Gluten free Hawaii on Pride of America Part 1


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When I first booked this cruise back in January, I had no idea where it would lead as far as food.  I wanted to post my experience so far. If you are considering taking a cruise with Norwegian, my review and overview might help you to decide whether you would feel safe and comfortable as far as dining aboard this cruise line.

I wanted to make clear a couple of things.  I have already mentioned that I am in a suite.  Do I think that fact has influenced my treatment at meals?   Absolutely.  You might want to consider an upgrade if you have dietary issues.  I also mentioned that I write a blog on the subject of bring gluten free.  I believe this also has had an influence on my treatment.  Having said that, let me continue my experience.

I wrote briefly in my last post about days 1 and 2.  I would like to add that the wait  staff in the main dining room have no clue that gluten free bread is available.  I would also like to add that it’s such a hassle to get it (20 minutes) that it’s really not worth it.  Also, watch out if you are dairy free- last night in the Italian restaurant I was brought gluten free cheese bread.

My suite comes with afternoon canapés.  I realized on the second day that they were not gluten or dairy free.  The canapés came with a note from the hotel manager saying with his compliments.  I called to inform him of the oversight.  Well, once that call was made, everything changed.  We have also received canapés since then that I can actually eat!

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Up to that point, there was a bit of miscommunication between the managers of the suite guest breakfast restaurant, the main dining room and the butler.   I was told to speak with Ahmed in the suite dining room, and Samantha in the main dining room.  It seemed that the wait staff was not aware of my pre- orders for lunch and dinner.  I mentioned this to Samantha.  Not two minutes later, Frank Deamicis, Food and Beverage director came over to our table.  He wanted to assure me I would be taken care of and to let him know if I needed anything.  Wow!   It seems the squeaky wheel does get the grease.

Things have gone pretty smoothly since then, with a couple of snags.  I have prearranged breakfast lunch and dinner each day on the day before to give the staff time to prepare my meals as special prep is often needed.  On our third day, I preordered a Caesar salad.  Now of course once you remove the parmesan and croutons it’s not really Caesar salad.  My mistake. Our waiter had a language barrier.  Alas Ahmed was not there and I believe that when he is not there to oversee things everything goes to hell.   I was told by him to let the waiter know the chef had my salad all ready to go.  He kept insisting that I have balsamic vinegar.  I told him just make the dressing without the Parmesan.  He kept pushing the balsamic.  Now, if they can make olive oil hollandaise ( which was delicious) tell me they can’t make Caesar dressing without Parmesan?  I was finally told that the dressing is premade.  He could have mentioned this at the beginning.  I think the chef was being lazy because his boss wasn’t there ( I could be wrong).   The salad was basically lettuce.  Not a Caesar salad.   Not good at all.

That night we had a special dinner on our balcony.  Filet Mignion ( overcooked but still good) olive oil Bernaise and sautéed mushrooms.  It was delicious!   Poached pear and lime sorbet for dessert.  Awesome.

I have received conflicting information on whether there is a dedicated fryer in Cagneys- the suite guest only restaurant.  I had home fries on day four.  He said they had to clean a fryer out and heat the oil.  A couple days later when I had French fries he said  the fryer was dedicated.  Had a delicious burger on a gluten free English muffin.  Had eggs Benedict with olive oil hollandaise.  It was wonderful.

 

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We had dinner at the Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant on day four.  The manager fell all over me.  We had been introduced at breakfast that morning.  Since I could not eat miso soup or seaweed salad he insisted on bringing me beef consommé and a crab salad from the French bistro. Both were delicious but I think the other people at the table thought I was some kind of celebrity.

The chef made my dinner on the teppan grill first so as not to contaminate my food.  It was delicious.   At this point, everyone has been alerted to my coming.  In fact, at breakfast every morning Ahmed runs to the kitchen as soon as he sees me.  It’s a bit unnerving.   This morning I had not preordered so he had hollandaise, French toast and waffles all ready and waiting so I didn’t have to wait for my breakfast.  I’m getting so spoiled I won’t know what to do once I get home.

Which brings me to reality.  I am wondering what people who are not in suites do?   I am sure they do not get this kind of attention.  I am sure that my blog is being followed by staff.   Social media is very powerful.  So I would like to say that at this point I would give my experience a 95 out of 100.  But there are a few things I would like to see improved:

  • Train all of your waitstaff on all gluten and dairy free options that are available
  • Make gluten and dairy free bread available in all venues
  • Don’t restrict gluten free options to high-end restaurants
  • Make sure that accounts are flagged with cabin numbers so that dietary issues are known on arrival
  • Don’t have a class barrier for attention to dietary restrictions
  • Have dedicated fryers in all restaurants
  • Train your staff on what gluten and dairy free really mean.  I had a waiter tell me to just “leave off the sauce ” and I could eat anything.  This is ignorant and patronizing as well as arrogant

I will be writing a letter to Mr. Deamicis when I return.  There are stars onboard that should be recognized, but there is also room for improvement.

I will be writing Part 2 once I return home and get over the jet lag!

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