Cruising with food allergies

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.

Comments

    Author:
    Crystal
    Written:


    I am so encouraged by this story! My daughter was just dx with celiac and now is dairy free as well. My brother-in-law was on a cruise and was not nearly as lucky. He is anaphylactic to peanuts and other nuts. We found out after a night in the ship er with 4 shots of epi, they didn’t wash the bowls between almond extract and making shortbread cookies. The ship was great in helping he through the reaction but at first did not want to take any responsibility. In the end they took off the $2600 bill for the ship er visit. It was quite scary there for awhile. Now I will say this was at least 10 years ago and I do know they have made large strides in accomodations for food allergies.

    Author:
    Jennifer Boettinger
    Written:


    Thank you for sharing this. I had heard that Disney Crusies were great with food allergies, bit it is nice to hear that there are other options such as Royal Caribbean.

    Author:
    Katie
    Written:


    In the summer of 2010, we took our food allergic 11 month old on a Royal Caribbean cruise and were pleasantly surprised by how accommodating everyone was! My daughter is severely allergic to peanuts, treenuts and shellfish and also has egg and dairy allergies. On the first night of the cruise, we spoke to the maitre d’, who alerted the head chef. Our head waiter made sure that her dishes were prepared exactly as we ordered (Every night she ate grilled chicken, vegetables and a fruit cup) and even had a dish of sliced black olives (my daughter’s favorite!) waiting for her when we arrived at our table. For breakfast and lunch, we stuck to prepackaged cereal, fruit and jarred baby food and we also brought tons of safe snacks.

    This summer, we are going on a Carnival cruise with our daughter, who is now 2 1/2. Although I am always nervous about cross-contaminiation, my past experience has reassured me that it is possible to cruise with food allergies!

    Author:
    Donna
    Written:


    We took a family cruise on Carnival with my PA son. They gave us a beeper to reach us in a hurry (he was old enough to sign in and out of programs without us, and thus could move around a lot) and the waiter was excellent about our questions.

    There actually wasn’t a lot of peanut products around… even the buffets were good and meticulously kept up with. We had my son wear his medical id bracelet, the camp director’s knew who he was, we had the beeper and epi-pen.. it was no problems at all.

    We did not eat off the ship though… just took pictures and bought souvenirs. No food. There were over 900 kids on our cruise (President’s Week in the North East) and seriously, no problems at all. I was looking for trouble, and.. didn’t find any!

    Author:
    Valerie
    Written:


    I have taken several cruises and have not had one problem with my GF diet. I have sailed with Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Princess. Each has been very generous in their accommodation of a GF diet. I was even offered a box of GF crackers and GF cookies to take to my cabin when I sailed with Holland. Make sure to inquire about the food served at poolside grills and the buffet. They can guide you on what is safe and can even make GF bread choices available.

    Author:
    Cathy
    Written:


    I have a gluten allergy. We cruised last year with Holland America and had no real issue with any of our meals. As soon as our waiter saw us coming in to the dining room, he would bring me my gluten-free bread (and it was pretty good bread, too). He would let me know which items on the menu contained gluten and which were safe. Breakfast and lunch, we usually ate at the buffet and I could always find foods I could eat. We enjoyed the cruise with HA so much that we are going again.

    This coming summer, we will be going on a Disney cruise with a grandson who is highly-allergic to peanuts/tree nuts, so we will see how that cruise lines does.

    Author:
    Lori
    Written:


    This is encouraging news. We love to travel and have been trying to find a safe way to see Europe. The Disney Cruise line was mentioned to us and we’ve started to investigate. We’ve had great experiences at Disney World, so we are hoping for similar attention to food details on board. Has anyone cruised with multiple food allergies in Europe?

    Author:
    Tasha 2.0
    Written:


    I have sailed on many Disney cruises; having dairy and allicin allergies (include onions, leeks, garlic, shallots and chives). I always work with the head chef and our waiters to avoid any issues, including those of my service animals. Knock on the bulkhead, I have never had a bad reaction. I have taken a tour of the kitchen and watched firsthand how they avoid cross-contamination on board. The chef makes up a “bag lunch’ if I am going to stay off the ship in port, just ask! You can always go back onboard, eat, then leave the ship again. It does make sightseeing a bit challenging.

