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Have you traveled on a cruise ship?

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administrator's picture
Joined: 01/08/2013

Was it a good experience? Bad? Which cruise ship and where did you go? Please share your story.

Kimberly's picture
Joined: 04/16/2013
All Aboard!

So you want to go cruising and still follow your diet? Back in 2000 I went on my first cruise, as a vegan, and was amazed at what a wonderful job Royal Carribean did with accomodating me. Since cruise ships tend to have staff from all over the globe, including chefs, they really have a diverse cuisine if need be. I recall my chef was recruited to work with me for the week- he was from India and had plenty of experience cooking without animal products. His Chana Masala was a masterpiece! I love cruises! In fact, I'm trying to plan a quick little getaway as I write this. Gluten-free cruising though? I've had a few experiences... hopefully I'll have more to write about if a find a good deal on a trip soon :)

Now, my gluten sensitivity is nothing compared to my son's. In fact, I still purposefully "sneak" gluten here and there... then suffer the consequences. I do tell myself, each time, that I will never do it again. The last time for me was St. Patty's Day when I had to have a Guinness. Ouch. My son Andrew, on the other hand, the ultimate in gluten sensitivity. So on a cruise ship, I can feast on salad, fish, steamed veggies... not really having to worry about cross-contamination. With Andrew though, it took me a few conversations with some very assuring cruise staff before I agreed to take him onboard.

A few years back, my mother really wanted to take her only grandchild on a Disney cruise as a Christmas present. I know how much I stress about going out for even just the day with my child (I pack enough for him to likely survive a week), but spending a few days away? With no kitchen? No grocery store? Terrifying if you ask me, but the cruise line promised they could accomodate his needs. Armed with GF/CF crackers, peanut butter, juiceboxes, and the only rice milk he could or would drink at the time, I ventured onto the ship praying for an enjoyable vacation with my son.

Fortunately my son loves fruit- there's a TON of it on cruise ships! We feasted on fresh fruit and crackers to tide us over until dinner, while I made arrangements with the staff to get to know the GF/CF family quite well. We planned on pizza for that night, which was something I made my son all the time at home. Although I commend the staff so very much for their efforts, their pizza kind of sucked. My son took a small nibble, then avoided it for the remainder of dinner. Thank goodness for those crackers I brought on board! His first dinner turned out to be peanut butter crackers and mango. The following day, for breakfast we attempted GF/CF pancakes... but ended with more peanut butter crackers and fruit. The snack bar at the pool deck made GF/CF french fries- which my son was THRILLED about, but I'm not really the kind of mom who lets her child eat french fries regularly. The pastas provided on board- mediocre, the dinner rolls- pretty good (I'm guessing they were Udi's). Steamed rice came into the picture when I realized the handful of meals Andrew had to choose from didn't really catch his interest.

In all honesty, I was very relieved to disembark on day 4. It definitely wasn't a terrible experience- and I certainly need to have some "real world" experiences with the diet sometimes- but I couldn't wait to get back into my own kitchen and prepare my son a meal with all of his favorites. Granted, Andrew was only 4 or 5 at the time. Now that he's 11, he's much more willing to try new things. Would I do it again? Likely, but I'd pack a heck of a lot more crackers (and try to convince the staff to let me in the kitchen during prep time).

Kimberly gf mommy