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Found 7 results

  1. Has anyone taken a Hurtigruten cruise of the Norwegian coast? I’m investigating it, and wondered if anyone had first-hand knowledge about the food (how accommodating were they of gluten free diners).
  2. If you are like me you have found it somewhat difficult to find good information on cruising gluten free. I really wanted to get as much information as possible on my last cruise with Carnival so I could better educate myself and also share what I learned with others. I feel this information would have been very useful to me prior to my cruise so I hope it is helpful to you. I reached out to Carnival before and after my cruise on the Carnival Splendor in May 2015 and they were extremely helpful. Aly at Carnival, was able to provide me with some great information and provided followup to questions after my cruise which I will share here. If you have Celiac Disease, you know how difficult it can be to eat out. At times it can be downright frustrating and leave you wishing you had just stayed home. If I thought for one second that my dining experience on a cruise would be anything like that I doubt I would ever go. I am so happy that is not the case. Carnival does a great job for those of us who must follow a gluten free diet. The rest of my group was amazed at the treatment I received every night in the dining room on our last two cruises with Carnival. Our head waiter, Bernie, quickly learned my name and each night at dinner he presented me with the menu for the next night to make my selection. The entire dining staff assigned to our table was outstanding and were always looking out for me to ensure I had a wonderful dining experience. Of course there are other dining options besides the main dining room on the ship and I will go over the different options below. Dining Room: Now, obviously not quite everything on the menu can be ordered gluten free, but the options are plentiful, and you are able to enjoy wonderful appetizers, entrees and desserts and never feel like you are missing out on "the good stuff" that everyone else is having. If my waiter was unsure if my selection could be prepared gluten free, he had me pick a backup just in case. I believe all my entrée choices were available gluten free. I enjoyed Lobster, steak, lamb shank, prime rib, salmon, and more. I ordered a pasta dish so that I could try the gluten free pasta which was very good. Their gluten free pasta is spaghetti and was one of the best I've tried. There are some appetizers and desserts that cannot be made gluten free but there were so many other great choices that were available gluten free that it was never really an issue. Each night in the dining room I was given 2 slices of gluten free bread the same time the rest of my party was offered bread and I never had to ask for it. On the night of my wife's birthday, we were fortunate enough to have a gluten free cake made for our group that was amazing! It tasted so good that it was hard to believe it was gluten free. I loved the food in the dining room and the service was outstanding. A special thanks to Bernie, Wihandoyo and Terry. Breakfast in the main dining room was always great. I tried the gluten free pancakes and the French toast. My favorite was the French toast. Many other options were available as well like omelets, bacon, fruit, etc. At the end of the week my wife and I had the opportunity to meet with the maître d' and the head chef of the dining room and take a personal tour of the galley where food is prepared for the two main dining rooms. We were so impressed by the organization and cleanliness of the galley. There was shiny stainless steel everywhere and everything was very clean, including the floors. I was able to ask the chef about how gluten free requests were handled and found out that there is a separate area in the galley that handles special dietary needs and all gluten free meals are cooked there by a junior sous chef away from the main food handling areas. Pastries are made in their own area and breads are baked in their own section, away from other food prep areas. The amount of food that moves through that kitchen every night is astounding and they do it so efficiently. It was a very impressive operation indeed. Buffet on the Lido Deck: The buffet on the Lido deck proved to be challenging for me and I wished I would have thought to ask for a manager to help answer my questions as I later found out is what I should have done. I was quite frustrated trying to figure out what I could eat and asking the staff on the other side of the food warmers left me with a lot of questions, so I basically avoided the buffet. At the end of the week when I met with the maître d' and the head chef from the dining room, I shared my buffet experience with them and they informed me that there is always a manager on duty on the Lido deck at the buffet and they are available to answer all gluten free questions and help guests know what gluten free options are available. So, learn from my mistake and ask for the manager on duty. Carnival responded to my email following