    Although cruising was a problem in the past for people with disabilities , this has changed quite a bit. The vast majority have embraced those with disabilities of every type.

    Author:
    Mary Louk
    Written:


    Oh thanks so much for your post. Our adult children want to cruise this year with us and I’ve been dreading it thinking I would just eat Larabars and black coffee due to my soy and milk allergies. I’m actually started to feel happy about going now.

    Author:
    Liz P.
    Written:


    We cruised Disney with our PA daughter last year and they did great! So good we are going again!

    Author:
    Wendy
    Written:


    Thank you for this encouraging report. We cruised with Princess after my husband and I were both diagnosed with gluten intolerance. I am much more sensitive than he is and cannot risk cross-contamination.
    I am convinced that cruising, aside from preparing your own food is the safest way to vacation with food sensitivities & allergies. All the major cruise lines are well-educated now and once the maitre d’ knows your needs, he is your watchdog and guards the safety and consistency of your food. For the most part, it made food a minor concern instead of the overwhelming problem at every meal.
    That said, I was not thrilled with the choices we had. **You must work hard to talk with the cruise line directly long before your cruise.** All will tell you that is not necessary. And it is true that they can feed you something if you notify them as soon as you board. But over and over we were told that our choices were very limited because so much of the food has been prepped or marinated or begun off the ship so the chef had no control over that part. In other words, “I am sorry. I cannot cook a plain chicken breast for you. All our breasts arrive on the ship in the marinade. Next time, alert us in advance and we will make sure we have more gluten free options on board for you”
    The only gluten free dessert available was chocolate mousse. We had it every night. If you note that you are celebrating an anniversary or honey moon, the kitchen sends out a personal cake and sings to you. We got a beautiful looking cake that turned out to be – surprise – chocolate mousse, shaped and frosted. :)
    Also, I may be the first person to have lost weight on a cruise!! The only lunch option was at the buffet – no specially prepared food, no help from ANYONE. The staff in the buffet room could not tell me what was gluten free. In fact, I couldn’t find anyone who understood enough English to even know what “gluten” meant, even after requesting a supervisor a few times. The supervisors took the safe road and simply said, “No. We have none,”, though again I doubted their comprehension. I think if I had persevered and spoken to the Help desk, I probably would have gotten some specific help. But I didn’t – the lines were too long; I did not want to turn my vacation back into a food nightmare and I did not believe anything at the buffet could ever really be made “safe enough” for me, given the probability of cross-contamination. So I stuck with peelable fruit. Likewise, breakfast and room service options were also sparse.
    Since then, we’ve uncovered several more of my allergies or intolerances. Along with the gluten, I now have to avoid dairy, soy, SUGAR, chocolate and eggs. We are considering another cruise and I so wish we could afford Disney. They are the masters of allergy-free cruising/vacationing. All I have heard and read convinces me that multiple allergy sufferers are safest and will have the most choices on Disney. They set the bar for education of staff and safety/ease for the traveler.
    Bottom line – you can cruise safely. But you must be willing to push early and work hard to speak with a real person about your needs to ensure that your cruise is truly stress-free. I tried and gave up when multiple calls and emails went unanswered. Find out what the dining options are. Make sure you always have another option to a buffet. No one can guarantee the safety of a buffet. I thoroughly enjoyed our cruise even with my limited food choices, but I would never consider cruising with multiple food allergies unless I actually made my needs known in advance.

