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Dining with Allergies/Dietary Concerns

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Hello All - you are probably tired of seeing me post on this forum..sorry, as a first time cruiser (since I was 5 anyway), I have so many questions. Going on Anthem of the Seas for a 9 day cruise.

 

I have booked the "my time dining" at the buffets. **** Except one night at Solarium because it was complimentary. I have been reading through posts/reviews and a lot of people say the food in the buffets is not that good/have gotten food poisoning. I have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), lactose-intolerance, and have allergies to things like foods with preservatives  (e.g. powdered eggs). I have already emailed special needs and they have marked me as "disabled with allergies", per the invoice I received. I'm wondering if I should fork up the extra cash for the specialty restaurants, hoping that the chance for an issue will be lower at the expensive restaurant than at the buffet? I read one review that said they had a companion with allergies, who alerted staff, but was ignored and became ill from the food. I've looked at a few menus and the restaurants seem exotic for my stomach, to be honest. So I don't want to pay to go to a nice restaurant and then get plain pasta or something for $50. Also, to add a kicker to this, I cannot eat RAW vegetables, so that reduces my options. Thanks for the tips!

 

****sorry to be confusing. Apparently, the my time dining is NOT a buffet, which I did not know. I thought my time dining was a buffet and that was why it was complimentary.

Edited by resjes
limit confusion!

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7 minutes ago, resjes said:

Hello All - you are probably tired of seeing me post on this forum..sorry, as a first time cruiser (since I was 5 anyway), I have so many questions. Going on Anthem of the Seas for a 9 day cruise.

 

I have booked the "my time dining" at the buffets. Except one night at Solarium because it was complimentary. I have been reading through posts/reviews and a lot of people say the food in the buffets is not that good/have gotten food poisoning. I have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), lactose-intolerance, and have allergies to things like foods with preservatives  (e.g. powdered eggs). I have already emailed special needs and they have marked me as "disabled with allergies", per the invoice I received. I'm wondering if I should fork up the extra cash for the specialty restaurants, hoping that the chance for an issue will be lower at the expensive restaurant than at the buffet? I read one review that said they had a companion with allergies, who alerted staff, but was ignored and became ill from the food. I've looked at a few menus and the restaurants seem exotic for my stomach, to be honest. So I don't want to pay to go to a nice restaurant and then get plain pasta or something for $50. Also, to add a kicker to this, I cannot eat RAW vegetables, so that reduces my options. Thanks for the tips!

 

Why limit yourself to the WJ.  My recommendation is traditional or my time dining in the MDR.  My wife who is diabetic, spoke with the Head Waiter each night and went over the following night's menu and discussed which foods or special order that could me made either low salt or no salt at all.  One night she planned French Onion Soup and she said even though it lacked salt, it was very good.  I have the same symptoms, but not as bad as you and was able to manage by being careful as to volume and type of foods.  Had occasions where I had to run to the bathroom.

Edited by nelblu

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1 minute ago, nelblu said:

 

Why limit yourself to the WJ.  My recommendation is traditional dining in the MDR.  My wife who is diabetic spoke with the Head Waiter each night and went over the following night's menu and discussed which foods or special order that could me made either low salt or no salt at all.  One night she planned French Onion Soup and she said even though it lacked salt, it was very good.  I have the same symptoms, but not as bad as you and was able to manage by being careful as to volume and type of foods.  Had occasions where I had to run to the bathroom.

It says on my cruise planner that "my time dining" is in the main dining room. Is that the Windjammer? I thought the Windjammer was another area to eat that wasn't on the cruise planner? Or am I confused with Two70?

 

How easy is it to flag down the Head Waiter? I don't want to be that obnoxious person but as you said, running to the bathroom is no fun either. I have difficulty with holding it in if I eat trigger foods. In your experience, are certain restaurants more flexible with adjusting for your/your wife's diet?

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I agree with nelblu. If you eat in the MDR you should have better luck getting what you need. The Windjammer is a buffet, with the food prepared for the masses. Although the MDR is similar, they will work with you to make sure you have what you need. Last year we traveled with my parents and my father's gout acted up, that meant going low sodium. It wasn't part of the original plan. They had him order the night before and made what he wanted low sodium. By the end of the cruise he was back eating normally.

