Two of Sydney’s biggest maritime visitors arrive today and tomorrow as the summer season starts in earnest. Majestic Princess and Ovation of the Seas are rivals for the crown of King or Queen of Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal.
Making her way from the Pacific to her homeport of Sydney, Majestic Princess will depart on November 20 for the last sail of the spring, heading to Tasmania and returning via Eden over seven nights.
Meanwhile, Ovation of the Seas has arrived via French Polynesia, and will depart Sydney on a 10-night cruise to New Zealand on November 23 before its summer opener with a nine-night South Pacific Cruise on December 3. Majestic Princess will follow in her wake with a voyage to New Zealand on November 27.
Majestic Princess weighs 143,700 tons and spans 330m (1083 feet) in length, with a height of 68m (224 feet).
Also, she is the third largest vessel in the Princess Cruises fleet with 19 expansive decks. She had her maiden voyage back in 2017.
In contrast Ovation of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean Line ship and part of the Quantum Class, is much bigger. Ovation weighs in at a massive 168,666 tons and is 347m (1138 feet) long. At 92m its North Star gondola capsule is higher than a Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon. Ovation of the Seas has a total of 16 decks and, launched in 2016, is just a year older than Majestic Princess.
Majestic Princess has 1780 cabins, 80 per cent of which have private balconies. The stateroom categories include a total of 36 Suites with private balconies, 374 Mini-suites, 312 Deluxe Balcony cabins, 716 Balcony cabins, 342 Inside cabins, and 38 wheel-chair accessible cabins.
Additionally, Majestic Princess also has 10 interconnecting balcony cabins and 10 interconnecting mini-suite cabins which are ideal for families and groups. The ship can accommodate up to 3560 passengers.
Meanwhile, Ovation of the Seas offers a total of 2091 staterooms which include 129 Suites, 1436 Balcony, 148 Oceanview, 378 Inside cabins and 28 Studios. Moreover, Ovation of the Seas has 16 family-connected 3-bedroom Junior Suites. Furthermore, the ship has a total of 22 ADA-certified wheelchair cabins.
This RCL owned Ovation can accommodate a total of 4905 passengers and 1500 crew.
Majestic Princess features an array of free dining options. For those who like things to be more traditional, such as waiter service, they may want to proceed to one of the three main dining rooms: Symphony, Allegro and Concerto. If guests want to go to a casual buffet, there’s always the World Fresh Marketplace.
In addition, the ship is also known for its specialty dining selections like Michelin-starred The Harmony that serves classic Chinese cuisine created by chef Richard Chen. Other options include Bistro Sur La Mer, The Crown Grill and Chef’s Table.
Ovation of the Seas, on the other hand, has a number of complimentary restaurants including the main dining hall which is divided into four free dining hubs: The Grande, Chic, Silk and American Icon Grill. There’s also an array of snacks at the Cafe Promenade offered throughout the day.
In addition, Ovation of the Seas also boasts for-a-fee restaurants including La Patisserie, Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver, Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, Izumi Japanese Cuisine and Chef’s Table.
Aside from the usual pool decks, recreational hubs, fitness centres, casino, spa, bars and lounges that are offered by most cruise ships, both Majestic Princess and Ovation of the Seas also boast some pioneering features.
One first-at-sea feature in Majestic Princess is the over-the-ocean glass walkway called the Seawalk. It stretches for 18m (60 feet), jutting out 39m (128 feet) above the waves and extending 8.5m (28 feet) beyond the ship’s edge. Moreover, the enclosed adults-only spaces like the Hollywood Pool Club and Hollywood Conservatory offer a Hollywood vibe and a relaxing ambience to guests onboard.
Ovation of the Seas also a lot to offer when it comes to activities and entertainment. There’s the SeaPlex for family activities which can transform into a basketball court, a roller-skating rink or a bumper-car hub. Quantum classics such as the heavy guest-favourite the 12+-metre-long surf simulator, the robotic-mixology at Bionic Bar, tech-infused show at Two70, and the 91+ metres above sea level the North Star which is the tallest viewing deck on a cruise ship.
WiFi fees for both Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean vary, depending on the number of devices used and the type of internet package guests want to purchase.
Majestic Princess’ MedallionNet is one of the most affordable internet services which enables guests to stream videos, post photos and even video chat.
In comparison, Ovation of the Seas’ VOOM is said to be the fastest WiFi at sea compared to any other cruise line. VOOM comes with two levels of service – the Surf package which enables guests to browse and check their emails. The next level is the more expensive Surf + Stream package which enables guests to stream movies and host video chats.
Princess Cruises has Crew Appreciation, a standard gratuity rate which is automatically added to the guests’ onboard account. The standard gratuity rate for Interior, Oceanview, and Balcony categories is $16 per person, per day, for guests booked in Mini-Suite and Club Class it is $17 and the Suite category is $18 per person, per day.
Furthermore, a non-refundable service charge of 17-18 per cent is added to several optional purchases. For example, for Specialty Dining and Specialty Food Items, the surcharge is 17%. Additionally, Drink Packages, Drinks, Corkage fees, Private Group Functions, and Spa services have a surcharge of 18%.
Ovation of the Seas also imposes an automatic gratuity rate of $16 per guest, per day for non-Suite staterooms. In contrast, guests booked into Suites are individually charged $18.50 per day.
Also, there is an 18 per cent service fee automatically added to all beverages, mini bar items and spa and salon purchases. The gratuity policy in Royal Caribbean applies to all individual passengers regardless of age and stateroom categories.
In booking for a cruise adventure, guests are always encouraged to do it ahead of time to avail for cheaper packages. As the time of writing, here are price estimates for some of the cruises currently being offered by both ships:
For a 7-day Tasmanian cruise, the lowest “no frills” fare is $953 for Balcony accommodation (Interior is already sold out). The ship departs Sydney on November 20, 2023. A later 7-day Tasmanian Cruise scheduled for a February 23, 2024 departure is priced at only $494.
Ovation of the Seas
A 9-night South Pacific Cruise departing December 3, 2023 is now priced at $1873 per person. A final 2023 11-night cruise to New Zealand scheduled to depart December 12, is priced at $2449 for Balcony accommodation.
Later in 2024, a 7-night Tasmania & Adelaide Cruise scheduled for a November 21 departure is priced at $1297.