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twangster

Ovation Vancouver to Hawaii Sept, 20, 2019 - Recap

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In case you missed it @PCWalton1 did a great job with his live trip report during this same cruise.  You can find that here:

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2696959-live-ovation-of-the-seas-20-30-sept-2019-our-not-normal-cruise-to-hawaii/

 

This recap is from the same cruise.  I am posting it now that the cruise is complete so hopefully it will provide another perspective and some coverage for the Royal excursions that I did.

 

With the above trip report so complete I'll skip much of the details and just hit the highlights with pictures.

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I flew into Vancouver the day before on September 19 and stayed at the Hilton Vancouver Airport.  It's significantly cheaper staying out by the airport compared to downtown.  I thought about going over to the Lions Gate Bridge for Ovation's arrival into Vancouver like I did in May but low tide this time around was ~4am and that's when she would pass under the bridge so I stayed in bed.  

 

The last time I boarded Ovation in Vancouver I arrived at Canada Place to board at 9am.  I had a long wait inside a small waiting area so this time I left my hotel around 10:15am and took the Skytrain to Waterfront station for all of $3.12 USD.   From Waterfront station I walked over to Canada Place.  I knew the routine from last time, down to the P2 parking deck to drop luggage, back up to Hall C to check in (agent with tablet for a 30 second check in), down one level to security and US Customs to pre-clear back into the US.  This time my timing was perfect, they were just beginning to board as I reached the waiting area.   

 

My first stop on board was to re-code an old Wow band to my account.  With SeaPass cards distributed outside cabins that meant I wouldn't get it until later but with a Wow band I was able to access the Diamond Lounge and hang out there until cabins were ready. 

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Cabin Tour.  Deck 12 standard balcony - 12552.

 

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View aft.

 

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View down to the sea.

 

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View forward.

 

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Vancouver is a great embarkation port and a beautiful city.

 

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The last time I was on Ovation they were building the Fish and Ships restaurant on deck 14 by the pool.  This time it was open so I tried the basic fish and chips that included in the cruise fare.  It's small but a good snack size.  If you want a full meal I'd order two.  

 

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As sail away approached the upper decks grew more crowded.

 

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With that our sail away commenced and we headed towards the Lions Gate Bridge.

 

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As if there was any doubt we cleared with ease and made our way into Burrard Inlet.

 

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It's a very pretty sail away leaving Vancouver.

 

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I enjoyed some balcony time taking in the scenery.

 

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These pictures don't do the majesty of it all any justice.

 

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The end of day one turned into night.

 

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North Star was running on a walk up basis so why not?

 

I didn't realize it until later but I caught the reflection of the monitor with the North Star logo in this shot.

 

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Hard to see in this photo but the night sky was full of stars.

 

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The North Star Bar remains a favorite with incredible views and it's lightly used at night.   

 

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Unfortunately it's nearing the end of the Milky Way season in the Northern hemisphere but I did catch the dipper from my balcony.  

 

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Day Two - Seattle

 

We arrived early at around 5am. A low cloud cover hung over the city like a fog.

 

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They had a lot to load onto the ship.  While we loaded passengers and luggage in Vancouver we didn't load any other supplies or fuel in Vancouver.  Instead that would be done today.  The cruise goes on past Hawaii to Sydney.  I suspect they have loaded as much frozen and non-perishables as they could to minimize having to re-supply everything in Hawaii.  

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Future of Flight and Boeing Factory Tour

 

Meeting in the theater we were eventually led out to our bus for the ~45 minute drive North to Everett, WA.  

 

They don't allow cameras or phones on the factory tour but you can use them in the tour entrance building and outdoor observation deck.  

 

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Historic Paine field where many wide body Boeing jets have taken their first flight after leaving the factory assembling building to the left and the paint building near center across the runway. 

 

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There are over 30 finished planes waiting for delivery to their future airlines.

 

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The gray planes are refueling tankers for the Air Force.  The white planes with their wing tips turned up are early 777X test planes.  The 777X will release next year, it's currently in development.  The plane uses extra long composite wings for increased lift but to fit in at existing airports the last 11 feet of the wing turn upward on the ground so they can fit at normal gates.

 

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Another early model 777X clad in the green protective vinyl coating that is applied during the assembly process to prevent dings and scratches on the factory floor. 

 

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The two paint buildings where all wide body jets made here are painted.

 

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Inside the tour building they have some displays including a full size 747-8 tail.  

 

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Up close you realize just how massive it is.

 

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The next generation of the popular wide body 777 will be the 777X. 

 

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Tail section of fuselage from the inside.

 

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What the wall of the plane looks like without the decorative panels we all see when we fly. 

 

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This 787X has been clad with a body wrap graphics instead of using paint.  Paint adds significant weight that is carried like cargo.  By reducing weight over the lifecycle of a plane airlines can save money. 

 

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Free lockers are provided for personal items since nothing is allowed on the tour (no purses, bags, cameras, phones, etc). 

