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Published on : Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Royal Caribbean International, the world’s largest global cruise brand, continues to make waves in Hong Kong’s cruise history. At the end of October, the iconic brand will homeport it’s magnificent, technologically advanced Ovation of the Seas flagship cruise liner in Hong Kong for a season of five premium cruises to popular destinations such as Japan and Taiwan. Ovation of the Seas is the largest and most advanced cruise ship ever to call Hong Kong home.
A sister ship to Quantum of the Seas which impressed the city with its visit last year, the 16-deck, 168,000 ton Ovation of the Seas is the third vessel in Royal Caribbean’s ground-breaking Quantum Class, the second largest cruise class in the world.
To enable Hong Kongers to get a first-hand glimpse of the massive ship, Royal Caribbean arranged for Ovation of the Seas to visit Hong Kong and stay for one night en route her 52-day maiden voyage from Europe to Tianjin, China for a naming ceremony officiated by the first ever Chinese Godmother Fan Bing Bing. The Ship was officially delivered to Royal Caribbean on April 8th 2016.
The grand entrance of Ovation of the Seas into Hong Kong was marked with a prestigious ceremony graced by senior government dignitaries and key industry stakeholders. These included the Honorable Gregory So Kam-leung, GBS, JP (Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development); Mr Philip Yung, JP, (Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development – Commerce Industry and Tourism); Miss Cathy Chu Man-ling, JP (Commissioner for Tourism); and Mr. Anthony Lau (Executive Director, Hong Kong Tourism Board). They were joined by executives from the cruise line including Mr. Michael Bayley (President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International) and Mr. Henrik Loy, Captain of the Ovation of the Seas.
To mark the event, a themed ovation to Hong Kong was arranged in keeping with the vessel’s name to celebrate the occasion. This “Cel-Ovation of the Marvels of Hong Kong” drew parallels between Hong Kong’s achievements and those of Ovation of the Seas in offering a world class “Cruise Extraordinary” experience to Hong Kong people.
The event paid tribute to Hong Kong’s achievements and those of Ovation of the Seas in five specific areas — Technology, Art, Culinary, Entertainment and Sports.
To this end, Royal Caribbean presented trophies to five Hong Kong celebrities who have achieved regional or global acclaim in the five areas. For Technology the trophy went to science whiz Chan Yik Hei, dubbed “Son of the Star”; for Art it went to music prodigy Wong Ka Jeng, for Culinary it went to the esteemed chef, Ricky Cheung; for Entertainment it went to dance producer Mak Chau Shing; and for Sports it went to speed climber Lisa Cheng, Hong Kong’s very own ‘Spider Girl’.
The ceremony was followed by an extensive tour of the ship that enabled the guests and dignitaries to experience first hand some of the unique Quantum-Class innovations paralleling the five achievements of Hong Kong that Ovation of the Seas offers.
These included the North Star aerial observatory, a technological marvel that hoists guests in a glass capsule more than 300 feet above the ocean for incomparable panoramic views; the RipCord by iFLY skydiving and FlowRider surfing simulators; VOOM the fastest internet at sea, and SeaPlex, a unique multi-purpose sports complex enabling a variety of activities, including the first-ever-at-sea bumper car experience. The ship also features an iconic on-deck art piece of a giant panda “Mama and Baby” – which is considered a symbol of good luck and a national treasure in China.
But the ship doesn’t stop there. It also offers an extraordinary exhibition of art from the Forbidden City Palace Museum in Beijing – a first on any ocean going cruise liner – together with an exceptional range of 18 innovative culinary offerings including a Jamie’s Italian restaurant from the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and Wonderland, a whimsical restaurant with an elaborate feast for the senses. Guests were also able to see the 1,300 seat Royal Theatre and the Music Hall where Ovation of the Seas hosts Tony-award winning Broadway shows and Las Vegas style theatrical productions.
The arrival of Ovation of the Seas in Hong Kong caps a successful second year for Royal Caribbean’s operations in the city. Despite predictions that this would be a challenging year for Hong Kong tourism, Royal Caribbean is actually expanding its investment in the Hong Kong market by extending the homeport season of Voyager of the Seas from 3 months to 4 months, bringing Ovation of the Seas to the city in the end of October 2016, and providing additional fly-cruise options with other vessels in the Royal Caribbean fleet including Harmony of the Seas, the largest ship in the world.
Mr Bayley said, “At Royal Caribbean we are setting a new standard bringing high-quality, world-class premium cruising right to the doorstep of Hong Kong cruise lovers. In the past, this level of cruising could only be enjoyed by first travelling overseas. Our wish and our goal is to be able to offer Royal Caribbean cruises to this market not just for a season each year, but all year round as part of the mainstream travel market.”
“2016 is the first year that Royal Caribbean has ever had two ships homeporting in Hong Kong at the same time. Having both Voyager of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas here will enable us to increase our total Hong Kong sailings from 20 to 30 this year and welcome over 100,000 vacationers which is about a 43% increase compared to last year.”
Balwin Yeung, Director of Sales and Marketing for Royal Caribbean Cruises Hong Kong, emphasized the company’s confidence in the Hong Kong cruise market, “With more and more of Royal Caribbean’s state-of-art cruise ships deploying in Hong Kong, we are creating new tourist attractions for the city. As a destination in itself cruising will become a new reason for tourists to visit and re-visit Hong Kong, contributing to both inbound and outbound tourist growth.”
Ovation of the Seas, together with Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, and Legend of the Seas, will make up the largest fleet of any cruise line sailing from China.