Does anyone have experience with gluten-free dining on cruises? I am traveling with my 13 year old neice who has Celiac on Holland America's Zuiderdam, December 18.
We already sent our guten-free request list to HAL, but I am wondering how knowledgable and careful the kitchen and wait staff are about cross contamination issues. Will they allow a visit with the chef to talk about food choices and preparation methods? We don't have many problems ordering in restaurants, but with the large scale production needed to feed so many people, we are curious about how cruise chefs accomodate such a significant food intolerance. Thanks for any input or advice.
How did your trip go? My wife has recently been diagnosed with celiac-sprue (actually the final decision has yet to be made). We already have cruise resevations for April and have come up with the same question you posted. How will this effect the cruise and how accomodating are the staff. We're on Royal Caribean, but any info you may have would be appreciated. Thanks, Paul
Overall, it went well. HAL has a pre cruise request form to indicate special gluten free options, which included a nice variety. The only problem she encountered was that the first night they served what they told us was their standard gluten free bread. However, it contained spelt, so she was sick that night. Some celiacs are able to eat spelt, but her case is one of the few who can't. After that, the dining room staff went out of their way to provide alternatives at each meal. At the end of each dinner, they brought the menu for the next evening , so she could order what she wanted and they made sure it was GF for her. They even made a few items especially for her that we had not pre ordered including some awsome chocolate desserts. Our asst maitre'd was exceptional, and even had a GF muffin delivered to the cabin one morning when she wanted room service for breakfast. We ate in the lido often, and there were plenty of options for her there. Of course, she loved the ice cream bar the best. There were two other celiac passengers sitting in our dining area, but I don't know if there were others at different sittings or areas. Another newly diagnosed Celiac passenger we met had brought her own cereal and other items, but she said she didn't eat many of them because of all the choices. Of course, I can only speak for HAL, but their staff was exceptional and want to do all they can to be sure all passengers enjoy their cruise. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Amazing that HAL even made a bread for celiacs. I am and so is my 2 year old daughter. We just went on Norwegian Sea and didn't even for warn them of our needs. We did fine, just picking and chosing things. Now my husband and I are traveling on Royal Caribbean Mariner in 2 weeks. I didn't know I could ask such big requests, besides how do you trust when they bring you out a piece of bread? So curious on hearing how more celiacs do this!!!
We chose HAL for our cruise because they seemed to have the most knowledge of GF needs. I called around to each major line (Carnival, Princess, RCCL and HAL) to inquire about GF dining options. Most indicated that we should just inform our dining servers of our needs on the first night. We were quite skeptical with those answers. But HAL had a special request form, on which you could choose up to 3 GF items per day at no extra charge. There were pastas, soups, muffins, desserts, and pizza. So, I felt the most comfortable that they could meet my neice's needs. When we arrived in the dining room the first night, they already knew of our needs. Unfortunately, we trusted a bit too much that first night, and did not ask about the ingredients in what they referred to as their standard GF bread. It turned out to be a pre packaged bread containing spelt. After we told them that she had gotten sick, they made rice bread especially for her each day, and also served it to the other celiac passenger at the next table, who really liked it, too. The muffins and bagels were pre-packaged from a Canadian manufacturer. I can't recall the company, but will ask my neice if she remembers. They also made pizza dough and desserts from scratch, which she also loved. We asked alot of questions about the preparation of dishes and our asst maitre'd was exceptional about keeping us informed and answering our questions. We developed a tremendous trust with him, and he didn't let us down. I know that other celiacs have cruised on other lines successfully, however, I can definitely recommend HAL with the highest regard. If you contact the Special Services dept at RCCL ahead of time, they might be able to offer alternatives. This is a long winded response, and I'm not sure if I answered your questions, so please let me know if not. And I would love to hear how it went after you return. Regards, Janet