The biggest cruise ship ever to come to Australia arrives in December, when Ovation of the Seas makes its maiden voyage. John Burfitt went onboard for a sneak preview.
There is something wonderfully exhilarating about being high up in the sky, looking out over the ocean and seeing nothing but the blue sea stretching out in all directions beneath my feet, with only clouds and the sky above.
It’s a sensation I am experiencing while 90 metres above the deck of the new superliner Ovation of the Seas, somewhere far out in the Yellow Sea. The sky-high view is courtesy of the North Star glass capsule, one of the many tricks this liner has up its finely shaped nautical sleeves.
On approach, the capsule and the long arm that transports it into the sky looks like something from War of the Worlds, but the view it offers is more out of this world, and totally befitting of a ship that cost $1 billion to realise.
Ovation of the Seas has been doing trial runs around Asia and it will leave Singapore in late November and make stops at Fremantle, Adelaide and Hobart, before sailing into Sydney Harbour on 15 December.
The arrival of this new ship comes with a promise that it will ‘reinvent’ holidays on the high seas with a new style of travel known as ‘supercruising’.
At 348 metres long, 41 metres wide and complete with 18 decks to house almost 5000 guests, it will be the biggest and most technologically advanced cruise ship to ever grace our shores.
One promise it definitely delivers upon is that there is enough going on to make this an adventure holiday. The North Star might sit at the pinnacle as the top trick on the ship, but there are plenty of other attractions – or should that be distractions?
At the stern of the boat are two of the best – the surf-simulator FlowRider, which offers a surfing experience while overlooking the wake behind the ship, and the skydiving iFly in which blasts of air in a glass enclosure keep you aloft.
On the same deck is the SeaPlex, an indoor active space that hosts everything from dodgem cars and roller-skating to a basketball court.
Then there’s the automated cocktail-shaking of the Bionic Bar, where two robotic bartenders shake, muddle and mix a wide variety of drinks. It’s a perfect way to start the evening before making a choice from any of the 18 dining venues onboard.
But it could just be the all-encompassing view of the ocean that is the greatest show of all. For my mind it’s best witnessed from the privacy of a stateroom balcony. Watching the ocean wake up with dawn’s light proves a super sight on this ultimate of supercruisers.
There are a wide variety of voyages available on Ovation of the Seas during the 2017/2018 summer season, but if you are a cruise novice and worried whether this is the holiday for you, or you just want to have a look at what a $1 billion supercruiser looks like, you should consider the clever three-night Sampler Cruise with prices starting at $338.