I often get questions directly or on the AllergyEats Facebook page about taking a cruise with food allergies. Having never done this myself, I was grateful to AllergyEats friend and user Heather Sires for writing up her recent experience and allowing me to print it here.
I want to start off that I have multiple severe food allergies: tomato, fish, and peanut. They cause anaphylactic reaction within minutes, if not seconds of consuming (I can’t even touch fish). I am also allergic to wheat, dairy, melon, and green peas. I get anxious when I eat out but for a couple places in my area. These few places are very good about cross contamination and treat me like a human being. Other places I try to keep away from because when I hand them a chef card, they look at me like I just spit on them, and these places have sent me to the emergency room. I cook at home a lot. I can regulate my food that way. So when my parents said a few months ago that we were going on a cruise to the Caribbean over Christmas, I was anxious. I made sure I had enough epipens, prednisone, and benedryl to staunch a reaction. I printed up both English and Spanish chef cards, just to be safe. Mom said there was a way to signal them about your food allergies, but it would only allow one allergy to be selected. I was prepared to eat very simple, plain food.
The trip was completely different than I thought it would be. At our first dinner, I talked to the head waiter. I gave him my chef card and he asked if I had any other food allergies. I told him I did, as my chef card only includes my three major. I can avoid the others usually. He went back to the chef with my card, then came back and said it wouldn’t be a problem. They even said if I wanted anything gluten/dairy free, I just had to ask. Throughout the entire cruise, at dinner, I chose my dish the night before, and they did what they could to make it safe. Every time, it was safe. I got gluten free bread every night. I got gluten free pancakes every morning. At lunch, it was more of a cafeteria style, but they kept the platters away from eachother, cleaned up any messes, and kept the spoons in their spots. I felt very safe. For once, I could enjoy my meals. I could enjoy the cruise without the anxiety that comes with having food allergies.
I wanted to write this short piece to assure anyone going on a cruise with food allergies. It is safe. It can be fun. I did not have a reaction once. I had choices. They treated me like a human being. I even got dessert. They would bake a fruit. The food was delicious. I was on the Royal Caribbean cruise line. I’ve heard other cruise lines are just as good. There is a medical center on the first deck, so if you do have a reaction, they can treat everything but what needs surgery. I did not eat off the boat, though. The trips onto the islands were so short, I could wait until I got back on the boat. For the all day trips, I brought fruit. Going on a cruise with food allergies is a treat. It’s an incredible experience that anyone should have.
Thank you again, Heather, for sharing this wonderful experience with us. We’re so glad it went well!
So what do you think? Have you taken a cruise with food allergies (or food-allergic children)? How was the experience? If you haven’t, would you? Is Heather’s experience reassuring? Please share your thoughts with us by clicking Comments or Reply below.
And please also remember to rate any recent restaurant experiences you’ve had on our core AllergyEats site at www.allergyeats.com or on our iPhone or Android smartphone app (available in their respective stores for free). Also, check out our new AllergyEats Disney World site at www.allergyeats.com/disney.