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Royal Caribbean

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Gluten Free on a Carnival Cruise: Dining Room Mar 19, 2012
reviewer: GFree_Laura from Ohio

This is Review 4 of my Gluten Free Experience on a Carnival Cruise. If you read the other 3 reviews, you would know that the gluten free options aboard the Carnival Pride were surprisingly abundant. This post will now focus on the experience in the formal dining room. If you have been on a cruise, or are thinking about going on a cruise, you may know that the dining room is available to all cruisers every night with a changing menu of 4 courses. Through our research before going on the ship, my mother and I knew we had to ask the Maitre' D about our options. After doing this the first day, the dining room hostess remembered our names, table number, and preferences making the process very easy. Each evening, she would come to our table and show us the menu for the next day. We were guaranteed a gluten free alternative to just about everything, making it seem like we didn't even have Celiac disease holding us back! When dining out at a restaurant with a gluten free menu, the usual options consist of meat, potatoes, and vegetables...so I thought my options on the Carnival Pride would be similar. I was wrong. Carnival provides everything from Pasta and Bread, to Chicken with Thai spices. I was offered choices such as Lasagna Bolognese, Beef Stroganoff, and Braised Lamb. The variety of sauces, spices, and side dishes was amazing. I often wish to try something while dining at a restaurant with a gluten free menu, and then find out that the sauce, or spice that makes the dish what it is, is sadly NOT guaranteed gluten free. The chances for me to broaden my horizon while on this cruise were everywhere. Being the picky eater I am, I was able to try a dish without fearing that I would not like it and then end up hungry while wasting money at the same time. Another plus to cruising - it's like an all-you-can-eat, upscale buffet!! Another great thing about the dining room was that we were given gluten free bread with each meal. It was nice to actually be passed the bread basket for once, especially when I was STARVING since we didn't dine until the 8:15 PM. But, I do have a few suggestions for Carnival - get a contract with a different gluten free company! The bread we were given was nice, but definitely didn't even come close to the quality of other gluten free bread out there. It would have been amazing if we were given Canyon Bakehouse, Rudi's, or Udi's products. I would think that these companies would love to have a contract with a brand like Carnival, and it would also make Carnival's gluten free menu 100x better. If anyone from Carnival is reading this post right now, PLEASE look into this!!! I promise you, if this was advertised to Celiacs and Gluten Free individuals, you would have A LOT more of these cruisers aboard your ships. In light of the recent events in the news regarding cruise ships, I think anything that can help business is worth trying!!! All in all, the experience was WONDERFUL. It is very nice to know us G-Free'ers are able to enjoy vacations such as this even with our dietary restrictions. I do hope the options get better in the future, and Carnival teams up with some of our favorite gluten free companies. Doing so would make gluten free cruisers rave EVEN MORE about their experience on their Carnival Fun Ship. Thanks for reading about my vacation, and I hope you look into a Carnival cruise yourself so you can have just as much fun and food as I did!!! G-Free Laura http://gfreelaura.com

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Gluten Free on a Carnival Cruise: Breakfast Edition Mar 19, 2012
reviewer: GFree_Laura from Ohio

