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B2B Monarch/Brilliance with A SOY DAIRY GLUTEN CORN SUGAR FREE KID*ALLERGIC TO CRAB*

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Monarch of the Seas - Jan 7th - 11th 2013

Brilliance of the Seas - Jan 12th - 19th 2013

 

Here we go - I want to warn you all in advance, this is going to take some time to get out together, I have over 2000 photos/documents to scan and up load!

 

This was our 2nd cruise on RCL - and things did not turn out quite the way one would have assumed when we booked this trip over two years ago after our TA on the LOS in April 2011.

 

About me - I have a background in travel - working for agencies, airlines, hotels and what not. So sometimes I look at things from a professional view. I am now a SAHM, with decorates cakes as a hobby.

 

My husband, well.. he is a STAR for putting up not only with me, but my obsession with food photos and travel!

 

My daughter is 7 has had a life long history of food allergies. She outgrew many of them, but in the past year as started to grow into new ones. As well as having some other funky things going on which we are waiting for test results. The end result is my daughter right now is unable to tolerate the following food groups - DAIRY/SOY/CORN/GLUTEN/SUGAR/FOOD DYES/PEANUTS-LEGUMES/FOOD PRESERVATIVES. We only just got egg back into her diet prior to our trip.

 

We are traveling with my wonderful IL. My FIL is a Celiac and my MIL has a allergy to Mushrooms.

 

**DISCLAIMER** I am not a MD, I am not seeking medical advise, or views, or even thoughts about my daughters allergic history.

 

The original trip was set up so that we could do a few days at Universal Studios prior, with my IL. But my mother fell very ill this year, and so budget adjustments had to be made, as we made quite a few trips home to Canada. We cancelled Universal, downgraded from Jr. Suites to insides - etc. Then about a month prior to our trip my daughter started to get ill. We spoke about cancelling it - due to the many restrictions my daughter had on her diet, but because the trip was with my IL who live far away - we proceeded with it. We made sure to include our daughter into this decision knowing that she would be most affected due to her food restrictions.

 

I was also VERY scared about how the ship was going to be able to feed her - and what they would be able to feed her. I knew she would not be able to be on her rotation diet like at home, due to the lack of choices.

 

I printed off her food restrictions - (five pages) made copies and went off with a sadden heart and a bag full of Epipens.

 

Here is our story..

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My goal this trip was to UNDER PACK. Once again, EPIC FAIL.

 

I pre booked and paid for SUPER SHUTTLE - they arrived on time, and the driver was very professional. We booked a shared ride, but we lucked out and had the transfer alone.

 

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This was my daughters first time walking out to a flight, and she loved it!

 

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Flying OLD SCHOOL - just missing the hat box, sunglasses and scarf!

 

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Ready to go!

 

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We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel LAX - after a short flight from our home.

 

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The room was very nicely appointed, but the guest check in agent was less then helpful and boarded on rudeness. I had gift cards, and I wanted to pre pay for the room - in order to save time in the AM (very early flight). She refused to do so, and said it was not possible. (I do this ALL THE TIME). I stood my ground, and was finally able to access out room, and in short time our bed! (It was a night flight)

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And we are off!

 

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My IL rented a house on Melbourne Beach. It was $1600 a week, access to the ocean, slept 8, and had two bedrooms. I wish I had pix of the inside, but we were only their for one night before they had to check out. It was a nice location - with a great courtyard. You could bring pets (we did not) and you could hear the waves crashing all night long.

 

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The view from across the road.

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Monarch of the Seas - Jan 7th - 11th 2013

Brilliance of the Seas - Jan 12th - 19th 2013

 

 

My daughter is 7 has had a life long history of food allergies. She outgrew many of them, but in the past year as started to grow into new ones. As well as having some other funky things going on which we are waiting for test results. The end result is my daughter right now is unable to tolerate the following food groups - DAIRY/SOY/CORN/GLUTEN/SUGAR/FOOD DYES/PEANUTS-LEGUMES/FOOD PRESERVATIVES. We only just got egg back into her diet prior to our trip.

 

 

The original trip was set up so that we could do a few days at Universal Studios prior, with my IL.