the cruise saying they will look into improving the labeling of the food on the Lido Deck which would be greatly appreciated. Tandoor Indian Food Station: I asked a food handler at the Tandoor station if they had anything gluten free and he pointed out two items under the warmer that contained gluten and told me the other things were fine. I was able to eat the Tandoori Chicken and rice and didn't have any problems. The food was spicy but good. Pizza Station: There is gluten free pizza available at the Pizza station. The gluten free pizza was prepared in the back which is good that they kept it separate from the regular prep area to avoid cross contamination. However, the gluten free pizza was not the best in my opinion. The crust is thick and not close to the traditional pizza crust texture. I tried it so I could include it in my review and instead of a chewy texture, it was kind of like a soft corn meal texture. It seems like the pizza crust wouldn't be too hard to improve on. There are several gluten free frozen pizza crusts on the market that are pretty close to traditional pizza crust. I know of several local pizza joints around our area that serve gluten-free pizza and they simply use the frozen crusts from Udi's or another brand like that and it is good. My family however, really enjoyed the regular pizza. When I shared this with Carnival they responded that they will look into the quality of their gluten free pizza. Deli Station: The Deli station puts out some great looking sandwiches and it was a hit with my family. I was happy to find out they had gluten free bread so I ordered a sandwich and watched them prepare it. I had watched as the staff prepared the sandwiches before they made my gluten free sandwich and observed that they frequently dipped a utensil into the mayo and the mustard containers and spread them on the regular bread, touching the bread, and then put them back into the respective containers. When I ordered my gluten-free sandwich I was surprised to see them use the same utensils from the same containers of mayo and mustard. They also placed the sandwich in the same grill press to toast that they used for all other sandwiches. The sandwich looked amazingly good but I couldn't eat it because of the cross contamination. I was very disappointed. Carnival responded that there are guidelines in place and they are going to reinforce those guidelines for preparing gluten free sandwiches. So, go to the deli and try one of the sandwiches for me and let me know how it was, they really do look good. Grill, Mongolian Wok, and Burrito Stations: I didn't have the opportunity to stop at the grill, Mongolian Wok or the Burrito stations. I hear they have gluten free buns on board but I didn't try them. Conclusion It is really quite impressive to me that Carnival has made the effort to have so many gluten free options available including sandwiches in the deli. I had a wonderful time on the Carnival Splendor and would not hesitate recommending Carnival to anyone with gluten issues. Of course there are still the little areas mentioned that need improvement but I believe Carnival is taking steps to improve those things. I had an absolutely wonderful time and I was well taken care of in the dining room. I had the same experience 2 years ago on the Carnival Glory as well. I had great food every single night and the scales certainly proved that when I got home. After having the opportunity to speak to the head chef about gluten free issues, and seeing firsthand how gluten free requests are handled in the galley I am quite comfortable in recommending Carnival to the Celiac community. Remember this is my personal opinion and there may be those of you who have had an issue here or there, but from my research and experience, I know Carnival takes gluten free matters seriously and they are working to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone. I am looking forward to my next cruise.
  3. I folks, Have any of you travelled on Princess Cruises with multiple intolerances? I have so many intolerances and right now, I'm very nervous about getting on a ship and having no control over my food. How well does Princess Cruises accommodate those with Celiac & food intolerances? How early should I contact the ship? Please share whatever experiences you have had! Thank you!
  4. We had a fantastic experience on Princess Star! They were meticulous with my daughter. They pre-ordered food every day for the 6 of us who are gluten-free and for her with celiac all precautions for cross contamination. They made amazing gluten-free bread every day prepared in seperate toaster. My nephews are also dairy free and they made they a special dessert every night gluten-free and dairy free. The buffet was not a problem for the gluten sensitive they showed us all the gluten-free items to pick from but my daughter with celiac did not tolerate so we stuck to the dining room. I was so worried about being on the ship for a week if she did not do well and it was wonderful and a real vacation not to have to do it all myself for a week!!
  5. 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.
