This is a very long post, but it is full of very valuable information, so please stay with it!
We have been back from our wonderful Hawaiian cruise aboard the Pride of America since Sunday. It took us 24 hours, including two five-hour layovers, to get home. I kept passing out on the planes. My head would nod, then I would wake myself up. Very frustrating!
On Sunday night, I fell so deeply asleep that my hubby couldn’t wake me. He finally did, and we went off to bed at 9 pm. I am finally over the jetlag for the most part, so I will go ahead and finish my review of Pride of America, and my experience on being gluten and dairy free on this cruise.
I left off at the Teppanyaki restaurant onboard the ship in Part 1. Up until that point, I was pretty amazed at not only the food but the attention I was getting. I also gained three pounds, which shows how well I was eating. The food was delicious and most of it was prepared to order to accommodate my food intolerances. When I first contacted the special needs department, I told them I had intolerances to gluten, dairy, nuts, honey, and agave. I wasn’t sure if they could pull it off, but they did a wonderful job.
We had breakfast every day at Cagney’s-the dedicated suite guest restaurant. I had gluten free pancakes, waffles, and french toast. The french toast was amazing! The waffles were, I think, frozen, and hard as a rock. The pancakes were okay but were a bit grainy. I was really amazed that they made hollandaise with olive oil. It was delicious.
We stayed on board the ship for the last few days as we were exhausted. We are not spring chickens and all of the walking we did (about 15 miles for the week) wore us out. We napped every afternoon when we could as we were up anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30 every morning. This allowed us to have lunch in Cagney’s as well. It’s a nice suite perk.
I had a couple of made to order gluten free burgers and fries. They were delicious. After the Caesar salad debacle that I mentioned in Part 1, I stayed away from the salads. I stuck to things I knew they couldn’t really mess up too much, or remove so many ingredients that the dish was no longer what it was meant to be. This worked out well. The restaurant manager, Ahmed, was wonderful. He worked with me and kept saying he would “make it happen”, which he did.
Once the communication issue that happened early on was cleared up, things went smooth as clockwork. He made sure he communicated with the dietary manager, Samantha, and also the manager of any other restaurant we ate in. I was amazed at how well everything worked, and I did not get sick once. I felt I was in good hands and could relax and enjoy myself. Not getting seasick as I had done on previous cruises was a big plus. Bonine works great!
For our last dinner, we went to the main dining room and we both had Duck A’lorange. They made it especially for me as they did the Osso Bucco in the Italian restaurant. We were sad to leave.
I was okay until I ate at the Honolulu airport. I spend quite a bit of time researching safe places to eat. I had found that Lahaina Chicken company was about as safe as I could get. When we walked in, there was a disclaimer right at the counter that they couldn’t guarantee cross-contamination would not occur. Being between a rock and hard place, I decided to go ahead. It would be a long time before I would be eating again. I asked the lady behind the counter if the vegetables had dairy as I had to avoid it. Well, this has no dairy, but has butter, she said. Yikes! She said the corn had no butter, so I had a half dark roasted chicken, corn, and plain white rice. Well about a half hour later, you guessed it….upset tummy. Not again, I thought. The first two days we were there I was sick from eating a Just This bar. I took an Immodium and was able to head it off.
So it all comes down to would I recommend Norwegian if you have dietary issues or allergies? A resounding Yes!! The staff was wonderful. I can’t recommend the chefs enough. I certainly challenged them all week, and they came through with flying colors! If you decide to cruise with them, or any cruise line, here are a few tips:
- make sure you alert the special needs department at least 30 days before you sail so they have enough special items on board
- don’t be afraid to speak up about your dietary needs
- make sure to reiterate your issues in each restaurant you visit-sometimes there is miscommunication as I found out when I was served gluten free cheese rolls
- work with the staff to find dishes that can be modified. They can’t modify everything but they will try to accommodate you
- if you are in a suite, and you are not satisfied, call the hotel manger. Once I did this, it was like I became a celebrity
- do your research on all cruise lines you are considering. Some are better than others in accommodating food issues
- if you ge seasick, it might be gluten or dairy intolerance. Take bonine (less drowsy) but watch your diet as well
Don’t forget to have fun and relax! We had a wonderful time and we would do it again in a heartbeat!