We are somewhat new to the gluten free way of eating, so going on a cruise where you can’t go to the store and cook your own food was a little worrisome. Marc and I eat gluten free for preference, but Ryan is strictly gluten free. We started it for inflammation but it has cleared up his keratosis pilaris, and he switched over so easily. I will say that if he got gluten, he would not necessarily get sick though. We hope the other kids will switch eventually too.
We added the dietary request when we booked the cruise, and reminded them when we went to dinner the first night. You can click here to fill out a request if you already have a cruise booked. The staff were so great and always made sure Ryan had his favorite foods. They have dedicated ovens, toasters, and fryers for gluten free foods. Ordering ahead of time will give them time to warm those up and get your food out faster.
We never went to the Main Dining room for breakfast or lunch, but they will definitely be more accommodating, and have more options if you have the time to go sit down. They will also tell you that you are free to bring on gluten free foods since they do not have as many options for you. The cabins only have a “cooler” for a fridge so you will have to call and request an actual refrigerator if you are going to bring cold foods.
I’m pretty sure Ryan ate his weight in pancakes with fresh strawberries. He ate them every morning, along with yogurt and a chocolate milk. If we knew what we wanted we could put the order in the night before at dinner. The head waiter that you have at dinner will be working in the Windjammer at either breakfast or lunch and will sometimes see you and grab your order before you even know it. You can also find any of the head waiters and they will be able to grab your order when you are ready. Gluten free toast is available and they will get it from behind the counter when you request it. There is a bigger variety of breakfast foods in the main dining room if you have time to go sit down, and may be safer than a traditional buffet.
We usually grabbed a gluten free pizza from Sorrento’s (which is amazing if you ask Marc or I!). You will have to wait a little bit so they can warm up the oven and then cook the pizza. You can also order one in Windjammer but they don’t seem to be as good as Sorrento’s. Windjammer does have a “gluten free” section but it is also a part of the big buffet, so if you are worried about cross contamination you might want to order from a head waiter or go to the main dining room. If you want to do a burger they have gluten free buns you can request. You can find gluten free sandwiches and pastries in the Café Promenade, if you are wanting a lighter lunch or grab and go. If you are going on shore they don’t prefer you to take foods off the boat, but if you really need to, pack some sandwich bags from home and pack a little lunch for yourself so you know you’ll have a back-up option.
We ate in the Main Dining room almost every night. We made the order at dinner the previous night and they always had it ready. They had his gluten free bread and fruit cup ready when we got there. For the entree they were able to make pizza, breaded chicken tenders, burgers, and more. You can always order the “naturally” gluten free foods like grilled meats and vegetables, but Ryan is more of a “kid’s menu” eater. Of course, it’s all about the dessert though, right?? I know for sure that there was regular ice cream, crème brulee, flourless chocolate cake, and even cheesecake that was available for gluten free options. The chefs are always trying new things though so you can talk with your waiters to see what they are able to make specifically for your needs. If all else fails or you need a late night snack Sorrento’s is open until 2am!
Snacks are the best right?!? Kids especially love snacks. For the soft serve by the pool we packed our own gluten free ice cream cones and kept them in a backpack along with all the pool stuff like goggles and swim diapers. If it’s self-serve you can just grab your cone and go to town. If they are serving it for you they won’t have a problem using your cone, although this was all before Covid, so we’ll have to see how things change from now on. You can go to Cafe Promenade and ask for the Udi’s snickerdoodle cookies, or Windjammer will also be able to get you some. We also like to grab a couple extra yogurts or bananas at breakfast and keep them in the mini fridge (cooler) in the room. If you need a little afternoon treat The Cupcake Cupboard has gluten free cupcakes that are delicious! They have a cupcake decorating class, but we did not check to see if you could request the GF cupcakes. Remember you are able to pack snacks from home as long as they are in the original packaging.
Cruising has become of our favorite vacations, and now it’s even better knowing Ryan can eat his little heart out and not feel left out. If you are traveling with little kids check out this post I did recently of our favorite things about cruising with kids. We hope that you will feel confident in cruising while also needing a special diet.