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Gatordad815

Cruising the Oasis with Small Kids and Celiac – a Trip Report

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THE READER’S DIGEST VERSION

 

Good day Cruise Critic! We have finally returned from our long-anticipated 7-night Western Caribbean Cruise on the beautiful Oasis of the Seas (May 6, 2018 Sailing). I posted a few random thoughts during two “downtimes” while on the cruise. See link below:

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2633471

 

That was the Reader’s Digest version of our trip. If you prefer brevity, I would stick with that version and move on with your Cruise Critic research…

 

What follows will be a full report, complete with a daily account of what I can remember, my thoughts and impressions, photographs, failed attempts at humor, and an attempt to describe how I actually felt during the encounters on the ship I can remember. I am typing this up as much for myself to read in future times as I am to share information and express appreciation for everything you all have posted over the years that was invaluable in my trip planning process. So forgive me if I indulge at times…

 

I tend to be wordy, mildly sarcastic, somewhat thoughtful and very honest. I tend to write in a stream of consciousness type style as I try to walk back through my days and remember what I did and how I felt about it and translate that into words. While I am obsessively detail-oriented while planning a trip, I tend to forget about that aspect of my personality while actually on the trip.

 

So if you are looking for detailed information on what something costs, whether a particular item that Royal Caribbean sometimes offers was available onboard and when, who the cruise director was and whether I liked him, or anything of that nature, I apologize ahead of time, but I probably will not have the answers for you.

 

I will try to finish the report in a reasonable amount of time, but as you can probably already tell I am long-winded and this will take a while to write. And I am just back to work this week so that is my primary focus. I apologize it will not be complete before I start posting it, but if I don’t start posting it I will not feel the obligation to come back and write more and it will take me even longer to finish.

 

BOTTOM LINE: This will be a long, detailed report, posted over a several day span, that probably does not contain answers to every (or any) question you have about the Oasis of the Seas. But I will try to tell you more than the Reader’s Digest version about what it is really like to sail with a 5 year old and 3 year old with gluten-free diets on Oasis of the Seas.

 

Here goes….

 

 

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PRELIMINARY MATTERS

 

This trip report will feature:

 

1) Me: Gatordad (40ish, baldish, chunkyish somewhat compulsive trip planner who loves to read and watch videos about every aspect of a destination ahead of time and know everything there is to know ahead of time, to the point it’s a little absurd. But if you’re on here reading this, you have at least a little of that same inclination so you get it).

 

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2) My wife: Gatorwife (40ish – though she rarely admits it, beautiful, kind mom who has very little to do with trip planning as she plans every other detail of our family’s daily life and is way too busy doing that to read Cruise Critic; in fact, she only knows Cruise Critic exists because her husband is constantly sitting his lazy behind on a recliner ignoring tantrums, sitcoms and his wife trying to keep him informed about what is going on in his family, all under the guise of planning the perfect gluten-free family vacation).

 

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3) Our Daughter: Gatorgirl (5, beautiful, too smart for her age, a tad bit dramatic, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 2.5 years ago, thereby increasing my need to know everything there is to know about the food-aspects of any place we go ahead of time and giving me some cover while I’m sitting on the aforementioned recliner reading about cruise food ignoring the daily goings-on).

 

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4) Our son: Gatorboy (Turned 3 embarkation day, super cute, a bit whiny at times, and so loveable and snuggly it tends to make up for the whininess, not sure if he has Celiac as he has never eaten gluten because my wife cooks every meal gluten-free for the whole family, though we do plan to do a gluten test while he is still a child so we can get a definitive answer on that before he goes off to college and tries to eat a slice of pizza or drink a beer).

 

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CELIAC DISEASE: In case you don’t know what Celiac Disease is (I didn’t before her diagnosis): According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, “Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.” We learned about her diagnosis at the age of 2 when her malnutrition led to a hospitalization even though she ate everything put in front of her all day long. This means our daughter must have a strictly gluten-free diet. Like every meal, every snack, every day, all the time, no exceptions, for her whole life.

 

Not only will she get very sick if she eats foods containing gluten, but she will get ill if she eats food that does not contain gluten that was cross-contaminated by food that does contain gluten. So if a person working in the kitchen touches a piece of meat that has a gluten-containing seasoning (there are many) on it, and then uses that same hand to touch my daughter’s steak prior to thoroughly washing said hand, my daughter will be ill.

