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Gatordad815

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

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DAY 6 CONTINUED – SHOWTIME!

 

Of all the nights at dinner, this night the Gatorkids played with Angelina the most. All week, both sets of parents had been trying to get their kids to exercise dining room decorum and cautiously letting the kids slide towards full-on Adventure Ocean in the Dining room. And when I say “both sets of parents” I really mean “the Gatorparents”, because Angelina was just a perfectly behaved child in every way and my 3 year old was like the gateway playmate pushing his brand of rebellion on her and showing her the other side of the tracks.

 

Regardless of who was the influential kid this situation, both sets of parents left the kids alone and had very nice conversation about travels, parenting, and life while letting the kids play near, around, and under our respective tables. Just enough to be cute and not disruptive to neighboring tables (half of which were empty which made this easier), but definitely more leeway than either set of parents would have given alone in a different situation.

 

It was like playing a game of chicken with neighboring parents and the result was the kids, who were acting very sweet even though they were on the floor, got their way. The kids were happy playing nicely, the parents were happy not forcing the kids to sit in their same seats for a long meal, and no neighbors were bothered or injured in the process. It was really nice…and a good reminder that my helicopter tendencies (which I recognize and am trying hard to keep in check) are best left behind on vacation…

 

After dinner, Gatorgirl was again rip-roaring and ready to go to Adventure Ocean, and even though Gatorboy probably would have gone too, he looked a little “off” earlier in the day and in case he was coming down with something, we didn’t feel it was right to have all the other kids be subjected to whatever it was. So we didn’t let him go, which was fine with him because he had a whole night of undivided attention from both mommy and daddy (which is rare since his sister tends to steal the spotlight regularly!)

 

We wandered the ship for a bit, which was awesome because that is my favorite thing to do…so much to see and experience. [NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the Sun Deck on Deck 14 – both day and night]. When we got up to the top deck, Gatorboy saw the stage and decided to give us a show of his own with no threat of being upstaged! It was so adorable…

 

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COME FLY WITH ME: After Gatorboy’s show (best show of the week as far as I’m concerned!), we went down to the Opal Theater just as the “Come Fly With Me” show was starting and snagged front row seats! Gatorboy was tired by this point, so he just chilled out on my lap eating cheerios or Fritos or something like that the whole time.

 

A few things…

 

1. This show was great and very entertaining! Even to our 3 year old! Now – could I have taken him when he was wide awake and energized and full of sugar? No way – he would not have sit still… But this night, these circumstances, this mood, these seats….it worked way better than I ever could have planned! I recommend this show – for a cruise ship it is quite impressive!

 

2. This reminds me, being the compulsive planner I am, I actually reserved this and every other show ahead of time. Except we had this show reserved earlier in the trip so tonight wasn’t even reservation night, and we missed every other show we had booked because: a) we were busy; b) we were tired; c) the kids had other ideas; d) we completely forgot; and e) by the time we remembered we had show reservations, the shows were over.

 

Some general show observations:

 

1. If a show is taking place in Opal Theater, it seems there are extra seats for people without reservations because of the size of the theater;

 

2. The one night I wandered out to the Boardwalk while the Oasis of Dreams show was going on and peeked for 5 minutes, there seemed to be places to watch standing room if you were willing. Incidentally, what little I saw of this show looked absolutely amazing;

 

3. If you can’t get a reservation for the show you want, there is hope because even people like me who are Type A planners with a reservation for every show will blow off (or forget about) a show after 12 hours of managing a 3 and 5 year old. And if those kids are asking to go to Adventure Ocean for the first time in the day and the parents still want to see the show, there’s still 2 more seats!

 

4. If you have little kids and book every show and have your heart set on actually seeing them, I sincerely wish you the best…the shows look amazing and the show we saw was fantastic!

 

Part of why we weren’t too concerned with missing shows is because we have another Oasis cruise booked so we will get another chance now that we have the lay of the land, but it’s hard to fit everything in!

 

BOTTOME LINE: Go see a show if you can. This was a real treat!

 

After I picked up Gatorgirl and brought her to the room, Gatorwife and I planned a little switcharoo for the later night – I would go down to the casino for an hour(ish) while she got them settled and in bed and then we would switch and I would take the late night shift.

 

My hour started with 4’s!

 

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Then I got cocky and started playing $.50 instead of $.25 machines (I am definitely a LOW roller but will dabble in the $.50 range when I’m feeling lucky).

 

More 4’s…oh yes! 4 is definitely my lucky number this trip!!!

 

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Then random 7’s again at $.50…

 

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On fire!!!

 

I soon cashed out at an even number with a wide grin…

 

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After I cashed out, I went over and dabbled with the Platinum Quick hits for a short while and chatted with Linda (who lived at those machines and was one of my favorite people to see on the ship at this point). I told her about our plans for me to go to the room and for Gatorwife to come back down. Linda made me promise I would send her down when I got upstairs! I know Gatorwife well, so I told Linda that there was good possibility Gatorwife would be sound asleep with the kids when I returned, but I would encourage her to go if she was awake!

