Cruising With Food Allergies

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Before we ever stepped foot into the Carnival Sunshine, before we ever dined at the BlueIguana Cantina, Mongolian, The Captain’s Pasta Bar, Guy’s Burger Joint, or anywhere on the Cruise ship, I spoke to customer service on this particular cruise line about my son, his food options and to see if his needs could be met.  Customer service helped me to arrange how to go Cruising With Food Allergies. It’s all about planning ahead of time, not just jumping on a cruise ship at the last minute, rather phone calls, a chef’s card and preparedness ahead of time.

As a mom of a child with severe food allergies, my job is clearly to advocate for him and make sure that he is safe at all points in time and that is just what I did so we could go Cruising With Food Allergies.

Our story, of cruising with food allergies is not just about dining on the Lido Deck and being able to eat there, it goes much deeper as Cruising With Food Allergies is no problem, once you know who to talk to and how to arrange things.  Lavishly live Cruising with Food Allergies out loud as we hit the high seas dining out, dining in, and dining everywhere on the cruise ship.

Cruising With Food Allergies

A journey to the high seas is one thing, but a journey on the high seas to a foreign set of countries with the possibility of being plagued by cross contamination of food is a whole other thing. Fear is what I live in and I can not let it go.

Fear keeps me on my toes, worrying about everything that goes into my son’s mouth. We have suffered the wrath of cross-contamination from careless food workers who really don’t give a crap about being informed about ‘our food allergies.

To see your child swell up faster than a balloon being filled with helium, to watch him gasping for breathe, is a field of terror I never want to see ever again!

I worked feverishly ahead of the cruise to cover all the potential places that food would be a factor (come on we are going on a cruise ship, food is everywhere).  I filled out forms for Camp Carnival, so when they had snacks he would have different snacks, and we filled out the forms for the ship we were sailing on ahead of time so that the Head Chef would have his allergy list as well. Customer Service forwarded the forms to the ship and we were all set.

My Son 

This is my son, his is vivacious, energetic and so spirited, but, he can not tolerate many foods, in fact, some foods could prove deadly if he eats them!  The man he is with is one of a TEAM of people who made his trip a delight, and so very possible with dining.  Senvil is the Sr. Team Headwaiter and he rocks! We visited him each night in the Sunrise Restaurant Lower deck 3 Aft each evening.

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When my son found out we were going on a cruise he went through the ceiling with excitement, I mean who can blame him? All the food a tween could eat, easily accessible, no microwaving necessary, just grab a plate and go good, right? W-R-O-N-G! In fact, a buffet can serve up the most deadly cross contamination creating the possibility of triggering an allergic reaction, so where in the world were we going to feed him?  What would happen when we would go to ports of call?

The First five Hours On Board and Food Allergies

As you know, when you first get to the ship, you are not able to get to your room, so you head to the Lido Deck and food and music are everywhere.  We had to take a chance that day, as we had traveled for hours to get to the ship and he was famished.

I had to get him fed, he was hungry, so I took a chance(stupidly albeit I could have ruined our trip, however, I had faith in those who we asked and we asked the RIGHT questions)

We went with what we knew, we asked if the burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint were on a grill with any seafood? The answer was no.  We asked if the fryer was dedicated? The answer was yes. He scored his first meal safely and that was the last chance we took, as we met this staff, who would guide us safely and confidently through the rest of our trip!

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While you will see I am offering you a photo of the toppings bar, we DID NOT USE it as cross contamination can occur and we were not taking any other chances! I just wanted you to see the Topping Bar and Crave the food!

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The Dream Team – For our Son

Don’t think because you are cruising the high seas your food allergies just leave, that is not the magic of a vacation, in fact the reality is, you have to be more careful because you are not responsible for your own food prep on the trip! Meet Senvil, Agus, Chef Vivek Menon our own personal dream team who made severe food allergies and traveling magically disappear and allowed us to just kick back and enjoy!

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Left(Chef de Cuisine) Vivek Menon – Top Right (Senvil) Bottom Right (Agus)

For those of you with allergies, standards are the same for you. Get on board, and once you get to dinner, you can make it all happen for you and your food allergies as long as you have arranged it ahead of time and filed the paperwork.

