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Ovation of the Seas

Royal Caribbean gets CDC approval to start test sailings on Ovation of the Seas


Another Royal Caribbean cruise ship has a test sailing scheduled.

Royal Caribbean confirmed on Thursday that Ovation of the Seas has received permission from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to start test cruises.

Ovation is one of a half dozen ships within the Royal Caribbean fleet to have gotten approval to start test cruises so far.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley confirmed the news on Facebook, along with sail dates.

Ovation will sail from Seattle to Alaska on July 30 to August 4th.

"Onwards and upwards ship by ship," Mr. Bayley added with the news.

Simulated voyages (also known as test cruises) are when cruise lines can operate ships with volunteer passengers in order to prove their new protocols work.

Read moreEverything you need to know about Royal Caribbean test cruises

These are not cruises you can book, but rather, are limited voyages where a cruise line invites certain unpaid volunteers to help go through all the necessary steps and procedures to ensure cruise ships can be run safely.

Each cruise ship needs to be approved by the CDC in order to conduct test cruises.

During these test cruises, Royal Caribbean will go through a variety of scenarios to prove to the CDC that the ship can conduct sailings in a safe manner. Specifically, the new protocols aimed at preventing Covid-19 from getting onboard the ship are at the heart of these dry runs.

Each ship must conduct at least one simulated cruise, and each voyage must be between 2-7 days in length with a least one overnight stay, including through embarkation, disembarkation, and post-disembarkation testing.

According to the CDC, passengers and crew must meet standards during the simulated voyage for hand hygiene, use of face masks, and social distancing for passengers and crew, as well as ship sanitation.

Royal Caribbean must modify meal service and entertainment venues to facilitate social distancing during the simulated voyage.

Royal Caribbean releases Alaska cruise ship protocols for August sailings


Royal Caribbean sent guests booked on Alaska cruises in August a list of health protocols to expect onboard its sailings.

As ships are restarting operations, Royal Caribbean is sending out what health protocols for booked passengers on these sailings can expect and typically for each month.

The cruise line says these new protocols are especially important to unvaccinated children who are between the ages of 2 and 11.

This information only applies to sailings departing from Seattle in August 2021.

Vaccine requirements

All guests 12 years and older are required to bring proof of vaccination, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 vaccination record card, with the final dose of the vaccine completed at least 14 days before sailing. 


At the terminal: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years are required to take a PCR test for COVID-19 when checking in at the terminal. Registration details for this test will be sent via email in advance. 

Prior to disembarking: Unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 years are required to take an antigen test onboard within 24 hours of the end of voyage. Vaccinated guests who require an antigen or PCR test for entry into their destination country may receive one onboard at no charge. Registration details will be provided during the cruise. 

Face masks

When indoors, CDC guidelines require all guests 2 years and older to wear masks unless they are actively eating or drinking.

The CDC makes allowances for guests to remove their masks in venues and events dedicated to fully vaccinated parties. Royal Caribbean says vaccinated guests will find "plenty of these opportunities".

Masks are not required in your client's stateroom when they are with their traveling party or outside on the open decks, unless in a crowded setting. Updates will be shared as changes to CDC mask guidelines occur.


For Main Dining, Royal Caribbean will designate areas for everyone, including parents and unvaccinated children, and areas for vaccinated parties only.

My Time Dining will not be available to parties that include unvaccinated guests. 

Some specialty restaurants will be open to everyone, while others will be for vaccinated parties only.

Windjammer will be open to everyone for breakfast and lunch, and the food will be served by crew members.

Royal Caribbean recommends to make dining reservations via Cruise Planner before the cruise or the Royal Caribbean app onboard.

Grab-and-go cafes will also be available for everyone.

Other venues onboard the ship

Theaters and activity venues will offer spaced seating with options for everyone and for vaccinated guests only. You will be able to make reservations for shows via the Royal Caribbean app.

Spa services, except those offered in treatment rooms, are available to everyone.

The Fitness Center will have dedicated operating hours for everyone as well as hours reserved for vaccinated guests only. 

The Casino will be open to vaccinated guests only.

Youth spaces will be open to all children and teens.         

Shore excursions

Fully vaccinated parties have the choice of booking a shore excursion or visiting freely.

