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celiacdan

Warning: Carnival Cruise Line

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Just wanted to warn everyone of my experience in taking a Carnival Cruise -- expecting it to be gluten free dining.  A few months ago we booked with Carnival, specifically because of their claim they can cater to a gluten free diet.

Once I dined at the 24 hour buffet area -- they are supposed to have gluten free sandwiches and pizza, etc... -- I realized that the cruise was a big mistake with Carnival.

Even though we got a welcome letter in our cabin saying that they are happy to provide a gluten free cruise, and their staff will recommend gluten free options. etc... it was clear that their food handling procedures were atrocious.

Everything I asked for (and saw prepared) was cross-contaminated.

Here is a list of most of the negative things encountered on the cruise:

1. In the main dining room, upon asking the staff what gluten free cereals were available, the only one offered was Rice Crispies -- and not the gluten free version.
 
2. At the Deli station, I ordered gluten free sandwich.  The staff member promptly changed his gloves (good) and then tried to find the gluten free bread.  He lifted things up, moved things around as he search.  One of the items that he moved and lifted, was a gluten loaf of bread.  He then used his same hands/gloves and found the gluten free bread.   I also ordered a gluten free hot dog.  The staff member warmed the hot dog up on a panini-style grill -- where they also warm regular gluten sandwiches.
 
3. At the burger stand, the staff made us gluten free hamburgers.  A person that was not serving the gluten buns/burgers/fries made the burger and brought it to us (good).  We then asked for gluten free fries as well. At this point, the "regular" serving person grabbed a handful of fries and placed them on or plate with the burger.  This was after he had been using his hands to build gluten burgers with gluten buns.
 
4. At the Pizza station, they prepared the all the pizzas in a back area, where I could not see what was happening.  However, to cut the pizza, they brought it out to the main viewable area.  In one instance, our gluten free pizza was brought out and cut into pieces on the regular chopping board where the gluten pizzas are cut.  And this doesn't even address what they were doing in the back -- which surfaces they were putting the pizza on, or even the surfaces in the oven they were cooking it.
 
5. After complaining to Guest Service on the ship, they made me talk to the head chef and the 2nd in charge chef.  Both listened to my issues, and promised that they would take corrective action.  The 2nd in charge person  told me that when I was in the buffet area, that I could ask for him to help prepare our food.  I did that.
 
I ordered another sandwich and brought him with me to assist.  He told the person at the Deli to change gloves. Apparently he washed the cutting knife (I did not see this, but the 2nd head chef assured me he did after the fact). The deli person put his knife down and he helped the 2nd chef in plastic wrapping the top of a chopping board so that there was a barrier.  They then put the bread on that plastic and cut it and made the sandwich.  Almost there, but not quite.  The deli person, after apparently washing the knife put it down.  He put it down on a chopping board that was not covered in plastic, while they were covering the other board in plastic.  The knife was now contaminated and should have been washed again.  It was not.
 
6. So after all of these instances that happened in front of me -- what does that say about the conditions in the kitchens that are not publicly visible?
 
I have been requesting that Carnival refund our cruise since our son had abdominal trouble/pain the whole time and did not enjoy the trip, and basically lived on Cheerios the last couple of days.  It diminished our whole family's enjoyment to have our son in that condition.
 
The first request was denied outright.
After a few more attempts, they (without me agreeing to anything) sent me a check for half of my son's ticket.
After a few more attempts, they claimed to refund both my and my son's tickets (again, sending a check without me agreeing to anything) -- however the check they sent was only the 2nd half of my son's ticket.  Not the value of two tickets as they had indicated.
They have not responded since to repeated requests for clarification on the fact that they have not even provided what they said they would provide.
 
They will only talk to you on the phone by saying "tell me your issue" -- and then saying they will have to forward it on.  Even with the names of people responding (by email), they never let you talk directly to those people.  They will only forward on your information/request.
 
I  have also found out that one of the people that wrote me, while the email indicated that they were in "customer service" was actually the head of their "loss prevention" department.  Again, she will not talk to me on the phone.
 
My first request to them was by phone and was for someone to call me to discuss the gluten free issues we had (did NOT go into any detail) and that I was requesting compensation (did not discuss amount).
 
Their response was to email me (not call) .  This email they sent to me ended with:
I wish we had better news, but we cannot honor your request for compensation.  Please, don't let this tarnish your opinion of us.  Despite the circumstances, we trust you took home some fond memories of the concert as souvenirs that will last a lifetime.
 
What?  First, I have no idea about any "concert" -- clearly this is a cut and paste job that went wrong.  And secondly, they are basically saying -- yup, your kid had some medical issues on board, but hey, hope you got some fond memories of that to remember it by.  Thanks for nothing.
 
