Cruising with food allergies

Bread and nuts

Don’t let the worry of food allergies stop you going to sea.

According to the Food Standards Agency, there are 2 million people in the UK that suffer with food allergies, and I’m one of those people. In recent years, I’ve become intolerable of bananas and avocado, which is quite sad as I’ve always enjoyed them both. Apparently, it’s a reaction that in some people doesn’t come to the surface until they are in their adult years and when it does, you will often find that you also react to kiwi and believe it or not, latex gloves. The fruits (and properties within the gloves) are all born from the same rubber plant – hence the connection – and it’s the rubber that one becomes reactive to.

Where am I going with this, I hear you ask. Well, if there are 2 million people in the country with food allergies, it’s inevitable that at some point, many of those people will end up booking a holiday at sea and if it’s someone’s first cruise, the worry of making sure their allergies are known can be incredibly stressful. The thought of eating something that could potentially be fatal is a very scary thought indeed, but I want to let you know that you are in safe hands when at sea.

Food is a massive aspect of any cruise and there are so many choices available – making sure those with allergies are never at risk is a walk in the park for the skilled onboard chefs and it’s incredibly easy to ensure you don’t eat anything that could make you unwell. At time of booking, make your travel agent aware of your allergies and ensure he/she makes a note of this in your booking. This information will then be passed across to the ship, but for extra safety I would always recommend that you speak to the reception staff once you get onboard, this will ensure that you receive the information to your cabin detailing a time and place for you to meet with the restaurant Maître D and discuss what foods you MUST avoid. I guarantee you will not be the only person there, I have met many other people that have food allergies and dietary requirements and the meeting is often busy but arranged very well.

If your allergies are quite severe, it may be that you are invited to choose your evening meal the day before, this way the galley team can ensure that your food is prepared in a safe zone with no chance of cross contamination. Those who are gluten free or have other special dietary requests often do the same thing and it’s a relatively straight-forward process. Don’t worry about finding the person to speak with regarding this, they will find you once you’re onboard.

When booking long shore excursions, always check to see if lunch is included, if it is, ensure you speak to the shore excursions staff and make them aware of your allergies. This is sometimes the one place where onboard communication breaks down. It’s not essential for the shore-ex team to know of any intolerances etc., so always make sure you tell them yourself, face to face.

Once everything is discussed and put into motion, you can sit back, relax and enjoy your cruise. If you dine in any specialty restaurants during the cruise, it may be wise to inform the restaurant manager there of your allergies, however, you’ll often find that they already know and will contact you regarding menu choices before you even have time to blink. You really need not worry.

Happy cruising and happy eating!