Parties that wish to go ashore and include any unvaccinated guests, including parents traveling with unvaccinated children, must book a shore excursion through Royal Caribbean.

Vaccinated parents wishing to go ashore freely can drop kids off at Adventure Ocean and reserve time for their child on the day they wish to go in port.

Other protocols

Check out health protocols from other ships already announced:

Ovation of the Seas enters dry dock for routine five year maintenance


The cruise industry remains shutdown, but regular maintenance continues for ships to keep them operational when cruises do begin again.

Ovation of the Seas is in dry dock currently in the Tuas Shipyard in Singapore for her routine refurbishment.

Unlike amplifications, this is a "technical dry dock", where the ship undergoes maintenance work to ensure she can continue to operate normally. Every five years, cruise ships go in for this sort of maintenance.

Ovation of the Seas was launched in 2016, so it is her turn to undergo work now.

Our friends at Singapore Cruise Society found photos of Ovation of the Seas entering dry dock and shared a glimpse of Ovation in position to get work done.

Pictures By Vincent CLS and shared by Singapore Cruise Society

No changes have been announced for the ship as part of this refurbishment, and I expect this will be just "under the hood" type maintenance, similar to when you bring a car in for a tune-up.

While Royal Caribbean has put all Royal Amplifications on hold indefinitely, scheduled maintenance work continues on its cruise ships.

So far Anthem of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, and Explorer of the Seas all had their five year dry docks take place while the cruise industry was shutdown.

Comparing the Royal Caribbean ships sailing in Alaska 2021


If a Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska is in the plans for 2021, then you have two great ships to consider.

Emerging from the cruise industry shutdown of 2020, Royal Caribbean will sail two ships to Alaska that offer roundtrip cruises from Seattle.

Each of these ships offers onboard activities, signature attractions and specialty dining options that will compliment a vacation to the Last Frontier quite well.

Since there are a few different options for a Royal Caribbean Alaska cruise, here is a breakdown of what to expect from each.

Ovation of the Seas

Homeport: Seattle, Washington

Ports: Juneau, Skagway, the Inside Passage, Sitka, Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier

Once again, Royal Caribbean will send its Quantum Class favorite to Alaska to offer 7-night Alaska Glacier cruises .

Ovation of the Seas is one of the largest ships in the region, offering some of the latest innovations Royal Caribbean is known for onboard the ship. 

Being a Quantum Class ship, Quantum of the Seas offers a ton to experience onboard, which is perfect for families.

  • North Star observational pod takes guests 300 feet above sea level.
  • FlowRider surf simulator
  • Ripcord by iFly sky diving simulator
  • Izumi sushi
  • Chops Grille steakhouse
  • Jamie's Italian restaurant
  • Two70 theater
  • SeaPlex indoor gymnasium that offers basketball, roller skating, bumper cars and more.
  • Indoor pool for all ages
  • Solarium indoor pool for adults-only
  • Adventure Ocean childrens programming
  • Nursery for babies
  • Outdoor movie screen

Sailing from Seattle, getting to Ovation of the Seas by air is the least-expensive and most convenient choice of Royal Caribbean's Alaska fleet. Flights within the United States tend to be cheaper to Seattle, compared to Vancouver departures.

Why pick Ovation of the Seas

Ovation of the Seas offers the greatest variety of activities, things to do and dining on a Royal Caribbean ship to Alaska. This means you are not compromising on the onboard experience by picking Ovation.

In fact, it is among the newest and largest ships to sail to Alaska, which means guests used to a certain level of amenities on their Royal Caribbean cruises in the Caribbean will not miss a beat.

The indoor pools for guests of all ages and the indoor SeaPlex provide significantly more activities for guests in a place where rain and chilly temperatures are constantly present. Pool deck life on other ships is nearly nonexistent compared to Ovation.

Moreover, the ship sails from the convenient port of Seattle, which makes airfare cheaper and more plentiful for Americans.

Serenade of the Seas

Homeport: Seattle, Washington

Ports: Juneau, Skagway, the Inside Passage.

Serenade of the Seas is returning to Alaska for the second year in a row, and she will offer 7-night Alaska Glacier Experience roundtrip sailings from Vancouver, British Columbia.

An Alaska cruise on Serenade of the Seas will offer sailings that cover 500 miles of shoreline that is the Inside Passage, calling on Ketchikan, Juneau and Icy Strait Point, Alaska, from Vancouver.