Once the team met our son, they asked for even more details about the allergies and food preferences then making food available to him no matter where he was on the ship with one small catch: he had to find the Managing Chef on the Lido Deck or any of the restaurants and they all reported by to Chef Menon who made sure that no matter where our guy was, the food was safe. Easy, peasy and unbelievably amazing!

Main Dining Room

When we sat at our table, 340, in the main dining team, each evening.  One food that our son can have is grapes, so they made sure he had a bowl with his every dinner, sins stems, just ready to go- can you say SPOILED?

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Chef Menon came out to our table to check on us with regular consistency and he checked on us when dining in the Lido as well, he was all over this and made sure not only was Niko provided for, but reminded him: “just let us know WHAT you want and we will gladly prepare!” Totally amazing, unforgettable and really the best gift we have ever had!

Agus & Senvil

We have been on cruises before and NEVER have we had such great table service.  The guys learned that Niko loves romaine salad with Balsamic and Olive oil.  To the table arrived a plain old, romaine lettuce salad, but also cut into fine pieces, dressed at the table each evening by either Senvil or Agus with Balsamic and Olive Oil Dressing(you would have thought you were right in my home!)

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Mind you, with my son’s allergies, has come a lack of trying different foods and his diet is pretty basic so his ask for a main meal is simply plain old pasta, no sauce, just with some olive oil and a bit of Parmesan.  His wish was granted.

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Senvil encouraged him to TRY some foods and they would make them, in order to test new things out.  Niko listened. Senvil also explained to Niko how to taste his food, in order to understand a)what he was eating, and b) let the senses and taste buds really kick in, see this video– Senvil was awesome with our family!  This is a quick, MUST-SEE video!


Here’s the ordering process we used daily to make sure he ate Allergen-Free

Each night before our dinner would end, we woul would provide us the menu for the next evening and Niko and I would read, review and then decided what he might have for dinner.  In addition, Niko would place his breakfast order wtih Senvil.

When we ate at the Lido Marketplace we needed to ask for the Chef (we met them all per Chef Menon)and when dining in the main dining room Sunset we simply notified them we were there, and ate at whatever table was made available to us (we did this only 2 days).  Sometimes when we were on the Lido Marketplace we would see Senvil and Agus (our servers) and they would just handle getting his food, it was beyond awesome!

One night he saw Fried Chicken (that is usually not an option for him) but Chef Menon made it for him, special!

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Another night, Filet Mignon, not only was it perfect, it came to the table all cut, as if I had done it myself.  I am not sure who did this, Agus, Senvil or Chef Menon, but I know there was one smiling face.  Just as an added help, and I loved this, Agus would suggest that he take just one more bite before he could remove it from the table, and then one more and before you knew it, a meal was totally eaten.

How Did My Son Get Dessert? Allergy Friendly Foods 

So, this part of the meal was most challenging for us, as he had seen cookies on the buffet and cakes, etc.  While he could eat a special dessert sent to the table, prepared by Chef Menon, he could not eat dessert at the buffet–(more to come on the buffet (Lido Marketplace)

Here is a puff pastry that my son just devoured, it did not stand a chance on his plate.

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One night, we had a knock at our door, and we were surprised and loving what arrived! Take a look at what Chef Menon sent to our rooms, nut free, honey-free, beautiful, hand-crafted pastries that were like stepping into a Parisian Patisserie.

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Breakfast Main Dining Room and Dining With Allergies

When we sat in the main dining room, we had to alert the staff, to know that we were there.  It was a painless process, because the night before, the order had been placed, in fact it was a standing breakfast order:  Croissants, and crisp bacon.  Our morning breakfasts however were spent in the Lido Marketplace.

Cruising with food allergies is possible, While I can hardly speak for every cruise line out there,  Carnival definitely comes about food allergies in a very positive manner.  The staff  on our cruise was most welcoming and helpful to our son’s needs, which took the focus off of worry and let the vacation happen!

We can’t say thank you enough to the warm, endearing staff that took care of our son, his food allergies and kept him safe!  Thank you Senvil, Chef Menon and Agus!  That’s lavishly living cruising with food allergies out loud hit me up with questions.  ~Dana

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