 

To my surprise, Gatorwife was still plenty awake and had just gotten the kids to sleep, so I told her of my luck and told her that Linda and Ramesh (her favorite bartender from 3 nights prior) were asking about her and wanted to see her (they were). I encouraged her to go out and let loose! She was torn, because she never likes to miss fun…but the part of her that was cozy in the room knowing I would just go get her whatever she wanted to eat and drink to enjoy on the balcony won out. I am a pretty good delivery husband/dad and proud of it….

 

And I can’t say I blame her. That balcony is just so relaxing and peaceful – it beats anywhere on the ship as far as I’m concerned…

 

 

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DAY 7 – LAST DAY AT SEA…

 

I was jolted up at 4AM by a loud noise. I peeked out the window and saw nothing since it was dark, but heard a lot of noise. Back in bed, and lots more loud indistinguishable noise. And plenty of ship movement….ugh…

 

I’m not sure if it was thunder, balcony furniture, an iceberg, wind or something else. It was likely a combination of all of the above. But it was LOUD and I didn’t like it one bit.

 

Fortunately I fell back asleep, but by the time I completely woke up at about 7, the weather hadn’t really changed. We were in the middle of a storm and it sucked.

 

I got out of bed and went to Café Promenade for my morning coffee, but by the time I got down there I felt unwell and decided I really didn’t want to put coffee in only to have it come back out the wrong way. So I just brought some cold water down to the casino with me to sip.

 

Down in the casino, after 2 rapid 4OAKs, I was up $100 before I could even say Anbesol….really, it was that quick. And while normally this would be an event that would give rise to great excitement and the urge to dance by myself in the empty casino, this morning I just sat there miserable. I cashed out as soon as I had sat down, wishing I could trade the $200 ticket for a stomach that was cooperating with me.

 

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Figuring a biscuit might help and knowing the Gatorkids would wake up hungry soon, I went to the Main Dining room. I sat and ordered for them, but the thought of getting up and getting a biscuit was so reprehensible to me, I just sat there by myself in misery sipping water wishing the movement would stop. Fortunately, the food was very quick, and I was soon back upstairs under the covers while my family ate breakfast in the room.

 

I was worried and a little confused. I was questioning if it could be one of (or a combination of) 3 things: 1) was it seasickness? (I hadn’t had it in on my prior cruises in the distant past, but I also have gotten older and roller coasters aren’t exactly the thrill they used to be either); 2) was it one too many “included” beers on the deluxe beverage package the night prior combined with 7 days of eating pizza nightly which I haven’t done in years (a feeling I have had in the distant past but not in a really long time – just not something that happens to me); 3) or was it, GASP, norovirus? (I was so vigilant with the Purell so if this was the case, whatever – I couldn’t do anything about it).

 

I was genuinely worried I had norovirus, but since there was no vomit (yet), I was hopeful….

 

We relaxed in the room for a loooong time that morning because: a) I wasn’t getting out of bed; and b) the rest of them move slow. Plus the weather was so terrible there really was no reason to rush out…

 

Gatorwife, in her infinite wisdom, looked at a Cruise Compass (those things come in handy though I never looked at one all trip). Remembering Gatorgirl’s meltdown over the face paint the other morning, Gatorwife saw there would be face painting on the boardwalk around lunchtime and got the kids ready to go so I could rest. Before she left for good, I asked her to go get my only delivery of the whole trip – a cold can of Sprite.

 

NOTE ON SODA: I do not drink soda at all, but I love, love, love a cold can of Sprite. It is the most delicious drink on earth, though I have the self-control not to drink it regularly. Because we had the deluxe drink packages, we got 2 soda cups, but never even opened them because we both try not to drink sodas in real life. I’m a camel – I just drink tons of water. See…they are still in their wrappers as I type this…

 

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I’m going to start a collection!

 

I also HATE Freestyle Coke machines. They are gross. Am I the only one??? All I ever hear is about how people love these. I. JUST. DON’T. GET. IT. The Sprite never tastes like regular Sprite – it always tastes like it’s flavored with one of the other 8000 drinks that come out of that spout. Yuck.

 

So if you are like me, and want a cold CAN of Sprite (or Diet Coke, which is Gatorwife’s soda indulgence which she MUST have in a can), you can get them at Boardwalk Dog House. I know 99% of you think this was a waste of a story because you love the Freestyle machines, but at least one of you will be happy to know you can get a regular old cold can of what you want somewhere for lunch…

 

I drank the Sprite and timidly ate a few gluten free crackers, and when that all stayed down, I graduated to bread and more Sprite. By noon, I was fairly certain this was not norovirus (thank goodness!), and went out to the Boardwalk to see what the Gatorfamily was up to without me. I was even well enough to enjoy a carousel ride and watch round 2 of the face paining.

 

In retrospect, I think I could benefit by having “stand by” seasick meds. I’m not easily prone to motion sickness, but I definitely have the potential to get it. If anyone has recommendations for a mild med that won’t make me drowsy that I can take only if needed, I’m open to it…

 

Have I mentioned the Boardwalk is awesome and fun???

