Thursday, January 15, 2009

More GF Travels - The GF Cruise

it's been a crazy crazy month that has gone by quickly without blogging! following a series of family illnesses, running around, and a lovely week of vacation, i'm finally ready to catch up on a few posts i've had sitting around.

but first about that vacation... :) we took a three day cruise with royal caribbean recently, and it was our first cruise experience. i wasn't sure what the food situation was going to be, but i checked on their website and was pleased to find they had email addresses for those with Celiac and food allergies. although i can't use them, they also noted that they provide lactaid milk and soy milk if you request it.

so anyways, i am happy to say that they did a fantastic job of catering to my multiple food intolerance requests. by the end i realized a number of things i could have done to make it easier for myself, so i'm going to give my recs below.

but here is what they did do-- at each meal they provided me with three slices of GF bread. this was a surprise. they said they bake it each day, but it was a bit cold when they brought it out. i actually don't eat a lot of bread, but i felt guilty not eating it because they were so happy to provide it :)

our waiter in the main dining room AND the head waiter would come numerous times throughout the meal to check on me and see what else i needed. each night they took my order for the next day to ensure that it could be accomodated. they also worked with the kitchen to modify any meal selections that i had for the following day based on the menu and my dietary requirements.

it was a little trickier eating from the buffet, but mostly because i had to track down a chef and ask them what i could eat. but once i did that, pretty smooth sailing.

so here are my recommendations for gf/food allergy/intolerance cruising:

1. plan in advance- email the cruiseline in advance so that they can prepare

2. when you arrive on the ship, go speak with the chef in the dining room to make your arrangements for your first meal.

3. pick where you're going to eat for each meal the day before- it's a pain, but they need advance notice in order to accommodate you.

4. bring a few of your own snacks/desserts along as well so that you're not stuck eating fruit every meal. don't get me wrong, i love fruit, but depending on the length of your cruise, this could get tiring. a lot of the fruit on our cruise wasn't ripe (pineapple, melons, etc) so it's nice to have other snack options.

5. ask a lot of questions and double check that they have the right intolerances for you, because it's easy to forget. apparently at a table close by to me a woman had soy and gluten issues, so the head waiter kept confusing me with her and forgot i couldn't have dairy as well.

6. kind of obvious, but thank the staff numerous times and tip them well- it's a great service considering that traveling with food restrictions can be one stressful event and they're making it possible.

7. enjoy your time off from cooking! :)

i would love to hear from anyone else who's gone on any other cruise lines and how they were treated, so please share!

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