By Peter Lynch
Royal Caribbean has announced the billion-dollar smart ship “Ovation of the Seas” is proving such a hit with Southeast Asians that she will be homeported in Singapore for a further 10 cruises during 2017.
The iconic new ship, which is proving an amazing draw card wherever she docks. is sailing sell-out cruises from Singapore this week and next, according to Sean Treacy, Royal Caribbean’s Managing Director for Singapore & Southeast Asia
She has already had her stay in Sydney, Australia extended for 2016/17 – and the line’s Australia and New Zealand boss Adam Armstrong was on hand to explain her appeal had gone Down Under. Two weeks ago, he announced the 2017/18 Sydney season was also being extended.
With her North Star observation platform perched 92 metres above the sea and her surf pool in full swing, the cruising star of Asia made her maiden arrival in Singapore to a Lion Dance welcome and a welcome ceremony attended by over 200 government and industry partners.
She will be christened in Tianjin, China on June 24, 2016 by Chinese acting superstar Fan BingBing.
Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive of Singapore Tourism Board, described the arrival as a “momentous day”
At 347m long, 168,666 gross registered tonnes, carrying 4,905 guests in total and laden with first-at sea features and technologies, the smart ship will be the largest and most technologically-advanced ship to call Singapore – and Sydney home next year.
Over 10 sailings from March to April 2017, Ovation of the Seas is expected to add 42,000 additional guests to the Singapore cruising scene.
She will offer return trips ranging from 3 to 5 nights to Penang, Phuket, Bangkok (Laem Chabang), and a one-way cruise to Tianjin with calls at Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My) for an overnight, Hue/Danang (Chan May), Hong Kong and Seoul (Incheon).
Royal Caribbean’s Senior Vice President, International Gavin Smith said: “Joining Mariner of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas, the addition of Ovation of the Seas means we will have the largest cruise fleet deployment of any brand in Southeast Asia.”
He said it would add 30 percent capacity to the local market and give the line the largest cruise fleet, presenting an investment of $1.5 billion in the region.
The 18-deck vessel features many firsts, including ‘Two70’ – a S$18.5 million hi-tech entertainment venue; cocktails served by robots at the ‘Bionic Bar’; skydiving and surfing experiences; luxurious Loft suites with large living areas and private concierge service; and ‘SeaPlex’, the largest indoor activity space at sea – housing a basketball court, circus school, roller-skating, bumper cars, and more.
She also has 18 restaurants with cuisines from around the globe, including imaginative cuisine at Wonderland, and Jamie’s Italian by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver; the fastest internet connection speeds at sea; and a collection of artwork valued at more than S$6 million.
Ovation of the Seas sailed on a 3-night cruise to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), where there were more rounds of applause as Malaysia too fell under her spell. Aboard were a record 4,576 guests.
She will depart for her summer Tianjin season on a 12-night repositioning sailing on June 12, calling at Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My), Hong Kong (overnight), Xiamen and Seoul (Incheon). She will also make a repositioning cruise back to Singapore later this year.