 

By 1:00, I was actually starting to get an appetite, so I suggested the Main Dining room and we went down there to eat lunch. The lunch there is quite good! I can’t believe we missed it all week! They have a menu, but also a buffet with a salad station where they can make very nice salads for you and a pasta station with all types of variety. You can order GF the night before of course, but even if you just drop in like we did, they can make GF cheeseburgers for the kids…

 

Gatorboy was still “off” and cranky at lunch, so Gatorwife took him to the room halfway through it and Gatorgirl and I finished up lunch and brought Gatorwife her food to the room. By 2:00, Gatorgirl was ready for Adventure Ocean, so I dropped her off and Gatorwife and I stayed with Gatorboy and took down our decorations and packed.

 

Gatorboy got a good nap and eventually the weather had improved enough to go out to the balcony (I swear in the morning if you would have gone out there you would have blown right off). But given how my morning had gone and his afternoon crankiness and tiredness, it was a perfectly lazy afternoon (which was fine by me – it was a good opportunity to get the packing over with without feeling like we were missing something great).

 

CIRCUS: For the afternoon session at Adventure Ocean this day, they were doing a Circus show! We had to be there by 4:00 (or thereabouts) and it was good timing because the other 3 of us had enough time to pack and rest before the big show!

 

Again, this was another very cute show and another great time for the kids – as with the Pirate show, if you have a kids in this age range, I think they will enjoy participation in the Adventure Ocean Circus!

 

LAST DINNER: The last night’s dinner is pretty relaxed. Everyone has just packed, so they are wearing their last outfits for the trip; everyone has been with the same servers and neighbors all week (which I like); everyone knows what to expect – no surprises; and a lot of people wish this wasn’t the last dinner of the trip so people are in a nice mood being particularly friendly. Plus there is song and dance which is fun!

 

Dinner started out so promising…. Gatorgirl was particularly excited to see her playmate Angelina for the last time tonight. Kids were in a great mood, and Gatorgirl made her own specialty cucumber-fruit infused water that Royal Caribbean could get away with charging for in the spa!

 

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Gatorgirl started excitedly looking around for Angelina, but not saying anything. She just kept looking behind her anticipating her new friend walking up at any minute. It was clear she had been looking forward to this all day. At first, I didn’t think much of it, because if we were a little late every night, they were “last call” late every night, so surely they would be there in 15 minutes.

 

During those 15 minutes, Gatorgirl’s emotional state swung from pure joy, to excitement, to anticipation, to curiosity, to pensiveness, to concern, to anxiety, to distress, to disappointment, to despair, to heartache....

 

By the time she had gotten to “anticipation” on the above emotional spectrum, I already knew Angelina wasn’t coming and it absolutely broke my heart to see her spiral down through the rest of the emotional continuum because I knew what was happening, I knew what was next, and there wasn’t a thing I could do to stop it.

 

When she finally started talking, she said: “Daddy – I think Angelina’s mommy and daddy forgot where the table is. Maybe you and me can go look for them and help them find it!”. She actually had hope, and she genuinely believed what she was saying.

 

I had a tough decision…

 

Do I: A) just tell her the truth that I know they aren’t coming to dinner because I understand that once the meals are placed on every other table and the front door is closed, nobody else is coming?; or B) take a walk and “try” to find them and string her along for a little while longer???

 

Of course, I chose B.

 

I was secretly hoping that either I could distract her enough during this walk to take her mind off the instant unfolding disaster or find Angelina’s dad, grab him by the ear, and drag him to his dinner table where they all belonged!

 

OK Guys – we walked by every table on the 4th and 3rd deck dining rooms. Every table. Then Gatorgirl wanted to walked me down the stairs to the second deck and even though I told her there was nothing down there, she didn’t believe me until we were actually down there. She was desperate to find Angelina and it was breaking my heart.

 

After about a 30 minute good-faith search, I got her to return to the table in tears. Remember at the beginning of all of this when I said, “…for such a strong personality, she is oddly sensitive when she misses someone … and there is no reasoning with her or comforting her when this happens.”

 

Yup – that’s where we were. It was bad.

 

Being a parent can be tough when you know what’s going to happen next is going to break your kid’s heart and you can’t do anything but watch it unfold and try your best to comfort them…

 

Seeing Angelina’s empty chair wasn’t helping matters any, so Gatorwife took both Gatorgirl and her dinner back to the room for a change of scenery.

 

I stayed behind with Gatorboy, mainly because I had extra tips for the waiter, assistant waiter and Ian and I wasn’t racing out of there without thanking all of them for taking such good care of our family’s gluten-free needs.

 

I was able to hand the tips to the waiter (who wasn’t my favorite truth be told, but he did get the benefit of the last night generosity because he did everything he was supposed to), and the assistant waiter (we loved him!).

 

I couldn’t find Ian, so I went up the front and asked the Dining Room manager, and he called Ian up from another dining room where he had already started his duties for the next sitting (I am not sure if there is an hour of the day when the poor guy isn’t in duty).

 

He came to meet us in the dining room lobby where the Cupid Shuffle had just started which was just fantastic and he danced the whole song with Gatorboy and me (Gatorboy was tearing it up!) I gave him his well-deserved extra tip, thanked him sincerely, and told him we would definitely request him for our November trip.