 

FAQs: To answer the most common questions I am asked: No, there is no cure for it. No, she will not outgrow it. No, not even a little cheating now and again is OK as if she were on the same “diet” that the rest of us are all on to feel good about ourselves (even though we cheat all the time).

 

She has it for life and it is what it is.

 

THE ORIGINAL PLAN: Knowing my daughter could eat safely was my top consideration in planning this trip, and it is why I originally had the Disney Fantasy booked for the same week, as I am very familiar with Disney’s commitment to deliver on the promise of a safe gluten-free experience (on land anyway) and was willing to pay their insane price for the comfort of knowing my daughter would not be stranded in the middle of the ocean with no food to eat and no way for my wife to cook her a safe chicken breast.

 

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: But at some point, somewhere, fate intervened and I became aware of the Oasis of the Seas (I cannot remember the exact moment this occurred). Soon thereafter, I did a price-check and saw the Oasis, leaving the day after the Disney Fantasy, was roughly half the price. And this was for a much larger Junior Suite with a HUGE balcony, as opposed to the Family Oceanview with Tinkerbell-sized Balcony on Disney.

 

I was intrigued….tell me more Cruise Critic…

 

So I did the preliminary research on gluten-free food availability on Royal Caribbean and read some very positive reviews. I started looking at Youtube videos of the Oasis and was immediately much more impressed with the scale and variety of this ship than the Disney Fantasy. I saw there is a Casino on the Oasis and seemingly many more adult things to do, while at the same time there was also a kids club with great reviews and a boardwalk with a carousel that would surely make my kids’ eyes light up.

 

Side note (indulge me here) – prior to kids I was a Vegas junkie and I have been there more times than I care to admit on an online cruise forum. Now, I have Disney Annual Passes (they are excellent with gluten-free options by the way), but I desperately long for a non-Disney way to vacation with the whole family that is safe for my daughter’s dietary needs. I still have Vegas in my soul, but it must be channeled in family-friendly ways, so the casino on Oasis was a big turn-on to me. In addition, I probably had a Disney weekend on land in between learning about Oasis and booking it where I begrudgingly paid Disney prices for Disney stuff and was unjustifiably aggravated at some point that there is neither a video poker machine nor a place to walk up and get a cold beer in the chaotic sea of people otherwise known as the Magic Kingdom.

 

Not only was Oasis cheaper by literally thousands (plural) of dollars, but to me it just seemed more fun for all of us. I canceled the Disney Cruise, jumped on the Royal bandwagon, and never looked back.

 

And now that the trip is over, I can confidently say I made the right decision for my family and I have zero regrets…

 

 

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PRE-CRUISE AT PORT CANAVERAL

 

Since this was a Sunday departure, I decided to get a hotel in the area Saturday night so we could have a stress-free embarkation morning. Sure we could have driven Sunday morning (about 2.5 – 3 hours), but starting vacation a day early seemed so much more appealing.

 

With the car packed Saturday night, we were ready to go!

 

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Am I the only dad who feels like a pack mule every time I go somewhere with the family???

 

CHERIE DOWN PARK: We arrived in Port Canaveral at lunchtime and went straight to our Hotel, the Country Inn and Suites, to check in. The room wasn’t ready, so we went to the very close Cherie Down Park and went to the beach for a few hours. The park wasn’t fancy or anything, but there were a few covered picnic tables, restrooms, free parking, and a very short walk from your car to the beach, which was music to this pack mule’s ears. I would recommend it, particularly for a shorter beach visit where you don’t want to invest the time or money for Jetty Park. The kids loved the beach.

 

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Aren’t they cute???

 

My brother-in-law recently told me my kids take such great photos.

 

My first thought was: “when was the last time you tried to get the 2 of them to look at a camera simultaneously without picking a nose or a wedgie or both?? If only you knew – I don’t send you all of the horrible photos, just the rare photo where one or both of them is looking and smiling.”