    Author:
    wanda
    Written:


    I have never been on a cruise and am allergic to corn, milk, peanut, oat and banana. I also suspect wheat at this time so I have a lot of problems going out and traveling but I might consider a cruise now. thanks

    Author:
    michele
    Written:


    This is encouraging. We would like to figure out a safe way to travel internationally, with multiple food allergies. My son is allergic to fish (white fish), beef, pork, lamb, soy, dairy, coconut, with his most severe sensitivity to peas, lentils,tree nuts, peanuts. He has been in anaphylactic shock. I was feeling encouraged with recent travel but had a terrible experience with Delta airline when they refused to serve an alternative to peanuts. We won’t fly with them anymore and so I am now feeling nervous about overseas airlines. Maybe we should stick to land

    Author:
    Kim
    Written:


    Has anyone with PA/Tree Nut Allergy cruised with Carnival recently? I have cruised Carnival 3 times before, but never with my children who are both PA and Tree nut allergic. I am so nervous about this trip! Any opinions or help will be greatly appreciated!

    Author:
    Cheryl
    Written:


    Hi, I’m so glad I found this website. I have been wanting to take a Disney Cruise with my 5 y.o Peanut/tree nut allergic son. I actually booked it and then cancelled for fear of him having a reaction on the ship. Thank you for all your reassurring comments. I may just be calling my travel agent today!!

    Author:
    jackie and John Dear
    Written:


    Thank you for this information. I would be interested to know about other travelers experience whose children had severe tree nut allergies.

    Author:
    Kim
    Written:


    We have a cruise booked on Carnival in November and have a son with peanut, tree nut and coconut allergies. I would love to know how that went for those who had nut allergic children. He is a picky eater anyways, so I planned to bring all of his favorite snacks.

    Author:
    Liz
    Written:


    Has anyone traveled on a Celebrity cruise with a tree nut/peanut allergy?

    Author:
    Rob
    Written:


    We just had a bad experience on Disney’s Fantasy ship. If you ask two different people about the same food, one will tell you it is fine and the other will tell you not to eat it. They don’t put labels on any of the food on the buffet, menus or anywhere. My daughter had a reaction to the roasted duck which had peanuts in it. The dining room staff is good about it but forget eating anywhere else on the ship. The ship told us on the last night we could order special food for her. We warned them in advance of the cruise and there was zero communication to us on what the ship can and can’t do regarding dining options until there was an actual incident.

    Author:
    Lilly
    Written:


    Our son is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg. We took the Disney Wonder to Alaska in August 2012. The dining room experience was wonderful: once you are flagged as having the allergies (call to have it put into your record, and double-check them when you arrive to make sure), it shows up on your ticket when you enter the dining room for seating. The first day a chef came out to discuss what he could make for our son, showed us what breads were safe (he even called the baker to double-check), and told us what other regular offerings were safe. That was the only meal we to wait extra time for since it was the first day. After that, every night we ordered the next day’s meals ahead and they were served with everyone’s regular meals. We had the same wait staff for every dinner and our head waiter took special care of making sure we had the right order and made sure the next day’s order was put in. For lunch even though we didn’t have the same staff, the order would be there and the waiters knew about our allergy when we were seated from the record (though we would always remind them anyway!). Our son had a good variety of meals and they made him special desserts several times. The children’s clubs have a check-in policy for Epipens and other medications and can contact you by the ship WavePhones that you carry with you. I’ve never been so relaxed dealing with food on a vacation before!

    Author:
    Erin
    Written:


    While I agree that Disney is by far the leader in allergy safety, complacency about cruising with allergies is a dangerous luxury that as parents (or as an allergic person) you can’t afford. We have cruised multiple times on different lines. Royal Caribbean flat out told me that I should not book a cruise with our oldest son who is anaphylactic to peanuts/nuts & shellfish (and has issues with other legumes, tuna etc.) because there was no way they could guarantee his safety. We booked with Disney instead getting a much better feel from them about how it could be handled. Having said that, I was told by the cruise line to book a short cruise that didn’t involve multiple days at sea – air evacuation can become necessary (they can only start an IV, and can’t handle long term intubation in a serious emergency) and that becomes difficult if not impossible according to the cruise line if they are in the middle of the ocean. Although Disney was informed ahead of time about the allergies, the first night the server got my meal mixed up with my son’s (I am allergic to dairy but not anaphylactic) – my son noticed it before eating. So much for getting it right. After that things went much better and for our outing at CocoCay they were amazing. I would only recommend Disney (I have cruised NCL and again wouldn’t trust them with allergies) for a cruise and even then you must dot every i and cross every t – as a nurse I made it my business to know what the ship could handle in a medical emergency and resuscitation is very difficult for them (not something they have to perform for real very often it would seem) so just make sure you know what to do and that the ship has the appropriate medications and you have evacuation insurance. Take all precautions, but remember, like on the airplanes, you cannot control what other passengers eat and touch so the risk is still real even if your meals are carefully prepared. Be warned and stay safe.

