Curt and I just returned from an amazing trip aboard the Allure of the Seas (the largest cruise ship in the world!!). It was an incentive trip that I earned through my work as an Independent Sales Consultant and Vice President Sales Leader with Norwex.
I was initially somewhat apprehensive about going on a cruise again. We went last year on a different ship and Curt got pretty bad DH symptoms from cross-contamination with gluten in the various foods. We found out on that trip that the staff would do things like tell him that a pan of bacon was gluten free, and then we would realize days later that they layer bread in the bottom of the meat pans, which results in cross-contamination with the gluten in the bread. I would recommend watching for things like this if you take a cruise.
We did our research prior to the trip. I contacted Royal Caribbean and was told that we could bring our own salad dressing and any non-perishable items such as protein bars. They said that they did supply soy milk for coffee etc., but did not have dairy free butter available. We found individual packets of Walden Farms gluten free dairy free salad dressing through the website http://www.minimus.biz/Gluten-Free.aspx. We also purchased quite a few packets of Justin’s Natural Almond Butter in various flavors from the same website. Curt packed several boxes of his favorite protein and meal bars for times away from the ship when he might not be able to find adequate food.
The first night on the ship, we spoke to our dining room waiter and the head waiter about Curt’s dietary needs. They were very accommodating and took notes. His choice of meal the first night was somewhat limited, but they did have gluten free bread available. He enjoyed having the almond butter to put on it. Before we left the dining room for the evening, the head waiter came to our table and took Curt’s meal order for the following night; carefully pointing out which items could be made gluten and dairy free. He was pleased to have an excellent meal each evening in the dining room. One special touch was that the chef made a special gluten free dessert each night for Curt. We had a few others in our group who were also gluten and dairy free, and this was a nice touch for them.
The Allure of the Seas had many restaurants and cafes. One cafe that we stopped at a few times in the evening offered ‘design your own pizza.’ We were pleased to find that they offered gluten free pizza crusts. Curt had several pizzas there (avoiding the cheese of course), until one night we realized that they were using the same spoon to spread sauce on both gluten containing and gluten-free pizza crusts. That was the one ‘fail’ we noticed with regard to cross-contamination on the ship. They were careful to cut it on a separate cutting board with a clean knife.
The lunchtime favorite for our group was the Park Cafe. They had a salad line where employees would create a special salad and toss it, putting in as many of the ingredients as you would like. Curt found many options that were gluten and dairy free. The Park Cafe also had some delicious roast beef available at a carving station, and plenty of fresh fruit. For those of us that can enjoy gluten, they also had delicious pastries and desserts.
The Windjammer Cafe offered some gluten free items, but we found that it wasn’t consistent from day to day. The staff were willing to toast some gluten free bread for Curt each morning, and they did point out which eggs, meat and potatoes were gluten free. The biggest risk at the Windjammer was the issue of cross contamination from other guests.
All things said, we were very pleased with Royal Caribbean’s attempts to accommodate a serious food allergy. The staff was friendly and eager to assist. Now…for one last picture of us dressed up on the first “formal night.”
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy your travels, and I would love to hear any good tips for traveling gluten free and dairy free!