 

And while I do agree on those rare moments when Venus aligns with Neptune and I get a good shot they are really good, rest assured Cruise Critic that for every great picture I get, there are 80 that look like this:

 

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Or this:

 

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Or this:

 

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You get the picture. (Pun intended…)

 

But I digress…

 

After our fun in the sun, it was check-in time so we went back over to the hotel to check in and get settled before heading over to watch the Saturday ships sail out. Pack mule time again…

 

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PRE CRUISE CONTINUED

 

I went to post this day and was politely informed by Tapatalk that I am limited to 6 photos per post so I had to break it up. Who knew??? (Yes I realize you all knew, but I’m new to this so give me a little leeway...)

 

COUNTRY INN AND SUITES: This hotel was perfect for our family’s needs. We had a queen “suite” on the 4th floor overlooking the port so that was nice. It was the closest hotel to the port which was convenient, the staff were friendly, the price was better than many in the area, we were able to leave our car parked there for a modest charge, the shuttle was super convenient and friendly and timely both coming and going, and the heated pool and hot tub were quite nice. Was it my beloved Bellagio? Of course not. But it served its purpose. I would recommend this hotel and we will be back.

 

JETTY PARK BOAT LAUNCH FOR SHIP WATCHING: After getting settled we raced over to the Jetty Park Boat launch area to watch the Saturday ships sail away. I asked about this a few days before the cruise and learned this place existed and is free and is convenient, so we gave it a try. This was SUPER EASY AND CONVENIENT. If you don’t want to commit to a day at Jetty Park and want to get in, get out, and get on with it, this is the perfect spot to watch the boats sail.

 

Hello Carnival Magic…

 

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Goodbye Carnival Magic…

 

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Hello and goodbye tiny little Carnival Sunshine…

 

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And finally, PEACE OUT Disney Fantasy. I am so glad I am not on you right now because now I actually have TONS OF money left for the video poker machines on the Oasis of the Seas!!!

 

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It was slightly satisfying to watch the Disney ship sail away…

 

After that it was pool time, dinner time, and bed time.

 

We had a BIG day ahead of us tomorrow….

 

 

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Looking forward to following along on this review! We are doing a family cruise in September with our 5 year old son. My brother will be there too with kids ages 3, 6 and 7. While we don’t have anyone with Celiac, it will be nice to hear more about kids programs/ cruising with kids. Our cruise is also on Oasis.

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IT’S EMBARKATION DAY, IT’S EMBARKATION DAY!!!

 

Yes that title is a slight nod to Anna of Arendelle… I put it in there just so any of you Disney people out there who are offended at my prior comments realize I’m not a total hater, because I am not….Let it go…Let it go…

 

I was up early because I was so excited. Oh and also because I wake up early. My family was not up early, because they do not wake up early unless they have to. All three of them. This will be a recurring occurrence throughout this trip report…

 

When I first went to the window, there was no Oasis. Sigh…

 

Happily, shortly thereafter, I was actually able to watch Oasis sail into port. This was a very happy moment for me, almost goose bump-inducing. After a year of planning, reading, anticipating, fastidiously studying deck plans, and watching 2000 YouTube videos, the magical day had arrived! The photo through the window doesn’t do it justice, but you get the point.

 

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Isn’t she beautiful???

 

Country Inn and Suites has advertised shuttles leaving at 10:30, 11:15 and 12:00, but also sometimes has an unadvertised shuttle leaving at 9:45. Since I was insanely eager to get us on the ship as soon as I possibly could, I was thrilled to find out that they would have this shuttle that morning so I signed us up that morning.

 

It was time to wake up the family, and sing Gatorboy happy birthday!!! Yes this was a special day for 2 reasons! Gatorboy was critically ill at birth and spent his first days in the NICU. The first week of his life were the scariest most stressful days I have ever had and I never will forget the fear and anxiety I felt the day he was born. It brings tears to my eyes to even think about it. So every birthday for him is even more special for our family. Juxtaposing the happiness and ease of this morning with the stress and difficulty of the day he was born was a very, very peaceful and relieving feeling for me.

 

After taking a few photos and pack-muling everything down to the shuttle, we were efficiently on our way for the 5 minute drive to the port. Again, the shuttle was super-efficient….

 

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SUITE PRIORITY BOARDING: Since we were in a junior suite, we were able to wait in the suites area. It’s roped off from the regular area and has some coffee and juice and pastries. It’s really not all that special, but it was a nice touch for us lowly junior suiters…

 

Before embarkation time, my wife took both kids with her to the bathroom one last time on land, and as I expected, RC started boarding the suites while they were in there. Like 12 seconds later, regular boarding began. So even though we were in a “suite”, we boarded like 42 seconds after the suites with the rest of the steerage-class passengers. But once onboard, it was still a pretty empty ship! In other words, the suite boarding happens VERY fast and everyone else gets on VERY soon thereafter!

