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Royal Caribbean International, Freedom of the Seas

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5.0 Palms
5.0 Palms
Celiac Friendly Cruise Mar 14, 2012
reviewer: Mattodd from Los Angeles, CA USA

Booking a family vacation is stressful enough, but finding something that the whole family will enjoy and is Celiac friendly can be overwhelming. We have an 8 year old that has been diagnosed Celiac for the last 5 years. He is super flexible and doesn't mind eating a cheeseburger at every meal. We wanted to find a great vacation that he could experience other culinary adventures. We did a lot of research, but couldn't find anything definitive regarding his dietary needs. When we decided on a cruise, I called all of the large cruise lines to find out which would best offer him the most choices and give our family, with small children, a great time. Of the family friendly cruise lines, I received the best responses from Disney, Carnival and Norwegian. After speaking with a travel agent, we decided on the Norwegian Epic, as it would give us the most flexibility. The day after I booked the cruise, I received a call from Norwegian regarding our request for Gluten Free food. The representative I spoke with was very knowledgable and made sure we felt comfortable with what they can provide. I was optimistic, but not 100% confident that it would be all that was promised. Just to be safe, we packed plenty of gluten free hamburger and hot dogs buns, which the cruise line suggested. Once we boarded the ship, I proceeded directly to main dining room to speak with the head maitre'd. She assured me that he would be taken care of at every meal and it was noted in his file. We immediately sat down for lunch and he ordered a cheesesteak sandwich (something he's never had). The sandwich came out on Gluten Free bread and they special made french fries in a clean fryer. We were immediately put at ease with this level of attention. We next enrolled the kids in the recess kids club. When we were filling out the enrollment information, the counselor made comment of the gluten free note in his electronic file. She also made sure we knew he would be taken care of and not come in contact with any gluten. The kids were issued wrist bands for entry and on our sons band, it was clearly noted that he was gluten free. He told us on many occasions that they special ordered gluten free meals for him when he was hungry. All of the restaurants we visited on board made sure he was taken care of. We had a very special maitre'd at the main buffet. The moment he saw us coming, he came right up to us and asked what he could make. For breakfast, he would make gluten free waffles or any eggs made to order. There was also a large assortment of foods that did not contain gluten that he could eat. My only complaint, which we were ready for, was that the ship did not carry any gluten free hamburger buns (they did have hot dog buns). They had an assortment of gluten free deserts and ice cream anytime he desired. This particular ship had about 6 specialty restaurants that you could choose from (for an additional fee) that also made him anything he desired. They carried gluten free pasta, gluten free english muffins, pizza, and any meat he desired. But by far the best feature was a gluten free pizza that they would deliver anywhere on the ship at any time of day. Overall our experience on the Norwegian Epic was fantastic, both as a family vacation and a worry free Gluten Free experience. I would highly recommend this vacation to any family with a Gluten Free traveler. We will definitely be going again.

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