What’s included… and what’s not! (Food)

When cruising with a new cruise line you never really know what to expect. Having gone on 3 Carnival cruises we typically know what is included. On Norwegian we were shocked at how many of the activities required an additional charge. When we booked Royal Caribbean we picked the cruise based on the ship and its amenities but the website is quite vague on what is included in the price you pay. This article outlines venues that are complimentary (and semi-complimentary).

Complimentary Food Venues

The Wind Jammer Buffet – Deck 15

This buffet is located on Deck 15 aft (back). It is 100% complimentary and well stocked. The Wind Jammer includes a buffet on the port and starboard (right and left) but they both have the same food items. The menu changes daily but they always have certain foods (burgers, hotdogs, fruit, etc). One of the benefits of having the buffet available on both sides is that it allows the staff to close one side at a time when turning over the menus. Therefore if you arrive between meals, food is still available. This is similar to Carnival’s buffet.  However, the Wind Jammer is not open 24 hours. If  you are looking for a midnight snack you have to head down to deck 5.

Wipeout Café – Deck 15

This little cafe is located next to the sports court. We didn’t discover this complimentary restaurant until later in the cruise. It basically has all the food that the kids (and myself) love… pizza, hot dogs, burger, fries, and sandwiches.

Here is another tidbit of information that I didn’t know until after the cruise…  The Wipeout Cafe is an omelette station until 11:00am!

Park Cafe – Deck 8

This little cafe is located in Central Park. It includes a salad bar and bistro. We didn’t discover this hidden spot until the last day of our cruise mostly because it is quite an expensive part of the ship. This is the only complimentary venue in Central Park.

Boardwalk Dog House – Deck 6

Just as you enter the boardwalk you will pass by a small little hot dog joint. If you like hot dogs then this is the place to visit. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of hot dogs! They also have all the fixins’. 

Sorrento’s Pizza – Deck 5

Sorrento’s was my favourite venue on the who ship. Complimentary pizza served fresh between 7am and 3am. Yes, you read that right. It was only closed for 4 hours a day. They always had the classic cheese, pepperoni, or veggie available. Then they also rotated between a chicken and another supreme which didn’t interest me so I can’t comment on those.  But the cheese and pepperoni were awesome!  And you could ask for as many pieces as you desire. The line was rarely long but even with a line out the door it still moved steady. I don’t think I ever waited more than 5 minutes for pizza.  They also offered salads and complimentary flavoured water. In the rare occasion that you got the munchies after 3:00am, you could head across the street to Cafe Promenade.

Cafe Promenade – Deck 5

Café Promenade offered complimentary food items 24 hours a day.  In the morning you could get pastries and in the afternoon they include sandwiches. The menu didn’t seem to change from day to day but the items were delicious.

For those with the Refreshment Beverage Package or Deluxe Breakfast Package you could also order any beverage free of charge.  For me, this meant I could have my large chai latte with extra chai every morning! Unfortunately I didn’t realize this until a few days into the cruise.

Semi-Complimentary Venues

How can a venue be semi-complimentary? This is what I was wondering when we were on the the cruise. The answer is simple. You cannot go at any time of day and order anything on the menu. The following venues offer the following:

  • complimentary food items at certain times of the day
  • certain food items at an additional cost

Main Dining Room – Deck 3-5

This dining room spans 3 levels of the ship. Each level has a different name and when you book your dining option you will be assigned a level based on your selections. When you are ready to eat (or at your specified time) you line up at the appropriate door.  The main dining room offers complimentary breakfast (with buffet option), lunch, and dinner.

If you enjoy being served, you can eat at the main dining room for every meal without having to pay a penny. However, you can also order specialty items above the general menu such as beverages and some dinner options. If items are not included they will have a price next to them in the featured section.

Solarium Bistro – Deck 15

During the day, guests can enjoy a catered breakfast or lunch up in the Solarium Bistro. The Solarium is the adult-only area of the ship so all guests in the bistro must be 13 yeas or older.   In the evenings, however, the Bistro becomes a paid venue with a cover charge. 

We had the opportunity to dine at the Solarium Bistro one night without paying the cover.  We had a show booked and there were no seats available in the Main Dining Room so they kindly referred us to the Solarium Bistro. While we were not impressed with the service up there, the steak was probably the best we had all week!

Johnny Rockets – Deck 6

This is a popular burger joint with a cover charge, but there a few ways that you can eat here without paying extra.

  • Breakfasts are complimentary to everyone.
  • Those who book a stateroom with a balcony get a complimentary dinner for up to 4 at Johnny Rockets. 

We ate here one evening. It was the worst burger I had all week. It was basically a rock hard hockey puck that tasked like leather. The onion rings were good and so was Tavis’ milkshake but I am so glad we didn’t pay for our burgers!

