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Gatordad815

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

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DAY 2 – OUR FIRST FAMILY MORNING AT SEA

 

So I woke up early this morning and noticed the boat was really moving. Like I could really feel it. And I wasn’t sure if I liked it. Yes, the weather was not good at all this morning and the seas were pretty rough. But I was on a cruise and determined not to let the weather get me down, so I quietly got dressed and snuck out the door without waking anybody up (as would happen almost every other morning this trip).

 

CAFÉ PROMENADE SPECIALTY COFFEE: I went down to Café Promenade to figure out the specialty coffee situation (If I haven’t mentioned it yet, we had the deluxe drink package so bottled waters, sodas and specialty coffees were included along with the alcohol).

 

I don’t drink specialty coffees, just plain black coffee, but I do like the better brands, so I was encouraged to see the Seattle’s Best sign when I arrived. I ordered a black coffee and a bottled water, and the oddest thing happened. They didn’t pour my coffee, rather they made my coffee with their espresso machine.

 

I would later find out this coffee is called a “Caffe Americano”. This is a fancy way of saying “disgusting coffee”.

 

So the specialty coffees for me were a bust and I ended up drinking the Royal Caribbean Roast for the rest of the trip which was just fine, just not “specialty”. All was not lost as my wife had 2 Seattle’s Best skim milk lattes daily, and enjoyed them very much, so we got our money’s worth on the coffee portion of the drink package!

 

Side note – there is bottled water everywhere on the ship. And it is included in the Deluxe drink package. And they are freely given out along with any other drink you order so you can get 2 drinks at a time if the second is water. Get water and stay hydrated and take some back to your room so you have them at night. We also used these bottled waters to refill the Gatorkids’ drink cups, which was very convenient.

 

Before anyone accuses us of breaking the rules, giving a 3 year old some of your water is not considered “sharing” a drink package. Nobody on the ship cares if you do this. Nobody expects you to buy a drink package for a 3 year old who only drinks water. Now if your 3 year old is drinking soda, you deserve to have to pay for a drink package on principle alone, but nobody is going to take you to Royal Caribbean jail if you give your toddler a sip of bottled water. Or a whole bottle for that matter.

 

Anyway, as I was saying, I had disgusting coffee and bottled water and I wandered to the Casino to see if I could get my 4 of a kind. The casino was as unkind to me as the waves, and I was soon back up at Café Promenade getting Gatorwife’s latte to bring to the room.

 

When I got up there, Gatorgirl had migrated to the king bed and she and Gatorwife were snuggling. I crawled in with them and just then Gatorboy woke up smiling from ear to ear and jumped in and we all smiled and laughed and snuggled together for a while.

 

I love these three more than words can express.

 

Priceless moment. This more than made up for the botched sail away and was something I never could have planned…

 

MAIN DINING ROOM BREAKFAST: After getting dressed, we were off to the Main Dining Room for breakfast. There was a short line to get in for a la carte (they have a separate line for the MDR buffet), and we were quickly seated. When we told our waiter we had ordered the previous night, we were not met with blank stares or confusion or any of the things I was fearing. It was a simple “What is your room number?”

 

He went back, checked and the order was already in. The food came out in the same amount of time or less than a “normal” order would take. Could it be??? An eating establishment that can fire up a gluten-free special order in under an eternity???

 

IT. WAS. AWESOME.

 

The French toast was amazingly good for GF bread. I didn’t taste the pancakes, though the kids really liked them. Breakfast was an astounding success. At this point, I wanted to find Ian and hug him…

 

Don’t get me wrong, it still took my kids an eternity to actually eat their breakfast because they DON’T DO ANYTHING QUICKLY, but at least there was no prolonged wait for the food. Yes!

 

MINIGOLF: After breakfast we wandered up to the top deck to see how the weather was looking, and though it was not the clear blue skies and calm Caribbean waters I was hoping for, it was certainly an improvement from when I woke up. As we were wandering up there, Gatorgirl saw minigolf and just HAD TO play. So they played. It was super cute. Of course they don’t follow the rules, but they were quite proud of themselves when they were able to get a hole in one after placing the ball three inches from the hole.

 

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After this, we went back to the room to relax and regroup and Gatorwife decorated for Gatorboy’s birthday. Yeah I know it was yesterday and the original intention was to decorate it yesterday, but guys yesterday was a whirlwind and it just didn’t happen. But we celebrated all week and the decorations were a really nice touch!

 

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Please disregard the mess…have I mentioned that 3 year old boys aren’t particularly neat and orderly???

 

Oh and I took a picture of our balcony view because I loved it.

 

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Have I mentioned that I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this balcony. Because I did. We all did!

 

BALCONY SAFETY: Side note about balcony safety for all of you neurotic parents with little ones. If you have never been on a cruise and you are waking up having nightmares about your kids sneaking out while you sleep and climbing overboard, you are paranoid and you are not alone. I had this unfortunate nightmare like 800 times before the cruise even though I logically knew that if little kids were falling from cruise ship balconies galore it would be very bad for the industry and it’s just not something that happens. Nonetheless, I was paranoid.

 

Here were my observations from our balcony:

 

1) the height of the glass was very high, so there was no way my little guys could climb overboard without a chair (even then I doubt they could do it, though this is a theory I never care to test).

 

2) The door was HEAVY. Like Hella-Heavy. There is no way either of them could have opened it even if it was unlocked. Even I had to use both hands and some elbow grease to get it open.

 

3) I would know when the handle lock was unlocked because the door would be slightly ajar and I would hear loud wind, so there really was no “forgetting” to lock the handle.

 

4) And if all else failed, there was a child lock they could not reach.

 

All of the above plus some common sense, like making a rule that kids don’t touch the door handles or open doors without mommy and daddy, and are NEVER allowed to climb on chairs on the balcony (even if parents are out there) or be on the balcony without mommy and daddy, and your fears should be alleviated.

 

The balcony issue never even crossed my mind once we were on the ship and my paranoid dreams thankfully did not join us for the cruise vacation…

 

I hope that last part helps at least one of you sleep better leading up to your cruise.

 

 

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DAY 2 CONTINUED - LUNCH AND FORMAL NIGHT!!!

 

After relaxing in the room, we went up to the pool deck and played in the H2O Zone for the first time. This was not an ideal day for this as it was WINDY and the splash pad water works were turned off because of the wind. The fact that the water wasn’t “splashing” in the “splash pad” evidently felt very “unfair” to Gatorgirl, and she expressed this to me repeatedly. For the record, I hate the word “unfair” coming out of the mouth of any kid on a Caribbean cruise ship bound for Haiti and I was rapidly losing my patience with this situation. This is a word I am working very hard to erase from her vocabulary and I want to punch whoever introduced this word to her because it is the word used inappropriately most frequently by people blessed to be born with privilege.

 

Ok, Rant over.

 

Anyway, this lack of splashing travesty eventually led to Gatorgirl breaking out into an irrational stream of tears that could only be assuaged by me taking her in the circular pool that spins you around and around. And while I was loathe to do it, I didn’t exactly have the energy to explain the concept of poverty to her (again), so I took one for the team. Probably not my best parenting, but I have to pick and choose my battles. In any event, this pool was great fun for her and pure torture for me.

 

Side note – the seavwaves were still really going at this point in the day and it was pretty weird to be in the big kids pool when all of the water was forcefully sliding back and forth, taking the swimmers with it. Kind of fun, kind of uneasy feeling.

