Posted April 20th, 2014, 11:06 PM
I'll begin by saying I haven't read the entire 5-year old thread.
Also, although I don't have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, my dear friend (and travel agent) does. I've traveled with her many times and have learned a lot from her about how to enjoy cruising while eating gluten free. (I also love to cook and bake, so I've learned to bake some goodies for her as well.) She was diagnosed 7 years ago and cruises several times a year. She has NEVER been sick while cruising because she follows some of the advice I've read here, and also learned a few tricks of her own.
As has been noted, some lines are better than others at providing a happy culinary experience for GF customers. Some of the ships in a line are better than others, as I read of Driftwood's experience on RCCL's Jewel. Still, RCCL/Celebrity were better at it earlier than most of the rest. Their regular dining room menus, which everyone receives, are coded for gluten, lactose, sugar and vegetarian needs. Nice start.
Hats off to the member who advised starting your trip by choosing a particular table in the dining room and always eating there. I might also suggest befriending the maitre d' in that dining room FIRST. S/he can help select the best service team for you, the one who knows the dishes best and can tell you if the sauces and other ingredients are appropriate or not, as well as if that team is willing to ASK if they don't know. The maitre d' will know who's a little too lazy and might just say, "It's okay" and not understand that a little flour can cause a night of agony.
That maitre d' can also do things like help you get cheesecake for tomorrow night's dessert when GF cheesecake isn't a usual dessert item. Hey, if you don't ask, you don't get, right? Sometimes a dish that's not typically GF can be made GF if you ask, or can be ready for you the next evening. (Sometimes they just can't make it to their standards and will tell you "Sorry, no.") The maitre d' can also connect you with managers who can help you find out what's okay to eat at other venues on the ship, such as the poolside grills, etc. (The burgers are great! Don't miss the hot dogs, either.)
I've seen buffet managers escorting people in the buffets, pointing to appropriate dishes to enjoy, but it does take time and you have to be patient for the buffet. I do see GF waffles and pancakes offered at the buffet at breakfast on Celebrity ships. They're prepared on dedicated grills in the kitchen, not out front with the rest of the regular stuff. Same goes for the GF toast, etc.
This is Celebrity I'm talking about, because it's the only line I've witnessed operating like this. I can't say others might not as well. There's more to my friend's bag of tricks, but I've run out of time and you're probably getting eye fatigue if you held out this long.
Sun Line Stella Solaris '80- Eastern Mediterranean
Carnival Celebration '92- Eastern Caribbean
Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas '01
Coral Princess '04- Alaska
Coral Princess '07- Panama Canal
Norwegian Spirit, Western Caribbean, February 1 '09
Celebrity Solstice, Eastern Mediterranean, October 30 '09
Oceania Regatta, Western Mediterranean, November, 2010
Celebrity Summit, Southern Caribbean, January '11
Celebrity Summit, Southern Caribbean, January '12
Celebrity Equinox, Norway, August 31, '13
Celebrity Reflection, Caribbean, February 1, '14
Oceania Marina, Spotlight on New Zealand (Papeete to Sydney; Sydney to Auckland