Oh yeah, the email also said this:
Rest assured; your notations were forwarded to the Food and Beverage managers for their internal review.  This will ensure that corrective measures can be taken immediately where warranted. 
 
Huh? I didn't provide any details, what could they have possibly forwarded for internal review?
Even their second email (after I responded to that first one)  proved my point, which said:
I received your email, however, we need a little more information in order properly assist you. 
 
Yup, I figured as much.
 
Regardless, they always sent auto-responses saying that someone would get back to me within 7 days.  I think that norm for me was about 20 to 30 days... and my last email has now been again about a month and no response.
 
I cannot stress enough my negative feelings about the situations on the cruise and their lack of customer service post-cruise.
 
Please feel free to pass on this info, as I hope that it will help Carnival change their attitude towards their Celiac customers and their customer service.
 
 
 
Edited by celiacdan
minor changes for clarity

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1 hour ago, celiacdan said:

Just wanted to warn everyone of my experience in taking a Carnival Cruise -- expecting it to be gluten free dining.  A couple months ago we booked with Carnival, specifically because of their claim they can cater to a gluten free diet.

Once I dined at the 24 hour buffet area -- they are supposed to have gluten free sandwiches and pizza, etc... -- I realized that the cruise was a big mistake with Carnival.

Even though we got a welcome letter in our cabin saying that they are happy to provide a gluten free cruise, and their staff will recommend gluten free options. etc... if was clear that their food handling procedures were atrocious.

Everything I asked for (and saw prepared) was cross-contaminated.

1. In the main dining room, upon asking the staff what gluten free cereals were available, the only one offered was Rice Crispies -- and not the gluten free version.
 
2. At the Deli station, I ordered gluten free sandwich.  The staff member promptly changed his gloves (good) and then tried to find the gluten free bread.  He lifted things up, moved things around as he search.  One of the items that he moved and lifted, was a gluten loaf of bread.  He then used his same hands/gloves and found the gluten free bread. 
 
3. At the burger stand, the staff made us gluten free hamburgers.  A person that was not serving the gluten buns/burgers/fries made the burger and brought it to us (good).  We then asked for gluten free fries as well. At this point, the "regular" serving person grabbed a handful of fries and placed them on or plate with the burger.  This was after he had been using his hands to build gluten burgers with gluten buns.
 
4. At the Pizza station, they prepared the all the pizzas in a back area, where I could not see what was happening.  However, to cut the pizza, they brought it out to the main viewable area.  In one instance, our gluten free pizza was brought out and cut into pieces on the regular chopping board where the gluten pizzas are cut.  And this doesn't even address what they were doing in the back -- which surfaces they were putting the pizza on, or even the surfaces in the oven they were cooking it.
 
5. After complaining to Guest Service on the ship, they made me talk to the head chef and the 2nd in charge chef.  Both listened to my issues, and promised that they would take corrective action.  The 2nd in charge person  told me that when I was in the buffet area, that I could ask for him to help prepare our food.  I did that.
 
I ordered another sandwich and brought him with me to assist.  He told the person at the Deli to change gloves. Apparently he washed the cutting knife (I did not see this, but the 2nd head chef assured me he did after the fact). The deli person put his knife down and he helped the 2nd chef in plastic wrapping the top of a chopping board so that there was a barrier.  They then put the bread on that plastic and cut it and made the sandwich.  Almost there, but not quite.  The deli person, after apparently washing the knife put it down.  He put it down on a chopping board that was not covered in plastic, while they were covering the other board in plastic.  The knife was now contaminated and should have been washed again.  It was not.
 
6. So after all of these instances that happened in front of me -- what does that say about the conditions in the kitchens that are not publicly visible?
 
I have been requesting that Carnival refund our cruise since our son had abdominal trouble/pain the whole time and did not enjoy the trip, and basically lived on Cheerios the last couple of days.  It diminished our whole family's enjoyment to have our son in that condition.
 
The first request was denied outright.
After a few more attempts, they (without me agreeing to anything) sent me a check for half of my son's ticket.
After a few more attempts, they claimed to refund both my and my son's tickets (again, sending a check without me agreeing to anything) -- however the check they sent was only the 2nd half of my son's ticket.  Not the value of two tickets as they had indicated.
They have not responded since to repeated requests for clarification on the fact that they have not even provided what they said they would provide.
 
They will only talk to you on the phone by saying "tell me your issue" -- and then saying they will have to forward it on.  Even with the names of people responding (by email), they never let you talk directly to those people.  They will only forward on your information/request.
 
I  have also found out that one of the people that wrote me, while the email indicated that they were in "customer service" was actually the head of their "loss prevention" department.  Again, she will not talk to me on the phone.
 