 

SORRENTO’S GLUTEN FREE PIZZA: For lunch, I decided to grab a Gluten Free Sorrento’s pizza for the kids and bring it back to the room so Gatorwife took them to the room and got them dried off while I ordered the pizza (they take about 10-15 minutes to make). I have to tell you, seeing how busy Sorrento’s pizza is and how fast everyone was moving did not give me a great deal of confidence that their pizza wouldn’t be cross-contaminated (my wife would have jumped overboard if she would have seen it), but I knew from FirstAnthem’s trip report her daughter ate it and did not get sick so I threw caution to the wind and just let them make it for us.

 

It came out, looked very good, and I brought it back for the kids and they ate the whole thing!

 

Side note – I spoke with someone later in the trip and they told me that every time they make a GF pizza they are required to wash their hands, change their gloves, use the dedicated oven, use a separate disposable pan as the cooking surface for the pizza, and use a separate utensil to cut the pizza on the next table over from where the other pizzas are cut.

 

At first glance, it looks like a recipe for cross contamination disaster by the sheer speed everyone is moving, but it’s legit. My kids ate it like 4 times and never got sick.

 

After delivering the pizza, I snagged hot dogs from Boardwalk Dog House and brought them back to the room for Gatorwife and myself for a small lunch and they were surprisingly good! Grab one or two when you aren’t in the mood for a long meal!

 

I’m pretty sure Gatorgirl went to Adventure Ocean for a little while in the afternoon while Gatorboy and Gatorwife took a nap before dinner, but I cannot be certain. I’m pretty sure I went to the casino and lost money while this was happening, but I cannot be certain.

 

FORMAL NIGHT: I can be certain that eventually we were all up, showered, dressed, and running late for formal night!!! We all dressed very nice, though sadly I really do not have a good picture of all 4 of us to show for it.

 

Dinner arrival this night was the opposite of the first night. There were strawberries already sitting at the table for the kids which was awesome, the kids’ steaks arrived very shortly after we sat so we could work on getting them fed, and not long after the adult food started arriving at an appropriate pace. The kids were actually not too antsy at dinner, which was great (this would not last the whole trip of course, but I was just happy for one dinner that was not a constant wrestling match with Gatorboy).

 

The whole team of servers, Ian included, came over and led us in singing “Happy Birthday” to Gatorboy and this was a BIG DEAL to him – he loved it! They served GF chocolate cake and ice cream which was really really good! Everything about this dinner was absolutely wonderful! I was soooooo happy!

 

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After dinner, we took the kids up to the kids club as they were both eager to go and Gatorwife and I sure weren’t going to miss this opportunity!

 

Did I say “miss this opportunity”? I meant “deny them their fun even if it meant the two of us wandering bored without them”.

 

By now, you know we hightailed it to the casino. After an unsuccessful round of video poker, we decided to go play some slot machine and we randomly picked the Quick Hits Platinum machine. Now I am not a slot player at all, but the VP had been brutal to me, so I needed a change of pace. And I sure am glad we went to Quick Hits because, first of all, I won a little and had a lot of fun, and second of all, this is where we met Linda.

 

“Who is Linda?” you ask…

 

Linda lived at the Quick Hits Platinum machines and knew EVERYONE within a 20-foot radius of those machines. Linda pays for her cruises by gambling in the casino (you go girl!). Linda put some voodoo on my machine and made it pay me bonus round after bonus round. Linda was a riot! We Hung out with Linda every opportunity we could. WE. LOVED. LINDA.

 

Isn’t it funny how you just click with people from all walks of life when you are all together on a cruise ship for a week??? I loved this aspect of the trip!

 

A little after 9:00 we decided Gatorboy had been up in Adventure Ocean for 2 hours and we were pushing our luck, so we did what any responsible parent would do and ordered a drink. No but seriously, I was anxious to go check on him, so I very soon thereafter left and told Gatorwife to meet me in the room in 20.

 

ADVENTURE OCEAN ROCKS: So the next part will be a quasi-copy and paste from the Reader’s Digest version because I already told this story. Sorry, it’s not plagiarism if I wrote it to begin with:

 

Ok I’ve been freaking out for months because I wasn’t sure if Gatorboy would be fully potty trained to Adventure Ocean’s standards, but we worked hard at it leading up the trip. When I showed up to pick him up, I learned that he had trouble with his fancy pants in the potty & so he was wearing Adventure Ocean shorts. I was MORTIFIED and afraid he would get kicked out.

 

Instead there was a very calm lady who said he was just having trouble with his outfit & he now has a souvenir. She was so friendly and non-judgy about it. I love her. What a relief!

 

I think they can tell the difference between kids who are actually trained (Gatorboy is but he still messes up occasionally), and parents dropping off a non-trained kid, but the fact that I got “souvenir shorts” instead of a lecture and final warning was such a relief.

 

I was eager to tell Gatorwife about this encounter so I was glad she was waiting for the three of us in the room.

 

After the kids were asleep and we had had our late night beverage and snacks on the balcony, Gatorwife was tired, so she turned in. I was tired too, but my family was all peacefully and soundly asleep and there was a casino steps away and I really felt I deserved a four of a kind because it was time!

 

Then I hit four 4’s with the kicker for $200, smiled, cashed out, and called it a night myself!

 

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That’s what I’m talking about! Great way to end a great day!

 

 

 

 

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DAY 3 – LABADEE

 

I awoke to an odd feeling of no ship movement. OH NO! Were we already docked??? Were we missing our beach time???

 

Nope – it was just good weather!

 

So this is what everyone is talking about when they say the Oasis class ships don’t move around a lot! For what it’s worth, I did find the ship to be extremely still during periods of nice weather (even when there were waves out there so it does appear to be a steady ship), but during two particularly nasty days the ship moved quite a bit.

 

I was very eager to get up, get out and get on with it in Labadee because: a) I love the beach; b) the Gatorkids really love the beach; and c) I had no idea if afternoon thunderstorms would build and missing the beach would have been a real bummer.

 

So after a quick trip to Café Promenade for Gatorwife’s latte, I was throwing the curtains open, sounding the trumpets, and generally aggravating my sleeping family. I could SEE Labadee from my window and they needed to get their butts MOVING!

 

While they (ever so slowly) got moving, I went out and watched our arrival with tremendous excitement!

 

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So once everyone was dressed, we had an important decision to make – breakfast or beach???

 

While in normal life I would give the kids a GF Van’s peanut butter and jelly breakfast bar and hightail it to the beach and worry about lunch later, we really weren’t sure how lunch was going to work out. That, plus the kids ate a ton of breakfast the day before and it can sometimes be VERY difficult to get them to eat, so the responsible thing to do would be to get them fed really well before leaving the ship.

 

So we chose the option that was less fun and probably in everyone’s best interest and went to the Main Dining Room for breakfast.

 

As with every other meal in the MDR, Gatorboy instantly started grabbing everything on the table when we sat down because this is what 3 year old boys do. I wish they had a no-silverware zone where they just brought one fork per kid when the food arrives. That would be true family-friendly dining!

 

After a loooooooooooonggggg breakfast, it was time for sail away and we completely missed Labadee.

 

Nah, but that’s what it felt like to me as I sat there shoving food into Gatorboy’s squirmy uncooperative mouth for what felt like an eternity. Clearly he does not yet fully grasp the concept of “MOVE IT KID! – WE HAVE PLACES TO GO AND PEOPLE TO SEE!”