    Author:
    Cassandra
    Written:


    Its nice to hear that there are cruises that will accommodate food allergies, I wish I had looked into reviews of Norwegian cruise lines before I took them, it was a disaster. I am allergic to wheat, gluten, strawberries, crab, and certain kinds of vegetables, potatoes and peppers etc. I called the cruise line ahead of time, as they recommended, and was told to talk to waiters on the ship and I would be accommodated. Once on the ship however, I was told that while the chefs would try, none of the food could be guaranteed for any food allergy and nothing was stocked for passengers with food allergies. At first I thought this must be a language barrier(which was also true for every food related employee I tried to talk to), but it turned out that the food really was cooked and prepared on contaminated surfaces. After several reactions, despite the attempts of the chefs, it became clear I could only eat real food off of the boat. On the boat there was little I could pick off of the salad bar when it was open, but if I had been allergic to dairy, nuts, soy or eggs I think I may have starved! Even the tea the ship had stocked had gluten in it. I lost so much weight the size 4 bathing suit I started with didnt fit by the end of the cruise, just terrible, no attempts to accommodate the numerous angry passengers with food allergies, only apologies.. I would warn anyone with food allergies to avoid Norwegian cruise line, or the ship Norwegian Spirit at the very least.

    Author:
    Terry
    Written:


    Glad to hear so many people had a positive experience with Disney and other cruise lines. We cruised on the Disney Wonder to Alaska in the summer of 2012. We choose Disney because of our experience with our son’s severe peanut/nut allergy in the theme parks and due to the positive reviews such as those on this site. I wish I could say our experience was stress free in terms of eating. Unfortunately, it was not. We did all the right things: contacted the cruise line in advance, went to speak with the Maitre’d on the first day. We were assured that we would be taken care of. On our first dinner, we were told that none of the items on the children’s menu contained peanuts/nuts and that we could order anything. When we questioned whether allergen free food was to be prepared separately (as we had heard) or whether we should see the ingredients, we were told that there was no need because the ship was “nut free”. We were told this by our head waiter and servers. Our son had dinner with no incident but we were very uncomfortable with the staff’s “don’t worry everything is ok” attitude. After we walked out of the dining room and walked through a lounge, we saw bowls of peanuts sitting on every table. This shocked us as we were told that that ship did not contain peanuts. The following morning we went to the dinning room to have breakfast. Our assistant waiter brought us a pastry platter. He pointed to danishes that contained almonds and said everything was ok except for the danish. We had a small panic attack because all the pastries were on the same platter and almost assuredly, there was cross contamination. I immediately spoke with the head waiter explaning that we booked Disney becuase they had separate food prepration areas for allergies (this was the same head waiter that said they were nut free the day before). He could tell I was quite upset and agreed to put into place the process that we had read on reviews in that we would put in the orders in advance and it would be prepared in the special allergen free prep kitchen. That said, there were still a few times that we caught our waiters brining foods from the regular service. For example, one time my son ordered pudding. When it came, it contained sprinkes. He had ordered the pudding before and when it came from the special kitchen it did not contain sprinkles becuase, as was explained, the spinkles may contain nuts. We had to tell our waiter to get the pudding from special kitchen and that it should be sprinkle free. He appologized (the staff were very nice) and brought out another one. We had to question the staff about the food and where they got it from a number of times and caught them with questionable food a handful of times. We could not relax at all when it came to meals. After speaking with many of the wait staff, we were told that the ship was at capcity (including 3rd and 4th berths) – almost 2700 passengers. They told us that it was very busy and that they had to work harder than usual. I suspect that when it comes to special food orders, which means extra work for the wait staff, they were trying to cut corners. I don’t blame the staff, this is a systems issue for Disney Cruise management. So bottom line for us, we booked a future cruise while onboard but ended up cancelling it. We just felt that the stress of eating on board was not worth it. Perhaps a different ship that is not so busy may have better service when dealing with allergies. PS We expressed our concern at the purser’s office (hotel staff) with the hope’s someone would contact us to help us out. No one did. It seems from some of the most recent comments, Disney Cruise Line may be slipping a little when it comes to food allergies.