 

I was also VERY scared about how the ship was going to be able to feed her - and what they would be able to feed her. I knew she would not be able to be on her rotation diet like at home, due to the lack of choices.

 

.

 

Looking forward to your full review. Your daughter’s food allergies seem severe. I have to wonder about the planned Universal trip and how would the food situation be handled for that type of vacation. Seems their food is often mass produced and pre made and it might be impossible to really know what is in every option.

 

Do you travel often and how is the food allergy situation handled at other places?

 

Perhaps in your review, you can compare the cruise action/reaction/accommodations/ to other travel situations.

 

Thanks.

M

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FOOD Allergies -

 

Right now my daughter has tested positive for a IeG mediated allergies to Shellfish which we carry Epipens for. The other once we are avoiding are do to other medical issues. We are still waiting test results to confirm if they are IeG or coming from a leaking gut/celiac/yeast overgrowth/other medical issues. We have a slew of medical appointments set up for the next six weeks.

 

Having done Disney/Seaworld/Legoland with a food allergic child I have a good handle on how they would have been handled at the resort/park. ;) About the same way the cruise line handled it. I learned ALOT over the part two weeks from the ship, on how the foods are handled. ;-) Produced and labeled. Also, how much/or little they were willing to do.

 

BEST MEALS - my daughter has had? Legoland SoCAL - the PARK Chef made safe french fries for her, and carried them across the park. Tabletop restaurant in Niagara Falls Canada. The Chef went beyond and even carved little animals for my daughter out of pears!

 

Most locations have a guide book/binder at every station - where you can see what ingredients are in the menus. With Emily - or with any multiple food restriction - you can't really eat much as they are almost pre made, and with out a doubt it will have some sort of dairy/corn/soy/gluten in it.

 

In North America, we only label eight priority allergens, and corn is not yet one of them. (12 in other parts of the world). If there is no label, we do not eat it if its not a "whole food".

 

We did a Disney cruise line Dairy Free/Mustard Free - and it was good.

 

Carnival we have done with Shellfish - so that was a easy one.

 

Royal - we have done "normal" and now with multiple restrictions. I will give my final review after each ship. ;)

 

Yes, we travel quite a bit with our daughter and yes, my daughter has had to be hospitalized for a ANA reaction. (Jamaica, FDR Resort - review on another site which starts with a T.

 

We have as a family traveled a fair amount. Emily is now old enough to start to accompany me when I visit/speak to chefs, resorts, etc regarding her food issues (if we have any at the time of travel). She knows I make booklets, send ahead documents and contact hotels in advance. I also have research medical/hospital locations and levels prior to making any travel bookings. (when she was -3 mostly).

 

Mistakes have been made, but we still keep on trucking.

 

And yes, we have (or rather I have) taken alot of flack for traveling with a allergic child.. over the years. I just brush is off, and think of a few choice words I would like to share with them... :rolleyes:

Edited by foxesden1

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We transferred the next day to the Best Western Inn COCOA Beach area. It was NOT the one on the pier, but rather beside the highway with a FENCE that locked you in a night. (Very uneasy when we first arrived let me tell you). We paid $63.00 a night, which included breakfast, a BBQ area, internet access, and a gift bag on check in. Its 12miles away from the port, so a little off the beaten path. We meet people from all over the USA and Canada, many of whom were also cruising out the next day. We paid extra to have a fridge, and a microwave, so I could make my daughters food. Its far to stressful to go out to dine when you are dealing with multiple food restrictions. We had to provide our own matches, charcoal, and fuel. We also brought tin foil to cook our food on - as the paint was peeling off the grills. The pool was small, outdoors, and was NOT HEATED!

 

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We drove the short drive to the pier to watch the ships sail away. (under 15min drive).

 

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You could fish off of the pier for a $1.00 a person.

 

 

 

Next time we come I would pay the $20 extra to stay at the BEST WESTERN COCOA beach - Oceanfront. (My FIL used points, so he picked out hotel. Nothing wrong with it at all, but I just love the sound of the waves crashing.. )

 

My daughter REALLY WANTED to go ZIP LINING but she is only 43pounds, so she could not do it on our trip. We saw a sign from the highway posted for Treetop Trek - and they had a kids zip line! So we packed up the car and away we went!