 

Eventually we made it off the ship and were fortunate enough to be walking right by the ferry to Columbus Cove as it was filling up so we hopped on board for the quick pleasant ride over.

 

COLUMBUS COVE: I knew from my research this area does not have any rocks in the water and the water is calm, so this was a natural pick for us. Upon arrival, we found some lounge chairs in the shade and got situated and sun screened up, and headed straight for the sand and water!

 

Columbus Cove is perfect for families – the water is clear and calm, the water is shallow for a good bit meaning the kids could have some room to roam without us hovering over them, there are plenty of trees for shade, there is a bar nearby for drinks, there is a food pavilion nearby, there are restrooms nearby, there are guys playing awesome tropical sounds – really everything one could want was available at Columbus Cove. Perfection.

 

Speaking of the guys playing awesome tropical sounds, I had one epic fail for the trip that I still very much regret and feel very bad about. Once we got all situated and comfortable at the furthest beach from the ship, I realized I only had one $5 bill in my backpack. That’s it. No money.

 

THE ORIGINAL PLAN: The original plan was to bring a modest amount of cash onto Labadee and make sure everyone who even remotely made my day the slightest bit better got some of it. There are people playing music, people dancing, people getting lounge chairs situated, and a whole host of other things, and I genuinely wanted to make it rain $5 bills all over the island because $5 means so much more to them than it does to me and it’s just the right thing to do. As I sit here typing this, I feel pretty low thinking about my fail in this regard.

 

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: I sincerely contemplated going back to the ship to get cash (I told Gatorwife several times I was going), but I never could break away from the kids for an hour to do that (because that is about how long it would have taken). I work very long hours and my kids only see me for a few hours at dinnertime and on weekends, so when they have my undivided attention they stick to me like glue. Seeing as I had only one $5 bill and the guys playing music at Columbus Cove brought the most enjoyment to our day for the longest period of time, about halfway through the day I gave the $5 to Gatorgirl and asked her to put it in their tip box and thank them, which she did happily. They seemed genuinely appreciative. I was able to add on extra gratuity to the sea pass cards for the bartenders, so that mitigated my guilt somewhat, but I still felt really bad walking back to the ship right past the people dancing and playing music out there in the hot sun on the pier. Bad Gatordad.

 

Anyway, as I was saying, Columbus Cove is awesome and if you have small kids, go there.

 

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Tip: Get cheap sand toys from Target or Walmart or wherever for your kids and bring them with you – they will keep your kids occupied and having fun for hours.

 

ANGELINA: While playing in the water Gatorgirl came across a familiar face. She was the little girl who had been sitting at the table next to ours at dinner each night, who I forgot to introduce earlier. Her name is Angelina, she is an only child, she is 7 years old, and she is the kindest most mature 7 year old girl I have ever met in my life. Angelina’s parents are doing something right. My kids LOVED Angelina and she was so sweet and appropriate with them every night at dinner (and on the beach), that she really made our trip nicer. Gatorgirl was very excited to find her and play freeze tag in the water with her! It’s nice to see the people you like over and over on a cruise! Angelina will become a prominent figure as this story progresses, which is why I am making such a big deal out of her now!

 

When another man there was leaving, he came over and gave me his mat for the kids just because. We met another family there who was building a big sandcastle with 3 girls that the Gatorkids played with for hours. When that family left, they were so kind they left us their tube and boogie board and gave me their room number to bring their stuff back to them when we returned to the ship. Talk about friendly!

 

LABADEE LUNCH: We made the right call getting the kids fed well for breakfast, because once they were busy playing in the sand they had no interest whatsoever in lunch – they were having way too much fun to stop for food! I was, however, able to get the chef to make them each a cheeseburger on a GF bun which I brought back to our lounge chairs for them to ignore as they played in the sand.

 

I had a burger and some BBQ chicken myself because I was very hungry! I can’t lie – the burgers were not fantastic at all (neither were the burgers in the Windjammer). The chicken was very tasty though! They also had all kinds of other stuff, but honestly since I was going late in the day and so many people had already been through the buffet line, there wasn’t enough Purell in the world that would have gotten me to eat much more than I did. I’m not suggesting it was dirty because it wasn’t – that is just me. In any event, it was nice I could get a chef to make a GF burger for the kids…even though they didn’t eat it.

 

Speaking of Purell, it is EVERYWHERE on the ship. Like everywhere. And I love it. The only thing I cannot believe is the number of people I saw who didn’t use it when they should have. It’s there for a reason people…

 

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DAY 3 CONTINUED – GOODBYE LABADEE….☹️

 

ADVENTURE OCEAN OASIS: Once we were done at Columbus Cove, I wanted to take the kids to check out the splash pad area for a little while before heading to the ship, so we walked over there.

 

Tip- if you are going from Columbus Cove to anywhere else and you want to avoid the pushy vendors in the market area, you can take the “inside passage” near the waterslide up to Nelly’s beach and walk from there over to the walking path that goes along the length of the island. Easy Peasy.

 

The splash pad was super fun – the kids LOVED it! While we were there, Gatorwife and I took turns walking right next door to Adrenaline beach to feel the waves and watch check out the zip lines (like 10 minutes each). It was super cool (but there are waves and the water is rocky as has been reported here, so this is not an ideal spot to spend the day with your little kids). I would recommend saving a little time at the end of your day to take the kids to the water park, because it is really fun!

 

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Sadly, the day at Labadee was coming to an end and everyone was heading back to the ship and as much as we loved it there, I wasn’t particularly interested in being stranded in Haiti, so we reluctantly made our way back to the ship. In case you are wondering if Labadee is walkable, I will tell you we walked from Columbus Cove to the splash pad and from the splash pad to the ship with ease. It’s all walkable. But there is a tram available for tired legs….

 

NOTE ON STROLLERS: Speaking of walking, I will admit, the reason Labadee was walkable for us is because we brought a small stroller for Gatorboy. Way back when I was starting to plan this trip, I was thinking we really would not need a stroller because I am dumb. I even asked you all about it, and a few people chimed in and basically said “you’ll be sorry if you don’t bring one.”

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2588599&highlight=Stroller

 

A BIG THANK YOU to those folks who chimed in because we used this stroller WAY MORE than I thought we would have. Even if Gatorboy wasn’t in it, it was extremely convenient for this packmule to have a place to set his backpack, towels, water bottles, etc. When he was napping in the stroller I had mobility so I wasn’t stuck in the room and could explore the ship. If you have a small kid, do yourself a favor and bring a stroller! Just don’t bring a double stroller unless you absolutely have to. The hallways are way too narrow and there is just no room for it anywhere you go. Bring the smallest practical stroller you can find.

 

NAPS: Once back onboard, we all got showered up and the kids both took a nap. Neither of my kids takes a nap at home, and with all that was going on, they were BOTH taking naps on this trip (but mainly Gatorboy). So even if your kids don’t nap anymore, don’t be surprised if they end up needing a nap on the ship.

 

DINNER: Dinner was excellent again tonight, strawberries waiting on the table, steaks out to the kids quickly, this is feeling very smooth now….