 

We were dancing stepping onto the Royal Promenade for the first time and as luck would have it, they started playing Party Rock Anthem as soon as we got on! We saw a young lady who worked for RC dancing in a yellow shirt by the fancy car with the bears that my kids wanted to stop at and the kids started dancing with her – she was so sweet to them and danced the whole song with them and wished Gatorboy a happy birthday. The energy was high, the smiles were wide, and my heart was overflowing with the happiness I had been hoping would accompany our first minutes onboard...and then some…

 

THE ORIGINAL PLAN: Originally, I wanted to get straight to the Windjammer because I knew from faithfully researching it that an uncrowded Windjammer on embarkation day was a good thing, particularly for people with special dietary needs, while a crowded Windjammer can be quite an ordeal…

 

I didn’t think we would actually be able to have any meals at the Windjammer until recently I read very helpful reports by FirstAnthem:

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2623137&highlight=firstanthem

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2624119&highlight=firstanthem

 

If you have Celiac or a child with Celiac and are planning a trip on Oasis and haven’t yet read these reports, go read them- they are a must-read. Thanks again FirstAnthem!

 

So again, the plan was to go straight to the Windjammer and have an efficient lunch…

 

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: Who could eat at a time like this??? We were too happy and taking it all in to go straight to a buffet and deal with the inevitable hassle of ordering and waiting for a gluten-free meal while the hundreds of people around us ate in front of my daughter. Those of you who have Celiac know that waiting a long time for safe food is an inevitable and unavoidable consequence of having Celiac. In fact, if you are anything like me, you are just grateful beyond words that there is someone who is educated and trained enough to wash their hands and put on clean gloves and cook your food in a safe area of the kitchen. But it doesn’t really make all that time go by any faster, and it can be a real bummer even under the best of circumstances.

 

I was at least going to need a celebratory beverage before facing the Celiac food wait reality…

 

THE BOARDWALK: So we went out to the Boardwalk and rode the FIRST CAROUSEL RIDE OF THE TRIP – yup – we were the first people on this sailing on the carousel!

 

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Then I saw the Sabor Bar and went over there to grab a beer for myself and a glass of champagne for Gatorwife for our elevator ride up to the Windjammer!

 

Then, of course, the kids saw the little ship and Truck area for kids to play in on the Boardwalk and they were all like Windjammer Schwimjammer Dad – let’s PLAY!!! So we played.

 

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The Boardwalk is awesome in every way – I don’t care who you are. This area rocks!!!

 

THE WINDJAMMER: Being a compulsive planner, I was still eager to get to the Windjammer. I finally pried them away from the play area, and we got up to the Windjammer around noon. As I expected, it was very busy, though there were still open tables. Immediately upon finding a table, we encountered a nice server and I explained our need to discuss lunch with a chef. She indicated this would be no problem, and she called one. And then we waited. And waited. And waited….

 

It was like 20 minutes before the chef came out. All the while, lots of excited kids were eating around my bored antsy kids who had no food. As usual.

 

He was very nice and got the kids gluten free cheeseburgers, fries and fruit very efficiently once we finally ordered it, but the wait was exactly what I intended to avoid by planning to get there first. So be it…

 

So I can echo that the Windjammer will send out a knowledgeable chef who will cook you or your kids safe burgers (that actually looked MUCH better than the burgers on the buffet that I ate), but you have to be realistic in your expectations and plan for a possible wait.

 

By the time lunch was finished, it was 1:00 and the staterooms were open, so we went and took our first looks at our room and enormous balcony, unpacked and took it all in.

 

JUNIOR SUITE STATEROOM 6640: I said it in the Reader’s Digest version and it bears repeating here – this room was awesome in every way. Sorry I don’t have pictures of the room clean, but if you want to see what a clean Junior Suite with a “hump” balcony looks like on Oasis, there are many good YouTube videos out there. Room 6640 was no different than those videos depict.