 

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Monarch of the Seas - Jan 7th - 11th, 2013. (4 night)

 

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FIRST ONES!

 

My IL dropped of us at the port at 9am - they had to return rental car, and load up with their baggage! (Needless to say, we HAD ALOT OF STUFF between the five of us for 2 weeks!

 

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This was our 2nd time sailing out of PC - the first time was on the Disney Wonder many years ago. We were berthed next door to her.

 

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7th inline, but about 100th on board.. once 11:30 hit.. I will tell you what happened..

 

I went LEFT rather then RIGHT..

 

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Don't do that.. :rolleyes:

 

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Sat in my seat, thinking I was first to board.. LOL

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11:30 and everyone started to board.. from BOTH ends of the terminal. We arrived at the gate to a traffic jam - pixs being taking, security and children's wrist band pickup!

 

And then..

 

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We have arrived.. and its..

 

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CHRISTMAS??????????????

 

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I had some running around to do.. cancelling shore excursions (tried to cancel four days before our cruise and it was too late.. )meeting the Chef in the dining room, windjammer, dropping off Miss Em's diet restrictions, etc. So my husband went up on deck to find a spot for us.

 

My IL had still not boarded at this point.

 

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Please note the "THIS CRUISE ONLY SIGN.." LOL somehow I doubt that..

 

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I never noticed LOS having these signs, so I took a pix. I thought it was kinda cool.

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Miss Em's lunch. The cucumbers and tomatoes were a treat. The roast beef, of course, my daughter did not eat. So rice, and salad were it for lunch. Miss Em also has to eat a low GI diet, so she gets really hungry and eats many small meals during the day. This was VERY hard to do on the ship due to her restrictions. Very little selection/choice (understandable). I had a stash of snacks for her -but again.. two weeks of the same selection gets old very fast. AND because my daughter has cruised before, she was very aware of all the food she was not able to eat. We did our best the first few days to keep her out of the Wndjammer - I would go in and select her foods, so she would not be upset. Little did I realize was a super kid I had. And how proud I would be of her again and again on this trip.

 

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Honey-stung chicken for me..

 

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Outside Windjammer Jade had a table set up, they were selling classes in Sushi making for $25. Both my mother and I make our own, so we passed.

 

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Free Champs if you booked in for the first night dining at Jade. We passed.

 

And then 1pm hit and we could access our ROOMS!

 

Our outside closet, deck 8 - with a obstructed view. We were located at the end of the hallway, but the disco entrance. Most nights it was very quite, but for the last one. It was handy having a extra head just outside of our room.

 

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This stateroom felt like a 1/4 of the size we had on LOS (AFT D1 I think?) and about a 1/3 bigger then the inside we had on Carnival Inspiration!

 

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When we arrived in our cabin - I noticed the fridge we requested for my daughters meds did not arrive (seems they don't have them on board?) so our stateroom attended (lovely girl) arranged to have two full buckets of ice. (Maybe more.. because it never seemed to melt.. :D. So unlike our last cruise where we got TWO BUCKETS of ice in TWO WEEKS, on the SAME DAY! :rolleyes: (LOS TA review)

 

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This was our 2nd cruise on Royal, so we were GOLD. And our first invite!

 

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All three coupon books were in our room - waiting for us!

 

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Our SMALL HEAD.. LOL

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I went to the dining room, to check on our table next. I had sent in a email requesting a table for five with a window. We were pleased.

 

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I tried to hunt down the Chef, but he was not in the kitchen, so I left Miss Em's papers and was told to speak to the head waiter when we arrived at dinner.

 

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I have to say, all the restaurant managers were great with our requests. Everyone seemed to know who I was, and what foods Miss Em could and could not eat. I was over all pleased with how the food was handled on the ship. (Not everyone on the staff had a understanding about allergies, and what foods are made of.. or that Gluten FREE would not work for us, as it had CORN in it.. ). It took two days to finally track down the bacon and too see what it was cured with.. (corn of course.. LOL). Having dealt with "hidden allergens before" I have learned, no label, no eat. When asking what was in the bacon, I was was told.. BACON. When I further pushed my request to see labels - I was told everything came in pre packaged, no labels, no writing on the boxes.. ready made.. (please note READY MADE was a term I heard quite a few times.. not quite the SCRATCH cooking they talk about on the menu, or on the TV shows..

