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dragonmom

Cruises Are Great

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We recently went on a cruise on Royal Carribian and they were excellent in providing gluten-free foods for me-they recognized me at every meal and brought gluten-free bread and made sure I knew what I could and could not have. They had a great flourless chocolate cake that I requested every night. We also went on a cruise out of Boston to Bermuda on Norweigen wow! I had gluten-free waffles at breakfast, rice crust pizza at lunch and dinners were adjusted for me. We were at a buffet - which I usually avoid - there was basically sandwiches and cookies and things I could not eat. I asked one of the waiters if there was just some cheese and fruit or something that was gluten-free, he brought me a beautiful plate. I had a great time and didn't have to worry at all.

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Guest Kathy Ann

Wow! I don't know what I did wrong, but I also took a Royal Caribbean cruise this past October. Wonderful scenery, but for me it was a royal disaster, foodwise. I contacted them 2 months prior to the cruise as instructed and thought everything was under control. But it was a comedy of errors and no one seemed to know what to do with me and knew almost nothing about gluten/dairy allergies. Without exaggeration, I ate one meal a day of a plain piece of meat, a baked potato, an occasional sauteed vegetable and bricklike rice muffins for 7 days. The rest of the time I ate fruit from the Windjammer cafe even though they warned me not to. Their food preparation staff was over 100 people, but I never got anything the slightest bit imaginative or gourmet. There must be a big difference in ships or chef staffs. I also was probably trying to be way too nice. I didn't complain loudly or frequently enough, apparently. So it's ultimately my own fault. I'm really glad you had such great experiences. Hopefully mine was the exception. I'll do better next time. ;)

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Apparently, a new member tried to post a reply and hit the report button instead of reply. Here is her reply:

Viking River Cruise - Berlin to Prague

The food was great! Each morning the waiter would bring me the menu choices of the day and the chef could make most everything other passengers were eating gluten-free. If there was any question, chicken and steak were always available.

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I have a cruise exactly 1 month from today, so I'm excited. This won't be my first cruise, but it will be the first time cruising since finding out about my gluten/casein intolerance...in fact my last cruise was what led me to get tested. I've heard Princess does well, and I know from my past cruises with them that they really do TRY to prepare your food the way you need it. I'm more nervous about the time away from the ship...like in the ports. We will probably do some shore excursions one of which is 8 hours long, so food would definitely be an issue. Plan to take my own stuff, so we'll see.

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I have a cruise exactly 1 month from today, so I'm excited. This won't be my first cruise, but it will be the first time cruising since finding out about my gluten/casein intolerance...in fact my last cruise was what led me to get tested. I've heard Princess does well, and I know from my past cruises with them that they really do TRY to prepare your food the way you need it. I'm more nervous about the time away from the ship...like in the ports. We will probably do some shore excursions one of which is 8 hours long, so food would definitely be an issue. Plan to take my own stuff, so we'll see.

The people on both cruises I have been on were very helpful-, if it assigned seating it is especially nice because the waiters know you after the first day. I avoided buffets, for obvious reasons, and did have a lot of steak and potatoes. Sometimes that seems to be my life in a restaurant- but if there was anything they could do for you they would. Let the cruise line know in advance- even though they might not communicate that to the ship. When we got on the ship we went to check and make sure that they knew I had Celiac . I was really impressed with NCL they made me a special pizza, waffles , and tried to accomodate me as much as possible. Maybe I have to low standards , but I enjoyed the way they tried to make me feel at home. If you have a chance to have flourless chocolate cake go for it! :)

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The people on both cruises I have been on were very helpful-, if it assigned seating it is especially nice because the waiters know you after the first day. I avoided buffets, for obvious reasons, and did have a lot of steak and potatoes. Sometimes that seems to be my life in a restaurant- but if there was anything they could do for you they would. Let the cruise line know in advance- even though they might not communicate that to the ship. When we got on the ship we went to check and make sure that they knew I had Celiac . I was really impressed with NCL they made me a special pizza, waffles , and tried to accomodate me as much as possible. Maybe I have to low standards , but I enjoyed the way they tried to make me feel at home. If you have a chance to have flourless chocolate cake go for it! :)

This is encouraging! The Princess cruises I've been on previously were also very accomodating, so have high hopes for this one. We couldn't get assigned seating...it was waiting list only, but fortunately I like me some steak and potatoes, lol.

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Hi my name is Jamie Flecker, I am the leader of the R.O.C.K. group on LI. and also a travel agent. I specialize in gluten-free and any other dietary restrictions. I just joined this group today after someone at the suffolk county celiacs told me about it last night. I was a speaker at there meeting.

I decided to plan our 1st annual celiac group cruise on Royal Carribean, Adventure of the seas June 24th-July 1st we fly to San Juan, PR and go to Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. I have worked very hard with Royal carribean the last three weeks making a commitment with them and reserving 1/2 the ship for celiacs all over the country. This trip is open to all you celiacs your friends and family. Feel free to tell other groups about this. I want to make this the 1st of many amazing trips. I DO NOt ask for any fee or anything, I am just the mother of 2 little celiacs 2 1/2 and 4 who are not only gluten-free but cassein free too. My son would get sick with just a pea size of something so I am very cautious of where we go and started compiling names at certain vacation places and am going to continue working hard to build up the list of safe places to go. I would never send anyone anywhere where we would never feel save(due to contamination ourselves).

