Disney: Cruising with Food Allergies & Celiac (Part 1)

2012-08-14 05.33.11Mr. Munger is going to be finished with his BA in December and to celebrate, his parents decided to take him on his very first cruise.  Being the sweet guy that he is, he asked if my family and I could join them (my mom is a single parent, so there really hasn’t been the time or money to even do something like camping in years, and we were all dearly in need of a vacation).  And to my utter surprise, his parents said yes!

While I was thrilled to be going on my very first cruise, I was also pretty worried.  I pictured myself ending up like the mariner dying of dehydration, only I’d be feeling hungry on a cruise ship surrounded by buffets and fancy restaurants (not exactly the same, but you get my drift).  It’s not that I didn’t want to go, but due to my oh so many food allergies and celiac disease I’m extremely hard to feed.  And the extreme lack of grocery stores while at sea was worrisome.  What if they didn’t have anything I could eat?  What if there was cross-contamination?  What if I got glutened?

Well, our trip last month went great.  It turns out that I was worried for nothing because  traveling on a Disney Cruise, at least for someone with food foes, is a truly magical experience.

What the Ship Was Like:

The ship was stunning (don’t worry, it doesn’t look like a little kid who really loves Mickey’s bedroom and it doesn’t feel like you’re trapped inside of Small World for a week–imagine an upscale, tasteful hotel).  To my surprise, there is even a Chihuly chandelier that didn’t look a bit out of place, but somehow the ship still felt comfortable. 

Lots of people walked around in shorts and flip-flops during the day, and while dinners were dressier, it wasn’t overwhelming (imagine you’re going to a nicer restaurant, one where you might grab a black skirt or a short-sleeve button-up but nothing super fancy).  Although, a few of the littlest diners sported Disney princess dresses while they ate.

I was also concerned I’d be bored, which was not a problem for one moment.  There are pools, hot tubs (an adults only area that lights up at night), a theater with Broadway-style performances every night, a movie theater with first-run films (and not just Disney movies), an outdoor screen where you can watch movies under the stars, a gym (but really, who works out on vacation?), fantastically-themed lounges, comedy shows, magic shows and ventriloquists, live music, coffee shops, and so much more.  There are also special areas of the ship for children, pre-teens, and teens to play and hang out.  And, of course, if you just want to sit on the deck, read a book, and watch the waves that’s just fine, too.

One of the best things about a cruise is you can make it whatever kind of vacation you want it to be–fast-paced or leisurely.

How I was Able to Eat:

I would’ve had fun on the cruise even without my food allergies and celiac disease, but the fact that I am hard to feed–very hard to feed–just made cruising an even better option for me.  It meant I was able to travel, something I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do again.

One of the things I get the most tired of is explaining all of my many, many food foes to waiters again and again and again.  On a Disney Cruise, you’re assigned two servers and a head waiter.  Every night you’ll eat dinner at a different one of the restaurants on board, but because your waitstaff rotates with you, there’s no need to explain all of your food issues again. 

And every night, as my dinner was winding down, I’d be given the menu for the following night’s dinner so that I could order in advance.  That way the chef had lots of time to figure out how to make my meal and I didn’t have to wait longer for my food.  And if I didn’t feel like going out to eat, I actually even able to order room service without any problems.  (It’s included in the overall price of the cruise, so you can have breakfast in bed every day if you want.)

I was also extremely impressed with how knowledgeable the waitstaff was when it came to celiac and food allergies.  And how careful everyone from my waiter and the cook to the people handling room service were about cross-contamination.  I never got sick once.  And I didn’t feel like they saw me as a problem; instead, I always felt like the staff enjoyed helping me to be able to relax and have a good vacation and they saw it as a privilege that they got to help make that happen.

Dreaming of Cruising:

It’s only been a couple of weeks but I already miss the cruise, specifically the food. And even with my 10 new food allergies I wouldn’t be worried about the Disney folks not being able to feed me.  Disney Cruising is the only way I’d ever want to travel somewhere because I know it’d be relaxing, my food foes wouldn’t get in the way, and I could focus on just enjoying a vacation.

There’s a little talk that the in-laws might send Mr. Munger and I on another Disney Cruise as a belated honeymoon /one-year-anniversary (we decided we didn’t want to take a trip directly after getting married because it’d be too much busy-ness).  So, perhaps, in about two years I’ll be able to go on another cruise.  I really hope so.  Besides, I think the ship misses me.

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2 thoughts on “Disney: Cruising with Food Allergies & Celiac (Part 1)

    • It was amazing! The waitstaff was so knowledgeable about food allergies and celiac disease, but they also made me feel special, like they enjoyed helping me to have a nice vacation not having to worry about not getting sick. I never felt like a bother.

      Mr. Munger’s sister, Sarah, has food allergies and she’s taken several cruises with different companies, and she had the best luck with Disney. She said the waitstaff on the other cruises didn’t always know how to handle allergies and it felt more like she had to teach them about it.

      While cruising isn’t exactly cheap, it makes me happy just knowing there’s a way for me to possibly explore the world a little or at least actually get to go on a honeymoon, is nice. 🙂

      ~Kelsey

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