 

Gatorgirl loves cucumbers and sliced tomatoes, so we asked for some of those for her and they appeared quickly. Of course the cucumber slices were not peeled so Gatorwife peeled them for her – no big deal. Ian saw this, and every night thereafter peeled sliced cucumbers and tomatoes were delivered to the table for Gatorgirl. It’s the little things that really stand out sometimes…

 

We decided not to send Gatorboy to Adventure Ocean this evening, but Gatorgirl was quite eager to go, so I dropped her off. I am not really sure what we did with Gatorboy that night, but probably some combination of walking around the ship and exploring and cartoons and getting him into bed early.

 

Around 9:30, I went up to pick up Gatorgirl and her face was painted like a superhero and she had a decorated paper cape on that all of the kids had made – she was SO PROUD and excited! We went down to Deck 8 and she asked if she could fly, so I flew her all over Central Park and she stayed in superhero character – it was a very fun special walk back to the room…

 

Labadee was my favorite day of the trip by far. If RC did a cruise that went to Labadee 3 times, I would book it. I know as the kids get older we will want to explore more, see more, and do more, but at their ages, the ease of getting off the ship, not having to take a cab or shuttle without car seats (which scares me), and plopping down on the beach and having fun all day can’t be beat!

 

BEST. DAY. EVER.

 

 

 

 

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DAY 4: FALMOUTH MORNING

 

So again I was up well before the rest of the crew, and after an unsuccessful cup of coffee in the casino with a video poker machine, I decided to just go to the dining room by myself. By this point in the trip, my upper back was getting tired of the twice-daily silverware wrestling match with Gatorboy. Plus if they can eat while getting ready we can kill 2 slow birds with one stone and save ourselves an hour that can be spent on more fun things! It was breakfast in bed from here on out!

 

I saw Ian as soon as I got in there and asked if I could just take breakfast to the kids in the room which would be so much easier for everyone involved. This was met with an “OF COURSE!” and they just gave me covered plates of GF French toast, GF Pancakes and Eggs and Bacon which I was able to easily carry back to the room – this was great!

 

I just ate off the breakfast buffet while I waited for their food to be ready which worked out great from a timing perspective!

 

When Ian came by my table to ask how the kids’ food had been, I told him how impressed I was with the French Toast they make particularly since it is Gluten Free. He indicated they used to bake it onboard, but they never could get it consistently right so they switched to a brand called Canyon Bakehouse (that I have honestly never heard of before). I’m used to the frozen Udi’s which really isn’t all that good, but this was some seriously good GF bread!

 

After dropping the plates in the room, I went and grabbed a latte for Gatorwife and remembered reading on Cruise Critic that individually wrapped GF Udi’s Chocolate Chip cookies are available at Café Promenade so I grabbed 2 for the kids for later! I can’t believe it took me 4 days to remember that! I’m slow sometimes…

 

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After dropping the latte off, I told Gatorwife I would be right back, as I had a surprise in store for her! I walked to the spa to see if they had any openings for the day and they actually had some type of 75-minute special going on for $149 that included a massage, facial, and 3 other spa-type things (I have no idea what they were), but it looked like something that Gatorwife would love! And the price seemed quite good for all that was involved. They had a 9:45 appointment available which was in about an hour, so I booked it for her!

 

Funny story: On night 2, we came back to our room to find a card on our door. It was a birthday card for Gatorboy. Well sort of a birthday card. Actually, it was a card inviting him to enjoy $50 off any spa service to celebrate his birthday. For a 3 year old. LOL!

 

But they actually let Gatorwife use it, so it was a nice bonus. Really she was the one who had to do all the work to get him born anyway!

 

I went back to the room and informed Gatorwife of her morning plans and she was very appreciative! So the plan was for the kids to go to Adventure Ocean, for me to be responsible for them, and for Gatorwife to go relax in the spa with no worries, knowing I would take care of the Adventure Ocean phone and be available to the kids if they needed me – great morning plan!

 

As we were just about ready, I suggested to Gatorwife that Gatorgirl’s face paint form the night before really should come off, as we probably shouldn’t let them know she didn’t take a bath. Don’t judge me, but my kids never made it to the bath after Adventure Ocean because it was too late so we were bathing them during odd times when we could (somewhat infrequently). Gatorwife has some magic wipes that took the face paint off in two swipes. And broke Gatorgirl’s heart in the process. It actually made me sad because she genuinely wanted to stay a superhero for the rest of the trip and she actually thought the paint would stay the whole trip, but I didn’t want to be “that” parent who brought their kid the next morning with last night’s face paint. It’s like the Adventure Ocean walk of shame….

 

We assured her we would find more facepaint for her (which wasn’t really satisfying at all to her), and we were all on our way.

 

With Gatorwife in the spa and both kids in Adventure Ocean, I relaxed and walked around the ship and watched us arrive and dock in Falmouth from different angles. This whole process is so amazing to watch, I was really glad to have the opportunity to watch it at my own pace.

 

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Once we were docked, I really was not sure what to do with my one free hour, but the weather was quite nice and they had announced earlier there would be afternoon thunderstorms, so I just went to the Beach pool and relaxed by myself. I really like this pool for a few reasons: 1) there are beach umbrellas everywhere which is really nice; 2) it is on the starboard side so all the smoke from the port side is far away; and 3) it is far away from that little circular pool in the H2O zone which stresses me out just to look at. This was a very nice relaxing spot for me…

 

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DAY 4 CONTINUED – JAMAICA MON

 

Soon enough it was time to pick up the kids from AO, meet Gatorwife in the room, and regroup. We were enjoying the empty ship, so we decided to get the kids in their swimsuits. After an uneventful Windjammer Lunch (GF Burgers, fries and fruit for the kids), we took them to the H2O zone in the light rain for a while which was super fun! Uncrowded pools on port days rock!!!

 

At about 3:00 we decided that if we were going to set foot in Jamaica we needed to do it now, so we just grabbed all our stuff and went to the port straight from the pool without even going to our rooms to change. We tried to get a good picture in front of the “Welcome to Falmouth” sign, which was a fail. Next stop, Margaritaville…

 

MARGARITAVILLE: It’s hard to say how I feel about this place. On the one hand, they had pretty good upbeat music playing which was beckoning us in. They also had a cool entry and the kids loved acting like pirates!

 

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On the other hand, the pool was FILTHY. Like nasty. And in my worst parenting moment of the trip I actually got in there with Gatorgirl for like 2 minutes before I realized how bad it was and made her get out. Seriously, I couldn’t see my feet, that’s how cloudy the water was.

 

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We went up to the margarita hot tub to get a photo because of the novelty of it all, and the water was ice cold naturally. I had had enough – peace out Margaritaville!

 

After that, I got a Red Stripe somewhere else because I just felt it would be criminal to not have a Red Stripe my first time in Jamaica…

 

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We walked around for about 45 more minutes and I went by myself all the way to the outer gates just to see what it was like in person. Then I had a very strange encounter inside the gates where some guy was trying to get me to walk closer to him with my son sleeping in the stroller (I think he was trying to sell me weed). At this point, I was done with Falmouth.

 

I’m glad we got off just to say we did, but I doubt we would again unless I was headed to some 5 star all-inclusive or some type of adventure trip with a reputable tour operator when the kids are much older.

 

Gatorboy slept most of the time we were off the ship. Did I mention I am so glad we brought a stroller???

 

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DAY 4 CONTINUED – PIRATE NIGHT!