What’s Included… and what’s not ! (Beverages)

Complementary Beverages

If you choose not to spend money on a beverage package, you still have access to complementary beverages throughout the week.  The basic water, tea, hot chocolate, coffee, and orange juice (not freshly squeezed) are offered at most of the food venues. Some even had large containers of flavoured water which was complementary to all guests throughout the day.  The flavours seemed to change regularly.  That’s about it though! No bottled water for you!

Water Bottle Package

This package only includes bottled water. You might think this isn’t important but having bottled water does come in handy on days in Port. You like having water that you know is safe to drink.

Soda Package

This package ONLY includes soda. It does not include bottled water.  Along with this package is a souvenir cup that you can use at the refillable soda stations.  The stations have a variety of options to choose from beyond the classics. They have caffeine-free sodas, and fruity options.

Note: if you book a balcony stateroom you get the soda package included, as well as 1 free meal at Johnny Rockets.

Refreshment Package

This was my preferred package. It can be used anywhere on the ship. I got it for 2 reasons.

  1. We were able to get a 40% discount on our drink packages.
  2. If an adult purchases an unlimited beverage package, all other adults in the same stateroom are forced to purchase a package as well. If an adult does not drink alcohol this is the best alternative but you have to phone and order it.

This is a great option is because it basically includes everything except alcohol. That means you can have bottled water, vitamin water, red bull, gatorade, soda, fresh squeezed orange juice, premium coffees, lattes, non-alcoholic cocktails and frozen drinks. I gained a lot of weight on vacation and I am sure this was a contributing factor.  Below is the official list according to Royal Caribbean’s website:

  • Premium coffees and teas
  • Bottled still and sparkling water
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Non-alcoholic cocktails
  • Fountain sodas / Coca-Cola Freestyle® beverages

Deluxe Beverage Package

This is the ultimate drink package. It includes virtually any drink my the glass. That’s right, you can only order complementary wine by the glass (not the bottle).  The other caveat is that it only included drinks under $13.00 which still included most beverages.  This package includes everything in the refreshment package plus the following:

  •  Cocktails / Spirits / Liqueurs / Beer
  • 1 milkshake at Johnny Rocket’s if you order a meal
  • Premium coffees and teas
  • Bottled still and sparkling water
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Non-alcoholic cocktails
  • Fountain sodas / Coca-Cola Freestyle® beverages

Embarkation & Dis-embarkation

Going on a cruise is one of the most stress-free vacations a person can book.  However, when cruising with over 6,000 other passengers, getting on and off the ship can be quite overwhelming. In this post I am going to go over our experience on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas.


I am going to jump a bit here but I want to note that dis-embarking the ship is extremely well executed (once you figure out the right deck).  We had our last breakfast up in the Wind Jammer around 8:30am. We turned on our phones and rented a car through Costco while eating our breakfast. This was a cheaper option than getting an Uber or airport shuttle. Then went back to our stateroom to pick up our bags and do a final check to see that we packed everything. Always check under the bed! 

We instinctively went down to deck 3 (which is the deck used at all other ports of Call.  However, when in Orlando the passengers embark and dis-embark on deck 5. Once we arrived on the deck we just followed the crowd off the ship, bypassed the luggage pick up area (because we prefer carrying our luggage off ourselves), and queued up for customs. The line moved constantly and before we knew it we were on our way out the door… Simple and painless.

We always pack a carry on suitcase each and do not bother with checking our bags through so I cannot comment on that process.


The first thing I noticed right away was the lack of communication at the terminal.  In fairness they have to funnel over 6,000 passengers off and another 6,000 passengers on all within a fairly short window. We arrived at 9:30am and were told not to return until 11:00am. We decided to go to Walmart and pick up a few last minute purchases. When we returned just before 11:00am there was already a huge line up ahead of us.  (Note: It doesn’t hurt to arrive earlier than they suggest)

We queued up in line relatively quickly for security and even though there were hundred of people in front of us, the line was constantly moving!  Once we went through security, we were ushered to the next area where we lined up to check-in and get our Set Sail passes. Again, the lines here were constantly moving and in no time we had everything we needed to board. However, this is was just a tease!

You cannot just board the ship when you want. Instead, you are given section number and told to wait until your number is called.  However, you are not told where to wait or approximately how long the wait period will be.  There were people scattered everywhere and they all seemed to have the same bewildered look. It seemed like everyone was just as confused as we were. Eventually our section did get called and we slowly followed the crowd toward the gangway. 

Once we were onboard we wanted to drop of our bags and get some food. However, this was not the case.  No one can enter the halls where the staterooms are until 1:00pm. We managed to find a seat upstairs in the Wind Jammer buffet and enjoyed the first of many meals while waiting for our room. Then Tavis found a lounger on the deck and he sat with our luggage while I went off to explore! Our vacation has officially begun!

I understand that the staff needs to have time to clean the rooms but with my past experience on Carnival we were at least able to drop our bags off in the room before heading out to explore the ship.