  6. 05/22/2014 - In September 2013, I found out that if I want to be healthy, I have to eat a strict gluten-free diet. Not only that, but I also have to avoid corn, casein, beef, chicken, shrimp, garlic, yeast, grapes, cantaloupe, and cauliflower. When I go to a restaurant, my diet restrictions eliminate almost everything on the menu. Because of the lack of options and my fear of cross-contamination, I have not been to any restaurant since my diagnosis except for dedicated gluten-free restaurants. But eating at home every day for the rest of my life cannot be the answer. I will not let gluten rule my life and turn me into a hermit. Traveling is one of my biggest passions and if food is my only obstacle to living my passion, I will face my fear of cross-contamination, find solutions, and overcome this obstacle one bite at a time. Of course, my first gluten-free vacation won’t be a trekking trip across the Himalayas although this is still on my bucket list. No, for my first gluten-free vacation I have chosen a less challenging trip. I have decided to go on a seven-day Mediterranean cruise on board the Aida Sol. Aida assures, on their website, that allergy sufferers can find and enjoy a variety of delicious allergen-free (especially gluten-free and lactose-free) food aboard their cruise ships. Additionally, you can meet with the head chef for 30 minutes to discuss your diet options for the week, and there is always a chef available for questions. It all sounds so promising, but is it really as wonderful as Aida claims? Is the food aboard the Aida Sol really safe for someone with celiac disease? I’m ready to find out. Day 1 It is late in the afternoon and we are finally at the check-in desk. I am getting hungrier and more nervous by the minute. When I ask the receptionist how I can schedule my private session with the chef, he tells me to just go to one of the buffets and ask for one of the chefs. That should be easy, but I’m still nervous. This is the first time since my diagnosis that I will be eating at a regular restaurant. What if I get sick tonight? What would I eat for the rest of my trip? When we arrive at the Bella Donna Restaurant, one of the buffets on the Aida Sol, a welcoming chef gives me a tour of the buffet. He doesn’t take the time to sit down with me, but he shows me around; he points out the labels right above every dish which say whether the food is gluten-free, lactose-free, and/or vegetarian. What a relief! I immediately see several dishes that I believe I can eat. After a quick tour of the buffet, I take a plate and start grabbing more and more … meat. Yes, most of the gluten-free and lactose-free options are meat and my plate is packed with it except for a few veggies on the side. Ironically, I have never been a big meat eater until now. In fact, before I went gluten-free, I was a pescetarian. The only reason I decided to eat meat again was because I was eating as much as I could but kept losing weight. By the time of my diagnosis I was no more than 106 lb. I’m feeling wonderful. I’m at a regular restaurant and I’m enjoying my food like everybody else. Not only can I eat as much as I want, but I also have multiple choices … until we get to the dessert. I’m walking from one dessert to the next. None of the labels says gluten-free. I’m slightly disappointed. But let’s try the fruit bar! And what an amazing fruit bar it is! Besides apples and oranges, I see mangoes, kiwis, papayas, pineapples, purple & green passion fruits, persimmons, dragon fruits, cape gooseberries, and coconuts. I don’t think I’ll go hungry this week. What a relief! Day 2 First day at sea, I made it through the first night without getting sick! I’m incredibly happy. The sun is shining through the window. The balcony door is open. I can hear the waves. What a perfect morning! Until I get up. Wow! The motion of the sea is stronger than I expected. I was feeling great, but now I’m not. I feel sick. Seasick. No breakfast for me. Day 3 We’ve reached Tunisia, but before I explore the cities Tunis and Sidi Bou Said, I need to eat as much breakfast as I can since I’m not sure if I’ll be back in time for lunch and I’m too scared to try a Tunisian restaurant. This is my first breakfast on board. I’m walking around the buffet, trying to find something gluten and casein-free, but none of the dishes have labels. I’m feeling a little lost. I’ve already gotten used to those labels so much so that without them I immediately expect the food to be unsafe. I’m staring at the food, but I’m afraid to touch it. Where is the chef? When I ask the chef about what’s gluten-free, he doesn’t seem as well prepared as the first night. Maybe it is because of the lack of labels. When I ask him about the deli meat, he tells me that it is not prepared on board the ship, so he can’t tell me whether it is gluten-free or not. Why not? Why does the chef of a large cruise ship, which claims to be prepared for guests with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, not know whether the food he’s offering is gluten free? That’s not what Aida advertises on their website. I begin to realize that the staff, including the chefs, is not as well educated when it comes to celiac disease and gluten as I had hoped, which becomes even more obvious when the chef suggests that I could probably eat the ham. I’m standing in front of the deli counter, staring at the ham and then the meat-cutting machine. Wait a minute! That meat-cutting machine, is it used for all the deli meats? I begin to hear the word “cross-contamination” ringing in my ear; it’s slowly taking over my mind. I feel a bit of fear rising in my body. My trust in the chefs and kitchen staff begins to crumble. I will need to be more careful from now on and watch out for cross-contamination. Day 4 We are in La Valette, Malta. The weather has been a mix of rain and sunshine, but the city is so beautiful that no rain can cloud its beauty. I’m running around the city, trying to see as much of it as possible before I rush back to the ship to grab some lunch before the buffet closes. The restaurant I usually choose is already closed and I have to try