At the end of February I embarked on a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Princess Cruises line with my husband’s family. Being gluten-free I was of course concerned about the food I would be able to eat on the cruise. I was quite satisfied with my experience and since I struggled to find recent gluten-free cruising reviews for Princess I thought I would provide some insight into gluten-free cruising.
When we received our welcome packet it directed us to utilize the online check-in process on the Princess Cruises website. It was simple enough to check in and link your credit card. You also have the option to indicate several preferences, including special dietary requirements. Although you can check off your dietary needs online you will still need to fax the customer services department a request to accommodate your gluten-free diet. Personally I was frustrated with this but, was willing to do what I had to do to enjoy my cruise. I requested confirmation of receipt of my fax from the customer services department, which I promptly received. They informed me that the head waiter should be informed upon my first arrival to the dining room. Also, they indicated which dining rooms would be able to accommodate my diet. Lastly, that there would be gluten-free bread and desserts on board the Crown Princess! Feeling confident, I headed to Ft. Lauderdale!
We stayed the Saturday night before at a hotel in the area and were able to board at about 12:00 on Sunday morning. We didn’t wait in line during check-in, breezed through pictures (even with 10 people), and quickly boarded the ship and found our staterooms. On the first day there is the welcome buffet so that you are able to eat once you’re on board – this was the meal I was dreading. However, I was incredibly surprised to find that the first crew member I asked personally took me through the entire buffet showing me which items were gluten-free and which was not. A decent selection of items that I could eat and was very happy for someone that generally does not like buffets.
We had dinner in the Botticelli dining room at the 7:30 seating each night. The first night I was introduced to the head waiter and he guided me through the night’s menu. He then let me know that he would be bringing me the following day’s menu each night for me to review and the kitchen to prepare safely gluten-free for me. I honestly have no complaints about this process and it was fun to be able to know what we were eating the next day. They made every possible effort to make items that were not gluten-free safe for me. Usually they were great but a few items (soups in particular) failed miserably. That was ok though, I was not for lack of sustenance. The waiters we had were great and even went to a different kitchen to get me a mango crème brulee one night for dessert.
Breakfast was in the main dining room, Da Vinci, every morning. The same head waiter managed this dining room and was wonderful about informing whatever waiters we had that morning of my dietary requirements. They had gluten-free toast for me each morning – some days found the toast more toasted than others did but I think they were being cautious. Breakfast was simple enough to be gluten-free without much effort. For lunch we generally ate in the Da Vinci dining room if we did not eat on shore. For lunches I discussed my diet requirements with whichever waiter we had that day. They usually went back into the kitchen to check with the chef. I was always able to find something I enjoyed and found lunch to be excellent.
Overall I was thoroughly impressed with Princess Cruise’s efforts to accommodate my diet. I ran into another woman who was also gluten-free that expressed the same satisfaction. We both were able to say we had not been “glutenated” that week! Do the work up front and be your own advocate on board to enjoy every minute of your cruise!
Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m more than happy to help!
- You can bring one bottle of wine or champagne (size not specified so we did bring a couple larger ones) per person on board. We had absolutely no problem doing this and enjoyed saving a little money for on board beverages. If you want it opened for you at dinner there is a nominal corkage fee.
- Since you are cruising to different locations and sometimes find yourself on shore perhaps concerned about snacking options, I would recommend bringing something like Larabars along. They are delicious, easy to pack and travel well. Throw a couple in your day pack while you are out exploring so that you don’t feel like you have to head back to ship.