 

I will never hear the Cupid Shuffle again without thinking of Ian…

 

 

Fortunately, by the time Gatorboy and I got up to the room, Gatorgirl had eaten her gluten free pasta and calmed down and gotten in a better mood. I think the towel monkey helped!

 

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The kids wanted to go to Adventure Ocean and Gatorboy seemed fine by now, so we dropped them off. We ran down to the casino for one last shot at the jackpot! We needed to pay for this cruise somehow….

 

About 15 minutes in, I checked the AO phone, because I am neurotic, and noticed it was off. Oh no!

 

I literally hit every button this phone 3 times, but could not figure out how to turn it on, so up to Adventure Ocean I was 20 minutes after dropping the kids off for a lesson on how to use an antique phone, circa 2001.

 

Back in the casino, 20 minutes later the phone actually rang. Oh no! When I answered they said Gatorboy was crying. They actually gave me the option – I could pick him up or they would deal with him. But I knew if they were calling, he needed to be picked up and seeing as he had been “off ” for the last 2 days, I wanted to go get him. And I was fine leaving the casino – hanging with my buddy is always more special.

 

I went up to get him, and to my surprise, Gatorgirl wanted to go with me too! I expected she would want to stay as usual, but when she saw me I think she was wondering what fun I would have with Gatorboy since it was still way before bedtime...she wanted in...

 

Incidentally, even though she had a tiny unicorn painted on her face from the afternoon, they really went to town with the face paint on the last night!

 

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We weren’t disappointed at all the kids wanted to break out of kids club the last night – it was our last night of family vacation together so in my mind it was a treat that we got to wander and have the night together…

 

We grabbed the stroller and went and met Gatorwife in the Casino and played craps all night….

 

Nah, but we did go to deck 4. There was a “family friendly” comedy show in the Opal Theater, and as with “Come Fly With Me” the night before, we got there right as it was starting and snagged front row seats!

 

FAMILY FRIENDLY COMEDY SHOW: Make no mistake – this show was for the parents and it was AWESOME! We actually only saw the first comedian and he was absolutely hilarious. It’s family-friendly because there are no “F-bombs” but it’s definitely not a “kiddie” show, so if you are an adult who wants to see comedy and cannot get into the small comedy club, don’t count this show out. There will be seats and it’s fun – notwithstanding the lack of “F-bombs.” At least the guy we saw was awesome….

 

When we got up to leave in between comedians, the host called us out and asked if we were leaving. Gatorwife and Gatorgirl were long gone, but Gatorboy, as if on cue, started waving to the whole theater from the very front and had his minute in the spotlight. He even blew a kiss and got a lot of “ooohs” and “aaahs” from the audience. It was very cute….

 

So we walked around the ship for a few minutes, and decided it was best if we went back to the room and put finishing touches on the packing because we had about 2 hours to get the bags out in the halls.

 

We approached our room from the 6th deck starboard hallway walking aft from the forward elevator area. And as we got closer to the room, my heart skipped a beat and I was in shock to see ANGELINA and her parents walking our way. What??? We hadn’t seen them all week in this hallway – who knew their room was in our hall???

 

Gatorgirl was SOOOOOOO HAPPY!!! Kid hugs and smiles ensued!

 

So we stopped in front of our room to talk and as it turns out, their room was not in our hall at all. This was no chance meeting – they were looking for us! The night prior, while playing under the tables, Gatorgirl had told Angelina our room number and told her about the door decorations for Gatorboy’s birthday (which had since been packed), and Angelina convinced her parents to try to find our room to give Gatorgirl their phone number.

 

OK guys, I’m not sure I always believe in fate or destiny, but this was at least serendipity….

 

The decorations were already down, we didn’t even know Gatorgirl remembered the room number, she told it to a 7 year old girl who remembered it, for the first time all trip she chose to leave Adventure Ocean early just because, and we just happened to come upon our room for the night at the exact moment they were looking for our door decorations (which had been packed) to exchange phone numbers….

 

We stood with the door open talking with Angelina’s parents for about 20 minutes while the kids played and bounced all over the room! It was, by far, the highlight of Gatorgirl’s day!!! (Perhaps the highlight of the trip! She is still talking about Angelina…)

 

We bid our new friends adieu, finished packing, got the stuff in the hall, and got the kids to bed…we couldn’t believe it was almost over….

 

We enjoyed snacks and beverages on our balcony for the last time of course… the Schooner Bar hasn’t gotten as much attention as it deserves in this trip report but the service was great there (particularly considering I never actually sat at the bar for a drink since they were all on our balcony...)

 

Once Gatorwife was asleep, even though I was exhausted, I didn’t want to let the night end. I had put so much into this trip mentally (more than one probably should to be honest), and it was so special to me on so many levels that I did not want to let it go.

 

I went out by myself very late after everything was closed and slowly walked the ship just to take it all in one more time and reflect on the week.

 

If you ever wake up before the ship becomes alive with activity or stay up after the activity goes to sleep and you have the chance to take this walk by yourself and just relax and think and enjoy the peace, I would recommend you take advantage.

