allowed to stay out! Unfortunately the weather was a bit bad and rainy for us, and the clouds obscured what stars would have been there. 😞

I’ve been looking forward to this post since you first mentioned you were going on a cruise, haha!

It’s definitely handy if you can hop on the cruise in your home city! Quite a few cruises leave from Liverpool but the main port in the UK for cruises in Southampton. This is why we tend to go on cruises that require you to fly out to another country.

I think Tyrone was shocked about the size of the cabins when I took him on a cruise for the first time. The beds weren’t really long enough for him! But then as you say you don’t really spend much time in the cabin.

I love how you leave your bags on the dock side and then next thing you know they’re at your cabin door. I’m always amazed how they don’t get mixed up. I always go straight for food as soon as I get onboard.

I’m glad you had a nice time. Sitting and looking out to see is one of my favourite things to do on a cruise. It’s so peaceful. Plus I’ve managed to spot dolphins and whales which is always a treat.

Damn you! I want to go on another cruise now! *runs off to browse cruise websites*

Wow those are some awesome pictures! PANDA! 😆

But sounds fun! I think it would be nice to see the water and such. I’ve never been on a cruise, but sounds like it would be fun!

That’s awesome that you had such a great time on the cruise! My mom’s been on one and I know she really enjoyed it. And wow! I had no idea cruise ships were that big. I knew they were “big” but I guess I hadn’t expected the view. The pictures you took look great!

And that’s great that you had a chance to go on a behind-the-scenes tour. I feel like when you’re relaxing and having fun, it’s easy to forget that there are always people working in the background, even though you may not see them all the time.

i’ve never been on a cruise either and my personal opinion regarding cruise vacation is the same like yours. i mean, if i were given the chance, i’d probably agree because i want to try it at least once (plus, it’s also considered traveling, right?) but if i were given choices, i prefer traveling on foot for exploration, you know? a cruise trip means i will be stuck in the cruise and i don’t know, it sounds boring to me 😛

anyway, the cruise you went to with nick looks super fun (i mean, dooh of course it’d be…a cruise is like a 10 in 1 kind of entertainment thing where you can have all the fun things in one go, if that makes sense) and you’re so lucky to be able to see the engine room and whatnot. i’d be interested in seeing the BTS locations too, especially if i can get the chance to see how the crew prepares meal and stuff. it reminds me of this one show on… natgeo (i might be wrong) where they show how food are prepared in cruises and planes and i just find them really entertaining to look at lol

p.s: i miss playing bumper cars omg 🙂)

Those were my thoughts exactly (and the thoughts of people who have never been on a cruise, I find – you included 😜). I thought I would get bored and “stuck” on the ship, but there are really a lot of things to do – as I mentioned, the rock climbing, the entertainment, there are numerous social activities that are held on the ship, bumper cars, ping pong, etc. Cruises are not really the best way to travel or explore a country as it’s more about the cruise and the journey. I most certainly prefer to travel on land when exploring new territory.

It sounds like you have a lovely time, Georgie. Also, I demand an excruciatingly detailed post about your “dancing days.” With photos.

Glad to hear that you enjoyed your cruise. I see people having opinions different than their actual experience. At least it turned out better than what you expected 😉. You had a really nice view of the harbor from the ship!

I’ve never heard of a bionic bar before but it looks really neat! I can see this taking over a lot of bars. Even though you didn’t really have access to the internet, it’s great that you took this opportunity to untangle a bit. It’s neat that you got to tour the ship. I’ve always wondered how they work and WOW at the control room!

It’s cool that there’s access to the gym! I would’ve taken advantage too 😆. I would probably feel the same about cruises if I go on them too often. I want to know how a couple of my friends handle going on all of those Disney cruises.. Then again, this is coming from someone who goes to DL often @__@. Bumper cars are fun until you get stuck 😆.

My husband’s family are super into cruises, they keep trying to convince me to go on one. I’m just not a huge boat/ocean people. I rather go hiking or to disney world!

I’m also kinda weird about being stuck in the middle of the ocean!

The view when leaving looks so good. There is just something about the opera house and the bridge that feels like ‘home’ haha. Maybe that is just me.

Omg. Bionic bar. What year is this????!?

That would be annoying not having any internet. But at the same time, it would be good (like you said). If it was for a longer period of time, I think I would struggle.

I think it was a good idea that you went for one of the better rooms. I know a few people who have gone on cruises and didn’t enjoy them that much. It probably depends on the boat/company you choose.

Oh, for me it does feel like home too. 😄

I would definitely struggle for more than a week without internet… I need to talk to my friends. 😂 I need to post about my life on the internet. Hahaha.

Nick knows quite a bit about cruises and we did go on a cruise with a better reputation. I’ve heard far too many horror stories about P&O, for example. 😦

I’ve never been on a cruise before but this makes me really want to go on one in the future! 🙂 I’ve been on a ship before in Disneyland but I don’t think that was the “real deal” i.e. a cruise haha. My sister didn’t like going on the ship though, I remember she felt like the floor was really wobby and that she started feeling nauseous!

Haha after naps, I never can be bothered to go out and workout but once my mind gets in gear, I get super excited! Glad to hear they had that facility! It sounds like you had an awesome workout done 💪🏼

SUCH. A. CUTE. PANDA. 😍

Thanks for sharing your experience!

Wow that looks stunning – I love your photos of the sea and the sunset. I’m especially impressed with the bionic bar!

I’ve been on a couple of cruises, years ago, and they were really fun. I love the fact you can have have your holiday while you travel without feeling like you’re wasting time travelling too.