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Advice On Cruising?


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#1 MagpieWrites

 
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Posted 24 February 2010 - 07:48 PM

Well. On the upside? My husband working like a madman and putting in obscene hours has been recognized. We're going on a mandatory company cruise for the top workers (no. He doesn't work in finance or the car industry. No bailout money here! lol) to someplace warm and sunny. As someone looking at 30+ inches of snow... and another possible foot coming, this sounds lovely.

But panic is setting in. He won this once before a few years ago and I had a TERRIBLE time dealing with food. Before the celiac diagnosis too! I'm allergic to shellfish, bananas, and coconuts (great. There goes 75% of the food served in the Bahamas...) and even with prior notice - I got sick at every meal. Lost 8 pounds in 5 days. Stupid things too - plain white rice should be fine, right? Yeah, well not if they stick real crab claws in the center of it as decoration. And no, telling me to "scrape around it" didn't really help. I practically lived on benydryll for the week. And the number of times I had to use an epi pen started to make me look like a clumsy heroin addict!

Now with celiac added on... I'm worried I'm just plain screwed. I can't NOT go. And they say on their website that, if given 45 days notice, they can manage a gluten-free meal plan. But... but... oh heck. Has anyone done this successfully? Can you pack your own food for a cruise? When going into international waters... what's allowed? Or do I need to start preparing myself for a 5-7 day span of living on protein bars and bottled water?

Might make the bathing suit nightmare less scary to think about.... oh crap! Bathing suits! As if I wasn't panicked enough!

No one deserves this more than my husband - and I'm so proud of him I could burst. I just wish I didn't feel like this is a gift with the sword of Damocles hanging over it!

Any advice, warnings, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm kinda working myself into knots over something I should be grinning like a loon over!
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Diagnosed with celiac in the summer of 09 - after being sick since I was a teen with no answers. I miss "real" pasta - but its a fair trade off for getting my life BACK.

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#2 mindwiped

 
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Posted 24 February 2010 - 08:45 PM

Dh and I did Norwegian Cruise Line this summer and we both did fine. I'm off dairy and he's gluten-free, so when we'd go and sit at the nice sit down restaurant for dinner the matire d would bring out the next day's menu for lunch and dinner and we'd order both then, so they had plenty of time to fix them and substitute if needed. We didn't do the buffet line much except breakfasts the first and last day, but we made it the entire week without dh getting sick. Just make sure to call and confirm that they know they're getting a traveler with multiple food allergies, and if needed, bring up the previous trip so that they understand how serious this is. And if you resort to your epi pen, I'd be screaming for the cruise line to fly me home on their dime, due to them poisoning you
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"When I'm worried and I can't sleep/I count my blessings instead of sheep/And I fall asleep counting my blessings"- Bing Crosby, White Christmas

#3 MagpieWrites

 
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Posted 25 February 2010 - 09:34 AM

I think the part that has me the most worried is this isn't a trip my husband and I have any control over the planning. If it shakes out like the last time, we'll get a packet from his job three weeks (no where CLOSE to what the cruise lines own website says it requires for prior notice of special diets) that tells us where to go and when we'll leave. Everything from the ports of call, to the seating times and places are out of our hands. He'll have scheduled "Meetings" (gotta do that for the tax write off for the company) each morning and the rest of the days are pretty structured too... without a whole lotta choice for us. We'll get a form to fill out a few weeks in advance - but there is no one to call, no one to plan with. And to add to everything, we either eat every meal on schedule without a lot of choices... or have to find the money to pay separately for each meal at the restaurants. (IE - the company pays for one, the other we'd have to finance. And since this isn't a trip we have planned for... well. Three years into our marriage, we aren't really at a place where we have money put aside for cruises. To fix the roof? Yes. Cruising... not so much.)

I feel like such an idiot over this. I SHOULD be over the moon - but instead, I just kinda wish we weren't going. Toss on the fact that HIS ticket is paid for - but they will take mine out of his paycheck for several months... and we have to find the money for the taxes on it too. (At least this year we know that ahead of time - the last time we had a "fun" three months where his paychecks were less than a quarter of his normal take home pay.)

I wonder if anyone has any suggestions for food that can be packed for a week? What I should/can stock up on?
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Diagnosed with celiac in the summer of 09 - after being sick since I was a teen with no answers. I miss "real" pasta - but its a fair trade off for getting my life BACK.

#4 newgfcali

 
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Posted 25 February 2010 - 10:22 AM

I think the part that has me the most worried is this isn't a trip my husband and I have any control over the planning.
...
I wonder if anyone has any suggestions for food that can be packed for a week? What I should/can stock up on?


