I do, so you can bet I'm looking into what it's like cruising with special dietary needs.
How well will the chefs accommodate your food allergies? Will you have to order special at every meal? Can you just tell them ahead of time and not have to worry about alerting a waiter at each individual meal?
I will post specific answers to some of these questions once I've taken my first cruise, but in the mean time I'm posting some ideas from a nice guide I found (link below). Also, I invite you to share your comments if you have food allergies and you've cruised.
I'm supposed to avoid gluten and dairy, which are huge ones, since wheat in particular tends to creep into, well, almost everything. Fortunately my intolerances aren't life-threatening; I just get sick (I'll spare you the details), which is of course preferable to avoid, but if you're one of the folks who gets deathly ill, you'll definitely want to be careful.
A very helpful guide on dealing with food allergies on cruises suggests the following:
- Book your cruise with a trusted travel agent rather than through the Internet. Have the agent fax the cruise line (including CC to the Head Chef) at the time of your deposit.
- List all your food allergies. If lots of foods cause allergic reactions, also consider including a list of foods that don't cause any reaction. This will help the chef plan his menu for you.
- Choose the set dining times instead of freestyle dining. The assigned tables let your waiter and the Maitre D get to know you and assist you better at every meal.
- It's a good idea to avoid the buffet area, as the ingredients are not easily available. Buffet lines also can be risky since utensils are often moved from a dish that is dangerous to you to a dish that looks safe.
- Take any medication and medical information in your carry-on bag.
- If your allergies are severe, make sure to take your Epi-pen and oral Benadryl with you on shore excursions. If you sign up for a full day tour, ask for a ³box lunch² to take, so you'll know there's something you can eat.
I don't know about you, but I'm hoping for the day when all restaurants and buffets (on land as well as cruises) list all the ingredients on the menus Whole Foods style.