Serenade of the Seas is best known for:

  • Solarium indoor pool for adults-only
  • Chops Grille steakhouse
  • Giovanni's Table Italian restaurant
  • Izumi sushi
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Indoor movie theater
  • An abundance of glass walls and windows to provide views of the outdoors
  • Helipad access at bow of the ship for viewing
  • Mini golf
  • Adventure Ocean childrens programming
  • Nursery for babies
  • Outdoor movie screen

Why pick Serenade of the Seas

A Radiance Class ship is also famous for the views you can enjoy throughout the ship, since glass is incorporated in many places.  Views around the ship while still inside are plentiful.

More Alaska cruise info

Want to learn more about a Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska, as well as helpful tips and secrets? Check out these blog posts:

New Zealand volcano erupts while Royal Caribbean ship is nearby


A volcano in New Zealand erupted on Monday, coinciding with a nearby visit by Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas.

Ovation of the Seas was in the port of Tauranga, a coastal city about 90 km (56 miles) from White Island. White Island (or Whakaari) is one of New Zealand’s most iconic, active, volcanoes that you can visit by boat. 

Authorities report around 50 people were on White Island when the eruption took place, and CNN reports more than 30 passengers were there from Ovation of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean's Australia website posted an update at 7:30pm AEDT:

During Ovation of the Seas call to Tauranga today, a shore tour was visiting White Island at the time of the volcanic eruption earlier this afternoon. We do not have any additional details to share at this time. Ovation of the Seas will remain in Tauranga overnight until we learn more about the situation. We will offer all possible assistance to our guests and local authorities. Please keep all those affected in your prayers.

AU Crisis Hotline: 1300 026 240

NZ Crisis Hotline: 0800 002 141

Royal Caribbean issued a statement about the incident:

We can confirm that a number of our guests were touring the island today. We do not have any additional details to share at this time.

Ovation of the Seas will remain overnight until we learn more about the situation. We will offer all possible assistance to our guests and local authorities.

Please keep all those affected in your prayers.


We are devastated by today’s events and our hearts go out to all those affected by this tragedy.

We are working together with local authorities, and we are providing all the help and care we can to our guests and their families, including offering medical resources and counseling. We are also sending staff members from both our ship and our Sydney and Auckland offices to assist family members however possible. 


Ovation of the Seas will remain in port as long as needed to assist with the situation.

Family members concerned about the status of relatives traveling aboard Ovation of the Seas may inquire by calling the following numbers:

Australia – 1-300-026-240
New Zealand – 0800-002141
USA - 800 829 4050
Germany 0800-180-0885
UK 0-800-014-8339
Mexico 01-800-681-5336
China 400-120-3534
Japan 0800-170-6282
Singapore 65-31582855

Noon update: Royal Caribbean has issued a new statement on the developing situation in New Zealand.

The news from White Island is devastating. The details that are emerging are heartbreaking.


We are working to help our guests and the authorities in the aftermath of this tragedy in any way we can.


We are communicating with our guests and their families. We’re making sure they are taken care of in terms of medical help, counseling, accommodations, and transport. Our hearts go out to them, and we want to be as supportive as we can.


Staff from our Sydney and Auckland offices office are already onsite, and we’re going to be offering all our resources while this terrible tragedy sorts out.


We are grateful for the work of all the first responders and medical personnel. We also thank the prime minister and her team, the local authorities and everyone who has reached out to help with their kind thoughts and prayers.

Royal Caribbean adds Ovation of the Seas to new app


Royal Caribbean has expanded its new app to include support for Ovation of the Seas.

Ovation now appears in the list of supported ships that can be found from within the app.

The new app is being actively developed, which means not all features area available on the app yet.  Moreover, the cruise line is slowly rolling out support for more ships.

The app is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Review: North Star Alaska Experience on Ovation of the Seas


Royal Caribbean has introduced a new Alaskan experience on it’s newest and largest ship to visit Alaska Ovation of the Seas.  The North Star Alaskan Experience is offered in addition to the customary and complimentary North Star Experience offered to guests on some Quantum class ships.  The new North Star Alaskan Experience is offered when the ship calls on Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier during the summer Alaska cruise season. 

