As you read this post Naomi and I will be jetting off to Sydney to begin our cruise to Singapore on Ovation of the Seas. We will be away for three weeks and while we will try to check in to the blogs when we can we don’t really want to buy expensive ships internet for the duration of the voyage so we won’t be posting about the trip until after we return. I have scheduled a few posts to appear while we’re gone but obviously we won’t be participating in challenges and there may be delays in our answering comments.
We’ll be back around the middle of April.
On Friday I went to Hobart to do some errands. I saw that there was a cruise ship in port and from the chalkboard of a local coffee shop learned that it was Explorer of the Seas. It’s just over two years since we sailed on this ship and only a week now till we set off on our next adventure. I didn’t have my camera with me so as I wanted to practice using it anyway I took this with my phone.
I don’t have a new photo today so here is one of my favourites from last year. I took it for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge originally because I liked how clearly the ship was reflected in the window. The ship? Ovation of the Seas of course.
At the end of the last post we were resting our feet in the Star Lounge on Deck 5. Most likely there will be some activity going on in a portion of it so if we don’t want to get shanghaied into joining in we’d best move on. Here is a better picture of the Star Lounge taken by Naomi on one of her early morning walks. Mine was taken when we went there for Muster and the lighting was a bit dim.
The Grand Promenade is the main thoroughfare through the ship and is like a street lined with shops and cafe’s. It’s quite hard to imagine you are on a ship when you are there as it is more like a shopping mall. Above the Promenade is an atrium which stretches several decks. You can have a cabin with a window overlooking the Promenade but if you like to go to bed early I would not recommend it as the Promenade is often the venue for evening parades and parties some of which start after 10pm.
Here are two views of the Promenade, one taken on our first day by me and another taken by Naomi very early before anyone was about. They do change the lighting on the Promenade at different times. At night it is more blue. The small balconies are a good spot to watch the parades from.
The shop with the red awnings is the Cafe Promenade. It is open 24 hours a day and we sometimes went there in there for a snack. They had sandwiches, cakes, cookies and you could either make your own tea or coffee or for an extra charge have a cappacino or a latte or whatever you fancied. Cafe Promenade as also the place to buy Ben and Jerry’s ice cream which we were keen to try having heard so much about it. It was good ice cream but New Zealand ice cream is still our favourite. The cafe was often quite busy especially after a show but we could usually find a seat inside even when the tables outside were full.
The Crown & Kettle is supposed to be an English Style Pub and while it looks the part it was not really what we expected. We had hoped there would be food served there but it was just a bar and the folk singer that occupied it most nights kept us away. We had been hoping for darts and piano singalongs I suppose.
There are also shops on the Promenade. We liked the shop selling souvenirs and bought quite a lot of things in there both for ourselves and for gifts to take home. There was another store selling duty free alcohol although rules on board ship are strict about that. You can buy it but you can’t have it until you disembark I believe. There were also stores selling jewellery, handbags and watches. In fact the watch sale became a bit of a joke because they seemed to have a watch sale just about every day. The prices were not bad but neither of us needed a watch.
I had intended to go on to the dining room from here but after all that shopping I think we’ll take the elevator or the stairs up to our cabin on Deck 7 instead and leave the dining room for later.
Decks 6, through 10 are predominantly staterooms so we didn’t take pictures there. Deck 7 houses the Library and Card Room which we thought would be a quiet place to play Scrabble but it turned out to be quite busy. The ships four sets of Mah Jong were always in use. I had not realised that Mah Jong was such a noisy game.
Every couple of nights Jayson our cabin attendant would leave us a towel animal. We were not that good at guessing what they were but they were very good.
While we are here say hello to Naomi’s new teddy bear. She wasn’t going to buy any more bears she said but what is a bear collector to do ?
The next post in this series will be about our Indian Lunch and tour of the galley and you will meet our favourite waiters.
Arriving in Sydney for the beginning of our cruise was an exciting moment after so much planning. We decided to fly up the day beforehand so on the day we were due to depart we had time to go out on Sydney Harbour on a ferry to take pictures of our ship which had arrived earlier that morning. We walked up to Circular Quay from our hotel and there she was waiting for us. Both of us took a lot of pictures as we passed by on the short trip to Milson’s Point.
Boarding was from 11am onwards and resisting my usual impulse to be there half an hour before that our plan was to go onboard after lunch which would, we hoped, avoid having to stand in the hot sun in a queue waiting our turn. As it happened when we arrived at around 2:30 pm there was no queue to speak of and the process was very smooth and well organised.
After dropping our bags we were directed through the various stages of embarkation, showing our passports and filling out forms. Then finally we were on board and being welcomed to the ship and forced to pose for the first of many photos by the ships photographer. My sister usually dislikes having her picture taken so we spent a lot of time trying to avoid these “Huggy, Huggy” moments for the rest of the trip
As we had boarded later in the day our cabin was ready. We had chosen an Oceanview cabin in the forward part of the ship. I was slightly dismayed to see we had been given a king size bed instead of two singles but a word to someone in Guest Relations solved the problem and we had our twin beds within a couple of hours of asking. I wish it had been that easy at the hotel we stayed in while we were in Sydney but that’s another story. It was a roomy cabin with a porthole overlooking an open area. There was plenty of cupboards and drawers for our stuff, a sofa, vanity unit/desk with power points so we could charge up our gadgets and a good-sized bathroom.
Of course we wanted to start exploring right away so we didn’t stay in our cabin for long. We washed, changed our clothes and headed out to have a look at the Promenade which acts at the ships main thoroughfare. From there we went down to the Schooner Bar for a celebration drink.
Before we sailed there was a compulsory ships muster where all passengers were asked to assemble at their assigned stations. Unlike the drills we remembered from when we were young we did not have to put our life jackets on which is good because some people never read the instructions and 4,000 plus people wandering around with inflated life jackets on would have caused complete chaos. Instead we were given a demonstration much the same as the ones given on aircraft. Muster is also the way that the crew can check that everyone is on board as your name is checked off a clip board as you enter your area. We expected to be mustered on deck but our station turned out to be in the Star Lounge on Deck 4. I guess on a mega ship it would not be very practical to have everyone outside, they simply would not fit.
Once everyone was accounted for the ship could prepare to sail. We had a bite to eat in the Windjammer Marketplace, the buffet restaurant, and made sure we were outside for departure time. The Windjammer is up on Deck 11 and has great views. I’ll talk more about it in the next post when you get to tour the ship with us.
I won’t write a lot about how it felt to sail through Sydney Harbour and out of The Heads. The pictures will tell the story. We were excited to pass “Celebrity Solstice” on our way, one of several other cruise ships we encountered which I’ll show you in another post.
After that we went to the Palace Theatre to watch “Casablanca”. Later in the evening we watched the “Sail Away Parade” held on the Promenade which was very loud and colourful and had some supper at the cafe. We went to bed knowing we had two whole days at sea before we would reach New Zealand.