 

Even though our experiences in the port area weren’t all that spectacular, I’m glad we got off the ship. In the end, the day was very fun and the time we spent on the ship was great, so I would still choose this itinerary again. Perhaps when the kids are older and more into being off the ship I will feel differently, but for our purposes this stop was just fine.

 

We had another efficient gluten-free dinner in the Main Dining Room – peeled sliced cucumbers and all! I don’t know what we ate, but the kids probably had steak because they are little carnivores, I had steak or chicken because I am simple and reliable, and Gatorwife had whatever the most interesting exotic thing on the menu was, because that is how she rolls…

 

During Dinner, Ian actually brought a loaf of the GF bread that is used for French toast to the table to show me what it looked like, remembering from very early in the morning me expressing being impressed, though unfamiliar with this bread – it was great because Gatorwife could see it too!

 

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Talk about service!!!

 

After dinner we dropped the kids at Adventure Ocean, as it was a big night for them – Pirate Performance night!!! They told us when the show would be, and let us know there would be a 45 minute window when no kids could be signed in or out (for security since the kids would be leaving the room to go to the AO theater around the corner and they do head counts on both ends). We were fine with that and off to the Casino we went!

 

I am pretty sure nothing exciting happened in the casino judging by my lack of photos of anything exciting, and soon enough we were back up in Adventure Ocean theater loving the super cute show! If you have kids in this age range, they will want to participate in this as it really is fun! The kids spend their session coloring a bandana and getting their face painted and rehearsing then show it all off to the parents-We loved it!

 

When we got back to the room, we were greeted by a cool towel animal (there were many this trip, though Gatorboy kept destroying them before we could get pictures):

 

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A PERSONAL STORY: After getting the kids in bed, Gatorwife and I were on the balcony enjoying our beverages and snacks and we got into a conversation about the food on the trip. It was pretty personal and I was going to skip it, but I will share this particularly for the parents of children with Celiac (or any food allergy that requires a heightened level of vigilance for every meal, all day, every day).

 

I was asking Gatorwife what she thought about the food situation so far and she said it was stressing her a little. Unbeknownst to me, she had tried several times to ask people around the ship questions about ingredients and processes to ensure no cross contamination (juice bar for example) and had been met with the level of indifference and cluelessness we are accustomed to many other places we go. She isn’t used to not cooking it all herself and she has this down to a science – she is very good at managing this, so relinquishing control was hard and having encountered clueless people onboard wasn’t helping her.

 

I was really taken aback. We had gluten-free dining room meals, we had gluten-free pizza, we had gluten-free cookies, what more could she possibly want??? And I essentially said that to her. In those words. In that tone.

 

Her response was something to the effect of, “a hug, some empathy, some recognition that having an ice cream man walking around the buffet ringing a [bleeping] bell for all the kids to come get ice cream when you can’t read the ingredients and can’t send your kid up to get a scoop hurts me as a mom.”

 

Oh Snap. Bad Gatordad. This would be a good time to just listen and offer constructive suggestions instead of implying your wife is being ungrateful because she most certainly is not. I felt bad.

 

I knew exactly how she felt, as I stay awake at night before birthday parties and other events where all the other kids get to have something special and I am sad too she can’t partake. Of course we always bring her a gluten-free something special, but it’ll always be “different” than what the other kids get. Always.

 

Gatorwife didn’t spend 500 hours researching the Oasis of the Seas, reading about people’s gluten-free experiences, learning the tricks, establishing a comfort level, etc. Of course she knew I wouldn’t plan a vacation where my kids couldn’t eat, but she really had no idea who to ask what questions. I kind of knew all of it going in and I felt comfortable with it, but it was all new to her and I really didn’t think enough about that ahead of time.

 

My takeaways from this situation and thoughts to share:

 

1. You cannot expect thousands of crew, particularly those outside of the main dining areas, to be trained in the intricacies of Gluten and cross-contamination. That is what your headwaiters and chefs are there for. They know this stuff and they know it well and they will take good care of you. Don’t waste your time asking a random person – it just isn’t their job to know the answer. You will inevitably be frustrated with the result. Gatorwife really understands that now and it made the rest of the trip much easier for her.

 

2. If you are the parent doing all the Gluten-free research in advance of your trip, share #1 with your spouse so they aren’t crying on your balcony the 4th night of your trip.

 

3. Even under the best of circumstances (and I think the Oasis was really high up there), it can be stressful as a parent when you just want your kid to have the best…

 

Now that the trip is over, of course, Gatorwife keeps saying how great it was she didn’t have to cook (or clean!) for a week, and she really was impressed with all of the care and effort the headwaiters and chefs put into making this a special gluten-free trip for us, and she definitely feels comfortable considering the kids ate 21 or so meals on the ship and never once got sick (the true test), and she can’t wait to go back on the Oasis in November…so really this was not a big deal at all.

 

But I share it to also bring some realism to the experience for those of you planning for your own kids. Does Royal Caribbean do an excellent job of feeding a gluten-free kid with Celiac? Absolutely, and I give then very high marks for it. But that doesn’t mean every person you encounter will be the right person for your needs, so stick to the people who are best suited to make your trip a success…

 

 

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Thoroughly enjoying your review. Going on a family trip this summer on anthem. Traveling with extended family members that also have celiac disease. I’m a bit of a planner myself(have a feeling most of us on cruise critic are) and happy to glean as many tips as possible. Thank you!

 

 

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I am really, really enjoying your report and cannot wait to read more.

 

We do not have children nor do either of us have any food allergies so it is not something we have (thankfully) ever had to consider. I must say I am impressed with how well the chefs and especially Ian did in making sure your children were well cared for in this regard. Its good to know they take allergies and food-related illnesses seriously.

 

We absolutely love Oasis. Sailed on her for the first time last Fall and will be back on board in two months.

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Sounds like you had a great time with your kids. My kids do not have any food allergies but the care that the crew shows the kids makes for a slow count down to our August Trip.

 

Thanks again

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We were on the same sailing! I am enjoying your report! Thank you for sharing! I look forward to more posts!

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They sell Canyon Bakehouse at Target!

 

 

 

I’ll have to tell my wife! We had pretty much given up on GF bread but if we could replicate the French toast we would be heroes to the kids!

 

 

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Thanks for the kind comments everyone... finally finished with day 5. Getting there!

 

 

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DAY 5 – BACK ON THE HIGH SEAS!

 

Ok by now you guys know the morning routine. Wake up before anyone else, coffee, water, casino, solo breakfast buffet with Gluten Free Breakfast ordered by the newly established Gatordad-to-go delivery service, drop breakfast in bed, snag latte for Gatorwife and GF cookies for later, deliver latte and cookies. I was feeling like a well-oiled machine by morning 5!

 

The plan for today was for the kids to do the morning session at Adventure Ocean and for Gatorwife and Gatordad to just have some Gatoradult time and relax together. The kids were fed, dressed, and all amped up and ready to go. The last thing to do was get teeth brushed and I would be out the door dropping the kids off giving Gatorwife time for a shower in peace without a kid demanding her attention (a rare occurrence indeed).

 

Gatorwife: “OK Gatorkids – time to brush your teeth, so you can go to kids club!”

 

Gatorboy (compliant, happy, easy): “OK Mommy!”

 

Gatorgirl: “But I don’t want to!”

 

Gatorwife: “Don’t want to go to kids club??? I thought you loved kids club?”