    Author:
    Kathy
    Written:


    Disney has definitely gone downhill in terms of food allergies. We took a cruise with them in 2010 and they were amazing. We took another cruise with them in 2012 and they were horrible. I spent much of the time starving. They substituted stuff that I didn’t know what it was without telling me. There was literally nothing to eat in between meals unless it came from room service and they would only deliver to the room, which took over an hour.

    Basically…a very bad experience. We even wrote a letter to Disney and got back a “we don’t care” form letter.

    There are special allergy cruises. I’m beginning to think that may be the only way I go cruising again.

    Author:
    Mark Roseman
    Written:


    I can tell you from both good and bad experience, that the particular cruise line matters far less than the staff onboard your particular ship that you encounter, which of course you can’t control.

    Both my wife and I have multiple dietary restrictions, and actually choose cruises as holidays now because they are very capable of dealing with them. However, to actually make that happen, there are a lot of things you need to know. None of which the cruise lines tell you.

    I got so frustrated about this state of affairs that I put together a short ebook on the subject, entitled ‘Cruising with Special Diets’.

    I’d encourage you to check it out at cruisespecialdiet.com, and would greatly welcome any feedback!

    Author:
    Suzanne
    Written:


    What crusie lines did y’all go on that worked well with Shellfish & tuna allergies?

    Author:
    Lacey
    Written:


    I have celiac disease and follow strictly!! I NEVER cheat, ever so I often say I have an allergy because people tend to take that more seriously. I have found that the earlier you notify ANY vacation destination the better it is for the experience. I went on a RC cruise a few years ago and it was back before it was “popular” but they went above and beyond. The only issues I did have was, with certain staff members being rude and not really seeming to care but most people (especially in the Main dining room) were amazing. I usually steer clear of buffets and only ate at the buffet three times the entire cruise, one of which was awful. I was totally treated poorly. I don’t blame RC, they accommodated me nicely, I blame the staff member.
    I am going on a Norwegian Cruise in January 2015 and have already contacted them to let them know about my condition. I have called NCL to make sure my reservation had GF marked on it and I even asked (and double asked) my travel agent to make sure it was marked. I am a little concerned about the “freestyle” dining because there are a ton of dining options available so prior planning is a must. Anytime I get on board I immediately go and speak to the maitre’d, and head waiter/manager of the restaurants I will be eating at in the next few days. I was told that you should make reservations for dining so I know where I will be eating so I will know where I am going and who to go talk to.
    I know they have made great strides in the GF options but I still get concerned. However, I have come to realize that no vacation is about the food. People so often get entranced by the food that they forget it is more than gorging yourself. It is about everything else. Is it nice to have a great meal and great options that taste fantastic? YES, but it is not everything.
    Side note: Walt DIsney World IS AMAZING at catering to GF diets and other allergies. I am not about the food on vacation but at Disney, WOW! I can eat just about everything. Table service and signature venues are best. They can make ANYTHING. You can often have several “rare” items such as soups, fried calamari, onion rings, battered fish, fried chicken, various desserts, mickey waffles, pineapple pancakes, sauces, and so on. SO, I am sure the disney cruise line is good as well.

