With all the planning that goes into a vacation, sometimes it seems unfair to have to factor in a food allergy or sensitivity that a family member might have. Everything changed when Mike was diagnosed with Celiac. How we ate as a family totally shifted, which restaurants we could eat at, and even which grocery store we shopped at changed. How would a food allergy alter our Disney vacations? Would going on a Disney Cruise and trying to dine allergy-friendly in the middle of the ocean work? Before you disembark on your Disney Cruise Line vacation, check out a few points we’d like to share about food allergies and sensitivities.
Editor’s Note: Disney Cruise Line has suspended sailings aboard the Disney Fantasy through April 24; the Disney Dream through April 30; the Disney Magic through May 9; and the Disney Wonder through May 12. We present this article for future cruise planning.
1 – First Things First
Well, we are happy to report that YES – the Disney Cruise Line is not only on point with allergy and sensitivity requests, but they were able to provide extremely delicious tasting food! We read countless reviews in advance regarding food allergies and almost every one of them was positive. Experiencing it first hand, we learned that much like dining at Walt Disney World, the Disney Cruise Line is in the “know-how” and go above and beyond expectations. Compared to other non-Disney cruise reviews – we can tell that Disney is one of the top Cruise Lines that handles food allergies with paramount care.
2 – Let Them Know When Booking
It’s very important when booking your Disney Cruise Line itinerary that you let Disney know you have a food allergy or sensitivity. Unlike being at a Disney Resort or somewhere on land, the ship stocks up and plans for food allergies of all sorts. While there is an abundance of food and we doubt they would ever have a food shortage, Disney still requests this information when booking. Good news– Disney Cruise Line doesn’t charge any more than a normal guest dining fee for allergy requests.
3 – Alternatives Offered
What is your food allergy or sensitivity? The Disney Cruise Line offers food alternatives for some of the most popular allergies including: Gluten or Wheat, Eggs, Fish, Milk or lactose, Peanuts and tree nuts, Shellfish, Soy, and Corn. On top of these eight, they also offer cultural meal options like Kosher and Halal. If you have a food allergy or sensitivity not listed here, go ahead and give Disney Cruise Line a call and see what they can do for you.
4 – The Servers are in the Loop
The Dining Room Server and the Dining Room Assistant Server will become your best buddies! Since Disney Cruise Line offers rotational dining, you will have the same servers follow you from one restaurant to the next for dinner. Anyone with a food allergy knows this is incredibly awesome because you don’t have to go through the same spiel each time you dine. They know… the Chef knows… and your stomach can rest at ease! The servers would tell Mike right away what he can and cannot have, including substitutions however needed so he could have a good, filling dinner. If there is ever a situation or question that arises and the servers don’t know the answer, the Chef will happily come to your table to speak with you.
5 – Quick Service vs. Table Service
So, the awesome Servers we mentioned above are assigned to you for dinner each night in rotational dining. This means breakfast and lunch are slightly different. If you plan to eat at one of the ship’s quick-service restaurants (buffet style), you’ll want to ask one of the Cast Members if you can speak with a Chef. Many times, they will take an order down for you and make you something much like they would at a table-service restaurant. This is because as you likely know, cross-contamination is an issue at buffet-style locations, particularly if you have an allergy. If you have a sensitivity, you’ll likely be fine to browse and pick out what you know you can eat. With an allergy, be on the safe side at a quick-service location and order your food with the Chef or Cast Member available.
6 – Port Eating
This is always interesting! The only place Mike felt comfortable enough to eat off the ship, was at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. The night before we docked at Castaway Cay, our Server asked Mike what he would like for lunch the next day while on the island. The food on the island is amazing, but again, it’s a buffet. The fact that the server wanted to already plan for Mike’s lunch surprised us immensely! When we arrived to eat on the island, Mike told a Cast Member he has an allergy and they got his plate right away. We even saw our Server on the island, and he came by to double-check that Mike was taken care of. Amazing, amazing service! You may be braver than we are about trying other port dining options – but our rule of thumb is typically if it isn’t Disney, let’s not push it! Mike happily ate on the ship and had his fill.
7 – Desserts
This is what Disney is all about right?! The table-service restaurants had excellent dessert options for allergy-friendly guests. Mike could typically pick from two or three items. Even better, whenever he wanted, he could ask for a Mickey’s Ice Cream Bar which they provided gluten-free. We will say, we were disappointed with the quick-service dessert options as there seemed to be very few selections for allergy guests. We also wanted to try the Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats Shop on the Disney Dream (which you pay for), but they didn’t offer anything allergy-friendly. Fill up on your desserts while at dinner!
8 – Lounge Beverages
If you want an allergy-friendly adult beverage from one of the many lounges, do your research in advance as to which liquors, beers and wines fit into your allergy. Since Mike drinks rarely, we really didn’t have a good idea of what to ask for at the lounges. The servers did their best to be helpful and there were a few beverages he enjoyed (like the Skinny Margarita)! Once you find a drink that works for you, we recommend returning to that same lounge so the same bartender can fix up another drink without having to go through all the questions.
9 – Room Service Rocked!
Sometimes, eating in the room is just FUN, especially if it’s a late-night snack! Room Service is included in your dining package (minus the gratuity), so give them a call whenever you’d like. Keep in mind, the morning you leave the ship, room service is not offered, and the breakfast is served super early. Want to know our trick? We ordered allergy-friendly muffins and Danish at night and put them in our fridge to enjoy in the morning. This way Mike got his fill and we didn’t have to wake up with the breakfast crowds or think twice about his allergy.
We highly recommend the Disney Cruise Line to anyone that may have a food allergy or sensitivity. The whole experience will put your mind at ease and fill your belly with all sorts of safe, yet incredible food. Happy Cruising!
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