 

You won’t regret it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Loved your review. In reference to uour sea sickness...try sipping ginger beer. Ginger is in alot of sea sick meds. It also has way more ginger than ginger ale.

Hubby got a little sea sick this past march on harmony. Labedee had to be cancelled. Imagine that.

The funny part being he always had been on boats all his life. We even had had a 19 foot cuddy cabin, and then a 28 foot sea ray. Where we would leave on a friday nite and not return til sunday nite. So sea sickness will just sneak up on you. Even if your not prone to it.

I got sea sick once. It was on a 3 day tuna fishing trip. It was on a 120 foot long fishing vessel. The ship was lost in between rollers of water. It was those long rollers that killed me. The next day the seas calmed down to 10-12 foot waves and i was fine. (And i caught 2 tuna)

 

It wad a bartender who told us about the ginger beer. I also believe i read on these boards they gave sea sick meds at medical unit for no charge

 

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DISEMBARKATION MORNING – TIME TO SAY GOODBYE…. ☹️

 

While it is well documented above that I am a novice cruiser, I had cruised enough times in the very distant past (4 cruises to be exact) to know that disembarkation morning can be a total nightmare. At least that was my recollection of our honeymoon cruise…

 

I woke up as we were docking, but since I had stayed up very late to walk the ship by myself one last time, I was in no mood to get out of bed. I fortunately was able to fall back asleep for a little bit.

 

When I woke up the second time, I was in a bit of a panic, as I thought we had slept past the time we needed to be out of our room! My phone said 7:51, but my phone had been one hour behind Eastern Time ever since Falmouth and I was not sure if it had re-set to Eastern Time overnight or not. I looked for Gatorwife’s phone (which for some reason stayed on Eastern time), couldn’t find it, and just woke her up anyway, because even if it was 8:00, we needed to get up, get ready, and get out of the room.

 

Thankfully once I finally solved the time mystery by turning on the TV, it was an hour earlier than I originally thought, so we had a little breathing room.

 

I went down to Café Promenade for our morning coffees, but we were skipping breakfast this morning – the kids had plenty of snacks and there was a Publix not far from the Port to get an early lunch for the drive home, so I wasn’t too concerned….

 

The Gatorkids were very sound asleep, so we woke them up slowly and gently to avoid tears and protests…it was actually quite a sweet and calm process. Soon enough, they were up and getting ready for the day (ever so slowly, of course).

 

Gatorgirl still had her face paint on from the night before. We had a choice – make her cry by wiping it off or just let her stay a butterfly all day. We chose the path of least resistance (it was still vacation after all!), and Gatorgirl happily remained a butterfly until her bath that night at home…

 

We had bag tag 36 which was scheduled to be called at 9:45, so weren’t in a major rush, but I did know from reading on Cruise Critic that the rooms are supposed to be vacated at around 8:30, so I didn’t want to push it either…

 

A NOTE ON VACATING ROOMS: The 8:30 time is not a firm time at all. We left the room at 9:00 and our cabin steward did not once knock or insinuate we needed to be on our way. He had many other rooms that were vacant that he was working on so we were not holding him up in any way. Of course if everyone in each of his rooms was straggling like us it would have caused problems, which is why I wanted to get out of the room as quickly as we could to be respectful of his time, but if you need a few extra minutes (within reason) to get the kids ready, you likely won’t get evicted or publicly shamed. I am sure it also helped that the night prior I had given our cabin steward what I perceived as a fairly generous “extra” tip and he seemed quite appreciative, so we definitely would not be his first target in any disembarkation morning eviction proceedings….

 

At this point, we had 45 minutes until our number was to be called, and I suggested we should take a little walk to say “goodbye” to the ship. If you can’t tell by now, I am as antsy and unable to sit still for long periods as the Gatorkids and I just thought walking was a better situation for all of us than sitting in a theater…

 

This walk was SO NICE…

 

The kids were happy, well behaved, calm and occupied the entire time. In spite of me telling you stories about how my children misbehaved from time to time and caused me to work a lot on this trip, they really are so sweet and loving most of the time and I cherish those times. This morning was definitely a sweet and happy morning….

 

 

We started on deck 6 and said goodbye to the Boardwalk and let the kids play in the boat and truck for a few minutes. Then it was up to Decks 16 and 15, taking in the view of the Port Area. We made our way down to Deck 14 and said goodbye to Adventure Ocean. Then it was down to deck 5 where we said goodbye to the Royal Promenade. The fountains were in full effect under the Rising Tide Bar, which Gatorboy loved looking at and Gatorgirl was quite excited to see the Small Wonders in the Promenade (she loved these things whenever she saw them – check them out as you walk the ship!)

 

https://www.botos.com/small_wonders/index.html

 

We ended the Gatorfamily goodbye tour in the loveliest setting on board – Central Park. We sat on a bench and played “I Spy” for 15 minutes until our number was called, and we were quickly off the ship in the sea of bags in the port…

 

PORTER SERVICE: Do it! Just do it! When we first got out there, I was a little concerned we would not get a porter because all of the guys seemed to be occupied with others (it was very busy and crowded), but one of the guys told me to go up front and see his supervisor. There was a supervisor up front assigning the porters to customers on a first-come-first serve basis. There was a very steady stream of them coming in – it only took 2 minutes until I had my guy once I figured out where I needed to go to get him.

