Cruising with food allergies

Poppy is considering going on her first cruise but is worried about her gluten intolerance.


Q. Poppy
My husband and I are thinking about going on our first cruise after hearing glowing reports from friends who recently returned from a tour of the South Pacific. One of the things that they raved about was the food, however this is the thing that has me most concerned as I have a gluten allergy. Will they be able to accommodate my dietary requirements onboard? Is it a major hassle and what cruise lines are best at dealing with these issues?

A. All cruise lines have a system in place for accommodating passengers with special dietary needs, but some are more thorough than others. Cruising with a food allergy isn’t something you need to be concerned about, though; it is very common, and the staff will take amazing care of you. Here are how some of the most popular cruise lines deal with dietary requirements and food allergies.

Carnival can provide guests with meals suited to the following special dietary needs: vegetarian, low-cholesterol, low-fat, low-carbohydrates, low-sugar and gluten-free. Chefs will make every effort to fulfil your requests and will gladly prepare freshly made options that meet your dietary needs. Once onboard, you will need to speak with the head waiter or dining room host in advance, so they can assist in planning your daily meals. This allows the necessary time to prepare foods, as requested, in a timely manner. Gluten-free pizza dough, pasta, bread for deli sandwiches and hamburgers buns, as well as cake, are available upon request. Frozen desserts and yogurt are gluten free. All items are freshly prepared and may take a little longer than regular menu items. Gluten-free beer, Estrella Daura, is also available. Although there are a number of options at Carnival’s various restaurants, special dietary and food requests can only be accommodated in their main dining rooms.

Gluten-free menus are not provided on Celebrity ships, however staff will customise existing menus onboard to give guests more freedom of choice while still catering to their individual needs. All guests are required to speak to their head waiter in the dining room once onboard the ship, so that their needs are communicated to the galley and an open line of communication is established between everyone concerned.

Holland America Line
Guests with gluten sensitivities will find items made without gluten are marked with the wheat symbol next to their descriptions on Holland America Line menus. If you are not sure if a menu item is gluten free or contains another allergen, speak to your server and they will check that each meal is safe and healthy for you to enjoy.

Princess Cruises
Ask your travel agent to advise Princess’s customer service team at the time of booking of any special diet, allergies or medical needs. Once onboard, check with the maître d’ to confirm your request.

Royal Caribbean
Can accommodate dietary needs such as food allergies, gluten-free, kosher, low-fat, and low-sodium. If you make your reservation at, you can add your request to the ‘update personal information’ section. You can also send a request to [email protected] with your name, booking number, ship name, sail date and all relevant information regarding your allergy. Allergies can best be accommodated in the main dining room. Confirm your dietary request with the restaurant manager at dinner the first night of the cruise and remind your server at each meal.

Viking Cruises
Every meal has vegetarian options on the menu, and Viking chefs are able to prepare low-salt or gluten-free cuisine. Guests requiring special diets such as diabetic or low-cholesterol meals must alert Viking Cruises one month prior to departure and inform the maître d’ when onboard. The chefs will make every effort to accommodate these requests.

Have you cruised with a food allergy? What advice do you have for Poppy?

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