If you are interested in finding out prices and more about the trip please email me at jamief@dufftravel.com or call me anytime at 631/926-3696 . If you email me I need to know how many people would be going and in each cabin and where you would be flying from to give you a correct quote. I will be working with the culinary dept from now till the cruise making sure we have an amazing trip. ANy of the support groups that know me, know that when I do something especially with the kids we all have an amazing time. Once again you can contact me at 631/926-3696 or email me at jamief@dufftravel.com . The 3rd night in on the cruise we will be having a gluten-free cocktail party with Hors-douvs and drinks. There will be a fruit basket and wine in every cabing when you get there and a special gift for the little silly yaks too. If you are interested I will need a $100 deposit per person to reserve your cabin in the next 10 days. 2 1/2 months prior to departure final payment is due. Call me or email with any questions. Looking forward to hearing

I read this on another board. I also saw her at the suffolk celiac fair. sounds great.

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I got back from a Princess cruise two weeks ago, and I did not have a good food experience. My travel agent contacted Princess 2 months prior to our trip, requesting gluten-free meals. They replied with a very nice letter, stating they would be able to accommodate me. We had traditional dinner seating, with the same wait staff every night. When I got there my waiter knew about my special diet, and he assured me he understood what I needed. He also brought some gluten-free bread to our table. At that point, I felt it was going to be a good trip.

However, I don't think my waiter or the wait staff really did understand what gluten-free meant. One night the head-waiter told me they were serving a special Asian vegetable dish, and that he would have mine made w/ rice noodles. It sounded great, until it arrived. It was covered in soy sauce. I didn't bother to ask if the soy sauce was gluten-free - I just didn't eat it.

I tried to order as plain as possible. I usually asked for meat and a baked potato, and I always checked with the waiter that my meat could be made plain. Every night he assured me that it would be no problem. But it was a problem. Twice, when my meal arrived, my waiter turned his back to me and scrapped food off my plate. The first time it was on some salmon I ordered. He told me the salmon would be prepared plain with nothing on it. When it arrived it was covered in deep-fried battered vegetables. At first he just scrapped it off, then he walked away with my plate, and almost immediately brought back a “new” plate. I tried to ask him if the salmon was in fact a new piece, but he acted like he didn't understand me. The second time my mother-in-law saw him scrape food off my plate before serving it to me. I didn’t notice this, but I was sick the next day. It was a disaster. I was sick almost the entire week.

Dessert was never offered to me as an option. I think the waiter may have thought I was on a diet...I don't know. One evening I asked for the cheese plate for dessert without the crackers. When it arrived I could see the crumbs on the plate where the crackers had been.

I know others have had great experiences, but I did not. I'm sure it depends on the ship and your wait staff. I only ate dinner in the dining room. The rest of the time I mostly ate in my room. For breakfast, I ate whole fruit (bananas, apples, pears), gluten-free cereal that I brought with me, and an Ensure that I brought with me. For lunch I ate my own food again - rice cakes, gluten-free crackers, and peanut butter. I also had gluten-free cookies and Larabars for snacks. Good thing I packed a lot of food for myself.

I truly hope my bad experience was “one of.” I will definitely try to cruise again, but I’ll still be packing a lot of my own food. And I will try even harder to get gluten-free meals in the dining room – maybe I’ll bring some printed pages about Celiac disease and give them to my waiter.

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I think bringing some info for the staff is a great idea! I also think for land excursions that maybe you could request some kind of meal be brown bagged for you (I can't think of anything off the top of my head right now...) to take w/. I really want to go on another cruise! Went on a RC cruise when I graduated from High School...but that was ages ago! I am excited for the idea of going again...just gotta save some $$! And lose some weight so I can look good in a bathing suit :D ...and then gain it all back on the trip I'm sure :P

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Guest Kathy Ann

4getgluten,

I'm interested to see that your experience was very similar to mine. I ended up eating mostly the food I brought with me. At the cost of a cruise, that just isn't OK. Everyone else posting here seems to have great stories to tell and I was beginning to think it was just me. Because of my business, I have an opportunity to go on another cruise next year. I would sure like it to be a better food experience. I plan to REALLY over-prepare this time and stick up for myself. I too was patronized quite a bit by some of the staff. I have some tough girlfriends who told me it was my own fault for letting them get by with it. I guess when you are on a cruise, the last thing you want to do is fight. I was there to relax. Honestly, I think a cruise line can do it right if they want to. They have the best chefs and crew and facilities. No reason they can't make our food experience as spectacular as everyone else's. I wouldn't even mind paying extra money for it if that is what it would take.

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Kathy Ann -

I'm sorry you had a bad experience as well. But, I think you should try a cruise again. So many people here on the board have had great experiences. Sticking up for yourself is key. Looking back, I should have stuck up for myself more. Like you, I didn't want to get upset and cause problems - I was there to relax. I was also traveling with my parents and my in-laws, and I guess I didn’t want them to think I was being unreasonable – stupid, I know.

The first time, my food arrived w/ battered veggies all over, I realized the kitchen probably had no idea about my request. I should have talked to the maître d' right then, but I didn't. To be honest, I was just shocked. I really think my waiter was trying to “filter” out the gluten, instead of having the kitchen prepare my food gluten-free. CC was a major issue.

Next time I cruise I will send a letter ahead of time, print off Celiac information to give to the maître d' and my waiter, and I will pack some safe food for me to eat. Never give up, never surrender!!

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Guest Kathy Ann

For the prices they charge and since food really IS the big deal on a cruise, I think it is entirely reasonable that they assign a specific chef to allergy people. I mean he or she would be in charge of our needs, in addition to whatever else they normally do, of course. That way maybe they would actually have some creative fun with it and take pride in seeing what they can invent. I would think a true chef would really love that.

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You are so right - they should have a chef assigned to making allergy-free meals. That is a great idea. Here I was trying to be understanding about how hard it must be to cook for so many people on the ship... never again. I paid a lot of money for that cruise. Gluten free meals are really not that hard to do. I'm going to go fully armed next time. :ph34r: - BTW sounds like you have good friends who support you - that helps. :)

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