A Disney Cruise with Food Allergies
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Last year my parents decided they wanted to take our family on vacation. My dad has recently been on several cruises and wanted to take our family on a cruise. Of course it sounded exciting…. until I realized that would mean we would be trapped on a boat in the middle of the ocean and totally reliant on someone else making our food for every meal. I told him it was not an option. We spent months coming up with other vacation ideas, but I felt disappointed that we wouldn’t ever be able to cruise with our family.
Then one day someone was talking about a Disney Cruise and I remembered what an incredible experience we had at Disney about a year before. I started Googling to see what others with food allergies had to say about Disney Cruises. As a whole, it was very positive. I was told Disney was the “Gold Standard” for food allergies. I took a deep breath and decided we should take a chance.
There was a great deal of excitement and anticipation in the months preparing for our cruise, but there was an equal amount of worry and anxiety. I tried my best to prepare in every way possible. We bought cruise insurance to make sure we were covered if we had to life flight off the boat. I called Disney Cruise Line multiple times to be sure his account was flagged as someone with food allergies. I asked how the dining would work, and if we could bring food into the ports. We packed 3 sets of Epi-Pens, and plenty of Benadryl. I had half a suitcase full of food just in case he couldn’t eat something, including a lot of treats since I knew there probably wouldn’t be much available in that department. I also prepared my son by explaining how there would probably be many times he would not be able to eat what others were eating and he had to be okay with it.
I had no idea how amazing this trip would be. The first meal on the ship we had to fend for ourselves a bit, but we found a hamburger grill and told them about our allergies. They checked with the chef to make sure it was free of eggs, dairy and nuts and gave us the okay. They took us very seriously when we said we had food allergies. It was so nice to see that they clearly understood the severity of the issue. Our son was beaming over his burger and it was just the first of a whole week of incredible experiences that only got better as each day passed!
That night for dinner we went to our assigned restaurant and met our waiters. They were our waiters for the entire cruise. They met us each night and were very aware of our needs. They said our food was checked by the chef and the head waiter before it came to our son to be sure it was safe. We pre-ordered our food for the next day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We picked things off the menu and they altered ingredients as needed to make sure it was safe.
For breakfast they made egg and dairy free pancakes and gave him heaps of bacon. One day they asked if he would like pastries for breakfast and the next two days they came out with a whole plate full of safe pastries that were really good! They even had soy milk for his cereal! And of course we initially thought dessert was out of the question, but they had smoothies, jello, Enjoy Life cookies, and even specially made cakes covered in raspberry sauce whipped up by the chef just for him.
I was nearly in tears with gratitude at several meals that week. We have never been treated with such kindness and watchful care as we were there. My son has never felt so included at a restaurant in his life. He was more than included, he was pampered! The sheer happiness was evident in the huge smile on his face at every meal.
At the ports we couldn’t take food off the ship so we played at the beach and went back to the boat for lunch before heading out to play some more. At the Disney owned island, Castaway Cay, the food was included and the head waiter from our dining group met us at a restaurant on the island to bring us our son’s pre-ordered lunch.
We had an incredible trip. It was so much fun. The entertainment was kid-friendly and there were a million activities to do on the ship. Our kids have been asking us when we get to go on the next Disney Cruise. My son says it was the best vacation he has ever been on. I for one, had an amazing time on the ship, but the most amazing part was that it was the first vacation when at mealtime I could think about the fun more than the restrictions of food allergies. Thank you Disney, I don’t think it could have been a more magical experience.