‘Ovation of the Seas’ is the latest and greatest member of the RCL family

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In the cruise business, the phrase “handover ceremony” is sort of a contradiction.

A structure as tall as an urban apartment building with comfy rooms for nearly 4,200 guests, space for 18 restaurants and a basketball court, its own shop-lined promenade, an amphitheater and much more – not to mention a price tag of about a billion dollars – is hardly “handed” over from one party to another. Certainly, though, a ceremony is in order when the world’s newest smartship, Ovation of the Seas, is officially delivered by the builder to the buyer, and that ritual took place today in Bremerhaven, Germany.

Richard D. Fain, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s chairman and CEO, swapped signatures, smiles and superlatives with Bernard Meyer, managing partner of Meyer Werft GmbH, as RCL officially took ownership of the third Quantum-class ship produced at the shipbuilder’s Papenburg facility. Ovation of the Seas now joins its sister ships, the class namesake Quantum of the Seas and the second smartship Anthem of the Seas, as the newest vessel in the corporation’s global fleet.

Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, was also on hand for the “handover,” and noted that Ovation of the Seas is “the very first that has been built for the China market – a market we continue to demonstrate our commitment to expanding.”

Ovation of the Seas will homeport in Tianjin – joining Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas – after first sailing to Southampton, U.K., for a series of short vacation escapes, then embarking on a 52-night “Global Odyssey” for guests to experience a more leisurely exploration of her expansive amenities.

After her first homeport sailing season in China beginning in June, Ovation of the Seas will head Down Under to winter as the first new build sent by RCL to serve the Australian market.

With three Quantum-class smartships now in service and a fourth planned for debut in 2019, it’s fair to start talking about their “signature” features, the first-at-sea attractions that keep them booked.

From shore, the most noticeable is North Star, the glass observation capsule at the end of an articulated arm that gently hoists guests more than 300 feet above sea level for panoramic views around the vessel.

On board are machines that simulate skydiving and surfing, and the indoor SeaPlex center that offers, by turns, basketball, bumper cars and roller skating, among other active pursuits.

Two70, another Quantum-class signature, converts from an airy social space by day to a nighttime digital dazzler of an entertainment complex and Vistarama. And Ovation of the Seas’s guest accommodations are also  unique with the pointedly luxurious Loft Suites and the  Virtual Balcony staterooms – interior rooms that employ door-sized digital TV screens displaying real-time views outside the ship to simulate the balcony experience.

Once Ovation of the Seas arrives at her homeport this summer, she will become part of the largest fleet of any cruise line sailing in China.