Yeah, it was more than a few days ago that I said I'd post this "in a few days". I've been formulating this in my mind since then, and since it's been cold and dreary here my mind doesn't function so well...but without further ado, here's some info about cruising on a special diet!
We took a cruise out of Port Canaveral on Carnival Cruise Line's (CCL) Sensation over the New Year's holiday. I wanted to do something besides go to Disney World (I bet you've never heard anyone say they'd rather not go to Disney, have you?), without spending a ton of money. And, there was no snow within driving distance when I needed to make the plans. Despite the blizzard that followed shortly after my booking, the cruise was well worth the money. We all had a blast, got out of the country (yes, the Bahamas is a foreign country, and we got off the ship, which means I've now taken my children to a foreign land...).
On the first day of the cruise, we checked out what CCL had to offer for children. I'd heard of Camp Carnival from several friends, and they all said their children loved it and never wanted to leave. I'm sure that was true. They had lots of activities planned and they all sounded like fun. Even my boys were interested in it, to some extent. The cool thing to me was that, starting at age 9 or 10, kids could "sign themselves out" of certain activities if they didn't want to do them. I assume that meant the kids could actually leave the camp, which potentially means roaming the ship without parental supervision (because what adults stay in the cabin the whole time?). Since we have an eight-year-old and a ten-year-old, they would have been in different groups. Since they are best friends, that didn't go over so well with them. So, we gave them the opportunity to show us how grown-up they were: we let them roam the ship freely.
At first we had walkie-talkies (they had one, we had the other). The rule was that they had to stay together at all times, stay out of trouble, and not get hurt. If any of the rules were broken, they would have to go to Camp Carnival. The first day, they talked to us constantly while they were exploring. On subsequent days, we found that we couldn't understand most of what was said anyway, so we stopped using the walkie talkies. Mostly they stayed on the Lido deck with the pool and the food (and the free ice cream!). Since all the food was "free", they hung out there the most. Apparently they managed to stay out of trouble because we never heard anything. And, nobody got hurt. The other rule was that they could not swim unless one of us were with them (no lifeguards). Since it was in the low 60s most of the trip, that wasn't a problem at all. So, if your kids are somewhat responsible (ours are) and you trust them to stay together, this is a valid option. I'm sure they would have had fun in Camp, but it was nice to give them an opportunity to show they could behave on their own.
Now, for the food...this is, of course, the main reason for writing this post.
When I booked the cruise by telephone, just before completing the booking, the woman asked me if there were any passengers with special accommodations or needs. Just in case, I said that I had celiac disease, and she barely seemed to acknowledge me. I figured I'd have to fend for myself on the cruise, trying to figure out what to eat the whole time.
We got on the ship and the first night, we went to the dining room (because there was no hope of a gluten free meal on the Lido deck - but more on that later). The first night, they asked us for our cabin number and sat us at a nice table next to a window. I was sitting there looking at the menu when a woman came to the table and said, "Who here is gluten-free?" I told her I was, and she said, "Let me show you what you can eat on the menu tonight."
I was confused. "Oh, you mean you're here to tell me what I can eat?"
She said, "Yes, and I'll show you tomorrow's menu and we'll make whatever you want from that list, but gluten free. It's hard to pick your food a day early, but you'll be able to have anything you want."
I was in shock. I felt like I was getting the royal treatment! I chose my food for the night, and the next night. Near the end of the meal, she came back and asked if everything was good, and did I want to come for breakfast in the morning as well? They could make me some pancakes, eggs benedict, French toast...the list went on. There were no pastries for me, but I was just happy to have something besides bacon and eggs and fruit the whole time.
*Note: you will have to eat in a dining room in order to have this accommodation. Although it's easy to get bacon and eggs or fruit or salads at the open-all-day/night buffets, the choices are limited. And who wants to eat the same thing every day? Word to the wise, the desserts there look great but the only desserts served on the Lido deck that were gluten free were pudding, jello, and ice cream. If those suit your fancy, you're all set though!
** I am sure other cruise lines have an accommodation for gluten-free diets, but since I've not cruised with them, I cannot comment. I was delighted with CCL's handling of my dietary needs and I wanted to share that information with those of you who also suffer. I have no affiliation with CCL and they don't even know that I'm writing this post.