 

What I loved most about this room, besides the obvious (room and balcony size), was the location! It was SO CONVENIENT to everywhere we needed to be. Not far at all from the aft elevators; very convenient to Café Promenade and Sorrentos for morning coffee, gluten free pizza lunches for the kids, and late night snacks for the adults; very convenient to the Schooner Bar so I could pick up to-go drinks for Gatorwife and myself to enjoy on our balcony while the kids slept (they knew me quite well by day 3); very convenient to the Boardwalk which I already mentioned we loved; very close to the casino for Gatordad’s occasional reversion to his degenerate Vegas ways; and very close to the dining rooms which became a surprise bonus when I eventually became a room service delivery boy for my wife and children (see morning 4 for further details).

 

The only place it was not super convenient to was Adventure Ocean, but it also was not too terribly far from the forward elevators which could get us there quickly. Plus, it gave me a chance to walk with my daughter through Central Park on the way to and from AO, and these were special walks for us that I would not trade for a room closer to AO but far away from all of the wonderful things I previously mentioned.

 

This room was the perfect room for us.

 

After unpacking, we took the kids to sign up for Adventure Ocean, which was relatively painless, but for the rambunctious boys throwing balls which came close to hitting my wife on the head several times. After this, we wandered this ship a bit before sail away!

 

SAILAWAY- THE ORIGINAL PLAN: For a long time, I envisioned the magical moment of us sailing away and waving while listening to live steel drum music, sipping a tropical drink, taking perfect pictures of our perfect well-behaved children and perfect family while everyone smiled, loved on each other, and created a tender moment we would remember and cherish for the rest of our lives.

 

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: It was cloudy and threatening to rain on embarkation day, so they moved the sail away party to deck 5. Seeing as the skies has not yet fully opened up, however, we went up to the top deck because that is where I envisioned my above-described dream unfolding and that is where we were watching it even if we got a little wet!

 

Just as the boat was pulling away from the dock, one of my best friends, who is the father of Gatorgirl’s bestest friend in the world, called me. And I made the mistake of answering it briefly to say hello, remind him we are gone for a week, and say goodbye. Then I made the second mistake of telling my wife he was calling to see if we wanted to get together. Gatorgirl overheard this. And the Waterworks ensued…

 

My daughter is a strong, confident personality who stands up for herself and defies her parents daily and is not afraid of anyone or anything. And yet for such a strong personality, she is oddly sensitive when she misses someone (usually her bestest friend), and there is no reasoning with her or comforting her when this happens. At that moment she wanted to go home and play with her best friend who she missed dearly, and she was very dramatic about it (albeit sincerely dramatic-she was genuinely hurting inside), and it was of no consequence to her that this moment I had been anticipating for over a year was literally drifting away and we were missing it.

 

There was no consoling her, so I took her for a walk and completely missed sail away. Note to all parents out there (you already know this, but it is a reminder): your children will cry irrationally and uncontrollably during the magical moments you have been anticipating for over a year as you planned the perfect cruise ship vacation. I promise you, they will completely ruin some of these moments for you.

 

Don’t let this crush your dreams or get you down. It is short lived and there will be many other fantastic moments that you did not anticipate or plan for that will be equally (probably more) magical. Take a walk, dry their tears, comfort them, and hope your next sail away goes as planned….

 

 

 

 

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Ok folks, I apologize not to have even gotten through embarkation day this evening as that was my intention (at a minimum), but it is waaaay past my bedtime so I have to call it a night, as the first night in the main dining room deserves more attention than I have the energy for right now. I will return tomorrow night hopefully and get through more of it. It’s a marathon, not a sprint (I keep telling myself that anyway)...

 

Thanks for the kind words by the way. And of course if any questions arise in your mind as you read, I will be happy to (attempt to) answer. Goodnight all...

 

 

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Great review so far. Love your sense of humor and style of writing. You have such a nice family...sweet kids! So happy to hear that Royal accommodates celiac disease so that it's a holiday option for you. We were on Allure with out kids and we all loved it! Looking forward to reading more.

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Thanks! It sounds like you were at the port by 10 am and on board before 11/11:30? That sounds great! We are hoping to get to the port around 10 as well for check in, even though our passes say 10:30-11:30. I too am hoping to get the kids some food before going to explore but this was a good reminder they will probably be too excited to sit and eat!

