Ovation of the Seas cruise ship: New, billion-dollar cruise giant to call Australia home

Australia will be the home port for Royal Caribbean's newest billion-dollar mega-liner – Ovation of the Seas – when it arrives in December 2016, making it the biggest ship ever based here. 

The $US1 billion ($A1.3 billion) ship, currently under construction in Germany, will be the length of more than three football fields (348m long) and tower at 50m tall. It will house over 18 decks and have a capacity to hold almost 5000 guests and 1500 crew.

The mega-liner will be the largest cruise ship to be based in Australia to date. It will take the record from Explorer of the Seas, a 3800-guest, 138,000-tonne ship, due to arrive in November this year. Voyager of the Seas is the current title holder for largest ship to be based in Australia.

Ovation of the Seas will be based at Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay for its maiden 2016/17 Australian summer season.  The terminal is undergoing a major upgrade to cater for large cruise ships coming to port in Sydney. The huge ship is not able to fit under the Harbour Bridge.

It will visit ports around Australia and New Zealand, and also the Pacific during its Australian summer season. The exact ports are under discussion and will be confirmed closer to launch date, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean told Traveller.com.au. China will be Ovation of the Seas' first home port after its launch. It will be based in Shanghai from May 2016 before it sails to Sydney.

The mega-liner will be the fifth ship in Royal Caribbean's Australian fleet for the 2016/17 summer joining Voyager of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas in Sydney, and Legend of the Seas in Brisbane.

It is the third ship in the cruise liner's Quantum Class category, heralded as the most technologically advanced ships in the world. Quantum of the Seas will be based in Shanghai for this northern summer from May 2015, and Anthem of the Seas, due to launch in one week, will have its home port in New York Harbour for the southern summer season from November 2015. (Read: Our review of Quantum of the Seas)

Ovation of the Seas is said to "completely redefine" the experience of cruising in Australia with features and technologies described as first-time offerings for ships worldwide. 

Features on board include the Ripcord by iFLY – a thrill-seeking simulator that allows passengers to experience skydiving on a cruise ship. Passengers can also take a trip in the North Star aerial observatory, which rises more than 90 metres above the sea. The company said the North Star would reach higher than the pylons on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

For a more futuristic experience without any human assistance, passengers can head to the Bionic Bar where two robots will mix and shake them a cocktail. For foodies, Ovation of the Seas will feature a "Jamie's Italian" restaurant from Jamie Oliver on board. It will be the British chef's third restaurant on a Royal Caribbean ship.

The decision to name Australia as Ovation of the Seas' first home port represents the continuing growth of cruising in the domestic market. Over the 2014-15 summer cruising season there were more than 600 ship visits by 36 ships to ports around the country.

Ovation of the Seas' fares will start from $199 a day. Bookings will open mid-way through 2015. See royalcaribbean.com.au/vanity/Ovation