Gluten-Free Dining on a Royal Caribbean Cruise

The first time I set sail on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, I had been gluten-free for three months and hadn’t cruised in over ten years. On the rough November waters in Miami, it felt like my seas legs — and my stomach — had abandoned me. I wasn’t sure what I could eat, if I could eat.

My dinner reservation was at Chops Grille, an American-style steakhouse. Steak seemed like a safe bet. I let my server know that I was gluten-free and she surprised me with a basket of gluten-free bread, an option I didn’t know was available.

This was a shining moment in my dining experience on this one-night cruise.

Shannon Morgan Royal Caribbean Miami

Me, on board “Grandeur of the Seas,” squinting against the setting Miami sun.

Fast forward to July and my second one-night cruise to nowhere with Royal Caribbean, this time, sailing from Baltimore, Maryland.

Since I didn’t have to fly to Miami for this trip, I was able to board the ship earlier in the day and enjoy lunch at the Windjammer cafe. I was pleasantly surprised to see food allergens labeled throughout the buffet. It took a bit of deciphering to understand which foods met my dietary restrictions but I was happy that I could eat more than just fruit and salad.

Food Allergy Sign Royal Caribbean

Our dinner reservation for this trip was at a Giovanni’s Table, a family-style Italian restaurant. I was not optimistic about my options at what I thought would be a pasta-centric meal. But again, I was pleasantly surprised. The chef took great care to serve me gluten-free versions of the dishes that our table ordered.

In the seven months in between cruises, Royal Caribbean made significant strides in addressing the dietary needs of their passengers. They want their guests to have a safe dining experience and I think they are taking steps in the right direction.

I also think there is room for improvement.

I am gluten-free by choice because my daughter is allergic to wheat. I do not worry about cross-contamination or hidden allergens in the food that I eat (I certainly would for my daughter, though).

I can’t imagine that the Grandeur of the Seas kitchen is gluten-free. Or nut-free. Or allergen-free. I don’t know how it could be with so many different options on board.

Gluten Free Giovannis Table Royal Caribbean

This lamb dish is the house specialty at Giovanni’s Table. It was prepared gluten-free.

There are most certainly options for travelers with an intolerance to gluten, or other foods, on board a Royal Caribbean cruise. As with any vacation, travelers with severe food allergies should decide for themselves if they feel safe dining on a cruise ship.

Have you taken your food allergy family on a cruise? Please share your story with me in the comments below.

To read more about my cruise on the Chesapeake Bay, check out my guest post on Drive the District.

Transportation to and from the Port of Baltimore was provided by the GM Northeast team. Accommodations and dining aboard Grandeur of the Seas were provided by Royal Caribbean International and Weber Shandwick. All opinions expressed are my own.

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