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Loving this review so far!!! I'm waiting until you finish this and then sending a link to my sister. My nephew has a wheat and milk allergy and she feels like she can only cruise DCL. Your review will give her good insight on how RCL handles special food needs.

 

 

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Loving this review. My daughter also has celiac but was not diagnosed until her mid 20s. Royal has been great in providing appropriate food for her.

 

Your sense of humor and writing style is bringing back many "fun" times of cruising with our kids when they were younger. Looking forward to reading the rest.

 

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Subscribed! You have a great sense of humor and write very well. So glad to hear your family had a wonderful trip. I can't wait to read more.

 

P.S. -- The Gatorkids are adorable!

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Following... Sailing in August with my two girls 3 and almost 2. Can not wait

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Thanks! It sounds like you were at the port by 10 am and on board before 11/11:30? That sounds great! We are hoping to get to the port around 10 as well for check in, even though our passes say 10:30-11:30. I too am hoping to get the kids some food before going to explore but this was a good reminder they will probably be too excited to sit and eat!

 

 

 

Yes we were at the port probably even a few minutes before 10 as the shuttle ride was so quick. They started boarding promptly at 11 and we were on board by 11:05. Very quick and painless.

 

 

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Thanks all for the kind comments...much appreciated. I’m happy to answer any other questions that come my way if I can. I finally was able to finish typing up the rest of embarkation day (wow this takes longer than I anticipated!) I’ll post it in just a minute.

 

 

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EMBARKATION EVENING – FACING THE MAIN DINING ROOM

 

I forgot to mention earlier that at some point between unpacking and the sail away fiasco, I went to the main dining room to be sure everything would be in order for our first dinner. Why did I do this? Because this is what I was told to do on Cruise Critic.

 

Being the dutiful Gatordad that I am, I had emailed special needs ahead of time regarding our daughter’s Celiac Disease and dining options. I had let the dining department know that the first night was my son’s 3rd birthday and we were hoping for a gluten free dessert with a candle for him. I had asked for a table by a window if at all possible because I thought that would be really cool. I thought I had covered all of my bases.

 

So I went to the person at the front of the dining room and the encounter went something like this:

 

Gatordad: “Hello – how are you today?”

 

Dining Person (looking down typing): “How can I help you, sir?”

 

Gatordad: “I have previously noted on my reservation my daughter has Celiac Disease so I am just checking in to be sure everything is in order for a gluten-free dinner for my kids tonight.”

 

Dining person (makes eye contact): “Please let your waiter know when you arrive and they will let you know what our gluten-free options are for tonight.”

 

Gatordad: “Oh, and also, it is my son’s 3rd birthday and I was hoping to be sure we could get some type of gluten-free cake for both of my kids.”

 

Dining Person (looks back up from computer): ““Please let your waiter know when you arrive and they will let you know what our gluten-free options are for tonight.”

 

I was going to ask about the window table, but got the sense now was not the time for that, so I moved on with embarkation day elsewhere on the ship.

 

I’m not sure what I expected, but this interaction was useless and a waste of everyone’s time. Now that the cruise is over, I know this is not the person I needed to be talking to. The headwaiter is the only person you want to talk to in this situation.

 

MAIN DINING ROOM – NIGHT ONE: After freshening up (we wore the same clothes to dinner as we did getting on the ship), we were off to our first dinner in the 4th deck dining room! Upon arriving to the dining room 5 minutes early (for the first and last time this trip as we were at least 10 minutes late every other night – my kids move slow), we were greeted with hordes of eager and hungry cruisers.

 

We were also greeted with something I was not expecting: the smell of cigarette smoke from the casino. Yuck!

 

Ok this is the only major design flaw I see with the Oasis. Why have your smoke-filled casino open up to the lobby of your dining room??? It could have opened up to any other area on the ship and been more appropriate, but the dining room???

 

Was it wretched in the dining room? Not by any means. But could I smell the faint smell of stale cigarette smoke in the 4th deck dining room lobby and the entry to the dining room? Absolutely. (Side note – this was not an issue in the 3rd deck dining room or beyond the very front of the 4th deck dining room, so don’t be too alarmed, but if I had a table at the very front of the 4th deck dining room I would be irritated and probably demand to be moved.)

