“Cruises are for the retirees,” said my close friend when he was advising on a slow, relaxing holiday, “and you should not go on a cruise that is more than 5 days. You will be sick of the food on board by Day 2!”
I broke all the rules and went on a 10 day cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore, stopping along the way in Hainan, Hoi An, Ho Chi Min and finally in Singapore.
Ovation of the Seas is the latest Quantum class board from Royal Caribbean cruise line, this is a floating condominium that accommodates more than 3000 guests and 1200 staff at any one point in time.
Dining options on Ovation differ slightly from its sister ships due to its China home base. Johnny Rockets (a mainstay of the Royal Caribbean fleet) has been replaced by the colourful Kung Fu Panda Noodle Shop, and the Windjammer Marketplace has the addition of a dedicated Asian food station.
The Free Ones
The mix of free options ranges from the expansive Windjammer Marketplace buffet restaurant to venues serving light bites and grab-and-go snacks, a classic hot-dog truck, a pizzeria and a 24-hour cafe. There are also four restaurants with different decor (but serving the same menu), which take the place of a main dining room.
Ovation of the Seas gives passengers the option to choose from two dining seating times — early or late — or a flexible option, which means you can eat at different times and with different table companions each evening. There is no main dining room (MDR). Instead, people are spread across these four main restaurants: The Grande (not available to our group), Chic (not available to our group), Silk and American Icon Grill. The basic menus are the same throughout these four with slight variations to each.
American Icon Grill
American Icon Grill is a homage to American style comfort food. Serving two rotating menus for dinner and dessert during our cruise, it also offered a standard set of classic menu options. It is recommended that you make reservations to secure your ideal dining time. Opposite Silk, this eatery has lots of American art on the walls and room dividers that gives the restaurant a more intimate feel. Window tables are lovely and worth waiting a few extra minutes for.
No longer an Asian restaurant, Silk still has rich, ornate Chinese decor in shades of red and gold, which seems incongruous given the modern American menu just for this cruise as they were short of manpower. Not sure if it will revert to an Asian menu after Covid.
The Paid Ones
Ovation’s for-a-fee restaurants offer a very different culinary experience, including a more intimate atmosphere, really personal service, top-notch food.
Reservations for these restaurants can be made ahead of the cruise, onboard at guest services, at the restaurants or via the Royal IQ. However, it is definitely worth booking ahead in order to avoid disappointment, particularly for speciality restaurants such as Wonderland.
Jamie’s Italian is celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s take on rustic, Northern Italian cuisine. In my opinion, this is the best restaurant on board. Bring your appetite, and be sure to save some room for dessert.
A fanciful dining experience, Wonderland is a one of a kind dining experience that was first debuted on Quantum of the Seas. Not part of the package, you will need to pay extra or buy a dining package to enjoy an experimental menu that is a culinary masterpiece sure to please all of the senses. Be warned, it may be interesting, but not everything is nice.
This pan-Asian eatery is centred around a large sushi bar. Izumi is only separated from the upper level of the Royal Esplanade by shiny red screens, so this is not a place to come for a quiet meal. Izumi offers a pan-Asian menu, though the bulk of the items are Japanese.
Chops Grille steak house is located near the Schooner Bar. While it is tucked away in a corner, don’t let that fool you; this restaurant is home to fine steaks and seafood, grilled to perfection.
Dates of cruising : 23 -30 Nov 2016