 

The factory tour consisted of a bus ride over to the factory assembly buildings  We walked through a tunnel to a freight elevator where we went up to an observation floor overlooking the factory floor.  It's amazing to see so many very large wide body jets being built.  First up was the 747 and 767 assembly lines.  Next we went to the 777 assembly line.  Pretty mind blowing.  Unfortunately no pictures.  The tour lasted 90 minutes before we were bused back to the tour entrance building.  

 

The tour is $25 booked directly.  I paid $82 on sale through Royal, regular price was $109 but that includes transportation both ways.

 

I looked at Uber while there and it was $87 one way.  For me solo it made sense booking it through Royal as I couldn't get there and back for the $57 difference. 

 

For a family a rental car for the day might make more sense combined with buying the tour directly.  They do have a height requirement though so small kids wouldn't be able to go and would probably be bored.      

 

It was popular enough to warrant two excursion times.  There were 50 guests on the 8am time slot.  Unsure about the later time.  

 

No traffic on the way there on a Saturday morning but we hit traffic on the way back.  It's Seattle, so traffic is a thing even on weekends.  

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Back to the ship around 1:30pm in time for lunch and a picture of the ongoing loading of supplies for the long repositioning cruise.

 

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With no luggage to load they could devote the entire day to loading cargo and supplies.

 

Some sail away drama as four returning guests were missing.  You know what that means... pier runners!

 

As it turns out some of these guests are a few doors down from me.  I saw security knock and then enter their cabin looking for them.  They were documenting everything with their body cameras.  On a another cruise I learned the process they follow that most of us never see when guests are late returning to the ship.   The security officers stayed outside the cabin waiting for instructions to retrieve passports and wallets from the safe.  Those would be left with the port agent at the pier should the ship leave without the guests.

 

 

 

After the first two missing guests arrived Captain Henrik announced the other two missing guests had contacted the ship and were enroute.  

 

We waited for them and left 70 minutes late.   A dock worker played the Sax as we pulled away from the pier.

 

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Finally underway now following the NCL Joy that should have been long after us.

 

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Dinner in the Solarium Bistro. 

 

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Dinner is part buffet style and part full service for entrees.  Order your main entree then grab your own appetizers from the buffet.  I was able to use a Diamond happy hour drink for a glass of wine. 

 

There are two items, Lobster Tails and Lamb Chops that cost extra.  Other than those extra cost items the meal is included in your base cruise fare.

 

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The New York Strip is not of my favorite cuts of meat but in the name of the science I thought I'd sample one here.  Not bad as New York Strip steaks go.  

 

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All in all a nice "free" dinner experience as an alternative to the MDR.

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After dinner I caught a sunset over the Olympic Mountains.  

 

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Always beautiful.

 

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Following the Joy out towards the Pacific.

 

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I seem to gravitate to the North Star bar.

 

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Solarium at sunset.

 

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Posted (edited)

Day Three - Sea Day

 

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We have a gentle swell coming at us broadside from the West.

 

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This is basically what my view will be for the next five days.

 

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Not bad.

Edited by twangster

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Posted (edited)

Housekeeping items...

 

  • O3b internet is back!  While in Alaska Ovation used the old legacy satellites.  Now that we are staying within range we are using the newer O3b satellites.  Yay!
  • I asked the hostess at Coastal Kitchen about Junior Suite access for dinner.  It's accommodated on a space available basis.
  • NFL coverage.  Two stations added to the channel line up.  Channel 40 and 41 have East/West games.  Channel 40 is labeled Sunday/Monday/Thursday.  Channel 41 is Sunday only.  Early games were Jets/Patriots and Ravens/Chiefs.  Late games were Texans/Chargers and Saints/Seattle.  
  • We changed time the previous night.  Current time was 4 hours off Eastern time.  We changed time again nights three and four.  
  • RoyalIQ has replaced by new Royal app.  Hole allowing iMessage to work without a paid Voom plan still working on iPhones.

  

By the numbers (of guests):

  • Australian 367
  • Brazil 27
  • Canada 860
  • China 41
  • Germany 91 
  • Great Britain 41
  • Ireland 18
  • Israel 15
  • Mexico 70
  • New Zealand 55
  • United States 2,588 
  • Children on board 238

 

Enrichment talks in Two70° starting on this day.  History of Owahai, the original name for Hawaii.  Very interesting historical information.  This is the start of a series of lectures building on today's.  

 

8 minutes ago, JamesEM said:

Nice photos, one question, where was the TV?

 

Foot of the bed but it hinges out so you can watch from the sofa.

 

Edited by twangster

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Day 4 - Sea Day

 

Quick update on position and conditions.  Temperature around 72°F and some sun today (previous day was overcast).  Calm seas with a gentle swell from the West.  

 

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Our position on day 4.

 

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Voom performing well, consistently 4Mb down, 2Mb up.

 

There is a lot going on around the ship.  Enrichment talks continue.  Shows are going on.  Bumper cars are bumping, North Star is doing it's thing.  Weather getting warmer with each passing day as we sail South, supposed to be high 70's on day 5.  Time changing 1 hour each night.

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Day 5 - Sea Day

 

Invasion of the towel animals.