Magpie... we just got back from a cruise on Royal Caribbean. I was pretty worried, too, but my worries were unfounded. I hadn't notified them in advance because I hadn't even gotten my dx yet. However, I knew I needed to stay gluten-free well before the dx. So, here's what happened: The moment we stepped foot on the boat we went to talk with the Maitre D'. I explained that I needed to eat gluten-free and he said "No Problem". Just like that. The first day was a bit of a crap shoot (pardon the expression) because it involved the buffet. However, I tackled a staffer who looked like he was in charge (turned out to be one of the chefs... lucky!) and told him of my needs and asked what was "safe" in the buffet. We walked the entire length and both came to the conclusion that nothing was. So he said "Wait here" and dashed into the kithen. 3 minutes later he emerged with a plate of freshly boiled seafood and steamed rice, untouched by human hands. Of course the seafood would send you dashing for your epi, but you get the idea. They will bend over backwards to make sure you eat within your restrictions.

The rest of the cruise we ate in the main dining room. Breakfasts and lunches I would ask the waiter for something gluten free. He/she would then fetch whoever was the assistant Maitre D' at that meal and they would organize something in the kitchen. Dinners were even easier, as it was the same wait staff. Each night they would bring me the menu for the next night and I would choose what I wanted. If there was nothing on the day's menu, they always had broiled chicken breast, steamed rice and veggies. They had gluten free bread available already, but I asked if I could have some without dairy and they actually BAKED me a loaf, which my waiter brought to me every night when everyone else was having rolls. Pretty special.

You didn't say what cruise line you'll be on, but if it's RC then rest assured you're in good hands. I have heard similar stories from Princess cruisers, too.

As for food to bring, I brought my own cookies and crackers. You're not allowed to bring fresh fruits or veggies on board, but pre-packaged dry goods are fine.

So try not to worry -- just be very clear what your needs are and I'm sure they'll be more than happy to assist. That's their thing! Have fun!!!
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#5 Michelle1234

 
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Posted 26 February 2010 - 05:32 PM

First, do you know which cruise line? I believe most cruise lines do pretty good with gluten free these days. But you do have to be careful, use your honed celiac sense and ask questions. Also get Glutenease or some other gluten digestive enzyme and take it with every meal to help with cross contamination. When in doubt don't eat it. Ask questions about the preparation. Don't let them toast the bread unless they tell you they have a dedicated toaster.

I did a 107 day cruise on Princess with pretty good success, only having problems when they changed the crew out and I had to re-educate. I also did 28 days on Celebrity with good success also.

The cruise lines will make their own gluten free bread. It generally isn't too good so bring your own if you have a loaf you like.

Hard boiled eggs are great. Don't allow them to pull them from the buffet due to cross contamination of the water with the tongs being used on gluten items. Omelets, bacon, sausage, potatoes, and fruit are all good for breakfast.

I often got a room service gluten free turkey sandwich with potato chips for lunch. I often didn't want to sit in the dining room and depending on the buffet I stayed away from it. The Celebrity Equinox had some buffet areas isolated (dried fruit, cheese, indian food) from gluten so I could eat from these buffet areas.

Diners were easy. You can pre-order and get just about anything. Most even have gluten free pasta. However it you don't preorder it is easy to get their anytime chicken or steak, baked potato and veggie. I like the french onion soup minus the bread. I also had good success with salads and they have some creative appetizers that can be modified to be gluten free.

Deserts were often ice cream, creme brulee, mousse, meringue or marzipan. Sometimes you have to tell them what you can have as they seem a bit confused about what types of deserts have no gluten in them.

In terms of things to take. Take enough protein bars that you have meals for all your shore excursions. I like the Kind bars. I also take some prepackaged Ian's gluten free cookies so when everyone else is having something yummy I can to.

I always ask when they deliver the meal, is this gluten free. I also check when in doubt, for instance with room service to make sure they didn't pull anything from the buffet. On Celebrity if there was something that was gluten free but had been potentially cross contaminated they would go to the back and get me one fresh.

Let me know if I can answer any questions.

Best,
Michelle
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#6 GG-GFree

 
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Posted 27 February 2010 - 09:18 AM

I was just diagnosed with Celiac Disease this week. I will be going on a seven night Alaskan Cruise this May. I am excited for the Cruise but nervous about the food. I will be on Princess Cruise Lines. Since I'm new to the diet I appreciate reading the advise you all have about how to have a fun trip while avoiding gluten!
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