 

Gatorgirl: “No I don’t want to brush my teeth – I want to go to kids club NOW.”

 

Gatorwife (calmly): “Well then go brush your teeth.”

 

Gatorgirl (unnecessarily whiny): “But I don’t want to…”

 

Gatorwife (matter of fact): “Well then you’re not going to kids club.”

 

Gatorgirl (escalating, irrational tears, irrational defiance): “But (blah, blah, blah, blah)….”

 

Gatordad intervening (calmly): “Don’t you want to go? It’s so simple. Just go brush your teeth – you are a big girl and you know how to do it…just please go brush your teeth. Every minute we spend in here is a minute you aren’t playing and having fun with all of your new friends.”

 

That was logical, right???

 

15 minutes later….

 

Gatordad (stern, voice raised, picking her up and putting her in the bathroom and closing the door behind him): “Brush your teeth and do it NOW! You are not coming out of there until you brush your teeth!”

 

Gatorgirl (not scared, even more defiant, full on crying fit): (“Blah, blah, blah, blah, UNFAIR!)

 

Ok Cruise Critic, I completely lost my [censored] at that point. Remember on day 1 of this report when I said “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.”

 

This was rapidly becoming one of those moments.

 

Unlike the prior time, however, when I felt bad for Gatorgirl because she had genuinely hurt feelings and missed her bestest friend, this time I had zero sympathy for her and I was in no mood to wipe her tears, comfort her or take a walk. She genuinely wanted to go to kids club – it’s not like we were forcing her to go – we never would have dropped either of them off if they didn’t want to go. The thing that was ruining the morning (for all 4 of us really) was her stubbornness and refusal to do something as simple as brush her teeth.

 

Gatorwife and I get VERY little time together without a kid in one of our faces or some other activity planned, and we wouldn’t have it any other way, but I wanted an hour alone with my wife, the kids actually wanted to be separated from us, and I had no patience for a battle of the wills over toothpaste.

 

So in my third worst parenting moment of the trip, I went into the bathroom, shoved the toothbrush in her mouth, and forcibly brushed her teeth myself while she cried.

 

And when I was done she looked shocked that I would do such a thing (I never hit, spank, get physical or anything with the kids – it’s just not how I am wired), and said “Daddy – that hurt!”

 

In my fourth worst moment of parenting in the trip I said (unsympathetically): “Good – it was supposed to. That’s what happens when you don’t brush your own teeth. Don’t let it happen again.”

 

Incidentally, she brushed her own teeth the rest of the trip….

 

So 30 minutes after this fiasco began, we were on our way to Adventure Ocean. And wouldn’t you know, that before we even got halfway down the hallway to the forward elevator, she was running, jumping, skipping, smiling, excited and happy to be headed for fun….clearly, the only person traumatized by the tooth brush incident was me.

 

I can’t make this stuff up people… Sigh….

 

Soon enough it was time to pick the kids up and continue the family fun. Earlier that morning Gatorwife picked up a Cruise Compass (yes, this was the first time either of us had glanced at a Cruise Compass all trip) and noticed 2 things:

 

1) There was an ice skating session at 12:00; and

2) There was a bingo game later that afternoon (maybe 3:00?).

 

Afternoon plans were set.

 

ICE SKATING – THE LONG PROGRAM: Gatorgirl had been excited to ice skate since before the trip started. Why? I am not sure as we are Floridians and neither Gatorwife nor I know how to ice skate, and Gatorgirl has never even tried this before. I am fairly certain she was convinced she would jump, twirl and spin like Kristi Yamaguchi her first time on the ice, because she is 5 years old and doesn’t understand things like “gravity” and “physics”. Oh and she still has hopes and dreams like a 5 year old which is awesome.

 

Gatorwife suggested that Gatorboy and I should join them. This was met with a big fat: “Please….I’m not breaking my leg today – if you want to break your leg be my guest, but Gatorboy and I will be wandering the ship, thank you very much…”

 

I did peek in to watch them and it was comical: Gatorwife clutching the wall for dear life with her right hand while trying to prevent a VERY unbalanced Gatorgirl from busting her [bleep] with the left, moving at the speed of one revolution of the rink every 15 minutes. It looked like a perfectly miserable 45-minute session for Gatorwife.

 

I couldn’t watch too much because I just knew someone would get hurt and I couldn’t bear to see it….

 

In the end, a miracle occurred and no visit to the ship doctor was necessary. Gatorgirl professes she had fun, though she was also a bit disappointed she was unable to perfect her Triple Sow-Cow/Triple Axel combo jump (is that even a thing?) by the end of the session.

 

You’ll get ‘em next time Gatorgirl….

 

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PARK CAFÉ: While the ladies were wrapping up the skate, Gatorboy and I went and got the kids a GF pizza to eat in the room. By then, both Gatorwife and I were hungry too and she wanted to try something new. I had been forgetting all cruise that the Park Café was a mere 2 decks up, so I suggested she should go up there and see what new stuff they have that she might want. I told her to get me whatever the special beef sandwich was that everyone raves about.

 

I have to say, the sandwich was quite good – particularly the bread they use. They have bags of chips you can bring with you for snacks too which is extremely convenient. I really don’t know what Gatorwife got, but I will tell you I wish we had been able to eat at Park Café more often (or wish it was open late night), because it definitely is a step (two steps) above Café Promenade. And in such a lovely setting, of course, it can’t be beat….

 

MORE ADVENTURE OCEAN: When lunch was over, Gatorgirl wanted to go the afternoon session of Adventure Ocean. Gatorboy said to me “daddy I don’t want to go to kid’s club,” but I was going to see how he felt once he saw all the kids playing while I was dropping off his sister to make a final decision on whether he would go.

 

Once up there, Gatorgirl was off to the races playing before we could even get in the door, but Gatorboy still did not want to go even after seeing all the kids playing. The counselor was so kind and tried to take him by the hand and tell him it would be fun, but he really just kind of wanted to hang out with daddy, which was fine by me! I definitely wasn’t leaving him if he didn’t want to be left.

 

This reminds me…I was a little surprised by the number of parents who left their kids there screaming bloody murder at the front of the room and begging mommy not to go. The look of sheer terror on those kids’ faces was a bit distressing to me. The counselors were great at giving them individualized attention and slowly integrating them into the group activities, but I still felt bad for everyone involved. Thankfully it wasn’t like every other kid or anything, but it happened more than I would have thought.

 

Fortunately, our kids started preschool at 2 and are used to being dropped off daily. They also love being around other kids and know that we will definitely be back to pick them up. So they happily run towards the fun when confronting a situation like Adventure Ocean, which made this all so much easier for us.

 

Naturally, any child is going to have separation anxiety the first time they are separated from their parents – both of mine did when they first went to preschool – but preschool is a drastically different environment than Adventure Ocean. There are a LOT of kids in Adventure Ocean. It is LOUD. It can be chaotic. Don’t get me wrong – the counselors definitely have control over the room and the whole group of kids will stop and pay attention when told to. But a preschool classroom it is not…

 

I’m not saying your child won’t love it if they’ve never been dropped off at daycare or preschool before, but I am suggesting that if Adventure Ocean is the first time your child is going to be separated from you, it may be even harder on them than you’re anticipating. A cruise ship probably isn’t the best place to try this for the first time. You may want to think about ways to prepare and practice “drop off” situations ahead of time if that’s possible for you. For what it’s worth…

 

B-I-N-G-O: After dropping off Gatorgirl, I took Gatorboy back to the room with me and we walked Gatorwife down to the bingo line. Yup – bingo.