 

So quickly I assessed that meals on the ship would be basic, clean, (whole foods) with very little steps to prepare them. (less chance for errors to be made then).

 

My daughter ended up with a very basic, easy menu - for the next four days on the Monarch.

 

Dinner would be RICE pasta (NOTE Gluten Free - on Royal does not mean RICE - it means CORN, and other like grains may be used. Its totally fine if you are avoiding GLUTEN but not so great if you are avoiding corn.. so no bread, baked goods, soups, gravy, sauces, etc. ) Olive Oil, Fresh Lemon, Raw Carrots, Broccoli, and either Salmon or Ground Beef (from the dining room - the other locations are processed ready made, not labels and lots of additives. I was told they would not be a option for us.

 

Breakfast would be plan rice congee (rice. water. salt (sea salt as table salt has corn in it). And a fried egg, (olive oil). We had only JUST gotten eggs back, and I was very thankful for that. By the end of the cruise my DD was eating upwards of three or four a day. :(

 

Lunch would be the reverse of dinner. But I have to say, LUNCH is where it fell apart daily on the Monarch of the Seas.

 

Having allergy/ food restrictions on the ship is hard. Your advised to eat in the dining room - but that's only for breakfast and dinner - lunch its closed most days. So your options are not great. We always pre ordered at dinner - date/time/location for pick up of a lunch. It never arrived, had errors, missing items, or food she could not eat. Alas, why the eggs came in handy.. The ship tried, very very hard - just to many people in the chain, so very easy for mix ups to happen. I would wait at least 45min each day to pick up my daughters lunch in the Windjammer/Coco Cay. Most days it never arrived on time, or it was uncooked, and we had to wait for it to be cooked.

 

408292_10152453832590065_853788495_n.jpg First night salad, with olive oil added. My daughter can only eat limited tomatoes and we had them at lunch, so basically she at the spinach. (Which we all know 7 year olds LOVE.. we never requested a salad again for the rest of the cruise.

 

Dinner/Lunch always looked the same - Monarch did a nice job plating her meals - so they looked colorful and appetizing to eat. Brilliance note so much...

 

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They also mixed up the pasta types so my daughter felt like she was getting something different..

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Breakfast. Some days it was steamed rice, some days it was like congee).

It never changed. No suggestions, no offers of omelets, suggestions, or ideas. No herbs, Garlic. Just plan Jane all the way. But it was safer that way, less chance for errors, so I was totally fine with it.

 

I would arrive for breakfast in the dining room and within 15min I had her meal and mine, which I took up to our room. (She was sleeping in most days!). We had it down like clock work - ;)

 

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Castaway Cay it kinda feel apart. Thank god I had a hard boiled egg in my pocket. It took a long time to get her meal (I arrived early to ensure the meal was off loaded from the main kitchen.. ). We were expecting a pre cooked chicken. Raw veggies, and rice/salad. We got steamed, seasoned veggies (filled with veggies she could not have) as well as no idea what was used to cook them.. raw chicken, and a bottle of olive oil. God love the Manager as he made the chicken him self - baked, and then poured olive oil on top. It was less then pleasing to the eye.. but what ever worked right? WRONG.

 

No sooner did I get back to our seats then a dame seagull came and flew of with a WHOLE PIECE of the chicken I had just waiting an hour for! DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS MEANS DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS PEOPLE!

 

In the end, it worked out for the best - my daughter reacted to the chicken (it was a raw chicken breast.. but who knows what was stuffed in it with "water/soy/corn" to make it look fuller.. we were never able to track down a box/label, and after many different tries with guest services, and the kitchen I realized they were just not going to tell me. I don't know if a error was made, if it was something else, or if the Chicken was at fault. We are not the type of family to sue, ask for free trips - I just wanted to know because if I had to cut the chicken out of her diet for the next two weeks, we were down to very few food options. So in the end, chicken breast was cut out. Reaction, no label no eat.