 

So after being led to our table (nowhere near a window), I swallowed my disappointment about the location (I was just thankful it was nowhere near the smoke), and quickly worked myself back into curious anticipation to experience the true wonders of gluten-free dining on the Oasis…

 

Enter Stage Left our Main Waiter:

 

Waiter (rather unintelligible): “Good evening and wah, wah, wah, wah, wah,…..”

 

Gatordad (wrestling a three year old who is grabbing 17 utensils because that is how many there are in front of him and it is like he just got 17 new toys for Christmas): “Hello – do you have it noted on our reservation that our children require gluten-free meals? Because our daughter has Celiac, etc., etc., etc…”

 

Waiter (clearly with no prior knowledge of this requirement): “We can talk to chefs about gluten-free.”

 

Gatordad: “Great and it is my son’s third birthday and we were hoping for some gluten free cake for him.”

 

Waiter (again, no prior knowledge, somewhat muttering): “We talk to chefs about gluten-free.”

 

OK – not off to the best start, but at least he knows the words “gluten-free”.

 

When it was time to order, we were offered grilled chicken for the Gatorkids. I do not think they were offered anything else by the waiter. Thankfully, the Gatorkids eat grilled chicken like 80 times a week, so this was a very acceptable option. We ordered that and hoped for the best.

 

I have no idea what Gatorwife and I ordered, as really the kids’ meals were our main priority, and we were both kind of looking at each other like “What the [bleep] is happening here???”

 

At this point, I was kind of ready to jump on a lifeboat with the whole family and start paddling east to see if I could catch up with the Disney Fantasy in Tortola….

 

Enter Stage Right, our hero, my main man for the rest of the cruise, our Headwaiter Extraordinaire, the often imitated, never duplicated, Mr. Ian of Jamaica:

 

I have no idea what Ian actually said to us, but we were immediately comforted and felt cared for, safe, happy, and relieved. Ian gave us his reassurances, his card, his phone number, and a sincere invitation to call him anytime from anywhere to get gluten-free ANYTHING we needed.

 

Abort lifeboat mission….Abort lifeboat mission….stay the course on Oasis….

 

In addition to Ian, the Main Dining Room Manager visited our table, echoed Ian’s sentiments, gave us his card, and relief further set in.

 

Eventually the meal was complete, and by the time everyone was ready to sing happy birthday, Gatorboy was asleep in my arms…

 

Ian, our Waiter, our Assistant Waiter (who was fantastic and full of positive energy by the way), Gatorwife, and I briefly conferred and we all decided tomorrow night would be the birthday celebration. He just looked too cozy to blow out a candle right now…

 

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At this point, Ian came over and personally took our orders for the Gatorkids for tomorrow’s breakfast and dinner. He even offered GF French toast for the kids which they have never tried and we didn’t know could happen so we took him up on the offer. And we added in the standard GF pancakes, eggs and bacon.

 

Lunch was offered too, but the thought of 3 meals in the main dining room was a bit much for us – if we got them to sit through two meals without Gatorboy throwing a fork at a neighbor and inadvertently taking out an eye, it would be a miracle and we did not want to press our luck…

 

So with 2 GF meals already ordered for the next day, we left the main dining room breathing a sigh of relief. Thank you Ian.

 

So, what did the sum total of our day one gluten-free dining experience teach us???

 

1. There really was no point in telling people on land what you would like at sea. At least not for something as detailed as a window seat or a birthday candle for your three year old on night one. They are not going to personally call your waiter to be sure your every whim is satisfied on night one. Your waiter will have no idea who you are, what your requests are, or who you called before you got onboard. Know this going in so you are not disappointed.

 

2. Nobody is going to roll out a gluten-free red carpet for you and immediately cater to your every desire the second you get on the ship. But something akin to, though more subtle than this will happen eventually.

 

3. Angels will not sing from the heavens as you enter the dining room for the first time.

 

4. You will probably eat grilled chicken the first night. We also asked for fruit – specifically strawberries as the kids love those – and we were immediately accommodated.

 

5. The headwaiter is where it’s at.

 

6. The person at the front of the dining room is useless for day 1 requests – ask specifically to speak with your headwaiter or a dining room manager if your requests are so important to you that you will be devastated if they do not magically materialize on night one.

 

7. You could wait a long time for food in the Windjammer, but the burger they make for you will look and taste better than what is on the buffet.