This is Review 3 of my Gluten Free on a Carnival Cruise series. Review 1 consisted of my utter shock and happiness of all the amazing accommodations. Review 2 consisted of my dining experience at David's Steakhouse aboard the Carnival Pride. Now it's time for Review 3...all about Breakfast. I am a firm believer in the fact that breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. I am also a creature of habit. Every morning, I wake up, fry up some egg whites, and eat 2 pieces of Rudi's Gluten Free toast. When I'm really feeling frisky, I do turn to some gluten free pancakes on a nice Sunday morning. But...back to my point...I want to rave about the wonderful gluten free accommodations my mother and I had during the most important meal of the day on our cruise vacation. If I choose to go out to breakfast, I have come to terms with the fact that I won't have toast to dip in my egg....or pancakes to eat with my bacon...or have the chance to enjoy the benedict to my egg. Now, that's a different story aboard a Carnival Cruise Fun Ship. My family decided to go to the dining room every morning for breakfast, because we were able to request certain items at meals [unlike at the buffets, where it's all men for themselves]. The first morning, after being sat down and handed menus, I began to see what I would order. I thought to myself, "Well, I guess I'll order my go-to egg white omelette, and maybe I can get a piece of bacon or something to go with it." Then, as I was reading down the menu, I saw Gluten Free Bread written under the available bread items [Hallelujah! Hallelujah!]. YAY! I then reverted to my habits, ordered an egg white omelette, and 2 pieces of gluten free toast. Breakfast of champions. Breakfast number 2 - I stuck with the old habit of omelette and toast, but I did mix it up with some turkey bacon [which was not tasty. I'll take the real thing over that any day]. After the meal, as we were walking out of the dining room, we stopped to thank the Hostess for her help. At that time, she asked us if we wanted to order anything special for the next morning. We then asked what other things they could prepare for us - pancakes, french toast? She replied answering that they could make any of that. So, of course my mom and I each ordered pancakes for the next day. Breakfast number 3 - Gluten Free pancakes - that's what's up. My mom and I both enjoyed our pancakes, and were happily surprised with a platter of home fries. Since the hash brown's on the menu were not gluten free, the hostess thought that we would enjoy specially cut, thick potato slices for a gluten free version of home fries. I'm a starchy kind of gal, so I thought they were amazing. Breakfast number 4 -Gluten Free french toast. You better believe I took advantage of that! The bread they used for the french toast was the same bread that we were given with our meals, so it was not as thick as I would have liked, but nonetheless, it was scrumptious. This time around, I ordered REAL bacon [none of that wannabe, turkey bacon stuff]. French toast + bacon + syrup = amazing. Breakfast number 5 - After seeing my stepdad order eggs benedict 3 previous times, and clean his plate, I decided to try that out. I had never had eggs benedict before, so I was really in for a treat. I usually don't like yolk that is still runny [personal preference], so that was one thing holding me back initially. But, I enjoyed the meal overall. It was so nice to be able to order just about anything that we wanted - such an enjoyable experience! Breakfast number 6 - Back to the basics - egg white omelette and toast. After eating course after course after course for the past 5 days, I decided I would try and not stuff my face that morning. So that's the down low on what gluten free options one has while on a Carnival Cruise. Pretty impressive if I do say so myself. I hope you enjoyed learning the possibilities we G-Free'ers have now in the world of travel. There's nothing but good things to come for us as more people become aware of the gluten free diet! Stay tuned for Review 4 of my experience being Gluten Free on a Carnival Cruise. I will be going into detail about the expereience I had each evening in the dining room. G-Free Laura http://gfreelaura.com

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Royal Caribbean

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Gluten Free on a Carnival Cruise: David's Steakhouse Mar 19, 2012
reviewer: GFree_Laura from Ohio

This is review 2 of my Gluten Free on a Carnival Cruise story. I started out letting all you g-free'ers know how easy it was to set up our gluten free diet on our Carnival Cruise vacation. Now, I will fill you in on one of the THE best dinners I have ever had. The first night on the ship my family decided to go to David's Steakhouse, which was an additional $30 fee for each person. You might think, "But everything on the ship is free, why would you pay money to go eat at a restaurant?"...the answer is because it was AMAZING. For starters, since we were choosing to eat at the steakhouse on the first night, we were given a free bottle of wine, so you know I was lovin' that. We entered the restaurant and were escorted to our table on the second level. After being seated, my mom and I informed the hostess that we were gluten free, and she let us know that we would be able to order whatever we wanted, and the chef would make the necessary adjustments. How exciting!! Our waiter came to the table, and ordered our drinks [our free bottle of wine that is]. She handed us each a menu, while showing us the tray of the entrees we would be able to choose from. But first, I had to choose what appetizer I was in the mood for, and to be honest with you, I didn't know what some of the options even meant! I ended up ordering the Beef Carpaccio for an appetizer, as I had never eaten it before. While waiting for our appetizers, the waiter brought out surprise mini-appetizers for my stepdad, Craig, and my Aunt Jenny [the gluten eaters on the trip]. The mini-appetizers were so cute! A tiny little hamburger, and a cold tomato-like soup. We obviously took pictures [we aren't used to this classy service], and then the two started to eat the food, raving about the taste. Then, to our surprise, the waiter brought out gluten free mini-appetizers!! They were the SAME thing, just modified to fit our gluten free diet! I didn't necessarily dig the tomato-ish soup, so after tasting it, I handed it over to my mom. The hamburger on the other hand, was so good! I had wished it wasn't so mini when it was gone in 1 and a 1/2 bites! After we enjoyed our tiny-tizers, our real appetizers came. I was so excited to try my Beef Carpaccio, as I was extremely hungry and the mini burger just didn't cut it. The waiter set down the plate, and I was in awe of the presentation. After literally cleaning my plate, [and of course getting a re-fill of wine], I was ready for my gluten free filet mignon. My stomach was already beginning to stretch from eating so much, but I was prepared - packing dresses for the final days of the trip rather than pants with buttons. I know, I know, so intelligent. A few moments later, the server came with our main entrees. When she set down the plate with my filet mignon, my taste buds were crying tears of joy [otherwise known as salivating]. Folks, this quite possibly was the BEST piece of meat I have eaten in my entire life. I was so ready to pick up that steak knife and go to work. ...And that's exactly what I did. Finally, it was dessert time. The menu, any diabetics nightmare, was filled with options that made your mouth water just reading them. Now, of course, we were not able to eat the cakes, as Carnival does not have gluten free cake options for us, but we were still accommodated. We were able to have either ice cream or sherbert to hit the sweet spot. I personally do not dig ice cream [somewhat lactose intolerant] so I was sticking with the sherbert option. My mom on the other hand loves a cup of ice cream, so she was still quite pleased. I decided to also order the fruit cocktail with my sherbert, making for a very colorful [and somewhat healthy] dessert plate. I don't know how I found room for everything, but I cleared the plate. You know what they say - "Go Hard, or Go Home." I had 7 days until I was going home, so I was going hard for sure. To find out what other gluten free meals I had on the trip, you can read my other posts. Just click the "Read more reviews from G-Free Laura" link at the bottom of the page. GFree Laura http://gfreelaura.com