 

** I want to stess her reactions with the chicken was in no way life threatening** Her only ANA allergy is to CRAB/SHELLFISH.

 

Snack -

 

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We did eat in the dining room for lunch on the sea day. And the Chef made a fresh broth for Miss Em from "chicken chicken bones" (read real chicken) and some pasta. She was thrilled.

 

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So in short my DD ate the above meals, for the next two weeks. Photos of the Brilliance meals will follow once we get to our 2nd cruise. She was loosing weight fast buy the time we got to the 2nd cruise, (you can see how skinny she is!) So we started dumping olive oil on EVERYTHING and filling her up with extra meals and snacks - but more on that later.

Edited by foxesden1

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I'm enjoying reading your report. I have a cruise on the Monarch planned for March 11.

I have a 10 year old son who is allergic to all nuts, coconut and pectin. At times I feel bad for him because there are many things he can't eat. Even more upsetting is the concern for his safety.

For years I prayed that he would outgrow his allergies, and he did out grow an egg allergy. Now I pray that we can find a treatment or cure for food allergies so that ALL of our children can be safe. Best wishes to you both.

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I wish I had a WOW card for you! I don't have a child with allergies, but I really enjoyed reading this review.

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Just to let you know - it's called IgE, not IeG :) Immunoglobulin E is the way to remember. It's so easy to mix up all the letters but you are so educated on things, I'm sure you want to be able to say it right :)

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Just injecting some views here.. now, having never been a GOLD member before, I read all the documents when I boarded, as well as Cruise Critic. I am not a idiot. I do not need to have things dumbed down for me. If I ask a question, its because I have a reason. When we boarding LOS for our first trip, Miss Em was given a little gift when she checked into the kids club. It was nothing, but a very nice welcoming touch. Now, years later, I understood it to be her "Commemorative Gift" which they kindly gave to her regardless of her Non Crown and Anchor status. I was looking forward to our arrival to see what other little treat she would get. I arrived in our cabin, and found nothing. I thought oh, it will be LOS and she will get it on her arrival to kids club. I saw the following display and said, yes, those are the items she had before. The little people gift set was given on her last night, a pillow case, as well as a bandana. Plus her little stuffed key chain. So I asked, if those were the gifts that they kids would get? I was looked at like I was off my rocker.. so I asked again - and I was told that some ships do give the children gifts, but that MOS does not. They keep them for prizes. I queried why on earth would it say my daughter would get a gift if she was not going to get one? (Again, the issue is not with the lack of gift I just don't know why it would be printed that she was getting a amenity when clearly she was not. I got looked down on, and was told that she wanted to see where it was written that gifts were given to children - as she has NEVER been asked that - and they have people "with a much higher status them me sailing weekly" :rolleyes:

 

So, Mama Bear gets her back up.. I have a kid who can't eat ANYTHING on this dame cruise, not even a forking APPLE, and dame it I was going to make it fun for her.. if she is to get a GIFT then a GIFT she will get!

 

So at this point, I assume - okay, must be the Crown and Anchor guy who does this, and they simply forgot to put it in our stateroom.. (you think at this point I would let the dollar store gift item go.. but NOOP.. not me!)

 

So I head over there, and get looked at like I have three heads again.. so I start thinking.. maybe I miss read my Crown and Anchor Member Benefits..

 

But NOOP clearly marked under YOUTH BENEFITS I see Commemorative Gift. No * to state on sailings of 7 nights or more..

 

Commemorative gift

So realizing that that cabinet was locked up tighter then Fort Knox.. and I had a kid who NEEDED a FRECKING COMMEMORATIVE GIFT (tongue in cheek people.. tongue in cheek... I set out to make sure we attend EVERY family/prize actively you can do on the cruise..

 

We played family GaGa, Wii Bowling, Family Bingo, you name it! We had a blast and CLEANED UP on the Commemorative GIFTS! :p

 

I will post a pix of our hull at the end of the Brilliance Review (read too lazy to take a pix right now.. )

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No you are right, it was a typo.. :) LOL my HELPER ;) was yelling at me.. and I meant to go back and correct it.