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1 minute ago, resjes said:

It says on my cruise planner that "my time dining" is in the main dining room. Is that the Windjammer? I thought the Windjammer was another area to eat that wasn't on the cruise planner? Or am I confused with Two70?

 

How easy is it to flag down the Head Waiter? I don't want to be that obnoxious person but as you said, running to the bathroom is no fun either. I have difficulty with holding it in if I eat trigger foods. In your experience, are certain restaurants more flexible with adjusting for your/your wife's diet?

The Windjammer is the buffet, located on the pool deck. My time dinning is in the MDR, usually a different deck than the fixed seating. Just tell the waitstaff about your needs and they will get the headwaiter for you. This is part of their job and they will not think that you are a pain to do this.

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2 minutes ago, WisconsinFan said:

I agree with nelblu. If you eat in the MDR you should have better luck getting what you need. The Windjammer is a buffet, with the food prepared for the masses. Although the MDR is similar, they will work with you to make sure you have what you need. Last year we traveled with my parents and my father's gout acted up, that meant going low sodium. It wasn't part of the original plan. They had him order the night before and made what he wanted low sodium. By the end of the cruise he was back eating normally.

So the "my time dining" that I signed up for on my cruise planner is in the MDR, according to the description. I did not know that had wait staff. So the Windjammer and Two70 are buffet? The MDR is NOT buffet, only wait staffed tables?

I just saw your other post..can't delete!

Edited by resjes

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Yes, the MDR has waitstaff who will do everything possible to make sure you have the best vacation ever and is part of your cruise fare. My Time and Fixed seating in the MDR. You can make reservations for My Time with the same waitstaff if you like. The Windjammer is the buffet and is big, but no one to wait on you- which is fine for breakfast, I guess, but on vacation I like to be waited on 🙂 The MDR also has breakfast and lunch, just look at the Cruise Compass for hours. No lunch on port days. The Solarium on Harmony was a buffet as well. I am not familiar with 270 as I haven't been on Anthem.

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I have travelled with people with allergies.  I definitely agree that the main dining room is the best place for you.  The head waiter and waiter both provided my friend with a menu for the next night and discussed what he could and couldn't eat. They also discussed with the chef to see what could be substituted etc.

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Just now, resjes said:

It says on my cruise planner that "my time dining" is in the main dining room. Is that the Windjammer? I thought the Windjammer was another area to eat that wasn't on the cruise planner? Or am I confused with Two70?

 

How easy is it to flag down the Head Waiter? I don't want to be that obnoxious person but as you said, running to the bathroom is no fun either. I have difficulty with holding it in if I eat trigger foods. In your experience, are certain restaurants more flexible with adjusting for your/your wife's diet?

 

The WJ is buffet style dining for breakfast, lunch & dinner.  MTD and traditional are in the Main Dining Room.  Try MDR for breakfast and lunch only on sea days.  2X70 is another dining  venue, but the selections are not as plentiful as the WJ or MDR.  If you can manage try the special beef sandwich that is famous on RCL.

 

Very easy to meet the Head Waiter--just introduce yourself the 1st night and you go from there.  Also, make any requests to your table waiter.

 

I've found, especially on the Anthem, that they are very accommodating.  Remember, the age group that is sailing as they have many ailments.   Also, examine the menus.  Menus are listed by the dining rooms--examine and see what dishes you can manage and that they can be adjusted to your needs.

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7 minutes ago, WisconsinFan said:

One other thought, you maybe able to alert them to you dietary needs by filling out this form- go the bottom for the open response where you can list your dietary needs: https://secure.royalcaribbean.com/allaboutcruising/guestSpecialNeeds.do

Already did this form 🙂 that is how they marked me as disabled, as I have a few other medical needs unrelated to dietary issues...

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Glad you found the form earlier....sometimes it is hard to find things you need! That is why I am glad that there are helpful people on this forum (you can ignore the Trolls on some threads!). Hope you are getting the information you need. I have found the staff in the MDR on all the ships we have sailed willing to make your experience the best possible.

 

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4 minutes ago, WisconsinFan said:

Glad you found the form earlier....sometimes it is hard to find things you need! That is why I am glad that there are helpful people on this forum (you can ignore the Trolls on some threads!). Hope you are getting the information you need. I have found the staff in the MDR on all the ships we have sailed willing to make your experience the best possible.

 

Yes, this forum has given me sooo much info!! I will note that the special needs department marked me as disabled without me telling them, which I hope doesn't prevent me from doing things..because I'm not physically disabled, per-say..

