One of the greatest feelings for a celiac is to have a relaxing holiday where you weren’t preoccupied with where your next meal is coming from. Having experienced several such success stories, I just had to share my tale.
During the gruelling lead-up to the Canadian Celiac Association’s 2011 National Conference, held in my hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, I embarked on my third cruise, which meandered from Sydney, Australia up to Honolulu, Hawaii over the course of seventeen days.
My wife and I previously cruised France, Spain and Portugal for our honeymoon in mid-2008, and we so enjoyed the Celebrity Summit that we boarded again last November to tour the Eastern Caribbean.
This April, we went with Royal Caribbean, on a trans-Pacific repositioning cruise that took us to Fiji, Tahiti and several other islands of French Polynesia, and finished in Hawaii. The sights were amazing, the weather gorgeous and the food exceeded my already high expectations.
At home or away, buffets tend to be a major concern for GF safety, but the Rhapsody of the Seas went above and beyond. They had various salads, rice dishes, meats and vegetables clearly labelled gluten-free. Further, at the lunchtime dessert buffet, they had GF pound cake – lemon, blueberry and/or raspberry – every single day.
Breakfasts were also no problem. They offered eggs cooked to order, a wide array of fruits, smoked salmon and numerous interesting cheeses.
At the beginning of the cruise, I met with the maitre d’ and he made certain my headwaiter was informed for dinner. You wouldn’t believe the ritziness of each evening’s meal. A culinary experience that surpasses even the fanciest of catered banquets.
At the end of each dinner, the headwaiter gave me the next evening’s menu and allowed me to select what I wished, so they could prepare it separately and ensure its safety. Celebrity also had a separate menu for vegetarians, such as my wife, and they even had gluten-free pasta. Both cruise lines made me a multitude of delicious GF appetizers, entrees and desserts. We were treated like royalty. Knowing we were on our honeymoon, Celebrity even made us a surprise GF cheesecake the final evening.
They even brought me toasted GF bread at the beginning of each meal. No complaints at all. I was never sick from gluten exposure.
If you were looking for a quick evening meal, there were plenty of options at the sushi bar that both ships featured every night.
Apart from the food, the cruises have a wide array of interesting activities, enrichment lectures, water sports, crafts, cooking demonstrations and fabulous entertainment each and every evening, ranging from comedians to acrobatics to Broadway-calibre shows. You can also just veg out in the sun all day, which I never tire of doing.
I can’t emphasize enough how great an option for celiacs cruising is. I can’t speak for all cruise lines, but Celebrity and Royal Caribbean (rated 5 and 4-star respectively) have performed with distinction. I do love the Cuban all-inclusives, but in terms of your right to safe food, these cruise lines don’t screw around.
Cruises have it all: you can visit multiple countries on one trip, your accommodations are always taken care of, and you need not worry about your meals. See you at the pier!
Canadian Celiac Association - Ottawa Chapter