    Author:
    Linja
    Written:


    Glad your experience was good. I cruised on Royal Caribbean a few years back and was disappointed. However, I have over 20 food allergies and eating out is always challenging. The staff at dinner tried to meet my needs and did okay except that the food was very repetitious (plain baked potato every single night!) and not terribly filling, since I could not have dessert or beverages and the meals are portioned on the small side as they assume you are having dessert and drinks. (I drank water. BTW, their decaf coffee was atrocious!)

    The cafeteria was also repetitious because there were only a few things I could eat. I got tired of hamburger patties with lettuce pretty quickly. But the thing that alarmed me most was a salad bar in the main dining room. You did not serve yourself, and at the end of the line they toss all the salads with the same implements. Talk about cross contamination! That salad masher had bread crumbs, cheese, flecks of shrimp… so be very careful if you partake of salad!

    Room service was a joke. The menu was limited and they could not make changes or substitutions, so there was absolutely nothing on it that I could eat.

    The good news is that I lost five pounds on the cruise without trying, even though I had brought special snacks with me and ate them regularly. There just wasn’t enough food that I could eat to maintain my energy, so I was tired much of the time, which was unfortunate because you have to walk a lot on a cruise ship. I would not sail with them again.

    Author:
    Emma
    Written:


    Hello everyone,

    Just to say I’ve got back from a Royal Caribbean trip to Norway on the Adventure of the Seas and enjoyed some lovely food and flavours.

    Having struggled on 2 Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) ships for food in the past due to a strong garlic intolerance and not wanting to wreck my holiday, I wanted to make sure I was prepared.

    I informed the Royal Caribbean by email before we left and got these tips (paraphrasing):
    • They have noted allergy on booking and will appear on waiter’s computers
    • Meet with the Maitre’D to review the menus
    • All items prepared for guests with food allergies are handled separately from the main food production
    • Recommended to not use Windjammer Café – risk of cross contamination – but if you do, meet with the Restaurant Manager for that particular venue
    • Ship’s medical facility can treat guests with allergic reactions
    • Bring own supply of dry, non-perishable food items such as cookies, crackers, crisps, energy bars, etc, plus individual packets of salad dressings

    I brought some cereal bars on board in case I struggled to find anything to eat but they really weren’t needed.

    Once onboard, we booked the same table for the evening meal throughout, which saved me constantly reminding the waiter, Dalibor Peshovski, of my intolerance (which gets frustrating) and he was wonderful – very attentive. He offered suggestions of food I was safe with when describing the menu, and when I had chosen could tell me if it was safe or not. If unsure he would check for me and suggest appropriate alternatives. I honestly had no trouble at all – I comfortably enjoyed 3 course meals every evening.

    For lunch, I discovered the other waiting staff could be a bit hit or miss, especially when you tell them you have in intolerance but I tended to stick to a fresh salad and the low fat raspberry sauce, which was lovely.

    I also ate in the Johnny Rockets on board as well with no problem at all.

    I was certainly impressed by the food and meal time service on Royal Caribbean…so it’s a shame we weren’t impressed by their trip and activity organisation but that’s another story…

    Hope that helps.

    Emma

    Author:
    Paula
    Written:


    Just wondering if anyone has had any cruising experience with Norwegian? How well do they handle tree nut/peanut allergies?

    Author:
    Michele P
    Written:


    We had an incredible experience cruising on the Disney Fantasy. One of children has an anaphylaxis allergy to any form of dairy. We have taken several trips to Disney World with great success, not one mistake with food for our son. When we heard that Disney Cruise line handled food allergies on board their ships just as carefully as at the park, we booked our cruise.

    I had two long conversations with the food service people for the cruise line before we took the cruise. They ran thru their handling of food allergies on the ship and what to do/not do. They told us to bring a piece of luggage full of nonperishable snacks/foods for our son just in case there were no snacks on board that he liked. They also told us to never have our son eat at the buffet, it would be to hard to regulate and cross contamination. When we got on board, we went straight to the head matre de to discuss our son’s dietary restrictions and needs. They assured us that his food allergies were documented through out the ship.