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You probably don't need the Head Waiter...any Ass't Head Waiter should be able to discuss your dietary needs and contact the chef as required to ensure you are provided foods that are ok for you. You can also discuss breakfast and lunch food needs and requirements. If the MDR is closed for lunch (port days) they can also put in lunch orders for the Windjammer which will be referenced to your room number...this works best if done from the MDR at the end of dinner the night before.

 

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I suggest you change your dining to fixed time (either early or late, depending on your preference). In that way, you will have same table each evening, and same waitstaff, who will quickly learn your requirements and meet them.

 

Others have suggested that if you have MTD, you can request the same table/waitstaff each night, & that's true, but it's easier just to go with fixed when you want to be sure to have the same staff - the ones who know your needs (likely from completing the form, they will already know before you first meet them). And no, you do not have to pay extra and do specialty dining to have you needs met.

 

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1 hour ago, resjes said:

Yes, this forum has given me sooo much info!! I will note that the special needs department marked me as disabled without me telling them, which I hope doesn't prevent me from doing things..because I'm not physically disabled, per-say..

 

Don't be scared off about going to the Windjammer buffet.  Anthem has a huge gluten free area that will cook to order whatever you need.  It has premade items also that are marked dairy free or nut free, etc.  The area is all the way in the back of the WJ.  Check it out and ask for a chef so you can discuss your needs.

 

You will be fine with MTD too as they will assign you the same waitstaff each night and the head waiter will talk to you the night before to have you order ready for the next day.  Cafe 270 does have items that are gluten free. not sure about dairy free but it is all in a separate case at the end of the sandwich line, before you get to the salad bar.

 

Anthem handles allergies really well.  Don't be afraid to ask for what you need.

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We have sailed on 2 cruise lines with food allergies.  We will be on a Royal ship for the first time soon, and I can report back with our experience.

 

On other cruise lines we noted the allergy in the reservation in advance, specifically listing the allergens.  Sometimes there was a form to complete and submit, sometimes not.  We always booked regular dining, because it was the only option.  I sent an email to Royal's special needs department to note the allergy and they responded that they strongly recommend regular dining, not My Time, so you have the same serving team each night.  I know others say you can schedule reservations at the same time each night and request the same serving team, but with food allergies you don't want to mess around, especially with life-threatening allergies.  Again, I am 100% sure someone will chime in and say this isn't necessary and they booked My Time and were fine.  Great for them.  I am not taking risks with my child's life.

 

When we board, we go to a head server either in the dining room or the buffet and talk to them about the allergy.  They make sure it is in the reservation that is seen on the dining team's end.  Usually we hear that the first night's service will be a little slow as they have to prepare my daughter's meal in a safe area.  

 

At the end of dinner they bring the menu for the next night and my daughter chooses her meal.  Then when we go to eat, her food is ready with all of our food.  They have safe bread on the table, and prepare a safe dessert.  

 

We usually find a head server in the buffet and have him or her walk us through the buffet and point out safe food.  We tend to eat at the buffet for breakfast, and for lunch my daughter eats pasta, which does not contain her allergens.

 

I am hopeful that our experience on Royal will be similar.

 

My advice is to change to regular dining, and talk to someone in the main dining room on the day you board.  They will make sure you have safe meals.  If you do go to the buffet, talk to a head server who can find a chef to walk you through the buffet and point out safe options.  They also may offer to make you something safe in the allergy kitchen.

 

Be proactive, and don't assume that anyone knows about your allergies.  That seems to be the biggest mistake people make.  I have spoken to families who felt that their allergies were not handled well, and it turns out they never mentioned the allergies other than noting them in the reservation.  Talk to people, ask questions, and be aware of what you are eating.  If you say you are allergic to dairy and someone offers you a cheese sandwich, talk to someone else.  

 

Hopefully you are well-versed in dining out with allergies, so this is just normal protocol to you.  

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With the severity of your issues, I suggest that you never eat at the  buffet.  While the staff may guide you to the correct  foods for your needs, other passengers  may  unknowingly transfer serving tongs and contaminate your food.  

 

We did a galley tour and they are very concerned about those with food allegories.   I was amazed at the separate food prep stations for various food allergies. ( e.i. gluten free) .  Unless you want specialty dining, the dining room should meet your needs.  It will be open for breakfast every day, lunch on sea days, and dinner every night. 