 

As has been reported on here, there is a separate Customs line for the porters and it is very fast and efficient. I would have happily paid the tip just to bypass the line everyone else was in, but you all saw how many bags I had at the beginning – I needed the help.

 

Best $20 I spent all trip…

 

No lie – from the time we left Central Park to the time we were on a shuttle driving away from the port to our vehicle half a mile away, only 30 minutes passed. That is it. Gatorwife and I Could. Not. Believe. It.

 

This whole morning and disembarkation experience was the polar opposite of the nightmare of honeymoon past disembarkation. Everything about this morning was pleasant and painless and efficient…

 

As the shuttle drove off, Gatorgirl looked at me and softly said with reflection, as only a 5 year old could, “Daddy – I don’t want the cruise to be over. I want today to happen tomorrow…”

 

Me too Gatorgirl...

 

 

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FINAL THOUGHTS AND WRAP UP

 

So there you have it.

 

A year of anticipation, planning, studying, reading, watching videos, and becoming a Cruise Critic addict had gone into this weeklong vacation and it was over in the blink of an eye. I know any of you that actually read to the end are saying “that was NOT the blink of an eye Gatordad – the trip report was longer than the actual cruise dude, and it felt like forever to us.”

 

But it felt like the blink of an eye to me…

 

A few random final thoughts in no particular order…

 

Cruising with a 3 and 5 year old isn’t always easy, but neither is going to the grocery store with them. Some days they are just in great moods and perfectly behaved and others they are inexplicably difficult. It happens at home, it happens at Disney World, and it happens at sea too. Know this going in. The cruise ship has a lot of built in advantages though that you don’t get everywhere else, and I think it equals or surpasses most other family vacation destinations in terms of making things easier for parents with small children.

 

DOWN TIME: Our kids tend to do well on vacations because they are active and entertained, but down time was a must on the ship. We hadn’t really “planned” for down time, but it was so easy to make it happen since the stateroom was steps away from the fun. This is a unique aspect of a cruise vacation that I liked very much in retrospect. This was much easier than when the meltdown is happening in Fantasyland and I still have to walk 4 miles to get to a boat or monorail, to get to a tram, to get to a minivan van to get to a quiet hotel room.

 

Disney World is still an excellent family vacation (that handles gluten free diets exceptionally). And the kids love it of course (and I will admit I enjoy too). But for a trip that both the parents and kids will enjoy, I think a cruise wins out. And if you have a larger multi-generational party or are bringing along people who don’t have kids (this will be our November cruise), a cruise is a much better option in my opinion. I also think that although a cruise can be expensive upfront, there is more value in a cruise than a Disney Vacation (Disney has gotten out of control with pricing). Our family will continue to spend time with the Mouse, but I am over the moon to have another family-friendly option that I love just as much as the kids do…

 

Plus, there is no Adventure Ocean or casino in the Magic Kingdom…

 

There were so many nice people on board the ship – many I haven’t mentioned here. Most people were in a good mood everywhere we went which was very nice.

 

ELEVATORS: The elevators were often crowded, particularly since we had a stroller, but I did not find it to be too much of a challenge. Dinnertime at the Aft elevators was the worst, but again it was tolerable. This was another added bonus of being on the ship on port days – zero wait and elevator crowding.

 

TIPPING: This is a personal thing for everyone and is discussed often on Cruise Critic. My bottom line on this is do whatever you feel comfortable with.

 

I did leave extra tips for the dining room staff and room steward because I wanted to and felt they deserved it. Plus I was up over $200 on the casino for the week, so it didn’t even cost me anything, which was a bonus! My choice – it was optional of course. Another thing that I did that I think made a difference over the course of the trip was I went to the bank the day before we left town and got a hundred $1 bills. Every time I ordered drinks, I had one or two of those in my hand as an “extra” tip. I know others justifiably believe that 18% on top of a pricy drink package is enough, and I certainly wouldn’t argue with them, but I will tell you I got better service from the bartenders who knew a steady stream of “extra” tips were coming their way from me. Now did this perfect service materialize at every bar on board? Of course not. But at the places where I was a “regular”, like the Schooner Bar and Casino Bar, it made a difference and I was happy to do it.

 

DELUXE DRINK PACKAGE: This more than paid for itself just with the bottled water I drank every day. But adding in the lattes, Sprites, the beers for me and wine for Gatorwife (we aren’t liquor drinkers so really didn’t take full advantage of the more expensive included cocktails), this was a good value. We paid $43 pp per day on a sale Black Friday weekend. The cheapest I saw it after that was $45. But even at full price, it would have been worth it for us.

 

VOOM: I had purchased the internet package for myself during a cruise planner sale ($13.99 per day), but Gatorwife insisted she did not need it and told me to save the money for something else. I bought it so I could at least keep up with work emails. I did not, in fact, keep up with work emails. Just too much going on. But I do wish Gatorwife would have just let me buy it for her, as it would have been convenient to be able to text her on board. We were together most of the time, but during any one of the 3 times she was zigging looking for me while I was zagging looking for her, I would have happily paid $100 to make the treasure hunt end. She agreed. So it’ll be the 2-device package in the future.