    The Disney ship, you eat at several different venues, but your servers go with you; however each restaurant has its own Chef and his/her team. Our first night we ate at the Royal Court where we met our servers and Fitz our head Matre De. Fitz came over and knew right away that our son had a life threatening food allergy. He asked if we could give him 10 minutes so he could go talk with the Chef of the Royal Court. !0 minutes later, Fitz returned WITH Martell the head Chef for the Royal Court. They took time to talk with our son about what he would like for dinner that night, then asked if after dinner we would stay fora bit so the Chef and Fitz could meet with us. After dinner Martell and Fitz came and sat with us at our table and explained their plan for our son. Martell would be the Chef for our son for his entire cruise. No matter where we ate or which meal, even in the other dinning rooms, Martell would make his food. Even when we got off the ship to go to their private island, Martell made sure there was safe food there for my son to eat. Fitz and Martell also made it so we did not need to eat lunch in the main dinning room for lunch. The rest of the family could eat lunch at Cabanas, the buffet so we could use the pool, and all we had to do was let someone at cabanas know that we needed our sons lunch from Martell and someone would call to his kitchen. With in 20 minutes Martell or Fitz would show up and deliver freshly made food for my son.

    Our experience on board the Disney Fantasy was outstanding. We are already looking to go back!

    Author:
    Allyson
    Written:


    I would love more information for NCL, specifically Norwegian Gem, if anyone has experience…! We’re about to book an extended family cruise for July 2015.

    We cruised on Celebrity Summit in July 2014. It was my parents’ 50th Anniversary and they treated US – their kids/grands! I don’t see much written about Celebrity when I look so I’ll sum up our experience. We knew my younger son had food allergies (including peanuts/tree nuts and fresh egg), but what we didn’t know was that he also has Celiac Disease!

    Like other lines, Celebrity is very careful about food preparation – there’s a separate kitchen with specially trained staff to handle allergies/GF orders. (When we saw it on the Galley Tour, I wished they had a Tip Jar out!) My little guy was really treated very well. It works best in the MDR like so many other cruises – same staff nightly, computer has the record, and you order the night before…menu came to us! My son’s bread came out first each night (sandwich bread, but he was fine with that)and sometimes a special dessert would appear for him (and my older son, with no food issues)! We didn’t eat in the specialty restaurants. The menu on one side is set for the week and doesn’t change, the other side changes nightly. It’s ALL labeled. For certain allergens and vegetarian as well.

    What seems to REALLY set Celebrity apart (on the Summit, anyway) is their BUFFET. In that it’s SAFE! Some food is served from servers like carving stations, and the rest is already plated in individual servings!!! Many in cute wire baskets. It ALL has labels above so you can see for each item if it’s safe – I think 6-8 icons tell you major allergens. You don’t have to look far to find someone in a tie – there are a few managers around at every buffet meal – and s/he will help if you have questions, want GF toast, etc. But, what a relief to not have cross-contamination concerns! The only serve-yourself items were the prepared fruit bins, but they were only near other fruit…I know that could be an issue for some, but it certainly cuts down on risk.

    I’m sorry that none of the other cruise lines seem to offer food in quite this way. (and, some general travelers complain that the portions are small on buffets like this…though it’s quite easy to grab seconds) I wish this is how all buffets could be!

    There’s no food in the Kids’ program, so that was easy…but there was also nothing he could eat near the pool – the grill didn’t have GF buns. They knew their fries weren’t safe and that my son could only eat a plain burger patty. So, we were careful to eat when the buffet or MDR were available after the first day in port when that was the only remaining option (in Bermuda, there’s nowhere to eat that’s safe near the ship or the beach that we found). Next cruise, we’ll do boxed lunches for sure!

    And, the variety of food is good – the quality is even better! – but I’d say an adult would probably enjoy it all more than a child. At least, my child, who isn’t yet into exotic food. Still, he ate grilled chicken like it was his favorite nuggets, it was that good to him! :)

    So, for many of you posting/reading here, I would recommend looking into Celebrity Cruise Lines. The service in general is very, very good and although the cruises tend to be smaller and quieter than some others, I think there’s good value and enough to do for most travelers.

