So the start of this summer has been super busy and I have been away from Toothless Wahine for several weeks. Since summer is the season of vacations, I thought I would give some thoughts on eating while on vacation for those with food allergies. When you are at home, it is always easier to control what you eat and to be sure foods are allergy friendly. When traveling, this always becomes much more of an issue. I have gotten very good at asking questions everywhere I eat but there are places that make it much easier than others. My favorite vacation place where I know my allergies will be accommodated may surprise you.
I would never have thought that a cruise ship would be super accommodating to food allergies. We have had the fortune to take a cruise several years in a row and have found several things that make these moving vacations amazing. The unpacking once aspect is awesome. It is also fun to see a different port of call, or even a different country every morning when you wake up. And for me, the constant supply of custom-made allergy friendly meals is amazing. As some of you may have noticed, I have a thing for Disney (just look at all of my blog photos). So of course the cruise line that I speak of is the only cruise line that does fireworks at sea, has a ships horn that plays When You Wish Upon a Star, and of course that has Mickey Mouse on the ship funnels. Disney Cruise Line not only offers amazing cruises with the famous Disney magic but great ports of call, and extreme attention to details (especially to food allergies).
With my food allergies we have always been very leery of traveling out of country, especially to someplace where there is any language barrier. Trying to order meals with a language barrier is a nightmare to me. A great way to do this has turned out to be on a cruise ship. We have explored part of Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska, and part of the west coast on Disney Cruise Line (DCL) ships. The wonderful thing here is, I am free to go explore the ports of call during the day, and then I can come back to the ship for meals that I know are safe. That eliminates my fears of dealing with food allergies in foreign countries.
The most amazing part of DCL is how they handle dining on the ships. Each of the four DCL ships (the Magic, the Wonder, the Dream and the Fantasy) have three restaurants on-board. As a guest your family will rotate through each of the restaurants so you get to experience the different menus, themes and entertainments. The best part is that your wait staff rotates with you to every restaurant. Which means you get to know your staff and they get to know your likes and dislikes. For those with food allergies, you only have to explain your concerns and restrictions once. Then you have the same people helping you for the duration of your cruise. A food allergy sufferers dream!! Your head server, server and assistant server will all help with your food allergies all cruise long. We have also had the amazing ability to request the same head server for several cruises in a row, so the service has been AMAZING!! I have the ability to get custom made meals every night. Our servers help me look through the next days menu and pre-order meals that work not only for my allergies but also for my lack of chewing ability. They have helped to come up with customs desserts every night so there is always something I can eat. DCL is very careful with food allergies, as they have a separate kitchen area for allergies. They also stock certain allergy friendly products. DCL can easily accommodate dairy, gluten, nut (both tree and peanut), vegetarian, vegan and probably many other allergies. I have figured out that DCL always has rice milk and rice dream on board. You just have to know to ask and find somebody who knows where they are stored.
DCL has nightly drink specials (usually one alcoholic and one kid friendly drink per day). By asking our favorite head server, I have been able to get many of these drinks made with rice dream instead of ice cream. Any cast member is always willing to check on ingredients in dishes at any of the breakfast or lunch buffets. There is also usually one restaurant open for breakfast every day, and the servers there are always able to get custom plates made. I have also been able to get packed lunches to take with me to port days by arranging it the night before with our head server. Your server also has the ability to get custom meals ordered for lunch on Castaway Cay if your cruise includes a day there. (Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island in the Bahamas that all Caribbean cruises will spend one day visiting.) Cruises are one of the few places that I get taken better care of, and I eat better than my family without food allergies. And I love it and cannot recommend DCL cruises highly enough if you have food allergies!!
(And I know it may sound like I am a spokesperson for Disney Cruise Line but I am not. We have traveled and visited Disney parks for years. They have always been willing to work with me on my food allergies. In my opinion DCL goes above and beyond to help with food allergies and with all of my allergies and my current inability to chew, I cannot express how much I enjoy being catered to. I have even had our head waiter helping to cut my steaks since I have to cut them to tiny pieces so I can just swallow and not have to do any chewing. I cannot say enough how wonderful Disney Cruise Line has been for me, which is also why we are vacationing on a ship with Mickey Funnels yearly!)