Ship: Star Princess
Pre-Cruise: Prior to our deciding on the cruise we would take I did some research into which cruise lines do the best for people with celiac disease and food allergies. What I found for the most part though was that most cruise lines are very accommodating. We decided then to cruise with Princess since they had cruises that left right out of San Francisco about 25 miles from our house. We took the 15 day Hawaiian cruise, which stops at four ports in Hawaii, Ensenada, Mexico, and then back to San Francisco. I was very nervous, but for Princess you have what is called your cruise personalizer which you login to on their website and can fill out any special dietary requests. I filled out that I had celiac disease, a dairy allergy, and a kiwi fruit allergy. Within a week I got a confirmation email from Princess confirming that I speak with my maître d' once on board and that they will have rice and soy milk available on board for me. Remember you must fill out this request 35 days prior to your sailing date for it to go through for sure.
Boarding/First Day on Cruise: The boarding process for Princess was actually quick and easy. We were boarded shortly after going through security, dropped our bags off at our stateroom, and then I went immediately to the dining room to speak with our maître d'. Now we chose anytime dining which means you can dine anytime between 5:30pm and 10:00pm for dinner. Looking back now on the cruise I would do traditional dining where you are set an exact time. Then I could always get the same exact waiter and assistant waiter so they would understand my allergies very well. Even though we were in anytime dining though it seemed like it was going to work out. The maître d' told me at dinner to make sure to speak to my head waiter. Come dinner time the first night my head waiter came over and went over the menu with me and what I could have that night. Then handed me the lunch and dinner menus for the next day so I could preorder all my meals and they could make sure everything could be done safely. Awesome! On the first day I ended up with a melon ball appetizer infused with wine, filet beef medallions, and a fruit plate for dessert. Then at the end of my meal my headwaiter Paulo brought me a box of Pamela’s Peanut Butter cookies so when everyone else is grabbing a treat around the ship I have something to have as well! This was great and made me feel like they really cared. Everything went well this first night and I was eager for the rest of the trip.
During the Cruise: For the rest of the cruise I continued to order my meals the night before with my head waiter. Who was absolutely great! He made sure I was comfortable with everything and answered any questions I had about ingredients and preparation. Every night I even got a special dessert which was the chef’s choice. These just got better and better throughout the cruise. I got everything from a rice pudding, to crème brulee, and even my favorite tapioca pudding. They made homemade gluten free bread on board which I got on a hamburger a couple of times. The fries were safe done in a dedicated fryer, and for dinner I had a lot of fish. It was all amazing and every night I felt they went out of their way to make sure I felt comfortable. Now I don’t want to talk about my bad experience on the cruise, but I will. I was told that if I wanted to dine in the buffet area if I spoke to the head chef the guy with the “tall hat” then he would be able to help me find safe options. On this ship though unfortunately the chef at the buffet was clueless. I had more knowledge than him. I spoke to him and told him about my allergies and he immediately says so the vegetables are okay and I stop him and mention the sign says “buttered vegetables” to which he laughs and says never mind. Next he mentions the soup which is supposedly thickened with potatoes and no wheat, he proceeds to try and get me a cup and I notice noodles. *Sigh* He did not know noodles had wheat. At this point I gave up at ever dining at the buffet and sent in a complaint to the cruise ship about this. Hopefully other ships handle this better
End of the Cruise: As someone which celiac disease, a dairy allergy, and a kiwi fruit allergy I felt the staff I was dealing with went above and beyond so I tipped them extra. This is of course is at your discretion, but you will have a hard time not when you see how hard they work to help you out. I also took done the names of my favorite waiters and of course the head waiter and sent in great comments about them to the customer service desk. I hope this helps one of them get host of the month.
Would I cruise again?
For the dining situation of course! I have never felt so comfortable for so long and on top of that I did not get any cross contamination in the 15 days I was dining with them! I mean that is pretty hard to do and very impressive. I hope to enjoy a cruise again someday!
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