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Royal Caribbean

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Gluten Free on a Carnival Cruise Mar 19, 2012
reviewer: GFree_Laura from Ohio

We all love vacations - it's a break from your daily routine, a chance to spend time with friends and family, and in some cases, a chance to get some large-scale doses of Vitamin D. But, when you're gluten free, you may have some concerns about where to go. Will you be able to eat at the resort you stay at? Should you go somewhere where you can prepare your own food? If the prospective travel destination does offer gluten free options, will they only consist of a salad bar? These are the things that run through a Celiac's mind when planning their trip to paradise. Since going gluten free, I have been on a few trips (Vegas, New Orleans), but I was able to choose restaurants to dine at, as they were not all-inclusive style vacations. So, when my family booked a 7-day Carnival Cruise vacation, the first thing my mom and I thought was, "What will we eat?" and, after this positive experience, I can now assure you, things are looking up for the gluten free world. Before departing for vacation, we were told by our travel agent, as well as many gluten free blogs, that we would be able to request gluten free food for each meal. We learned that upon boarding the ship, we would need to meet with the maitre d' to request gluten free dining options. From there, we assumed we would order each meal ahead of time, and would not go hungry. So the day finally came - we arrived to Port of Baltimore, and were ready to board the Carnival Pride Fun Ship. Of course we had some gluten free snacks with us, as my family is always prepared. As I munched on my rice chips, I was excited and nervous for the next 7 days at sea. After walking a somewhat long gangway up to the Carnival Pride's entrance [while freezing my tush off because Baltimore isn't exactly tropical], I was ready for the adventure! Immediately when walking into the ship, you are amazed at the size, and the architecture. Although we didn't quite have our bearings yet, we needed to find the dining room to talk to the maitre d' to order our meal for the next day. After finding our way through the somewhat maze that a cruise ship can be, we arrived to the Normande Dining Room. There, we were introduced to the Restaurant Hostess, Crisell Cocchi. She was very sweet, and knew exactly how to accommodate us. We were told that each night at dinner, she would come to our table, give us the menu for the next day [including breakfast, lunch, and dinner], and we would order our meals. The dining room was able to make almost every entrée gluten free! Our nerves were instantly settled! Next, we went to the Lido deck for the embarkation party! The Lido deck is the main deck of the ship - where all the action happens. During the "party" there was live music, and buffets FILLED with food. This was the only time I was unable to eat the entire trip, since the dining room was not open for lunch on the first day. Luckily, I had a gluten free bar with me, and was able to eat that while the herds of people piled their plates at the buffet with every type of food under the sun. After sailing away, we were able to go to our staterooms, unpack our luggage, and get situated for the week. The dining room was open that night for the first dinner, but my family chose to go the David's Steakhouse for dinner. The steakhouse was an additional $30 per person [whereas all other food on the ship is included with the initial cost]. All I can say is that the steakhouse was AMAZING. The quality of food and service we received for only an additional $30 was unbelievable. I'll share my experience dining at David's Steakhouse in a separate review. GFree Laura http://gfreelaura.com

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