Cruising Gluten-free Style on Princess Cruise’s Crown Princess

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 crΓ¨me 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.

My husband and I enjoying our cruise!

My husband and I enjoying our cruise!

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.

9 Responses to “Cruising Gluten-free Style on Princess Cruise’s Crown Princess”

  1. 1 new gluten free
    September 13, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    so pleased to find a review about gluten free on princess. i found some other vague comments on other reviews. i am not celiac, but it has been recommended to me to try and avoid gluten for other health reasons. i have confirmed with princess my diet specifications, but i was wondering if you could describe some of your meals? i am just starting gluten free so i figure i could delay the gluten free diet if its not very pleasing, after all u want to eat well on vacation! did you miss out on a lot of good meals?

    • September 15, 2009 at 9:06 pm

      Hi Ashley! I had a variety of meals on my cruise – basically anything I wanted could be made (within reason). I had lobster, steak, even pasta! Really I can’t say enough about talking to the head waiter about tomorrow’s meal the night before. I hope you have a great cruise!

  2. October 26, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Thanks for sharing your successful trip! There really isn’t enough updated info out there! This will definitely help!

    • October 27, 2009 at 9:18 am

      No problem Stephanie! I really need to blog more because I do agree that there isn’t enough updated information about things like travel and cruising, etc. If you have any other questions please feel free to contact me! Happy to help πŸ™‚

  3. December 17, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Thank you so much for your review. Our family is going on a 2 week princess cruise in April and I have been gluten and dairy free for years so eating here is no big deal but being on a boat out in the middle of the ocean kinda makes me nervous. I have sent my restrictions to our travel agent who is in touch with the ship already. When you went on board did you go find the matre de’ and introduce yourself or wait till’ the first dinner that night? I am super excited about our trip but want to make sure I get to eat fun stuff as well. πŸ™‚ We need to blog more about traveling Gluten free, it helps others so much. πŸ™‚

  4. 6 Yvonne
    December 21, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    I googled “gluten free on a cruise” and immediately found your post, which I found extremely useful! We are going to be on the Princess Sapphire to Mexico in Feb2010. I was starting to wonder how i would contact them to ask about gluten free. I hope my welcome packet arrives soon so I can indicate that we prefer wheat/gluten free

    May I ask you about the bread/pasta? Were the bread/pasta made specifically for you and other GF travelers? or did they just offer that as an option w/o having the requests? Those are the items that concern me the most ‘coz we are just sensitive to wheat and not celiac. I will eat a cheesecake and leave the crust behind, ya know…. so I’d hate to state that i am gluten free and if they prepare something special but tastes gross, then I’d be embarassed not to eat it !!!

    OK Thanks for your help!!

  5. 7 Gail K
    March 17, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Spicey, Thanks for this posting. I am sailing on the Caribbean Princess in July. I sailed on the Norwegian Dawn last summer, and followed the same process that you did on Princess. I had the same support from Norwegian staff, and also avoided getting glutenized. I avoided the buffet, however, because I didn’t know how I could verify what was in the food. I’m glad to see that you had help with the buffet on Princess. I’ll take advantage of checking out the menus ahead of time, as well.

    I learned that many cruise ships have a dedicated area of their kitchens where no allergens are allowed to be prepared, so it really is important to make sure that everyone who serves you knows about your allergy. Unfortunately, free-style dining on Norwegian meant long waits for tables and the same menu every day! With the gluten limitations, I quickly tired of my choices.

    • 8 Anita
      March 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm

      As of March 2010, Princess gave me food information. We will be sailing in April to Western Caribbean on Crown.

      I have other food allergies besides gluten (corn, sugar, beef, etc.) so I will actually be bringing on some of my own food. Here’s the guidelines for bringing on your own food:

      Any food/drink items you wish to bring onboard must be non-perishable, store bought and sealed in their original containers and packaging upon boarding. No meats, homemade food or restaurant food will be allowed and although we may allow certain items onboard, Immigration Agents override any approvals we may give. Please note that all items must be stored in your cabin and we cannot assign crew members to assist with the preparation.

      Below is what Food Services gave me as the ingredients on their Gluten-Free items:

      Bread Mix Gluten Free Abel & Schafer #61076
      Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Sugar, Salt, Gums (Xanthan, Cellulose, Guar, Arabic, Carrageenan), Methylcellulose.

      Gluten Free Cereal (Sounds like Erwhon Crispy Brown Rice to me)
      Organic Brown Rice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Sea Salt.

      Gluten Free Flour
      Brown Rice Flour, Tapioca Flour, Arrowroot Flour, Sorghum Flour, Xanthan gum.

      Gluten Free Crackers 8.5 Oz/Pk & Gluten Free Sweet Cookies 5.25 Oz/Pk
      Organic Brown Rice Flour, Organic Cane Juice, Organic Corn Flour, Organic Soy Flour, Organic Soybean Oil, Soy Protein, Rice Bran, Natural Vanilla Flavor, Natural Almond Flavor, Soy Lecithin, Baking Soda, Concentrated Lemon Juice, Vegetable Glycerin, Acacia Gum.

      Gluten Free Macaroni & Gluten Free Spaghetti
      Rice Flour and Rice Bran Extract.

  6. 9 Jim Adams
    October 2, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    I am planning a possible cruise on our 30th wedding anniversary and Deb has celiac. I am happy to hear of such great service on a liner. How did you find the service and did it cost you anything extra? ANY help would be appreciated. I am SO lost trying to do this.

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