    Good luck to all!

    Author:
    Stephanie
    Written:


    Thank you for this wonderful article. I was in despair thinking we could never take our kids on this type of vacation due to my sons anaphylactic allergies to tree nuts and sesame seeds. I now feel much more comfortable booking a trip for next Christmas on RC. THANK YOU!!!

    Author:
    Denise
    Written:


    Has anyone had experience with Carnival with food allergies? I have peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, seafood & many fruits &veggies.

    Author:
    Alan
    Written:


    I’ve been on two cruises with my DD who has a severe peanut allergy with no incidents. Once with Disney and the other with Royal Caribbean. All I have to say is be vigilant, always. I’d say Disney is much more allergy aware, primarily because of all the kids on their cruises, but you still have to watch out. Oftentimes I’d get blank stares from staff when I asked about peanut/nut contamination. You just know they have no clue or just assume that the items don’t contain nuts so it is safe – even though they have peanut butter cookies in the same display.

    The buffet can be OK, but you have to extra careful. You really need to know your stuff when it comes to food prep. The chef always came out to help on Disney, not so on Royal. I am sure you could get the chef if you really insisted, but those buffets are so insanely busy they really don’t want to. SO, I’d avoid the buffets on Royal if you can. We had most meals in the MDR, which was just fine by me.

    Author:
    Crystal
    Written:


    I am glad I found this site. We have been on many cruises on Norwegian and on royal Caribbean. They are both good with food allergies. We are a family allergic to gluten. Every ship is different and you still need to be vigilant. Trust no one. Once the maitre d’ gets to know you you will have no struggle. On Norwegian you wait more because the dining times are open. Royal carribean is better and their menus usually are labeled for allergies. We have always have the food ordered in advance with no issues. We never eat off the ship unless we bring it. I always bring bread and sunbutter and jelly from home along with ziplocks and bring sandwiches to shore. It makes everything so much more enjoyable. They usually have bread, muffins and pasta. Pretty much everything but pizza. Norwegian does have pizza though. I’m glad I read about Celebrity Summit. We are actually looking at that particular cruise to Bermuda. Now we can go with less worry. Safe travels people!

    Author:
    Sally
    Written:


    This is long overdue, but in 2013, we went on the KISS Kruise on the Norwegian Pearl with our then 13 yo daughter severely allergic to M,E, PN, TN, Shrimp. Our first ever cruise. I basically went into this blind. I went to the cruise lines help desk & had to fill out a guest special request form so that they were aware of her allergies. I dealt with Allyson R. who was very reassuring that they deal with allergies everyday. Still, I was very scared, I believe more scared than my daughter( she was going to meet the band, so she would have starved for 5 days if she must ! ) I was more panic stricken than she was. I loaded up with enjoy life cookies & snack size chips. Once we were on board, there was a letter in our room, addressed to our daughter, & it stated that they were aware of her allergies & it had them listed. It said to speak with the Maitre d before every meal, & they would take care of her. And they did !! Our first nights dinner, after we told the Maitre d she had food allergies & what they were, she explained the food allergy protocol & we went through what she could have to eat. Well, she chose steak & french fries. When her meal came, I asked her how it was & she said, ” Mom don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s better than yours !!” Never before have I been so happy to hear those words, that I sat there & cried, not because it was better than mine, but because this was her first time that she was eating in a real “restaurant” (I’m crying as I’m typing this) The maitre d hugged me & said they will take good care of her. So, for the whole cruise we ate only in that restaurant & she either had steak or pork chop with french fries. So to make a long story short, my husband & I vow to only cruise Norwegian !! It’s a very scary situation, and you still have to be vigilant, but it feels so awesome when you can actually relax on vacation. My heartfelt THANKS !! to Norwegian Cruise Line, their Allergy awareness & training, & all their employees who take food allergies seriously. A job well done !

Leave a Reply