What it's like on 'Ovation of the Seas', Royal Caribbean's new $1 billion cruise ship

Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas heads to Sydney this summer.

Royal Caribbean’s brand new $US1 billion supercruiser, Ovation of the Seas, makes it debut in Australia this summer, the largest cruise ship ever seen on our shores.

At 168,66 tonnes, the Quantum class liner is the equal 4th biggest passenger ship in the world – and around 20,000 tonnes bigger than Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. She 347-metres long, with 18 decks and capacity for up to 4,905 guests (4,180 at double occupancy) plus 1,500 crew.

This floating city launched in April this year and is now cruising in China during the northern summer. She’ll then call Sydney her home port, arriving on 15 December 2016 for her maiden Australian season. There are several cruises from three to 14 nights.

Business Insider went to have a look at this impressive ship as she took on her first passengers in her base in Tianjin (Beijing).

Here’s what we found:

China's rising middle class is a huge market for Royal Caribbean. However, more Australians head to China to cruise than vice versa.

Check in is digital (and you'll be able to do it online too), using iPads, and pretty quick.

This is my balcony stateroom.

The cabin is 19 m2 (198 sqft) and theoretically sleeps up to 4.

The balcony is 5 m2 (55 sqft)

It might be 'Australian-based' but you'll need to bring your own power adapters.

The bathroom is spacious enough.

A little video jingle about 'Wash your hands' was on loop. It reminded me of Victoria's 'Dumb ways to die' ad - catchy and funny. But norovirus is a big problem on cruise ships, so this is message is important

The cabin's mini bar doesn't have much and remember everything's in US dollars, with a 18% service charge on top, so a can of coke will cost you about $A4.40.

But you can always make a free cup of tea!

The trick, if you like a drink, is to buy a beverage package - even if you're teetotal, it's $US29 a day. Add alcohol and prices start at $US44 pp for basic wines and beers.

There are lots of bars - the Schooner bar is a Royal Caribbean standard feature.

My favourite was the outdoors North Star bar, with its view out over the pool.

Yes, it's just under the North Star!

The North Star is a glass pod that rises 90 metres above the sea, with 360-degree views.

And yes, the view is awesome from up there!

But the bar that has everyone's attention is Bionic Bar with two robotic bartenders.

You order cocktails on iPads.

Vintage is a wine bar with 20+ wines under vacuum to serve.

But in my view, some of the offerings are pretty basic. Wolf Blass Yellow Label is a $10 quaffer at Dan Murphy's.

But the prices had me going woah! That's about $A54 for that $10 bottle, not including service. A 150ml (5oz) glass of Thomas Hyland shiraz is $A16 - about $A80 a bottle, duty free. You can buy it at Dan Murphy's for $13.25 inc. GST.

There are 18 restaurants aboard Ovation of the Seas

Silk is a 500 seat Chinese restaurant - one of four complimentary dining rooms.

Grande is another, with a modern, international menu.

American Icon Grill does an a la carte breakfast.

I went Taiwanese with congee.

Wonderland is one of the fancy restaurants with molecular gastronomy and theatrical foods.

These are special 'liquid' olives at Wonderland, which are like the ones Ferran Adria served at Spain's El Bulli.

Cafe @Two70 is a popular breakfast buffet spot and all-day dining with views from the stern.

Two70 is a lounge bar and dining space by day...

...that becomes a spectacular theatre at night.

Then there's a Jamie's Italian restaurant.

A Japanese sushi and sake restaurant called Izumi.

To stop the spread of germs, you're funneled past the basins to wash your hands before heading to the buffet dining area.

The Windjammer Marketplace is a multicultural buffet of flavours from around the world.

Tech is a big part of Ovation experience - these iPads help you find your way around.

And there's an app to make things even easier, from booking events to finding out what's on.

You can personalise it with things you're doing.

And it will help make sure you're in the right place at the right time.

Like the portrait studio for family photos.

Or the Ocean Adventure kids program, which is broken down into a bunch of age groups from about 3 to 17 years.

Art is a huge part of the ship's design, with around 11,000 words on board. This mother and baby panda by British artist Jo Smith weighs 6.5 tonnes and is 10 metres high

China and Australia are celebrated by Portugeuse artist Yago Partal.

Rowena Martinich is among several Australian artists commissioned. This is her work Paradiso near the solarium bistro

This kinetic sculpture in the main lobby moves as you move under it.

There are several pools on Ovation of the Seas, including this indoor covered one.

For younger kids there's a splash area

And an outdoor cinema screen by the main pool.

While in the evenings, it feel a lot more grown up.

There's another pool and spa complex in the bow at the solarium

It's a pretty chilled spot

There's plenty to keep you active.

Including the 553m long jogging track.

A climbing wall

Impressive gymnasium in the bow.

The Seaplex area is dodgem cars, roller skating rink and basketball court at various times during the day.

You can learn to surf on the Flowrider

Or skydive at 'Ripcord by iFly'.

There's an arcade games hall.

And of course a casino.

The music hall puts on shows.

Ovation of the Seas is 18 decks high.

And like a giant hotel with glass elevators.

There are 2091 staterooms - 1,571 with balconies.

And for 375 interior cabins, a 'virtual' balcony live-streamed on a screen inside the room

The massive two-storey loft suites were the first things to sell out.

They cost around $20,000 per person a cruise, but Royal Caribbean is now wondering if they're too cheap.

Perhaps the pillow menu lured in the high flyers.

Or maybe the bath.

And chance to have friends around for a barbie on the back deck.

Or maybe the outdoor spa bath.

And balcony lounge chair

Your own private TV lounge

Family suites also get bigger balconies.

The shops include Cartier, Kate Spade, Michael Kors and Omega

It's bound to be a huge hit for Royal Caribbean.

* Business Insider traveled to China as a guest of Royal Caribbean.

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