Day 2: Not a lot of improvement

The first part of this was written on the afternoon of our second day on Ovation of the Seas. As you can see, things did not improve on day 2.

Breakfast and lunch this morning were in the buffet and the place is a freaking zoo. Seriously. We actually heard three announcements asking people to eat quickly and leave so others could sit down. (I HAVE NEVER HEARD THAT BEFORE IN 28 CRUISES) The food is some of the worst buffet food I have seen. Really bad. Even the lemonade is beyond watery. It’s yellow colored water. So sad. The burgers were cold, the pizza lukewarm, the salads mediocre to say the least.

It’s not just the food. It’s the crowds. They are oppressive. And because of the poor systems for handling them on the ship, it makes it worse. We later learned that there were at least 1,000 children under age 12 on this cruise. That means that the ship was almost at full capacity. You could really tell on sea days and when you tried to get an elevator or in the buffet. And their systems and scheduling were ludicrous.

A pretty awesome area for kids that was almost IMPOSSIBLE to get into. It took our grandkids six days to find the area on the left open and available. RIDICULOUS!

What I mean by that is that everything is controlled and scheduled in a really poor way. Let me give you an example. After lunch on our first day on board we took the kids to the outdoor pool. It was a beautiful day and the pool wasn’t as crowded as we thought it would be. There are three parts to the outdoor pool area. There is a large pool that is about 5 feet deep, a small round pool for younger kids. They can get in it and go around and around. And there is a bunch of water slides and sprinklers for kids as well. When we first went out and went to the pool, it was about 1:00 pm. The two parts for little kids were closed. When I asked a lifeguard when it was open and he said 2:00 pm. Great, we nursed the kids through an hour of swimming and ice cream cones and then went to see them open the kids area. Guess what, they only opened the little round pool that would hold only about 20 kids so a line quickly formed. We never did see the water slide area open—The one thing the kids really wanted to do. RCL—open your damn facilities. We found this to be true so often. For instance, the bumper cars which you have to strand in line for, are only open between 4:30 and 6:30 pm. And if you have early seating as we did, that’s when you need to get ready for dinner and eat it. Get it together people! We can’t count the number of times we have seen people wandering around empty venues with no one to open them. The activity staff on this ship must either have very few people or they get a lot of time off. Or it is POORLY SCHEDULED which I believe to be the case.

We have had a really hard time finding things for the kids to do these first two days. We took them to the “Ocean Adventures” Royal’s highly regarded children’s program and my daughter and son-in-law were met by some of the most bored and uninterested-in-children people on the ship. Their answer to what the kids would be doing, is a gesture and them saying, “playing in here.” Nothing was going on except some unruly kids running around while others were trying to play. No real supervision at that point. Add to that, that our granddaughter who will turn 6 next month was put in the 3-5 year old group while our grandson is in the 6-8 year old group. Our granddaughter is quite mature for her age, so she did NOT want be left in a room full of three years olds while her brother had a good time with kids more her maturity level. So that program was out the window for us. 

Then we have a daily schedule for a ship where almost a quarter of the people onboard are under the age of 12 and practically nothing for them to do. I am going to put a copy of today’s schedule online when I get home and point out all the things that are available for kids (next to nothing). We ended up spending the entire morning in the arcade, spending grandpa’s money playing skeeball and air hockey and some free foosball. Even if the Kid’s Club had been viable for our kids, they have a limit of how many kids can participate at one time and they exceeded that regularly as many parents just want to dump their kids for as much time as possible. 

Then this afternoon at lunch, the cherry on the top of all this. I asked Joel (my awesome son-in-law) to make sure it showed on his daily schedule that they had reservations for the evening show that night—Pixels. It was the only thing I had been able to reserve before the cruise. Nothing else had been available for reservation (even thought now that we are onboard we keep hearing crew ask us if we made reservations) other than shore excursions. I tried on a regular basis for at least 12 weeks prior to the cruise to reserve things like the iFly, the Northstar and other attractions and not been able to do so. The only thing I could reserve were things that cost money. If they couldn’t charge you for it, it wasn’t available to reserve online. I even went so far as to call Royal’s travel agent line and discuss with them why we weren’t able to make reservations. We were told not to worry, that we would be able to make reservations once on board. Excuse my language but that was BULLSHIT! At no time could we make a reservation for any of those activities but the only thing we could make reservations for was this show, Pixels. So I did. I made the reservations for us, my kids and my grandkids. And they showed up on our reservation cruise planner right up until we came aboard. Then all of a sudden when I checked at lunch time today, my kids and grandkids no longer had reservations. I went to Customer Relations and they couldn’t figure it out and all they could do for us was offer us the show tomorrow night, immediately after we get back from a day-long excursion. The show starts at 7:00 and we don’t get back in time to eat dinner before the show. The woman who arranged it for me suggested we drop by the buffet for dinner after the show. She obviously has never had hungry 5 and 8 year olds traveling with her. Just another screw up. It’s funny how the only things they have not screwed up is things we pay money for. All the shore excursions I paid money for are there just fine but the “complimentary” reservations I made at exactly the same time, disappear. 