 

So THANK YOU for making correction for me. :p

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Just to let you know - it's called IgE, not IeG :) Immunoglobulin E is the way to remember. It's so easy to mix up all the letters but you are so educated on things, I'm sure you want to be able to say it right :)

 

 

See my post above.. LOL seems I can't quote or type today!:rolleyes:

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More of a FYI photo.. :rolleyes:

 

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Okay, just a sidenote.. not a fan of someones drinking class being left on the tray. IMPO its like leaving you plate half done in the buffet line.. LOL

 

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Edited by foxesden1

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First of all, you have a very lovely family. I know how you feel. My niece has allergies to all nuts and shellfish. My mother is celiac (no wheat, rye, oats, barley, dairy). You should be awarded a medal for what you have to go through. We went on the Disney cruise last year and my niece (age 24) actually went to the kitchen in the non dining room venues and had them cook something especially for her. Very impressed. Keep up the review.

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**SORRY I am trying to pound away on this report, to get as much done as I can today..**

 

I am reading your comments - and thank you very much.. :) BUT I wanted to say, I do NOTHING beyond what ANY PARENT would do for their own child. Anytime your kid does not "fit in the box" you have to make the box fit for you.. hammer, nails, tape, what ever it takes right? ;)

 

And I did send out a WOW card for two staff members on Brilliance.. they were FAB.. none needed for me!

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One of two? I think broken windows in the dining room.

 

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Seaday.. 6:30am

 

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But I have to say, the chair hogs were few and far between. What ever Royal is doing, its working!

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Back to the trip report.. :D

 

We found my IL and headed up for the sail away party.. and dam* it was cold!

 

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SNACK!

 

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All in all, RCI does a lame Sail Away. Disney is tops, CCL is bottom and RCI is.. well.. lame.

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We headed in, and started to get ready for dinner.

 

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PLEASE NOTE.. FOOD PORN WILL SHORTLY FOLLOW THIS POST.. PLEASE AVERT YOU'RE EYES.. ;) QUICKLY!

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I was THRILLED that Monarch still had the old menu, and I was looking forward to enjoying a few of the meals what we had on our TA in 2011.

 

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We went to the show- and I have to say I **LOVED THE CD** Best one EVER! Marc Walker, from the UK - he has a Facebook page that I am now following. We grabbed Miss Em from Kids Club - and headed off to bed.

 

What a crazy night that was.. S E A S I C K kid.. not nice. We woke up, pills kicked in and Miss Em was ready to go!

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The weather was grey when we arrived at the island. We took a quick walk to find some chairs by the kids club - we had some issues in getting a deck phone for my daughter when we boarded. (first cruise we have had to forcibly request one.. all over lines we have traveled on *including RCI epipen = deckphone. In the end we were issued a pager. (who the hell remembers how to use those?) Needless to say, with all the wacky stuff going on with my daughter over the past month.. closer was better IMPO.

 

Once again the staff at Kids Club thought I was C R A Z Y... :rolleyes:

 

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I found a great location, close to the bar, WC and kids club.. only to find out the bar did not have electricity.. :eek:

 

WHICH MEANT NO BLENDED DRINKS!

Edited by foxesden1

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Where we set up camp for the day.

 

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We were first on the waitlist for a Cabana but they were unsure if they would be able to provide a special needs meal for us - and the Explorations! desk did not bother to follow up to inquire. So when it came around to 4:30 I did not bother going to check if all the cabins were taken or not. So, I saved $200 and did not book it.

 

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Whoops, forgot this was on this setting.. for the next two photos.

 

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Nurse station had some handy items outside. DH and I got some killer bites when our DD went Zip Lining - so this was a wonderful surprise!

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Now, having stood at this location for well over an hour waiting for my daughters lunch.. I noticed a few things.. the food came in from the ship, pre cooked, burgers, ribs, you name it. It was put into the buffets and the lines were opened.. but for ONE STATION. (The main one at the back where the GRILL IS). They seemed to be BBQ burgers and ribs at that station and setting them out only at that line. (now, I can't say what happened after 12:30 - but from 11:30 to 12:30 that is what happened. So make sure you go to the MAIN BUFFET LINE for that char grilled flavor!

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