Ovation of the Seas: The active cruiser
Sail into adventure aboard this gigantic ocean-going funhouse, writes Tiana Templeman.
Think cruising isn’t for you? Ovation of the Seas could change your mind. It is the only ship where you can go skydiving, rock climb and then surf the perfect break, ride bumper cars, and soar 90m above the ocean in a glass-enclosed viewing pod, all on the same day. Here are our top picks for active travellers who want to make the most of their time on Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas. With so much to see and do onboard, you might just be tempted to skip the ports.
Skydiving at sea
If you’ve ever wanted to go skydiving, you can do it without jumping out of a plane. Book your Ripcord by iFly session via the online cruise planner or onboard and remember to bring a pair of socks (and shoes, although you can borrow these) when it is your time to fly. You will be given a safety briefing and skydiving instruction plus a jumpsuit, helmet, goggles and earplugs to wear. Each ride lasts for one minute but you can cram a lot of fun into just 60 seconds. While it might seem like a good idea to iFly with a friend, savvy cruisers book this activity separately. Different flying times leave one of you free to film and photograph each other’s skydive from the viewing area outside. You are sure to get some memorable pics as floating gracefully on air pumped into a giant tube at 180km/h is harder than it looks.
Go with the flow
Get in early for the FlowRider surf simulator as this free activity becomes more popular as the cruise progresses. Pack a pair of togs in your carry-on bag and hit the waves on embarkation day when there is no queue and the staff have time to provide extra tips and tricks. Getting used to the force of the water is easier on a boogie board plus there isn’t as far to fall. Once you’ve built up confidence boogie-boarding, it’s much easier to master stand-up.
Your secret to success when you’re trying to surf is putting about 80 per cent of the pressure on your back foot. This stops the board getting “blown away” by the water and provides added stability.
The FlowRider pumps out almost one million litres of water a minute so make sure your togs are on tight or you could end up showing everyone more than your tricks.
Hit new heights on the North Star
Step inside the North Star, a glass-walled capsule which hoists passengers more than 90m into the air, for an Insta-worthy view of the ship and surrounding ocean or port if the ship is docked. It is free to ride the North Star but time slots must be reserved in advance — either online or onboard. On port days you can ride the North Star without a booking (or a long wait).
Dance like no one is watching
No one knows if you aren’t dancing in time with the music at this unique disco. Get there early to score a pair of glowing headphones with a switch which allows you to swap between three different music channels: old time favourites like the Blues Brothers, contemporary pop and a live mix from the ship’s DJ. The Silent Disco only happens once on most cruises so don’t make the mistake of thinking “I’ll go next time”.
Reach high speed on the high seas
Don’t be deterred by the long queue for the dodgem cars, it moves surprisingly quickly. If you don’t want to wait, time your ride for embarkation day while most passengers are busy exploring the ship. This attraction isn’t just for kids. Anyone over 1.06 metres tall can ride — and most people do — although kids under 9 must be accompanied by an adult.
Rock n’ roll rollerskating
Channel your inner roller girl (or roller guy) on the skating rink located inside the SeaPlex, a multifunctional space which also hosts the dodgem cars, basketball and flying trapeze classes. Roller skating sessions are held every few days with passengers zooming (or stumbling) around the rink for 45 minutes at a time, with each slot overlapping by 15 minutes. Arrive at the start of the session to get a coloured band to guarantee your space or you could miss out. A helmet plus wrist, knee and elbow guards are mandatory, even if though these will probably blow your cool image.
Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas sails in New Zealand waters from November. For more information, go to