The family enjoyed the Character Breakfast when the little ones got to meet characters from Dreamwork’s Madagascar. *Photo by Don Burgess
The family enjoyed the Character Breakfast when the little ones got to meet characters from Dreamwork’s Madagascar. *Photo by Don Burgess

FRIDAY, MAY 4: I read a report this week that the average cruise ship passenger gains a pound a day. I can testify that was fairly accurate for me as I brought home extra baggage from all the food I was eating.

There are 25 dining options on the Oasis of the Seas, 14 of which are free and 11 that cost extra.

Our party had two people who needed to eat gluten-free, which provided some challenge, but one that was surmountable. We only managed to eat at 11 of the 25, so I’ll only cover them.

• Main dining room: We ate most of our dinners here, where our waiter Milton and head waiter Cyprian did a fantastic job. The service was top-notch, friendly and they ensured those in our party who needed gluten-free meals, got them.

Cross-contamination is a real issue and ‘props’ also have to go out to the kitchen staff.

My wife and my nephew Andy got to order their meals a night ahead of time to ensure this happened.

The food was tasty and it was not uncommon to have at least one person order two entrées or two desserts, especially on the lobster and turkey nights.

We also had a couple of breakfasts and could get gluten-free French toast, which was a treat.

Royal Caribbean has partnered with Dreamworks, so the characters from its movies (like Kung Fu Panda, Shrek and Madagascar) are on its line of ships. One of our highlights was the Character Breakfast in which my youngest nephew, JT, aged 6, got to have a meet and greet with King Julien, the Penguins and Alex from Madagascar.

• Sorrentos: A pleasant surprise was that the pizza parlour now offered gluten-free crusts and both my wife and nephew were ecstatic to have this option. They normally had a choice of six different toppings, which changed from day to day, for their pizza. The crust on the Oasis’s gluten free pizza was a bit thick. We were on the Liberty of the Seas the following week, and the crust was thinner and better. For the rest of us, there were plenty of pizza choices and always very good.

• Windjammer Café: The standard all you can eat buffet on Royal Caribbean’s ships, which is open for all three meal times. It had plenty of variety with lots of salad and pasta options to more fast food style hamburger and hot dogs. It was a decent, quick way to grab a bite to eat.

• Park Café: We had to go for the famous roast beef sandwiches — they were very good, but maybe I was expecting more because they were so hyped. They also had made-to-order salads, soups, paninis and sandwiches. We could get gluten-free salads. The dining atmosphere inside the restaurant was a bit noisy but outside among the trees in the Central Park area of the ship was lovely. It was a lunch favourite of ours.

• Café Promenade: I usually grabbed a small plate of ham and cheese mini-croissants and blueberry and cranberry desserts on my way up to the Schooner Bar for trivia.

• Boardwalk Donuts: Freshly baked and piping hot — if we timed it right. Another tasty treat.

• Johnny Rockets: This cost about $5 per person but you could eat all you wanted to for that price. I always love Johnny Rockets’ burgers and the singing and dancing during the meals was added entertainment. We ate there for breakfast a couple of mornings. I could look down from my balcony and see my family on the Boardwalk and then go and meet them.

• Vitality café: Located near the spa, I was able to grab a smoothie after my massage but it also offers healthy-style dining with wraps, fresh fruits and yogurts.

• Cupcake Cupboard: For about $3 you could get a cupcake, which was very good, but it sat right next to the Café Promenade which offered treats just as good for free, so it was one and done. It also had gluten-free cupcakes, which could be pre-ordered and you get the next day. They were awful. Just how bad were they? When a 12-year-old boy would only eat the icing and refuse to eat the cake, you know it’s bad. We had ordered a half dozen, and to Royal Caribbean’s credit, they refunded us our money for them.

• Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream parlour: Again, good, with several flavour choices, but if we didn’t have coupons for a discount, we probably wouldn’t have purchased it.

• Starbucks: Yes, even at sea you can’t escape the coffee giant’s reach.

• Chops Grille: Our most disappointing meal on the ship. Chops is RCI’s steakhouse. The setting for dinner was fabulous and you would have thought we were in some city with all the trees in the Central Park area.

My wife and I had gone the day before to pre-order her gluten-free meal, with her asking questions about the ingredients. At dinner she again had a query about the ingredients and was told everything was gluten free. Within minutes of finishing her French onion soup, she was violently ill. Something was amiss. The restaurant staff were extremely apologetic (many times over), but once she was ill that ruined the rest of our night.

One place I would have liked to try is Izumi — a traditional Asian restaurant.

There is a $3 dining fee on items priced a la carte. I was looking forward to eating here with my sister-in-law and never got around to it. 

• Next week: Entertainment