 

Since  you  write that you have not cruised in many years and had the confusion with dining (not knowing the difference  in the buffet and seated dining),  I suggest you contact your travel agent for some basic cruise  information.   Cruising now requires some advanced  planning.  Some ships require  show or activity  reservations.   Your travel agent should guide you.    If not, continue to ask on these boards, and I think there is a first time cruiser thread.  

 

good luck

M

 

 

Edited by cruisegirl1

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8 hours ago, cruisegirl1 said:

Since  you  write that you have not cruised in many years and had the confusion with dining (not knowing the difference  in the buffet and seated dining),  I suggest you contact your travel agent for some basic cruise  information.   Cruising now requires some advanced  planning.  Some ships require  show or activity  reservations.   Your travel agent should guide you.    If not, continue to ask on these boards, and I think there is a first time cruiser thread.  

 

good luck

M

 

 

I did this reservation without a travel agent. Thanks to these boards, I was able to locate the special needs email, remove excursions from the cruise planner, and now I'm learning about the differences between complimentary food on the cruise. I will definitely take the suggestion to hunt down the Head Waiter.

 

Also. I did make reservations for the shows on the sea days as I knew I needed activities on those days. 🙂

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12 minutes ago, resjes said:

I did this reservation without a travel agent. Thanks to these boards, I was able to locate the special needs email, remove excursions from the cruise planner, and now I'm learning about the differences between complimentary food on the cruise. I will definitely take the suggestion to hunt down the Head Waiter.

 

Also. I did make reservations for the shows on the sea days as I knew I needed activities on those days. 🙂

 

 

Don't write off tours/excursions either thru RCL or some independent source.  Simply choose those that occur in the AM and then go dining on the ship.  As mentioned, I have IBS and are very selective in dining prior to touring.  I also take with me

paper seat cover for sanitary reasons, if needed.

 

Ps.  When I golf and have an early AM reservations, I basically don't eat anything until I complete the round and get home.  There's basically no medication available and I've learned to manage it.

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11 hours ago, cruisegirl1 said:

With the severity of your issues, I suggest that you never eat at the  buffet.  While the staff may guide you to the correct  foods for your needs, other passengers  may  unknowingly transfer serving tongs and contaminate your food.  

 

This is soooo true!  I got so mad on my last cruise.  The guy in front of me took the tongs that he just used for Shrimp and picked up chicken then put them back in the shrimp.  I told the staff but they didn't seem concerned.  I do not have a Shellfish allergy but have some close friends that do.  I was so annoyed!  I wanted to say something to the guy but my husband wouldn't let me.

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Those posting about cross contamination in the WIndjammer have obviously never cruised on Anthem.  The OP can get food that has never even been available for others to cross contaminate.  There is a completely separate area at the absolute back of the WJ that the OP should check out and decide for themselves whether they are comfortable with the setup.

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2 hours ago, nelblu said:

 

 

Don't write off tours/excursions either thru RCL or some independent source.  Simply choose those that occur in the AM and then go dining on the ship.  As mentioned, I have IBS and are very selective in dining prior to touring.

I have one or two excursions. Both happen to start in the morning or shortly after the cruise ports. I agree - no food in the morning is probably the best bet to avoid the typical IBS symptoms...it is horrible what we go through! Part of the reason I picked this as my vacation this year was so that I could be near a toilet 😕

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I am gluten-free and have a mayo allergy, I have traveled on two cruises and both times, the MDR was the best option for me to eat at.  I would order my meals for breakfast and dinner for the next day the night before after I had eaten dinner.  It was so easy and so convenient! All the waitstaff was great! Breakfast in the MDR is a great option!! 

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1 minute ago, mtvagirl said:

I am gluten-free and have a mayo allergy, I have traveled on two cruises and both times, the MDR was the best option for me to eat at.  I would order my meals for breakfast and dinner for the next day the night before after I had eaten dinner.  It was so easy and so convenient! All the waitstaff was great! Breakfast in the MDR is a great option!! 

I also have a mayo allergy/intolerance. I don't know if it's the dairy or what it is but I've had it for awhile. I hate the taste anyway. I'm thinking of giving the Head Waiter a list of things I can't eat and a list of things I can eat..it is obnoxious but the easiest way to do things.

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