I now need say that when I went back to our stateroom later that afternoon, just before dinner, there was a phone message from the woman in Guest Services telling us that she had found four cancellations and that we now had our reservations back. While I appreciated her help, this never should have happened in the first place. The show, by the way, was excellent. The kids loved it. A really great multi-media show. And a great way to finish our second day which was a mild improvement over the first one.

There’s always room for improvement no matter what. —Ali Krieger


15 thoughts on “Day 2: Not a lot of improvement

  1. Bob

    There can be a class system at work causing some of these issues. My grandkids 13 and 9 older than Jim’s . Grandson said he was budged more than once by the kids with the “Key”. A program that allows them to get to the front of those lines….because they had parents that paid for the privilege.
    Explain that to your kids.

  2. It seems like the major cruise lines are building the mega ships with lots of nickel and diming going on – yes, they have the newest and latest and trendiest stuff on board but you either pay for it or don’t get to do it. And now with all the new restaurants and having to reserve everything (meals, shows, fun, activities, entertainment) is crazy to me, it takes away the ease and relaxation of cruising… Which is probably why we just cruise Disney now. I don’t know if I could ever go back to cruising in other lines again.

      1. That’s true – Disney does usually cost more but it includes a lot, too. I guess it really just depends on what you’re looking for and what you want out of vacation! And how you want to vacation.

  3. Carol

    Loved your picture of Mason peaking around the balcony, and of smiling Maylee. I’m rethinking my idea of a Disney cruise to Hawaii with Marius, Jules and parents.

  4. No, we have not (and won’t) be sailing on Disney. As a Travel Agent, Disney is one of the MOST difficult cruise lines to deal with. Between that and the much higher cost (the six of us going to Alaska would have cost us an extra $4000) that won’t happen nor will I ever recommend them to a client. That said, I have taken my kids and grandkids to Disneyland and will take them to Disneyworld.

    1. Fair enough, I suppose! I’ve been on two Royal cruises, one Norwegian, one Carnival and then 7 Disney in a row. Once we went on Disney, there was no turning back – it just really was that different and that worth it for us (and we don’t even have any kids!). It does typically cost more (if you go off season the prices can sometimes be closer to comparable, still will cost more, but at least closer) but I think there are also a lot of reasons why people are willing to pay more for it. Kind of a bummer for your clients that you would never recommend Disney, especially if they only go on cruises that you recommend.

      1. I offer my clients Disney, with the caveat that they will pay a premium. I priced out Disney and Ovation for this week and it was almost double what we paid. The attitude of Disney to travel agents is “We are Disney. If you don’t like what we tell you, go someplace else.” Hey, if you have no kids, give Celebrity or Viking Ocean a try. If you want to see Alaska the right way sail on Holland America out of Vancouver. That’s the real Alaska.

  5. Robert Roth


    My kids are teens, so we didn’t experience the issues you had with younger ones. They loved the teen club and had a great time with their new friends there. My oldest daughter (past teen club age) loves shows, and she got into every one, Pixels with a reservation, and all others without one, and had no issues. I had the same concerns with iFly and Northstar pre-cruise with reservations (sold out day they were offered, apparently), but I researched an Ovation Facebook group, and learned you can book both as soon as you board, either on the Royal IQ app or at a location on deck 4. We went to deck 4 and got both reserved right away.

    1. Booking on boarding was our plan as well but because we were stopped for the Nexus screw-up, we missed that window. Our real problem was with the people who got to do iFly three times when my kids couldn’t get on it. And they lost my kid’s reservations for Pixels and that took me an hour in Guest Relations fixing that. One screw up after another on RCL’s part.

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