the Markt Restaurant. Usually both of these buffets offer lots of gluten-free options, but not this time. Twice, I walk from dish to dish, trying to find something I can eat. It’s not that there aren’t any gluten-free options, but the number is so small that my other food intolerances make it impossible for me to find any food. I end up eating some fruits and a salad that has garlic in it which makes my stomach hurt. This is the first time I leave the restaurant hungry, and I’m hoping that it will be the last. Day 5 We spent the day in Palermo, Sicily, and are now ready for dinner. As usual, the dinner food is delicious. Every night my plate is packed with meat, vegetables, and fruits. So far, I can say that I haven’t been glutened, but I’ve been noticing other places of cross-contamination. Tonight, for example, you can get gluten-free pasta sauce but not gluten-free pasta. In fact, the gluten-free pasta sauce is right next to the wheat pasta. Not just that, but a few of the wheat noodles have already fallen into the pasta sauce. I will certainly not eat the sauce. Day 6 My breakfast is the same as it was yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that: bacon and eggs. Every single day I’ve been eating bacon and eggs for breakfast. Lots of bacon and eggs! At least half of my plate is packed with bacon while the other half is packed with eggs. I can feel people’s eyes on the back of my neck wondering why I’m eating so much bacon and eggs. Well, it’s pretty much the only thing I can eat for breakfast. I’m slowly getting tired of all the meat, and I wish I had other options, but my body feels fine. I am still watching out for cross-contaminated food. Tonight, for instance, I’m avoiding the cut fruits from the fruit bar because the kitchen staff that is cutting the fruits is also preparing the Kaiserschmarrn (a cut-up sugared pancake with raisins) in the same work area. Even though the staff members are wearing gloves, they haven’t been changing them before handling the fruits. It becomes more and more obvious that the kitchen staff is not well informed when it comes to gluten and cross-contamination. Day 7 Last destination: Barcelona. I have heard of the city’s numerous gluten-free dining options, but while I’m exploring the city, it feels like I’m only seeing bakeries filled with pastries made out of wheat. This entire cruise I didn’t eat any pasta, bread, cookies, or chocolate, and I’m craving it, oh, I’m craving it! Even though I don’t eat much of it anymore, it feels like I’m actually addicted to it. I’m not sure whether it’s the flour or the sugar, but it’s getting harder and harder to bear those cookies and cakes behind the shop windows. I’m trying to distract myself from what I’m seeing, which works until I walk into my room. When I open the door, I see a plate with a big piece of cake lying on my bed. Is this a joke? If it is, it’s not a good one. Where does this cake come from? My father is smiling at me. He tells me that he was in the restaurant for coffee and cake and heard someone request a piece of gluten-free cake from the kitchen, so he ordered one for me. I can’t believe it! They had gluten-free cake the entire week and I didn’t know! The chef never mentioned it. I decide to eat the cake as a special dessert after dinner. Day 8 Last night was a nightmare. I had cramps that kept me awake the whole night, and I had numbness in my fingers. Until today I was convinced that the numbness in my fingers was caused by gluten, but the cake was gluten-free, so was there maybe corn in it? I’m confused. In the afternoon, I decide to go see one of the kitchen chefs to ask him about the ingredients in the gluten-free cake. I want to know whether there was corn in it or not. The chef is very accommodating and immediately goes into the kitchen to check the ingredients on the box. When he comes back, he tells me that there is no corn in the cake but that there is a little bit of wheat in it. What? There’s wheat in the gluten-free cake. How can that be? How can it be gluten-free when there is a little bit of wheat in it? He tells me that it says gluten-free on the box. He believes that it must be just traces of wheat. Right! Traces of wheat! That’s enough to make me sick. So, the numbness in my fingers last night was actually caused by gluten. Departure After my talk with the chef, it’s time for our departure. It was a great vacation, but I’m ready to get back home, especially since my trust in the kitchen chefs has been damaged too much by this last incident. Overall, Aida Sol did not deliver as well as promised on their gluten-free commitment. Yes, Aida offers various delicious gluten-free dishes on board their ships so that no one needs to go hungry; however, because of the chefs’ and staff members’ insufficient knowledge of celiac disease and of the risks of cross-contamination, I can’t declare the gluten-free food options on board Aida Sol to be safe. My advice to gluten-free travelers is to remain careful even when it says gluten-free. Always ask for the ingredients, especially of those foods that are not prepared on board the ship. Despite their ignorance of cross-contamination, I value Aida for trying to be accommodating to allergy sufferers. There are not many hotels and restaurants that are as accommodating as Aida, but I would appreciate even more if Aida had better informed staff that is more aware of the risks of cross-contamination. It’s of no use to allergy sufferers if the great gluten-free food that is offered on board the ships gets contaminated because of ignorant kitchen staff. Furthermore, there should be at least one chef in each restaurant that is familiar with the ingredients of the foods that are not prepared on board the ship. I only got sick once at the end of my time on the Aida Sol, but I am not sure if it was pure luck that it happened not more than once.
  7. Hello All. I am heading out on a Carnival Cruise this weekend. First one ever, but I am concerned about eating gluten-free. Anyone had any experience with this? What should I eat and avoid? Are they good about food allergies, or should I stick with salad and water?