An estimated 15 million Americans have some type of food allergy, with even more adhering to dietary limitations, like being gluten-free or vegan.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) looked into how cruise lines so easily accommodate a variety of restrictions. “There has never been more culinary options available on cruise ships, and this includes choices for those with food allergies and restrictions. Cruise lines offer top-notch cuisine to please the palate of every guest,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO of CLIA.
Cruise lines are well-prepared and happy to accommodate a variety of diets. Here’s how they do it.
Cruise lines are very willing to offer one-on-one support, and answer guests’ questions about menu items to make sure both the cruise line knows what the guest can eat, and that the guest can feel confident they know what is contained in their food. For example, once the kitchen on Paul Gauguin Cruises is told about a guests’ restrictions or allergies, a member of the staff will meet directly with that guest to review menu details, and ensure they are cared for at each and every meal.
Traveling with a gluten intolerance or preference can be a daunting task at times, but cruise lines want to make sure they are not a burden for those passengers. For example, MSC Cruises offers gluten-free service in the main dining room, and it’s all prepared in a separate area from the main galley to avoid cross-contamination. The line also offers gluten-free lunchboxes so their guests have something easy to eat on excursions, too.
It’s becoming more common for guests to have certain restrictions or preferences when it comes to what they consume, and vegetarians have a lot to choose from. Most cruise chefs can tweak the general menu to accommodate vegetarians easily, but there’s also custom menus for them too. For example, Uniworld offers a full vegetarian menu with every meal, and Avalon Waterways is releasing a new Avalon Fresh menu, featuring vegetarian dishes by Austrian Chefs Karl and Leo Wrenkh.
Travelers focused on a healthy lifestyle can keep their wellbeing at center focus with healthy dishes in the spotlight. SeaDream, for example, partnered with the Hippocrates Health Institute to create a raw food or “living” food menu. It offers dishes with raw, organic, and vegan ingredients prepared below 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
The beauty of a cruise is that guests can let the kitchen team know about their religious food restrictions ahead of time, and be well taken care of during their trip. Seabourn keeps standard Kosher and Halal food items on board, for example. Many cruise lines also train their kitchen staff in the most strict religious food preparation techniques and have the necessary utensils to do so. Crystal Cruises trains their staff in kosher food prep, handling, and servicing, including using strictly-kosher pots, pans, dishware, and utensils that are washed separately.
No cruise line wants their guests to be unsatisfied, but too afraid to say anything. If you have allergies or dietary preferences, let them know. Many cruise lines have dietary request forms at the time of reservation, so they know as far in advance as possible. Travel agents are also great resources because they can help you find the beset cruise option to fit your diet.