Many people are now eating special diets for several reasons; whether it is health reasons, personal preference or allergies. When you travel this does not have to stop or be a burden. Cruise lines are faced with lots of different requests for food everyday, after all many cruise ships have upwards of over 5000 guests sailing every week, and their waitstaff and chefs are ready to please! Cruising may be the easiest way to travel with food restrictions, they take away so much of the stress that those with dietary needs are used to daily.
Many cruise lines are very proactive in their approach to dietary concerns, labeling their menus and buffet options to represent choices such as gluten-free, vegetarian, sugar free and lactose free offerings. If you have other restrictions or allergies it is a good idea to let the cruise line know before your sailing so that they are prepared, and these concerns are noted on your account.
When you board the ship, it is a good idea to visit with the maître d’ and chat with the manager in the buffet. These two people will become very important to your overall dining experience and will be able to assist you in ordering your meals and finding out ingredients. The maître d’, hotel director and buffet manager are all trained with your needs in mind, and if you have any concerns these are the people to go to. If you have questions about the food in the buffet don’t be afraid to have the buffet manager walk you through the choices and point out what is and isn’t safe for your concerns. And don’t forget to talk to the sommelier about wine choices too, you’d be surprised at the options available!
Many cruise lines allow you to order your meals the day before so that you have a full choice from the menu without limitations. This applies to specialty dining too. When dining in a specialty restaurant on board a Celebrity ship recently we were able to pre-order meals for those in our party with dietary restrictions and the staff was super accommodating.
Tips to remember:
– Introduce yourself to the maître-d and chat about your dining concerns
– Try to dine at the same table with the same wait-staff each evening. They will get to learn your preferences (Gluten free bread? Soy milk? No problem!) and your dining experience will go very smoothly
– If you have the chance, take the galley tour! Many cruise lines offer this as a free tour, while some you must pay for, but it is a great insight into how the galley works and how food is handled. It will give you a new appreciation for just how safe eating on a cruise ship can be!
Cruise lines take your dining concerns seriously. Never be afraid to speak up. Do your research by reading reviews and speaking with others who have cruised to find the perfect cruise line for your specific needs. Once on board you should be able to sit back and enjoy your meals like everyone else on board!