 

Another quasi-copy and paste from the Reader’s Digest version:

 

Gatorwife said earlier she wanted to play bingo. Like she really wanted to play. And I was like “WHAT? BINGO? Really???” I was picturing her and the 4 Golden Girls and nobody else (because everyone else has a more exciting plan) playing.

 

So when we walked her down to the line, I realized I was completely ignorant to the worldwide allure of cruise ship bingo. Clearly, I drastically underestimated the level of interest and diverse age demographic of the bingo game. The huge theater was packed with people of all ages, shapes, and sizes and they were all very excited to be a part of this extravaganza. Who knew bingo was so popular??? (I realize you all knew and I’m the only dumb guy that didn’t-now I know).

 

I put Gatorboy in the stroller and walked him around the ship a bit and he promptly fell asleep! And while I LOVE wandering the ship, I was ready for some down time too, so I went to the stateroom, got out my phone, and actually started drafting my random thoughts about the Oasis of the Seas, a/k/a The Reader’s Digest Version….

 

Timing worked out well for everything, as I finished my Random thoughts, Gatorwife returned, and I picked up Gatorgirl, while she stayed with Gatorboy and started getting ready for our second Formal Night!

 

FORMAL NIGHT: We got showered, all dressed up again, and we were off!

 

I know a lot of people don’t participate in formal nights, but I kind of like it. I really don’t love wearing a tie (I wear one daily and look like I am going to work when I get dressed for dinner), but it really is nice to have my wife and kids all dressed up as we walk into the dining room. I remember my first (and only) childhood family cruise when I was 15 years old – it was awesome for all of us to get all dressed up – just felt special.

 

My last cruise prior to the Oasis was our honeymoon 16 years ago, and I know a LOT has changed since then (you could have fit 3 of that ship in the Oasis), but I still kind of think some of the old-schooley stuff is kind of nice. Reminds me of a fun family time on that first cruise in the 90’s that can never be replicated…

 

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After another smooth dinner where the kids really played a lot with our neighbor Angelina (she was so nice), it was time to say goodbye to the dining room and hello to our nighttime plans!

 

Gatorgirl was once again eager to get to Adventure Ocean and since Gatorboy had napped, so was he, so we happily obliged!

 

Because Gatorboy is 3 years old, they gave us a phone to carry with us every time we left him at Adventure Ocean – just in case (they only do that with the 3 year olds I believe, as I never got a phone during the several sessions Gatorgirl went without him). I recall checking the phone every 5 minutes the first night, every 10 minutes the second night, and about every 15 minutes each evening thereafter, just to be sure.

 

We headed to the casino of course, and while we were down there my heart skipped a beat when the phone rang (LOUDLY). Oh no! Did Gatorboy pee his pants (or worse!)? Was he crying? Was he hurt???

 

I ran out the door to a quieter spot to answer.

 

Gatordad: “Hello.”

 

Caller: “Hi, who is this?”

 

Gatordad: “This is Gatorboy’s dad – is everything Ok?”

 

Caller: “This is Callergirl’s mom calling to check on my daughter to see if she is OK – are you Adventure Ocean?”

 

Gatordad: “No but my son is there.”

 

Caller: “You must have their phone.”

 

Gatordad: “I must…I will take it back to them now and let them know.”

 

Ok Yeah, so that happened…

 

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I guess on drop off, they gave me their phone instead of mine! It wasn’t like she couldn’t get a hold of Adventure Ocean (because by the time I got up there to switch phones they had already heard from her on their main line), but it give me the wrong kind of excitement in the casino for a minute there!!!

 

Back in the casino and Gatorwife hit a 4 of a kind. I know this only because I have a photo of it, but it’s pretty!

 

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I recall tonight getting to Adventure Ocean right at 10:01 to pick the kids up, which was the only night they stayed the whole time. Every other night I was there before 9:30 at the latest, but I think AO owed me the time since I was “on duty” for the first part of the session! I was able to see that late night they wind the kids down with a movie/cartoons and everyone left was calm and relaxed – a “party zone” it was most certainly not (at least not for the Aquanauts)….

 

You know the nighttime routine by now too…kids sound asleep in bed, beverages from Schooner Bar and snacks from Sorrentos and Café Promenade on the balcony, the wind in my hair (or lack threof), relaxing on a lounger, love of my life by my side, loving life….

 

 

 

 

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Loving your review with all the detail and sense of humor. And as a parent, I can totally relate to the toothbrush incident. Kids get something in their minds and are determined...they are gonna win and won't budge.

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Love your review and the celiac info has helped me a ton.

Please don’t beat yourself up about the tooth brushing. Some things aren’t negotiable, and she was over it immediately. There will be sooo many more “toothbrush moments”.

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Really loving your review and your writing style. Going on Harmony of the Seas in July with my 9 and 3.5 year old sons as well as extended family.

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DAY 6 – COZUMEL!

 

THE ORIGINAL PLAN: Paradise Beach! This looked like the best option for us or a few reasons: 1) it’s a beach; 2) there is a beautiful pool; 3) it’s not too far; 4) it is pay as you go, which is better when you have kids who cannot eat the food; and 5) the reviews are very good. The only snag was there were 6 ships in port that day, meaning if we weren’t up and moving early, it would be very crowded by the time we got anywhere. So the original plan was for me to get up early, get breakfast, hurry along breakfast and getting ready, get our butts out to a cab line (and hang onto our kids in said cabs for dear life given that car seats are apparently not a “thing” in Mexico), and have a beautiful day at Paradise Beach that could rival only Labadee!

 

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: I woke up and the boat felt really still. Ahhhhh….calm Mexican waters, I thought to myself. I walked over to the window in anticipation of seeing tranquil blue waters approaching Cozumel, hoping I might get a chance to watch the approach and dock as I had in Labadee in Falmouth. I instead was taken aback to see people on their balconies looking right at our ship. Yup – it was the Liberty of the Seas and it was docked and so were we!

 

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Oh snap – I slept until 8:00 on vacation. My bad.

 

I had a choice at this point:

 

Option A: throw open the curtains, sound the trumpets and get everyone angry at me, rush down to get breakfast and shove it in their mouths and fight with them for an hour minimum through likely tears while they finished getting ready (because they cannot eat lunch in Mexico so they need real food and a lot of it), have another potential toothbrush fiasco, rush off the ship, put the kids in a cab with no car seats and probably no seat belts, and get to a beach that will remain uncrowded for at least 45 minutes before 5 other cruise ships full of the families of RoyalCaraibbeandads and Carnivaldads and Norwegiandads descend upon us.

 

Or

 

Option B: Not Option A.

 

I chose Option B.

 

After grabbing a coffee at Café Promenade I went up to the top deck to see what was what and there were like 4 people up there and they were all lifeguards. IT. LOOKED. AWESOME. I had my mind made up – I was parking my [you know what] on a lounge chair and letting the kids roam free because they wouldn’t bother anybody and I could easily keep an eye on them if nobody was there!

 

So I grabbed breakfast from the Main Dining Room and brought it back to the room where everyone was just getting moving and suggested my BRILLIANT plan!

 

Of course, Gatorgirl had a different plan. She wanted to see (shop for crap in) Mexico after breakfast and didn’t want to go swimming. Sigh….

