Food allergies and cruises

Can Food-Allergic Diners Go on Cruises?

Our members have come through again! Given that AllergyEats is designed to be a community site, it is great to see members helping members beyond just the key task of rating restaurants.

Yesterday, an AllergyEats Facebook fan (Melissa) asked:

“Have any of you gone on a cruise? We are considering taking a cruise with our food allergic son, but I am afraid to take him somewhere that I have no control over what he eats for a week. I’d love to hear experiences on various cruise lines.”

The responses were great (so far!) and I thought it made sense to share them with the AllergyEats Blog readers. Feel free to add your own comments under Reply or Comments at the end of this blog entry (or on the AllergyEats Facebook page).

Here are the responses:

I’m wondering the same thing. This is why we haven’t traveled out of state even! My son had and anaphylactic reaction, stopped breathing and had to be intubated and air-lifted while on vacation. Now we’re paranoid to go anywhere that’s not close to home.

I have no doubt that Disney would handle it with grace & ease.

We did a Disney Cruise this year with my son who is allergic to milk, soy, and eggs. They were absolutely fantastic at every meal. It was such a stress-free vacation for me because I did not have to worry. They are pricier than other cruise lines, but IMO was worth every penny to have peace of mind.

I’ve heard terrific things about Disney’s cruises,etc…for gluten intolerant vacationers as well as other allergies. If I had the money, I’d definitely take a cruise on one of their ships.

My concern lies more on the medical care aboard and in port – as my child has gone ANA from a trace reaction – I have yet to find a site that rates medical care on cruises

I have a wheat allergy & traveled twice over the last few years on Norwegian Cruiselines. I contacted the special services dept. a few weeks prior to our sailing dates & they were very knowledgeable & sent me a list of gluten free foods they offer. They asked me to select foods that I would want the cruise to have. When I boarded the ships, the restaurant manager met with me & went over my dietary needs. At each restaurant on board, I reminded the servers & they always knew exactly what I needed. They were very well trained on food allergies.

We also did a Disney cruise in December with my nut and egg allergic child- the best thing we ever did!! I was so nervous, my comfort level is pretty tight, but it couldn’t have gone better. The chef even would make special desserts for my son every night so that he had something “fancy” to eat with the rest of us, sadly “fancy” to him is vanilla ice cream, but the things he made were amazing. Our waiter was always on top of the dinner, discussing the next meal before we left. I felt so great and relaxed while there – although my meds bag was overflowing with everything I could possibly bring – the only thing we used was Dramamine – for me!!

We took a carnival carribbean cruise a year ago with my son who has an anaph allergy to all nuts. Prior to the cruise we filled out a special form detailing the allergy and his reaction. Once we boarded, I made a beeline to the dining room and spoke with the maitre d and waiters we would have. They sat w me that first day and gave me the menu for each day and wrote down what we picked for Reid, and cooked his food first and separately each night. They gave us dessert suggestions as well. The maitre d made sure to stop at our table every night to make sure all was well. All in all, I think they handled it exceptionally well.

These are great comments and more positive than I would have thought (having never gone on a cruise). As always, all proper precautions should be taken; however, it seems like a cruise should not be out of the question for those with food allergies.

In addition to these above comments, I found some great advice on the web. My favorite is from the website Delicious Baby (hey, I don’t name these) at the following link:

Again, please feel free to post your own comments on cruising with food allergies below. Have you had similarly positive experiences as some of the posters? No one has yet shared a negative experience – have you had one? Are there other cruise lines that deserve kudos?

And as always, please remember to rate all of your land-based restaurant experiences at the main AllergyEats site, Every rating increases the value of AllergyEats for our entire food allergy and intolerance community.



    I recently went on a Southern Carribean cruise with Royal Carribean. Despite my best efforts of notifying the staff and personell, I had a reaction everytime we ate in the dining room, due to cross contamination. In my experience, as long as I didn’t eat in the main dining room, I was able to eat the food I had brought, as well as in the diner. It was frustrating not to be able to go to the formal nights, etc. Thanks for all of your comments – – next time I may have to try Disney!!


    We went on a Royal Carribean cruise recently and although the cruise experience itself was fantastic, I was extremely disappointed with their ability to accommodate a peanut allergy. The staff was simply not trained to handle the situation. Even the head waiter in the main dining room was misinformed on the basics of food allergies. Very frustrating because we were assured in advance by the cruise line that they were food allergy-savvy.


    DON’T TRY Regent Seven Seas based on my experience. I told them of our food allergy and the cruise agent said they can accommodate our needs and there shouldn’t be a problem. We booked the cruise in March, 2011 and paid the fees in full. All worked well until we filled out the dietary restriction form to indicate the food allergy. Then the cruise agent and the Sales folks called me to convince me to cancel our booking. We refused but they deliberately deleted our booking on their system. They said they would refund the whole fees but I have to work with the credit card company to dispute the fees in order to get full refund. So if you have food allergy, think twice before you go with Regent and remember to get everything in writing.


    We have cruised twice with Royal Caribbean and twice with Celebrity. Since my son’s first anaphylactic reaction was at Disney, we have never done Disney cruise lines. We choose to cruise each year because of the phenomonal way that they handle my son’s allergies (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish). On our last cruise, our Head Waiter had two tables with allergies at the first seating and eight allergies at the second seating, this tells me that the cruise lines are becoming more popular with and equipped to handle food allergies.
    There are some things to keep in mind when cruising. You can not eat at the buffet restaurants. You should always contact the cruise lines special needs department weeks before you leave.
    When you first board the ship, head to the Main Dining Room and meet with a Head Waiter or Maitre’D to ensure the allergies are documented.
    Always deal with a Head Waiter or Maitre’D when discussing allergies. There are often language barriers and the waiters are not fully trained to understand allergies.
    We always bring factory sealed snacks to bring with us to take off of the ships when we are docked in ports. We are uncomfortable trying to find meals in the different ports. We also bring lunch for the day we board the ship. Often the buffet is the only dining are open and it is packed, so we just bring our own food to be safe. We also bring some special dessert treats for dinner each night since my son’s allergies limit his dessert options.
    On each cruise, we have had Head Waiters/Maitre’D’s who have gone above and beyond to ensure that my son receives safe food. Each night, we meet with the Head Waiter to plan our meal for the next day. Then at each meal, we ask for the Head Waiter when we get to the Dining Room and the personally bring the safe food out to us.
    We have had fruit baskets sent to our room, free of charge so that my son could have a safe snack at any time. We have had chefs come to meet my son each night and make safe options from scratch just for him. It is truly a wonderful experience to go on vacation and only have the allergy conversation once and deal with people who understand.


    Hi, my 15 month old daughter is ana to Wheat, eggs, Milk, Soy, peanuts, and tree nuts. We are planning out first cruise with her. We are checking out Royal and Norwegian Cruises. I would love to hear more about Beth story as her sons allergies are similar to ours. I have always cooked my daughters food and I am very scare to let anyone else have control over what she eats. Any advise is much appreciated! Thank you!


    Despite being told he would be able to , my son was not allowed to keep his benadryl in his allergy kit in the kids clubs. This policy is mind boggling since benadryl is the first step on most allergy action plans and he had his doctors plan with him. I was very disappointed in the policy , and even more so that we were given incorrect information by our booking agent , DCL special needs department, and cast members at the port before we boarded the ship. We certainly did not get the experience we paid for as a result of the flawed policy and misinformation .

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