My first request to them was by phone and was for someone to call me to discuss the gluten free issues we had (did NOT go into any detail) and that I was requesting compensation (did not discuss amount).
 
Their response was to email me (not call) .  This email they sent to me ended with:
I wish we had better news, but we cannot honor your request for compensation.  Please, don't let this tarnish your opinion of us.  Despite the circumstances, we trust you took home some fond memories of the concert as souvenirs that will last a lifetime.
 
What?  First, I have no idea about any "concert" -- clearly this is a cut and paste job that went wrong.  And secondly, they are basically saying -- yup, your kid had some medical issues on board, but hey, hope you got some fond memories of that and you got some great souvenirs to remember it by.  Thanks for nothing.
 
Oh yeah, the email also said this:
Rest assured; your notations were forwarded to the Food and Beverage managers for their internal review.  This will ensure that corrective measures can be taken immediately where warranted. 
 
Huh? I didn't provide any details, what could they have possibly forwarded for internal review?
Even their second email (after I responded to that first one)  proved my point, which said:
I received your email, however, we need a little more information in order properly assist you. 
 
Yup, I figured as much.
 
Regardless, they always sent auto-responses saying that someone would get back to me within 7 days.  I think that norm for me was about 20 to 30 days... and my last email has now been again about a month and no response.
 
I cannot stress enough my negative feelings about the situations on the cruise and their lack of customer service post-cruise.
 
Please feel free to pass on this info, as I hope that it will help Carnival change their attitude towards their Celiac customers and their customer service.
 
 
 

Make sure to do a google search on carnival cruise gluten-free and see if there are any other forums to copy this to. How outrageous!

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I am sorry that your experience was so awful.  W e have been on Carnival and had a successful trip -- no glutenings!  Royal Caribbean was terrific too (several times).    We took extra precautions though.  

1.  We notified the cruise line when we booked the tickets and confirmed again just prior to departure.

2.  When boarding the first day, usually the buffet is open only.  I meet with the head waiter, introduce myself and family and explain our needs (I carry a note from my GI).   Gluten free items are obtained from the back kitchens of the ship where the allergy section is located.  We NEVER go through the buffet line.  They personally send staff down a few floors to get us safe food.  We ask that it only be gluten free.  We do not care what they bring to us.  We eat it thankfully.  We do take fruit from the buffet (wash it in the restroom) and drink coffee.  

3.  After that, we never eat  anywhere but the main dining room for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  On the first night, we ask for a quick tour of the allergy section of the kitchen to meet staff and the chef responsible.  We only talk to the head waiter every single time we enter the dining room.  We go to him or her.   If the ship does not have arranged seating, we might end up with a different waiter, so knowing the head waiter is critical.  We get to know staff on a first name basis.   Each morning the headwaiter offered gluten-free waffles, French toast, etc. for his celiac families.   I was never hungry.  Heck, I ordered two appetizers every night!  

4.  In the past, we had one head waiter send daily packages of individually packaged gluten-free crackers, cookies, bread and whole fruit to keep in our room for snacks.  Was it the best?  Udi's, but it was safe!   Room service is not safe for celiacs per our headwaiters.  We only ordered coffee each morning in our room.  

5.  We brought food with us in case we could not find safe food at port.  When we got back, safe food was there in our room.  

6.  We tipped very well!  We have even tipped in advance on the first night (head waiter and waiter).  We were gracious.  We wrote glowing letters to corporate and named our excellent staff.  

I am sorry that your experience was not as nice as ours.  I think you should have been directed to dine in the main dining room.  Boring, and not alway convenient, but safe.  There are so many gluten free dieters out there and the cruise line is just trying to cater to them.  It is probably hard to believe someone who insists on gluten free and then eats regular cookies.  On ship or off, it is best to talk to top management from the start and do not rely on lower staff to keep you safe. 

I hope your child recovers quickly.  

 

 

 

 

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58 minutes ago, cyclinglady said:

I am sorry that your experience was so awful.  W e have been on Carnival and had a successful trip -- no glutenings!  Royal Caribbean was terrific too (several times).    We took extra precautions though.  

1.  We notified the cruise line when we booked the tickets and confirmed again just prior to departure.

2.  When boarding the first day, usually the buffet is open only.  I meet with the head waiter, introduce myself and family and explain our needs (I carry a note from my GI).   Gluten free items are obtained from the back kitchens of the ship where the allergy section is located.  We NEVER go through the buffet line.  They personally send staff down a few floors to get us safe food.  We ask that it only be gluten free.  We do not care what they bring to us.  We eat it thankfully.  We do take fruit from the buffet (wash it in the restroom) and drink coffee.  