 

MUSIC: There is music everywhere on board, much of which is live, and it is generally fantastic. One night we were walking through lovely Central Park with the kids and they had the lovely Strings in the Park going on and it was the loveliest of all the lovely moments we had all trip. The Jazz on 4 Club has something different and awesome every night. We had very little time to go there, but would very highly recommend you peek in if you can – if you enjoy live music even half as much as I do, you won’t regret it.

 

CRUISE COMPASSES: I tried to save all of the Cruise Compasses, though it appears I lost Day 1. I have Days 2-7 though. And I have all of the Kids’ daily planners. Even though I didn’t read any of them, I have them… I am too tech-challenged to figure out how to efficiently share them (no scanner or anything like that), but if you all have questions about something in particular in one of the Compasses (or any other general questions), I would be happy to help in any way I can.

 

CELIAC: I think I gave enough about my thoughts above, but I will leave you with this. Traveling with Celiac can be difficult, though it is not impossible. And some vacations are better-suited for a reduced-stress (it’s never completely stress-free) Gluten-Free experience than others. This experience was a very good one and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone. For the longest time, I thought Disney would be the only vacation we would ever take and have safe food consistently available, but this was definitely a fantastic alternative. You must have realistic expectations and patience on the first day and remember to talk with the right people (the headwaiter is your best friend), but if you can do this, I think you will be very happy with the care and effort put into your meals.

 

As has been reported here before, people all over the ship went above and beyond to make our children feel happy and welcome (both overtly and in subtle ways) – I really fell in love with this aspect of the trip. As a parent, when someone else does something nice for your children, it goes a loooongggg way….

 

Now that this first family cruise experience is over, I would like to extend a very big heartfelt “thank you” all of those who came before me and posted about your onboard experiences with children and particularly with Celiac Disease. Without this information, I doubt we would have booked this trip which would have been a huge missed opportunity for our family. This type of information means more to people like me than you could ever imagine…

 

The morning after we got home, when I went into her bedroom to say goodbye for work, Gatorgirl looked up and sweetly said “Daddy – I still feel like there is a balcony outside my window.” I chuckled and knew at that moment she is a cruiser for life…

 

Me too Gatorgirl…

 

I want to go back.

 

There is so much more I want to see and do. I want more opportunities work on the Gatorkids’ dining room skills. I want more opportunities to expose them to different people, places and cultures. I want to relax on the beach. I want to see all the shows we missed the first time around. I want to see Ian again. I want to read a book (I actually brought one but never took it off the shelf). I want to spend precious time and reconnect with my Gatorwife, an opportunity we don’t get as often as we should on land anymore.

 

I want more snuggles, hugs, tender moments, surprises, and precious family memories….

 

Yeah…I’m hooked.

 

The End.

 

 

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Check out the drink & internet bundles for your next cruise. For my oasis cruise at the end of the year it's only 11 bucks more a day to add internet per person vs the 2 device internet package for 26.

 

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Gatordad...wow...loved everything about this review, your writing style, your sense of humour, your ability to look past the kid hiccups, thank you for taking the time to write this. So, I remember a while back you were debating Adventure or Harmony. What are your thoughts now after sailing Oasis?

 

 

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Gatordad...wow...loved everything about this review, your writing style, your sense of humour, your ability to look past the kid hiccups, thank you for taking the time to write this. So, I remember a while back you were debating Adventure or Harmony. What are your thoughts now after sailing Oasis?

 

 

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Thank you!!!

 

To answer your question, I LOVED Oasis-everything about it. I loved Central Park. I Loved the Boardwalk. I loved all the entertainment options. I loved the size and I didn’t feel it was the slightest bit too big. At all.

 

I had booked the Adventure Spring Break cruise as a refundable option. But I read something about the kiddie water slides and kids my son’s age/height being “left out” because they’re too short for 42” slides and too tall for the baby slides (which require swim diapers). Harmony Splashaway Bay has the same issue. So as silly as it may sound, I cancelled the Adventure with the itinerary I really wanted, and just booked Oasis again (same itinerary we just took) for Spring break 2019.

 

Right now, the ship is a more important consideration for our family than the itinerary...this trip really reinforced that. So I’m very glad we cancelled Adventure. We figured we can book other itineraries and ships as the kids get older, but for the next 12 months, the H2O zone is better than Splashaway Bay for our family. And after driving 2.5 hours home from Port Canaveral, it’s going to be really hard to convince me to do a trip from Fort Lauderdale that will require a 4.5 hour drive each way.

 

Long way of saying if I can get Oasis class, that will be what I choose. I’m happy Harmony is replacing Oasis in Port Canaveral next year because by then Gatorboy will be tall enough for Splashaway bay!

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Thank you!!!

 

To answer your question, I LOVED Oasis-everything about it. I loved Central Park. I Loved the Boardwalk. I loved all the entertainment options. I loved the size and I didn’t feel it was the slightest bit too big. At all.