 

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Enrichment talk continues.  More sea day activities.  Temperatures in the mid to high 70s.  Sunny pool day kind of sea day. 

 

Sunset in the Pacific

 

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Day 6 - Sea Day

 

Sunrise in the Pacific

 

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Captain's Corner listed in the Royal app but not on the paper cruise compass and the next lecture in the on-going enrichment talk series later on this morning.  Royal app was incorrect, no Captain's talk today and time for the enrichment talk was wrong in the Royal app.  Use the paper compass.

 

Morning temperature 75°F.  Expected high today around 81°F.

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Way back on day two while we were in Seattle Captain Henrick recorded a video that addresses our voyage information for our sea days over to Hawaii.  For those interested in this sort of stuff here it is:

 

 

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Last of the enrichment talks today ended with a lecture on the history of Pearl Harbor.  This series of lectures has featured Quintinn Holi, a native Hawaiian as guest speaker.

 

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The lectures have progressed through the history of Hawaii.  The original rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the US occupation, statehood and finally Pearl Harbor.

 

Performing live for us was Gordon Freitas, a retired Navy Chief who has written and performs songs such as BB-39 (Battleship Arizona) and Peaceful Arizona.     

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Posted (edited)

Day 6 continued...

 

Forgot to mention Meal with an Officer the previous day.  With over 200 participants it was a big one.  The Grande dining room was very loud with so many conversations it was hard to hear anything.  Good meal though.

 

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Few lines at the North Star. 

 

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Later in the day there was a wedding party boarding North Star.  Wedding at Sea.

Edited by twangster

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Day 7 - Sea Day / Cruising Na Pali Coast

 

Our progress so far...

 

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The Captain estimates we should start seeing land sometime around 10am this morning.  The Na Pali coast is on the North West end of Kauai so we'll cruise the Na Pali coastline starting sometime around noon then turn around Kauai and head East towards Lahaina, Maui for arrival tomorrow. 

 

Most recent Captain's briefing for Hawaii and tendering in Lahaina and Kialuna-Kona.

 

 

Record setting tendering operation that involves 110 crew and 6 tender boats.

 

Ovation is the largest cruise ship to visit Hawaii (and Alaska).  

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Now for our roughly four hours at the Na Pali Coast.

 

Approaching Kauai and the first land we've seen in almost 6 days.

 

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The Captain spun the ship in a 360° turn so that both sides we able to see the coast.  Timelapse of the turn:

 

 

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It's hard to capture in pictures or words so I'll just dump a bunch of photos in here and try through pictures.

 

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With that it was time to sail on and away toward Maui.

 

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Top tier event after we left the Na Pali coast.

 

Platinum 477, Emerald 315, Diamond 700, Diamond Plus 415, 40 Pinnacle.

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Day 7 - Night

 

As we make our way along the chain of Hawaiian Islands towards Maui the North Star was empty and they were begging for participants to justify the ride.  Minimum 6-7 was being requested.  So... why not?

 

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Later on my balcony I spotted an old friend... the Milky Way.  We've come far enough South that it's still visible.   It's hard when shooting off the side of the ship given the ship's forward motion so I had to crank up the ISO and shorten the exposure.

 

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45 minutes ago, twangster said:

The 777X will release next year, it's currently in development.

As long as the 777X doesn't have anymore delays, like another main cabin door explosion. (sorry, AvGeek here!)

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Posted (edited)

Day 8 - Lahaina, Maui

 

Up early I noticed the sky was beginning to lighten.  Still moving I knew we much be getting close so I went topside.

 

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Our first good look at our new home for the next two days.

 

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First glimpse of Lahaina.

 

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The first tender was dispatched to set up the port area for our visit.

 

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According to our Captain this is the largest tender operation in the world.  Ovation has six lifeboats that have been designed specifically to function as tenders.  One hundred and ten crew would participate until 10pm when a local charter boat operator was hired to perform the hourly overnight tender service so that crew could rest before repeating the operation again the next day.

 

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Lessons were learned from the Northbound Ovation stop at Lahaina in May.  This time they bought out 10 tour operators and basically paid them to stay home.  This was was to free up the channel into the small harbor so our tenders would have better access.

 

Sunrise was upon us.

 

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The first hints of clouds forming over the island.

 

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A closer look at a life/tender boat.

 

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Maui is known as the valley isle.  

 

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My excursion didn't depart until 2pm so I stayed on the ship closer to noon.  

Edited by twangster

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I wanted to wander a bit before my 2pm excursion that met on the island.

 

Clouds have formed over much of the island in just a few hours.

 

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Here the crew fixing the ramp after a swell knocked it off it's normal loading position.

 

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The boats themselves are very comfortable with padded seating.  I think the capacity is 170.

 

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Off and away we go...

 

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The port area where we landed.

 

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Walking along the shore for a bit.

 

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Very close by is a street with shops.

 

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It was very hot, over 31°C or almost 90° F.  I though something to cool me down was in order.  Conveniently located across from the port area is a hotel with bar.

 

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Fortunately I found a Big Wave Golden Ale to cool me down.

 

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