3.  After that, we never eat  anywhere but the main dining room for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  On the first night, we ask for a quick tour of the allergy section of the kitchen to meet staff and the chef responsible.  We only talk to the head waiter every single time we enter the dining room.  We go to him or her.   If the ship does not have arranged seating, we might end up with a different waiter, so knowing the head waiter is critical.  We get to know staff on a first name basis.   Each morning the headwaiter offered gluten-free waffles, French toast, etc. for his celiac families.   I was never hungry.  Heck, I ordered two appetizers every night!  

4.  In the past, we had one head waiter send daily packages of individually packaged gluten-free crackers, cookies, bread and whole fruit to keep in our room for snacks.  Was it the best?  Udi's, but it was safe!   Room service is not safe for celiacs per our headwaiters.  We only ordered coffee each morning in our room.  

5.  We brought food with us in case we could not find safe food at port.  When we got back, safe food was there in our room.  

6.  We tipped very well!  We have even tipped in advance on the first night (head waiter and waiter).  We were gracious.  We wrote glowing letters to corporate and named our excellent staff.  

I am sorry that your experience was not as nice as ours.  I think you should have been directed to dine in the main dining room.  Boring, and not alway convenient, but safe.  There are so many gluten free dieters out there and the cruise line is just trying to cater to them.  It is probably hard to believe someone who insists on gluten free and then eats regular cookies.  On ship or off, it is best to talk to top management from the start and do not rely on lower staff to keep you safe. 

I hope your child recovers quickly.  

 

 

 

 

This honestly makes me want to be a chef on a cruise line in charge of the allergen section...separate back kitchen for allergens? Wonder if I could get a job.....lol I can dream. I think I will stick to getting my own grain free food truck. -_- If I ever get the money to start the dang thing, dream right there being able to cook safe food for others with limited diets for either medical or personal reasons. Top it off the whole truck would be grain free/gluten free and ran by a celiac.

Anyway this also gives me hope that one day I can go on a cruise for a vacation. I think I would take a a few cases of meal bars just in case.

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In response to cyclinglady...

(numbers correspond to her numbers)

1. Yup, we certainly did notify the cruise company.  As I stated before, they gave us a letter in our stateroom telling all about their wonderful gluten free options (see attached)

2. I never said I went through buffet lines - we went specifically to the areas (in the buffet area) highlighted in their letter to us.

3. Yup, we ate in the main dinning room as well -- but clearly you missed the point about cross contamination -- if it was happening out in the open, I'll bet that it was happening in the closed area kitchens as well.

4. Okay, but that doesn't address cross-contamination.

5.  Yup, us too.

6. Not sure how tipping very well decreases cross contamination?

Also,

>  There are so many gluten free dieters out there and the cruise line is just trying to cater to them

That is the most absurd line you put in there.  If a cruise line specifically indicates they know it could be an "allergy" (as Carnival did -- see attached letter), it is crazy for you to then "let them off the hook" by saying that are only catering to "gluten free dieters."

We had a great experience on Disney Cruise Lines.  We didn't on Carnival for the reasons given.  I am glad you had a good experience -- maybe everyone eliminated cross contamination on your cruise -- or maybe you just didn't feel the effects of the cross contamination.  Either way, great for you.  Unfortunately, bad for us.

 

20170711_163657.jpg

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On 7/10/2017 at 3:19 PM, celiacdan said:

 

 
 
 
 
 
rI have been requesting that Carnival refund our cruise since our son had abdominal trouble/pain the whole time and did not enjoy the trip, and basically lived on Cheerios the last couple of days.  It diminished our whole family's enjoyment to have our son in that condition.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

That sound horrible!  I am sure some cruises are better than others, but that is scary.  I am sure eating Cheerios didn't help either!  

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I am sure eating Cheerios didn't help either!  

Luckily Cheerios is now gluten free.

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1 minute ago, celiacdan said:

I am sure eating Cheerios didn't help either!  

Luckily Cheerios is now gluten free.

Sorta, they are hit and miss still with random lots of product STILL making people sick. Been watching that crap throw over a year, it's how they get and sort the oats, FDA is literally sitting on there butts watching this, they won't even act on when a product is confirmed CCed with gluten and labled gluten free. GFWD community is currently fighting that but that is a whole other story you can read into later.

 

PS next time bring a few boxes of meal bars like Julian Bakery, Kind, etc. Meal replacement shakes also are glorious, and recently I found Miracle Noodle MRE noodle dishes, and I always have a bag of almonds, pumpkin, and hemp seeds with me. Long shelf life, tempature stable and not needed to be kept in refridgeration makes all these great emergency options ......I am honestly debating bulk buying powdered egg whites for this kind of situation lol. Mix water, zap in microwave, and bring some condiment packets of sriracha sauce or seasoning powders instant cup breakfast.

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