 

I had booked the Adventure Spring Break cruise as a refundable option. But I read something about the kiddie water slides and kids my son’s age/height being “left out” because they’re too short for 42” slides and too tall for the baby slides (which require swim diapers). Harmony Splashaway Bay has the same issue. So as silly as it may sound, I cancelled the Adventure with the itinerary I really wanted, and just booked Oasis again (same itinerary we just took) for Spring break 2019.

 

Right now, the ship is a more important consideration for our family than the itinerary...this trip really reinforced that. So I’m very glad we cancelled Adventure. We figured we can book other itineraries and ships as the kids get older, but for the next 12 months, the H2O zone is better than Splashaway Bay for our family. And after driving 2.5 hours home from Port Canaveral, it’s going to be really hard to convince me to do a trip from Fort Lauderdale that will require a 4.5 hour drive each way.

 

Long way of saying if I can get Oasis class, that will be what I choose. I’m happy Harmony is replacing Oasis in Port Canaveral next year because by then Gatorboy will be tall enough for Splashaway bay!

 

 

 

We are big time Oasis class fans too. Hard for me to pick any other ship over Oasis class. The ship is the destination for us too. We are squeezing in one more on Harmony before she moves out of Port Everglades. She'll move to Port Canaveral next May so happy planning

 

 

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I have to say this was one of the most detailed AND enjoyable reviews I have ever read on Cruise Critic (and there have been many excellent ones). I really appreciate all of the details you included between the fun family stories. My husband and I started cruising together as soon as we turned 21 and have taken a couple a year ever since. We took last year off since we had a baby, and will be taking him on Oasis for his first cruise this October (he'll be 20 months at that time). I know he won't be able to visit Adventure Ocean, but hearing your advice on dinners, the stroller and balcony situation is very reassuring.

 

Thank you very much for taking the time for this report!

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I have to say this was one of the most detailed AND enjoyable reviews I have ever read on Cruise Critic (and there have been many excellent ones). I really appreciate all of the details you included between the fun family stories. My husband and I started cruising together as soon as we turned 21 and have taken a couple a year ever since. We took last year off since we had a baby, and will be taking him on Oasis for his first cruise this October (he'll be 20 months at that time). I know he won't be able to visit Adventure Ocean, but hearing your advice on dinners, the stroller and balcony situation is very reassuring.

 

Thank you very much for taking the time for this report!

 

Thank you for the kind comments! I’m not sure if you’re comfortable leaving your son in the nursery, but if you are I can tell you anecdotally that each time I walked by it (which was every time I went to the Aquanaut room), it looked very calm in there. If I had a 20 month old, it looked like an environment with which I would feel comfortable. And I think the charge is quite reasonable (don’t exactly remember what I read).

 

If not, there is a very nice family play room as you enter AO and I saw lots of parents with kids in your son’s age range enjoying that room as we walked by it daily. Gatorgirl kept asking to go in and even told me it was “unfair” they had a castle in there since there wasn’t one in the Aquanauts room. But I kept our kids out of there to give the people who couldn’t use Adventure Ocean their space.

 

The splash pad area for kids with swim diapers was super cute and they keep the bigger kids out, so you won’t have to worry about him getting knocked over by careless 4 year olds! It helps make up for the fact you can’t take him in the bigger pools.

 

There is so much for a toddler to see on the ship it’ll be a great time! It’ll definitely be different that what your past experiences were, but by now you already know that everything in life is! 😀

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Loved your review. I have celiac in the family. So when i make lasagne it's gluten free when they come over.

Just wanted to point out for texting. Your phone texts will not go thru on your phone.

You can use facebook messaging, or the royal caribbean app. But you will not get a notice like your phone text.

 

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Thank you for your detailed review. Loved reading it. Any chance you can take pictures of the kids compass and post them. We cruise oasis in June and I can't find them anywhere.

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Thank you for your detailed review. Loved reading it. Any chance you can take pictures of the kids compass and post them. We cruise oasis in June and I can't find them anywhere.

 

 

 

Sure-happy to post them! Sorry it took a few days, as I’ve been away. Here they are:

 

 

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Day 6:

 

15dbfc965cf380b0eca8b6f1113ad731.jpg

 

d09674696e5108ee5be1f78d1e2e2ed5.jpg

 

Day 7:

 

ccd80ee481e7d6e54a3ea64ad22aec03.jpg

 

ef6245d94db425f407e5502039c77a6e.jpg

 

Hope this helps! Enjoy your cruise!

 

 

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Thank you so much!!! So helpful. We are 25 days away from sailing and I'm hoping my little guy uses the kids play area!

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Thank you so much!!! So helpful. We are 25 days away from sailing and I'm hoping my little guy uses the kids play area!

 

I hope your family enjoys the cruise & your little guy enjoys AO! My kids really loved it and I thought the staff were great!

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Did I really just get teary when Angelina appeared in the hall? Thank you for taking the time. You seem like a really good guy.

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Thanks so much for the great review! Helped me remember our trip last fall. Glad you found another family vacation option (so hard to deal with food allergies-lots of people just don't understand that they are real and serious).

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