Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eating Gluten-Free on Carnival

C Sunning on the Lido Deck
During Spring Break, our family went on a cruise upon the Carnival Triumph.  What a fantastic vacation.  We have cruised before and enjoyed it so much.  I could write a post about how wonderful cruising is but that will be for a later date. If you ever get the opportunity to cruise, take it!

Hubby and R are both gluten sensitive.  Neither of them has actually been diagnosed as Celiac but they both function WAY better without gluten in their diets.  This is our first major vacation since we have been so careful with their diets.  I was a little worried about how it would all work out since the boys’ tolerance for gluten has decreased so significantly that Hubby can now tell within about five minutes if he’s had gluten…and later we can all tell when either of them has had gluten, but I digress.
Our cruise was arranged through a travel agent who checked for us with Carnival if they had any gluten-free options onboard.  Carnival advised her that we should let our Maître D’ know once we’ve boarded the ship.  I was unsatisfied with that answer and was concerned that the boys would starve over these five days at sea so I looked it up on Carnival’s website.  The website specified that there was gluten-free pastas and breads on board which eased a little of my concern.  Since I was on the computer, I figured it would be prudent of me to search some reviews of other gluten-free passengers.  Sure enough, there were many testimonies and posts from mostly positive gluten-free experiences onboard the Carnival ships. Ahh, thank goodness.  Now I could breathe easy.

Once on-board the ship I kept reminding Hubby that we needed to talk to the Maître D’.  I can be annoying like that, especially since Hubby doesn’t like to have a big deal made over him but my mission in life is to make sure my family is taken care of…read this as REALLY ANNOYING.  Since R was sick, we took him to the stateroom for a nap while Hubby and C went for a walk.  While Hubby was in the washroom, I made sure C reminded her dad to stop by the dining room to discuss this with the Maître D’.  I even got C in on the annoying but hey, it got done.
R taking it all in
That night at dinner, the Maitre D’ introduced us to our special hostess who would be taking care of us during our cruise.  She would come by at the beginning of each meal to see how we were doing, answer any questions, and make sure we had everything we needed.  After the meal, she would come by with the following day’s menu where the boys could order their meals and the chef would ensure they were prepared gluten-free without cross-contamination, if possible.  If the chef was unable to prepare it as gluten-free, our hostess would ensure there was a second choice.  She even predicted that we would like gluten-free bread for breakfast the next morning and had it prepared for us which was great because the boys forgot to request it.  There was also a couple nights that she selected some specialty desserts to be prepared for all of us, so we could all enjoy the same thing.  She was amazing.

Unfortunately, the Lido deck (which is where we spent most of our time) could not be considered gluten free.  It is a buffet-type area so cross-contamination would be inevitable, although the fries were cooked in oil only for fries so the boys tried them out and had no reaction.  We were also pleasantly surprised to find some gluten-free snack items in the gift-shop which we could buy and take back to our rooms.
All-in-all, it was a great vacation and the boys were never hungry.  The only improvement I could ask from Carnival, is that they provide gluten-free pizza in their 24-hour Pizzaria and that the ice cream or frozen yogurt be gluten-free…then it would be perfect.

Take Care, D

Disclaimer:  This post is the result of my family's experience which is all I can discuss.  Carnival was not consulted on this post and other people's experience may differ.  For more information on Carnival's normal practices and policies, Carnival should be contacted directly.  This cruise was purchased in full by my family and we were not compensated in any way to write this post.

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