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Published on : Tuesday, August 9, 2016
According to research, an estimated 15 million Americans have food allergies, with even more adhering to dietary limitations ranging from gluten-free to vegan. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Cruise Line Members make accommodating food restrictions a priority to allow guests a simple, stress free and enjoyable cruise vacation and culinary experience.
“In the cruise industry, we pride ourselves on offering the perfect cruise vacation for every type of traveler. People with food allergies or restrictions are no exception,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA. “There has never been more culinary options available on cruise ships, and this includes choices for those with food allergies and restrictions. Cruise lines offer top-notch cuisine to please the palate of every guest aboard their ships.”
Cruise lines are well-equipped and happy to accommodate a variety of diets including no/low fat, vegetarian, vegan, dairy or lactose free, gluten-or-wheat-free, low cholesterol, diabetic, Kosher and Halal diets, as well as allergy-specific diets. Here are different ways cruise lines cater to those with allergies and dietary restrictions:
Personal Consultation: Travelers are not alone when it comes to dietary restrictions and cruise lines are more than willing to offer one-on-one support and answer any questions about menu items. For example, once the kitchen on Paul Gauguin Cruises are alerted to a guest’s dietary restrictions and/or food allergies, a member of the staff will meet directly with the person to go review details of the menu and ensure allergies and/or restrictions are cared for at every meal.
Very Vegetarian: A common misconception is that those following a strict diet will not be able to find fitting food at sea. In addition to most cruise chefs tweaking the general menu to accommodate any dietary restrictions, now there are more and more customized menus aiming to please the palate of any diner onboard. For example, Uniworld offers a full vegetarian menu with every meal and Avalon Waterways is unveiling a new Avalon Fresh menu, featuring vegetarian dishes created by Austrian Chefs Karl and Leo Wrenkh.
Raw Food Diets: Travelers focused on a healthy lifestyle can make their wellbeing the center of their trip with cruise lines celebrating healthy living and keeping wellness dishes in the spotlight. SeaDream, for instance, partnered with the Hippocrates Health Institute to create a raw food or “living” food menu. The menu offers guests the option of experiencing healthful dishes with raw, organic, and vegan ingredients prepared below 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
Religious Cuisine: Many travelers abide by religion-based dietary restrictions and it can be difficult to adhere to these restrictions while traveling. The beauty of a cruise is that cruisers can alert the onboard kitchen team to their religious restrictions beforehand and be well taken care of for the duration of their trip. Seabourn Cruise Line keeps standard religious food items on board for passengers following a Kosher or Halal diet. In addition, it’s about more than just the right ingredients. Many cruise line kitchens are training their staff in the most strict religious food preparation techniques and have the necessary utensils to offer peace of mind to every traveler. Crystal Cruises specially trains their kitchen staff in kosher food preparation, handling, and servicing, including the use of strictly-kosher pots, pans, dishware, and utensils that are used and washed separately.
Gluten Free Goodness: Traveling with a diet centering around a gluten intolerance might seem like a daunting task but cruise lines are going above and beyond to provide a delicious and gluten free experience. MSC Cruises offers gluten-free service in the main dining room, plus all gluten-free fare is prepared in a separate area from the main galley to avoid cross contamination. The line also ensures that their cruisers are taken care of while away on shore and offer gluten-free lunchboxes for travelers to take on excursions.
Overall, travelers are encouraged to be vocal about food restrictions or allergies. Cruise lines offer dietary request forms to travelers at the time of reservation to flag any dietary needs. These needs go directly to the ship so each guest is well taken care of. As always, travel agents are a traveler’s the best resources to book a cruise. When working with a travel agent, they are equipped find to the best cruise option for any type of diet, whether it is kosher, gluten-free, vegan, or nut-free.
“Cruise lines are always focused on allowing travelers to enjoy every aspect of their trip,” D’Aoust continued. “The cruise industry goes beyond the call of duty to offer each type of traveler the chance to both dine safely as well as experience delicious cuisine while traveling the world.”