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River Cruise Moscow To St. Petersburg
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Hello dear Celiac suferrers,

My wife and I (I am a new celiac) plan to do a river cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg in Sept/Oct. I am very concerned about my situation and would like to learn from you who have been on a trip similar to this. This trip is organized by Viking River Cruises.

From reading the comments in this forum, I understand that I need to talk to the cruise line, to the people managing food on board the cruise ship, to the tour guide, etc. I was also thinking about bringing my own food (very cumbersome), rice, rice cooker, etc.

Any comments will be greatly appreciated.

Rajawali

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My friend and her husband did that cruise in the opposite direction (St Pete to Moscow). They had a great time. I don't envy you trying to do it with celiac disease. She said most of the food was gluten based.... I hope that someone in the know listens to your concerns. I don't mean to sound negative but I would sure think about bringing along as much food as my suitcase will carry. Not only are you dealing with people who might not have knowledge about celiac disease but there is a huge language barrier unless you are fluent in Russian.... BUT like they say, where there is a will there is a way. I would count on myself to make sure I have the kinds of food I can eat. Hopefully, there will be markets along the way where you can get fresh fruits and veggies.

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Just an add on to the above comment. I saw my friend today and she was showing me pics of the trip. It looked wonderful. They did travel on the Viking Cruise. She suggested that you get as much in writing (Russian) about your food restrictions as there were few people (I think she said NONE) on the boat who spoke English well enough to understand your situation. One of the stops on the trip was to a home of a Russian woman. She cooked a traditional meal. My friend showed me the pic of the table..... loaves and loaves of bread. She said that homemade bread (even on the boat) was a staple at every meal. I know that this is probably a downer but you will probably just have to figure out a way to be creative in your eating. My friend said that the meals on board were traditional Russian foods.... She said that there didn't seem to be any kind of meal substitutions offered to the guests on the boat. She suggested that you will probably want to get this taken care of before the trip. Again I know I sound like a "nay sayer" but best you prepare ahead for the trip rather than be taken by surprise. I would be anxious to find out how everything turned out. Like I said before the pics looked wonderful!!!!!

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Dear Sparkles.

Thank you very much for the feedback. I will post my experiences after I get back from our trip in September.

Many readers suggested bringing such things as gluten free bars that you can get from Whole Foods, Trail Mixes, etc. Unfortunately, I found out that I am also sensitive to dried fruits. I tried dried appricots, dates (beautiful, large and delicious ones from California) and got into big D.

Recently I found out that I seem to develop lactose intolerance. Loved cheese and yogurt, but, can't have them anymore. I was diagnosed with Celiac in Nov 2005. Had no problem with lactose until recently.

I also found that I cannot tolerate certain nuts, such as smoked almonds. I understand many bars use nuts and dried fruits. I plan to try some of them shortly.

Is this unusual, or are there readers with the same problem ? This makes it difficult when flying long distance.

Thanks.

Rajawali

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Dear fellow Celiac sufferers,

My wife and I did the Moscow - St. Petersburg river cruise with Viking River Cruises. We had a fabulous experience, not one accident. The cruise ship crew was fantastic looking after my diet.

Here is what I did:

1. I went into MENUDATA.com and get a free translation in Russian of the stuff I cannot have.

2. As soon as we got on board, I went to see the dining room's maitre d' and gave him a copy of the printed the translation.

3. He identified me as #5 (lactose intolerant) and #6 (gluten free) from his mater list. Told me to tell the wait staff of my numbers each time I came for a meal, and promised to make a special meal.

4. True to his word, I never had an accident. Even the box lunches that they prepared were gluten free. After a couple of days, they all knew me.

Naturally I tipped them generously for their detailed attention.

We brought a lot of Lara Bars, Jerky (only Oberto as it is MSG free), etc. Didn't touch them too much.

We flew Lufthanza and requested a special diet. They faithfully provided me with the fruit platter meals that I requested.

That was my pleasant experience, and the river cruise ? It was fantastic.

I hope this experience is helpful to those who wants to go to Russia.

Rajawali

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That sounds excellent, I am glad you had a good time without getting sick! And it is also so much more enjoyable if you get good food, too.

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So glad to read a positive report about a river boat cruise in Russia.  I do note that these posts are rather old.  Does anyone have updated information on the availability of gluten-free in Russia - specifically Moscow and St. Petersburg?  I've had one tour company tell me that gluten-free food may not be available, even in the big cities.  I'd appreciate any updated info.  BTW, I posted on Fodor's Russia forum over a month ago and have had no responses.  Sigh.....Thanks much.

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I hope others respond. I too will be in St. Petersburg for two days as part of a port stop on a cruise ship this summer. I am hoping the ship might provide some food for me or I will have to dine on food I am bring from home. I have not even started to research yet. Your post might get me going!

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