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Royal Princess
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Review Type: Cruise Ship
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Dedicated GF: No
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Gluten Free Diet on Princess Cruise Line,

Reviewer: from North Carolina - See all reviews by Rose Cruickshank

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My husband and I recently completed our 12-day cruise with Princess, and I want to share with you our experience during the cruise, specifically, my dietary concerns. I have celiac disease for the last 18 years and experience severe physical symptoms when I am exposed to any gluten. Because of this, I now use a new method to check if gluten is contained in food before I consume the food. I use a NIMA that allows me to get instant feedback if the food I am served contains gluten.

I met with the headwaiters of the main dining room (Symphony) as well as the specialty dining rooms (Crown Grill and Sabatinis) and made them aware of my dietary restrictions and needs. Several days into the cruise after eating at Sabatinis I experienced symptoms though I had not tested the food with the NIMA because all the ingredients were gluten free. Now, it became apparent to me that I should start testing my meals. A few days later I was served a crab appetizer in the main dining room and it tested positive though there were no ingredients in the dish that had gluten. It was apparent to me at this time that the dish was cross contaminated in the kitchen. Several nights later I was in the Crown Grill and tested an Onion Soup with the NIMA and it found “high gluten”. Hristo from the main dining room happened to be at my table to bring me the next day’s menu and witnessed the testing and brought me a different soup from the main dining room that he insisted was gluten free and it too tested positive for gluten. I experienced distressing and uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms the last 5 days of my cruise. On our last night we ate again at Sabatinis, and I had a shrimp with vegetable dish – all gluten free ingredients, as stated by the headwaiter and it too tested positive for gluten. The head waiter argued with me that my meal had to be gluten free because all the ingredients were gluten free and I tried to explain to him that though he was correct, the food is getting cross contaminated in the kitchen. He made me feel as if I was the problem and not the food that contained gluten which just added to my distress, I was near tears.

My husband and I met with the Head Front Desk Supervisor, Dinish, who listened with concern and asked questions. I explained how the NIMA works and that it is something Princess should look into to protect their customers who have celiac disease. It was apparent Princess could not provide a safe gluten free diet for those customers who must not and cannot eat gluten without it negatively impact their health and their quality of life on an expensive 12-day cruise. Three of our meals at the specialty dining were a bust because of the ship’s failure to provide a gluten free meal to me at an additional cost. I believe that expense along with the multiple conflicts over food warranted some type of compensation from Princess, and Dinish said he would get back with us. Two days later and two hours before we were to disembark, since we had not heard anything from Dinish, we went to the front desk and was told “Dinish has nothing more to say to us…….he has filled out his report”.

This action is just unacceptable! We prebooked another cruise on Princess the day after we started the cruise, but if I have no assurances from Princess that they can provide me a safe gluten free diet, I cannot and I will not subject myself to this emotionally stressful and physically harmful setting. To further add to this situation, the chefs at the two specialty dining rooms as well as the main dining room, never offered to speak with me though I asked several times if they would.

I have cruised on Holland America multiple times and have never had this experience. I’ve met with the chefs and they made me feel safe and provided me with gluten free meals throughout each cruise. I foolishly expected the same experience with Princess Cruises (both owned by Carnival).

I would like to hear what Princess Cruises will do to provide gluten free meals for me in the future, should I elect to go on another cruise. Additionally, I would like to see some form of compensation for all the challenging and exhausting experiences I had to deal with while trying to enjoy an expensive and long awaited trip to Scotland and Ireland with my husband.

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