Cruising 101: Dining With Allergies

August 4, 2013 by Michelle

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Carnival Disclosure

Dining out when you have allergies or other dietary restrictions can be tough.  I’m so happy that so many restaurants and other attractions are making the leap forward and providing menus that address many dietary concerns.  Carnival Cruise Lines is right there with the industry leaders.

Dining with allergies on a cruise ship

Little Miss has a dairy allergy, which is inconvenient far too often.  With our cruise, I was a little concerned about how much she would be able to eat.  I knew she’d be able to eat the variety of fruits available at every meal, and surely we could find some plain chicken for her, but beyond that?  I wasn’t sure how well they’d do.

Looking online at Carnival’s website when I checked in for our cruise, my worries were definitely minimized.  Even the Camp Carnival registration asks about allergies.  If you have a child with allergies, there is a form to fill out with details around the allergy and a list of potential foods they might be served so you can clarify exactly which foods can and cannot be eaten.

Once aboard the ship, I was directed to the Maitre D’ of our dining room to discuss her allergies more.  Since we were hungry immediately, we instead headed up to the Lido Restaurant for some lunch before chatting with the Maitre D’.  In the casual grab and go restaurant, it was easy to find a crew member who was able to help me with her allergies.

The crew member immediately directed me to Pedro, who is the assistant Maitre D’ and immediately asked not me but Little Miss what she wanted for lunch.  I appreciated that my eight year old was treated as though she had an opinion, which made her puff up with pride, too.  When she wasn’t sure what she wanted, Pedro started listing off several options, and she immediately agreed that a grilled chicken breast and sautéed vegetables would be a perfect lunch.

While he called the order into the kitchen, he ushered Servana to us, who is a hostess in our Lincoln Dining Room.  She asked for clarifications on Little Miss’s allergy, asked if she could help with lunch, and explained how the remainder of the cruise would operate.

Whenever we sit down in the Lincoln Dining Room, we simply ask for Servana (or another hostess the first night, as she helps in the other dining room then) who will ensure her dinner is brought out as ordered.  In fact, each night, Little Miss will be presented with the menu for the next night so she can order her dinner in advance to ensure that the chefs can make any accommodations to create her choice in a dairy free manner.

Servana also recommended that instead of eating breakfast in the dining room, we come to the Lido Restaurant to eat.  The dining rooms will have the same breakfast each morning and a fairly limited menu that focuses on muffins and pastries.  In the Lido Dining room, there are far more options, and it’s easier to make items to order.  I appreciated the unsolicited advice that is sure to make our vacation aboard the Valor that much easier.

In addition to that, I explained that we had celebrated Little Miss’s birthday in San Juan where we weren’t able to find any dairy free desserts for her and asked if there were any desserts available aboard the ship that we could serve her in place of her missed birthday celebration.  Servana confirmed with the chefs that they could make a dairy free chocolate cake for her (at a cost to us, though the $9 or $10 we pay for the cake is definitely worth it) that the waiters would bring out our second night and sing happy birthday to her.  I can’t wait to see her face when her belated birthday celebration appears.

And dietary restrictions on Carnival really are that easy.  Pedro ensured that Little Miss’s special chicken at lunch was brought to the table we chose.  At dinner, we sat down and mentioned the allergy and Servana to our waiter, but before she could come over, Pedro recognized Little Miss and immediately took charge of getting the grilled salmon she had requested earlier in the day to our table.  I was shocked – pleasantly so – that Pedro so quickly remembered exactly who we were, recognized us, and knew exactly what Little Miss needed.  When bread arrived at the table, our waiter confirmed that it did have dairy but brought out ingredients for two other forms of bread they can provide to verify that they had no dairy, which they didn’t.

So Little Miss has been thrilled with her dining so far.  She had grilled chicken with veggies plus two plates of Jell-O at lunch.  For dinner, she enjoyed shrimp cocktail (plus two extra shrimp from Grandpa’s shrimp cocktail), some of Daddy’s guacamole and chips appetizer, grilled salmon, sautéed veggies, three huge pieces of dairy free bread, and a plate of tropical fruit.

Little Miss loving her dairy free options on Carnival Cruise

This same care and attention holds not just for a dairy allergy but for just about any other dietary consideration, whether it be nut allergies, kosher diets, sodium restrictions, gluten issues, and more.  The chefs and all the crew members aboard have been so accommodating and pleasant, doing their very best to ensure that we have a wonderful trip in every facet, and as someone who deals with allergies on a daily basis, this is a huge bonus for us.  I love not having to worry about my child’s allergy while cruising.

Previous Cruising 101 installments:
Why Cruise?
Before You Board
Packing For Your Cruise

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  • Sarah

    I’m really happy to hear this! We’ve never done a cruise and I’d love to, but our kiddo’s food issues would be a problem, but apparently not here! Thanks!

  • Anna

    Thank you so much for this!!! We are planning this same cruise and my daughter has dairy, corn and poultry allergies. I was very nervous but seeing how accommodating they were for you I am feeling so much better!

    • Michelle

      They were definitely accommodating, and I know how stressful it is to travel with allergies. We met with the chef when we first got on board who helped us navigate our options and definitely cleared the way for us going forward. We had someone come to our table each night in the dining room to clarify what she could and couldn’t have, and it was great. They even figured out how to make a dairy free birthday cake for her, and she was absolutely stoked. Good luck – and have a great time on your cruise!

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