The Alaskan edition of the North Star Experience is offered at an additional charge and timed to occur during the ship’s visit to Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier.   Unlike the complimentary North Star experience the Alaskan experience ride extends over the sides of the ship giving participants unparalleled views of the ship and the surroundings.  Float over the side of the ship as pieces of glaciers float by below you.  

The North Star Alaskan Experience begins with complimentary hot chocolate in an exclusive area of the North Star Bar for participants while they wait for their North Star Alaskan Experience.

The initial offering of the North Star Alaskan Experience is priced at $49 per person for adult or child with up to fourteen guests per ride. The experience is shared with any other guests who book the same time.

The North Star Alaskan Experience lasts approximately 15 to 20 minutes and begins by rising to a height of approximately 250 feet above sea level where the North Star turns and extends over the side of the ship.  This position is held for a few minutes giving participants an incredible view of the ship and surroundings before the North Star climbs to a height of approximately 300 feet above sea level.

 After several minutes the North Star lowers and extends over the opposite side of the ship at approximately 250 feet above seal level before eventually returning to center and gently lowering back to it’s starting position.


The North Star Alaskan Experience is available while the ship is within Endicott Arm during the approach and departure from Dawes Glacier and it is available while the ship is at Dawes Glacier.  Both offer a unique and different perspective.  On the Ovation of the Seas initial visit to Dawes Glacier the rides starting between 9am and 10am offered views of Dawes Glacier while the rides before and after featured views of Endicott Arm.  This will vary from sailing to sailing depending on time of arrival and ice conditions.

Guests interested in the complimentary North Star Experience will find the North Star available based on reservations at certain times and purely on a walk up basis at other times.  A standby line is available during reservation based times for last minute guests on a space available basis.  The complimentary North Star Experience does not extend over the sides of the ship.  

Limited reservations are usually offered in the Cruise Planner before sailing while the majority of North Star reservations are offered only on board once the cruise has started.  Reservations can be made by visiting the temporary Box Office kiosks upon boarding on embarkation day.

The North Star Alaskan Experience is only offered on Ovation of the Seas and it’s a unique perspective to an Alaska cruise available on no other ship or cruise line.  

First look: Ovation of the Seas visits Alaska glaciers


Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas has begun sailing her inaugural season in Alaska, and she is the first Quantum Class ship to offer cruises in the region.

When you combine the natural splendor and beauty of Alaska with one of the world's most advanced cruise ships, the result is a fantastic view.

Royal Caribbean crew ambassador Stephen Burke snapped these photos of Hubbard Glacier from Ovation of the Seas on her recent visit.

With the highest vantage point on any cruise ship, the North Star – the ship’s signature glass observation capsule with panoramic views from 300 feet above sea level – is the “best seat in the house” for guests to take in the majestic mountains, eye-catching glaciers and diverse wildlife native to the state’s stunning landscape.

This year marks Ovation of the Seas' first season offering cruises to The Last Frontier, with 7-night itineraries to destinations from Juneau to Victoria, British Columbia

Ovation will return to Alaska in 2020 for her second consecutive season to offer cruises through the region’s untouched wilds on 7-night itineraries from Seattle, Washington.

Spotted: North Star Alaska Experience on Ovation of the Seas


Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas has begun her inaugural season in Alaska this year, and guests sailing on her can enjoy an incomparable view of the glaciers.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader twangster shared with us a new activity to reserve via the Royal iQ app or the shore excursions tablets onboard, North Star Alaska Experience.

For $49 per person, you can take a ride up in North Star while the ship visits a glacier and take in a view of this natural wonder 300 feet above sea level.

This North Star experience is available while the ship visits Hubbard Glacier or Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier.

Ovation of the Seas makes inaugural sailing to Vancouver


Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas arrived  into Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada after passing under the Lions Gate Bridge, becoming the largest cruise ship to visit Vancouver.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader twangster shared with us photos of Ovation of the Seas arriving into Vancouver.

Ovation made history earlier in the day when she became the largest cruise ship to visit Victoria, British Columbia some 61 nautical miles away.  Both cities mark her first ever visit to Canada.  Victoria will be a regular stop on her summer itineraries to Alaska from Seattle while Vancouver will be the gateway used for her Hawaii repositioning cruises at the beginning and end of the Alaska cruise season.