 

Seeing as we were definitely going to get off the ship anyway and walk around port and buy items because we had promised her all trip she could pick a souvenir and we had convinced her everything she had previously chosen wasn’t special enough (translate – too expensive), I didn’t object too strenuously with the plans Gatorgirl was dictating for our family. Maybe she had a point – let’s get the souvenir shopping out of the way and do the pools in the afternoon.

 

So we all got dressed and did that.

 

After walking the gauntlet of the initial shop area where we had a sunscreen incident that rivaled (but didn’t quite equal) the toothbrush incident, and walking around the cab line that by now rivaled that of Space Mountain on any given Sunday, we decided to walk across the street and turn left. No real reason – that’s just what we decided.

 

PARK ROYAL: We ended up walking up to the Park Royal Resort, which I had researched quite a bit prior to the trip, and were invited in to look by salespeople outside. I wanted to see it in person given the fact that prior to the trip, I was considering buying day passes anyway since doesn’t require a cab ride without car seats to get to (ahead of the trip they were quoting me $60 pp for adults, $30 for Gatorgirl and free for Gatorboy). That was a bit much for me only because the kids couldn’t eat there, the only beer included was Tecate which I would never drink, and Gatorwife would never drink well liquors all day, so really we would have been paying $150 just to walk in the door.

 

Funny enough when we walked up they offered passes to us for $30. And as we were leaving, they offered FREE entry!

 

Anyway, I digress…

 

The place was beautiful and they were very friendly there. We wandered the property just to check it out, and as soon as we got in there and Gatorgirl saw the pools she was all like: “Yay Daddy! I want to go swimming!”

 

And I was all like: “WHAT??? 30 minutes ago you said you don’t want to swim. We don’t have bathing suits. This was a walking tour kid…”

 

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If I would have had bathing suits, I would have just paid whatever they wanted for entry and told them we can’t do the all-inclusive because we won’t drink the crap they serve and the kids can’t eat the food, but assured them between Gatorwife and I eating and drinking better things on a pay-as-you-go basis they would get the money they wanted out of us. And I am pretty sure I could have struck a mutually beneficial deal with them.

 

But since we didn’t have bathing suits, I told Gatorgirl that she made this decision when she said she didn’t want to swim and blamed it all on her….

 

...Nah, not really, but I was perturbed at her sudden change of heart.

 

It was hot, the 5-year-old who wields all power in our family had now acknowledged that swimming was a good idea, and the empty ship was beckoning me back because that is where I wanted to be. Let’s get this done!

 

In the shop area on the way back Gatorgirl spent an eternity (30 minutes) choosing her crappy souvenirs (authentic keepsakes) and we were soon on the pier headed back to my favorite ship in the world, Oasis of the Seas! Yay!

 

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DAY 6 CONTINUED – BACK ON BOARD!

 

Once up top, we were able to see the Liberty of the Seas, which was very impressive. Looking at the sizes of the ships, Liberty looks nearly as long, but Oasis is much wider (and a little taller), which appears to my untrained eye to account for Oasis being a much larger ship overall. I’m no expert, but that is what it looked like looking down on the top deck of Liberty from up top on Oasis. Nonetheless, Liberty was very impressive and from the looks I would definitely give it a try one day.

 

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Gatorgirl loved looking over at the other ship, but when she saw the kids splash pad/slide area on it, she actually had the nerve to tell me the Liberty of the Seas was better than our ship and ask why we didn’t go on that ship.

 

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I told her it was just another one of those unfair things in life…

 

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We ate some food, played in the pool, and had an awesome day!

 

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In case anyone is wondering, yes he ate the lollipops for lunch and didn’t touch the pizza. No he didn’t have any vegetables.

 

I’m losing count of my parenting fails this trip....

 

 

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Thanks for the review so far! And I too can totally relate to the toothbrush incident.

 

I do want to add my 2 cents in on the crying kids being left at Ocean Adventure. I, too, can totally understand why it could bother someone to see a parent just drop their crying kid and run for it. BUT I will say as someone that worked in a daycare center through college and worked with lower elementary aged kids for several years some kids will cry at drop off every time. No matter how many times they have been left before. I had one kid that cried for 4 mins (almost exactly) after mom left for over 2 years until he moved into the next age group. Mom tried everything, but the longer she stayed the worse he would cry. Really, just dropping him off was better for everyone. At first she would call to check on him but after awhile it was apparent that he would settle down and be perfectly happy after she was gone so we just assured her we would contact her if he didn't. Things aren't always how they appear to be. I have always just been very thankful my own kids have always been content to be dropped off for a little playtime or preschool or whatever because I would have struggled to leave them crying even knowing they would probably be fine.

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Thanks for the review so far! And I too can totally relate to the toothbrush incident.

 

I do want to add my 2 cents in on the crying kids being left at Ocean Adventure. I, too, can totally understand why it could bother someone to see a parent just drop their crying kid and run for it. BUT I will say as someone that worked in a daycare center through college and worked with lower elementary aged kids for several years some kids will cry at drop off every time. No matter how many times they have been left before. I had one kid that cried for 4 mins (almost exactly) after mom left for over 2 years until he moved into the next age group. Mom tried everything, but the longer she stayed the worse he would cry. Really, just dropping him off was better for everyone. At first she would call to check on him but after awhile it was apparent that he would settle down and be perfectly happy after she was gone so we just assured her we would contact her if he didn't. Things aren't always how they appear to be. I have always just been very thankful my own kids have always been content to be dropped off for a little playtime or preschool or whatever because I would have struggled to leave them crying even knowing they would probably be fine.

 

 

Great perspective! I agree & think you’re right & that was the case with the few kids I saw do that. I’m similarly thankful & I did feel bad for the parents too. The counselors handled it well so it’s clear it’s nothing new for them. But seeing it all definitely made me think that a cruise ship isn’t the best place to try “drop off” for the first time ever...it’s hard enough on land.

 

 

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Thanks for the review so far! And I too can totally relate to the toothbrush incident.

 

I do want to add my 2 cents in on the crying kids being left at Ocean Adventure. I, too, can totally understand why it could bother someone to see a parent just drop their crying kid and run for it. BUT I will say as someone that worked in a daycare center through college and worked with lower elementary aged kids for several years some kids will cry at drop off every time. No matter how many times they have been left before. I had one kid that cried for 4 mins (almost exactly) after mom left for over 2 years until he moved into the next age group. Mom tried everything, but the longer she stayed the worse he would cry. Really, just dropping him off was better for everyone. At first she would call to check on him but after awhile it was apparent that he would settle down and be perfectly happy after she was gone so we just assured her we would contact her if he didn't. Things aren't always how they appear to be. I have always just been very thankful my own kids have always been content to be dropped off for a little playtime or preschool or whatever because I would have struggled to leave them crying even knowing they would probably be fine.

 

 

Yes. This. I worked in a preschool, and kids that age can be master manipulators. The same kids that would flip out at drop off (and were fine moments later) would also not want to go home at pickup.

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DAY 6 CONTINUED – GATORDAD TAKES A WALK

 

At about 3:30 the kids went for a nap before dinner because it was necessary. Gatorwife stayed and relaxed with them in the room for a while so she could get a shower before dinner in peace while they slept. So I took a walk to just check out what was going on. Let’s just look at a few pictures, because I have been typing an awful lot…

 

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