 

8. Day 1 is chaotic for everyone involved, not just you. Things will settle down. Be patient.

 

9. You will be able to eat gluten-free food on day 1, but it may not be your first choice.

 

10. It’s all about expectations. Set your expectations appropriately for day 1 and you will not be let down…

 

ADVENTURE OCAEN NIGHT ONE: Having survived the first night main dining room experience, we took the kids to the room so Gatorboy could finish his nap, and by the time Adventure Ocean opened on night one at 9:00, Gatorboy was wide awake and kicking.

 

Side note – Adventure Ocean is only open for an hour on night one from 9:00 to 10:00, though you could leave the kids for the Late Night Party Zone after 10:00 for a fee, and this Party Zone is available every night. I cannot comment on the Late Night Party Zone, as we always picked the kids up before 10:00. I would have happily paid whatever fee they charged, but that is very late for the Gatorkids anyway and we did not want to throw them off more than we already were, so they were picked up before 10 each night.

 

So I asked Gatorwife if she wanted to take them, and while she hesitated at first, I convinced her it was a good opportunity for them to go and see how they like it for a short session. So we took them up and dropped them off with the very friendly counselors, and had exactly 56 minutes to ourselves!

 

You know what this means, right???

 

CASINO ROYALE!!!

 

We did not walk, we RAN out of Adventure Ocean and straight to deck 4 to grab an adult beverage and win enough money to pay for the cruise!

 

I retain my MLife Gold Status with MGM Resorts in Vegas, and they have a partnership with Royal Caribbean which offers some nice onboard perks. The notable perks for me were $125 onboard credit and waived cash advance fees at the casino cashier, meaning I could avoid the necessity to carry a lot of cash onboard and have the cash advances earn me double points on my Royal Caribbean Visa. Win-Win…

 

So we probably went to the bar first, then straight to the cashier to figure out how to get money. And of course, they wanted a 5% fee for the money.

 

Off to the casino host desk we went.

 

He also wanted a 5% fee for the money and went into some lame explanation about it, but I was stern and eventually he “found” me in their system and all’s well that ends well.

 

Cash in hand and 42 minutes to spare, Gatorwife sat at a video poker machine while I cheered her on. She hit a 4 of a kind which was a nice start!

 

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Speaking of video poker, there are only 8 functional video poker machines on the Oasis which is strange. There were three others that weren’t working along the wall. Most of the time I was there, however, there was at least one seat available.

 

My only other note about the casino is that I am very glad half of the casino is non-smoking. Does this magically prevent the offensive poison from wafting out of its zone? Of course not. But it does prevent someone from sitting right next to you with a cigarette and blowing the smoke right in your face, which is a major plus. And generally speaking, there is a very noticeable difference between the levels of smoke on both sides.

 

The video poker machines are on the nonsmoking side, by the way, which made me very happy.

 

After getting a little teaser of the casino, we were out of there as soon as we had arrived to pick up the Gatorkids and see how their 50 minutes went, crossing our fingers that Gatorboy was using the potty the way we have been teaching him for months now.

 

Kids were all smiles when we got there and the counselors (who were excellent by the way), had nothing notable to report, meaning no accidents. Success!!!

 

We walked through Central Park on the way back, which is just lovely at night. I never use the word “lovely” because that is just not the type of word I use, but it really is the best word to describe Central Park at night so I am deviating from my standard vocabulary and comfort zone and telling you all that Central Park is lovely in every way. There, I said it.

 

Once the kids were in bed, it was time for Gatordad to do his Gatorerrands and get some Gatordrinks and Gatorsnacks for Gatorwife. As reported above, this was a breeze with our room location and soon thereafter, Gatorwife and I were enjoying our lovely balcony taking it all in and relaxing. There I go with the word again…

 

We had survived day 1. I was quite satisfied with how it had gone in spite of the imperfections we encountered along the way.

 

All in all, it was a great start to our vacation…

 

 

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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Looking forward to the rest of your review. I've read a lot of reviews here and it's refreshing to read about a cruise from a different perspective. As others have said, love your writing style.

 

Love the kid pics also...especially the outtakes. I'm 50ish (+ish), baldish, and chunkyish as well, which means I'm about 15 year ahead of you and my kids are now 20 and 23. The best pictures that I get of them are still when they're doing something and aren't looking at me.

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