Advice

How to Cruise With Food Allergies

cruise with food allergies
Cruise ship breakfast buffets are piled high with treats that people with allergies should avoid. - Photo by Jacob Wackerhausen / eStockPhoto

You shouldn’t have to worry about food allergies when you’re booking a cruise, let alone when you’re on a cruise. Thankfully, cruise lines have a system in place for accommodating passengers with special dietary needs — although some are more thorough than others.

This handy chart lets you know whom you should speak to when you book, as well as once you’re on the ship:

Cruise Line When You Book Onboard
Azamara Club Cruises  Email a Special Needs Form to the Special Needs department at least 40 days prior to sailing.  After boarding the ship, meet with the restaurant manager to discuss your allergy. Passengers with dietary restrictions are flagged in a restaurant reservation system, so whenever a passenger checks into the main dining room or a specialty restaurant, the server is made aware of the allergy. As a precaution, remind your server at every meal.
Carnival Cruise Lines Dietary requests are handled onboard the ship, so there’s no need to inform Carnival in advance.  Discuss your food allergies with the headwaiter at dinner on the first night of the cruise. Allergies can best be accomodated in the main dining room; when dining in the Lido buffet, speak with the senior dining staff.
Celebrity Cruises Complete a Special Needs Form at least 40 days prior to sailing. 

Celebrity automatically sends a report to the ship of any special dietary requests prior to sailing, but remind your server at every meal as a precaution.

Crystal Cruises Request a Special Needs Form from their Customer Service Team and submit it at least 2 weeks prior to sailing.

The information is passed along to the kitchen and service staff, but you should still remind your server at every meal.

Costa Cruises Let Costa or your travel agent know about your allergy during the booking process.

The maitre d' should approach your table at mealtimes, but remind your server at every meal.

Cunard Line Let Cunard or your travel agent know about your allergy during the booking process. Inform the staff at the Purser’s Desk as soon as you board, and remind your server at every meal.
Disney Cruise Line Inform the line’s Special Reservations department at least 30 days prior to sailing. Confirm your dietary request with the head server at dinner on the first night of your cruise, and remind your server at each meal.
Holland America Line Notify the line using a Special Requirements Information (SRI) Form 90 days prior to sailing.  The SRI will be passed on to the dining room manager and culinary manager to make advance preparations, but speak to the restaurant manager at dinner on the first night of your cruise as a precaution.

MSC Cruises

After you book, fill out this Special Needs Form online.

Confirm your request with the Guest Services desk when you board and with the Maitre d’ at dinner on the first night. As always, remind your server at every meal.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Contact the Access Desk prior to booking, as some requests may be easier to accommodate in certain geographical regions. Confirm your request with the restaurant manager at dinner on the first night of your cruise, and remind your server at each meal.
Oceania Cruises

Let Oceania or your travel agent know about your food allergy during the booking process.

The line’s ships have open-seating dining rooms, so the staff is always alerted to a guest’s dietary requests whenever that guest checks into a dining room. Still, remind your server as a precaution.
Princess Cruises Tell Princess in writing of your allergy using the line’s Cruise Personalizer. Requests must be received no later than 35 days prior to departure for cruises to Alaska, Canada/New England, Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico, Panama Canal, and Coastal Getaways, and no later than 65 days prior to departure for other destinations. Confirm your request with the maitre d’ the first night of the cruise, and remind your server at every meal.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises Send an email to the line’s Operations team at least 90 days prior to sailing. The line’s ships have open-seating dining rooms, so the staff is always alerted to a guest’s dietary request whenever that guest checks into a dining room. Still, remind your server as a precaution.
Royal Caribbean International If you made your reservation at royalcaribbean.com, you can add your request to the “Update personal information” section. You can also send a request to special_needs@rccl.com with your name, booking number, ship name, sail date, and all relevant information regarding your allergy. Allergies can best be accomodated in the main dining room. Confirm your dietary request with the restaurant manager at dinner the first night of the cruise, and remind your server at each meal.
Seabourn Cruise Line

Complete a Special Requirements Information Form and email it to access@seabourn.com.

On embarkation day, a member of the dining staff will speak to you individually in order to make the appropriate arrangements.
Silversea Cruises Let Silversea know about your food allergies on the Guest Information Form at least 75 days before sailing. You can also reach out to the Special Services department with any additional questions.  Confirm your dietary request with the staff at dinner the first night of your cruise, and remind your server at each meal.
Windstar Cruises Fill out this Special Request Information Form at least 30 days before sailing. Confirm your dietary request with the Matitre d’ when you board, and remind your server at every meal.

Join the discussion

How do you deal with your food allergies while cruising?

Posted by HungryCruiser

This is a helpful list. No one should be led to feel everything will be fine on a cruise, though, simply because you fill out a form in advance and tell your waiter or maitre d'. My family cruised on the Caribbean Princess last month and had a hard time finding good food to eat. The ship stocked *no* alternative foods to accommodate our food allergies. (One son has multiple food allergies; another child and I can't eat wheat and he can't do dairy.) Food arrived dry with no dressing or margarine (rice, potato, steamed veggies, salad). There was no dairy-free ice cream at the ice cream stand. One night our child was given dessert that was strawberries with a spicy chipotle sauce, and another night it was a gluten-free cake with a liquer in it. Of course, being 5, he didn't like either one. We saw other kids eating ice cream and brownies, and my kids didn't have any allergy-free alternatives. If I knew, I would have brought cookies and margarine from home! No cruise passenger should think a cruise ship will stock alternative foods just because you tell them what your restrictions are. The Caribbean Princess expected us to just make do with what they had.

Posted by Mycathouse

Crystal Cruises should be removed from this list. The first time we travelled with them in 2012 they had us review the menu each evening so our selections could be checked and prepared without nuts if possible. I did have an incident where I was given a cookie I was assured contained no nuts and it turned out to be marzipan. If my daughter had eaten it instead of me, her reaction would have been much worse than mine. After spending two hours throwing up, I chalked it up to an innocent error. Our third and recent trip, however, was completely different. Crystal's service to people with allergies is now an abomination; they no longer make any attempt to protect passengers with food allergies. Crystal was alerted months before our travel of our families food allergies by our travel agent. A few weeks before traveling, the agent again checked with them and sent another reminder of the food we needed to avoid. Each meal we repeatedly told our servers that we had nut allergies and asked them to check to make sure each item ordered was free of nuts. We were REPEATEDLY given food containing nuts even after being assured the dishes contained no nuts! Some of the waiters were quite rude about it, and explained the nuts were only sprinkled on top or on the side as garnish, and surely we could just not eat them. At least four times during the trip they managed to "poison" me, sending me running back to my room to spend hours throwing up and scratching my skin off. Stumbling around on the ship light-headed and with a swollen tongue became a regular occurrence. Every night I'd sit and sadly watch my family eat dessert while I sat there with no dairy free, nut free options. The truly infuriating thing? Crystal will specially prepare elaborate desserts to favored tables simply because they "asked of it", but will do absolutely nothing to, let's just say, NOT KILL a passenger allergic to nuts. This trip left us totally disgusted.


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