Jump to content

Unlimited Dining Review - Gluten Free on Navigator Of The Seas


Recommended Posts

Specially For COELIAC AWARENESS WEEK - My thoughts on cruising Gluten Free with the new Unlimited Dining Package  (This first post has info on Coeliacs Disease - feel free to skip it of course)

 

On the first of April this year,  what appeared at first to be a really rubbish April fool's joke turned out to be a bit of a disaster.  A crane fell on our cruise ship Oasis and our TA cruise was cancelled shortly after.  It's always nice though when something good comes out of something not so good and that's where this lovely cruise on Navigator of The Seas comes in. 

 
We were lucky enough to grab a cabin on Navigator on a sailing within our original vacation dates,  as hubby couldn't get other dates this late in the game.  At the time we just wanted somewhere to vacay our weary heads and make the best of a less than ideal situation.  I was thrilled to find out after we were all booked that Navigator had been all spruced up very recently - and even more thrilled to find Hooked and El Loco Fresh had been added to the ship.  We tried these out on Symphony last year and loved them. 
 
So I'm a bit of a foody.  Love trying new things, exploring flavours and dishes.  Which is made a teensy bit more difficult because I have coeliac disease.   
 
I'm writing this on the flight over to Miami, and I thought I'd take a little time to explain what coeliac disease is and how it affects me every day. (Feel free to skip this next bit if you like as its not about the cruise at all)
 
Coeliac disease is an auto immune condition and shares some common ground with other autoimmune disorders like diabetes in that it has a simple issue, but effects most areas of the body and your health.  To stay healthy and happy, Diabetics need to watch the sugar,  CD folk need to avoid gluten. 
 
CD mainly impacts the gut and digestion.  If I eat anything with gluten in,  my body sees the gluten as an enemy and attacks.  Unfortunately,  gluten molecules are very similar to the cells in the gut, and as a result,  my body attacks the gut, eating away at the lining which is crucial for absorbing any nutrients. So on top of getting the immediate horrid gut pain, diarrhoea and nausea, the long term effect is basically malnutrition, and even longer term sees a vastly increased risk of stomach and bowel cancer. 
 
People often think CD is an allergy to gluten.  Some just think it's an intolerance like some have to dairy.  Whilst most people get that you can't eat gluten,  it's hard to fully understand what that means and even where gluten is found in foods. Some people think avoiding gluten is healthy (it's not really,  tho it might help some people with a slight sensitivity who get bloated with breads and pasta) and many think it's a fad. People who need Gluten Free food are often seen as fussy and picky.  And you know,  some people who eat gluten free are faddy, fussy and picky. It's not the same for folk with Coeliac disease. 
 
Every time I eat,  I need to be aware of what I'm eating. I need to take special care at home to avoid cross contamination because not everyone at home is GF so gluten is around.  It's not that hard these days with so much GF foods available in supermarkets.  And the good thing is that it's made me eat more healthily and cook from scratch more.  But that's at home. 
 
Wherever i go,  whenever I eat outside the home,  I'm at risk.  And it's a pain.  If you think it's annoying to be held up in a restaurant because someone is asking about GF foods, imagine being *that* person every single time you go out.  I've gotten better at it,  but it's a real bind being that person,  feeling people's eyes on you,  hearing the sighs of your server when you ask,  seeing the annoyance in people around you when all you really want to do is just avoid the fuss.  Life with coeliac diseases is all fuss sometimes and it gets wearing very quickly.   And all that is before we even get to the physical effects. 
 
I'm going to be reviewing this cruise as a coeliac,  looking at the provision for special diets and letting others know the good,  bad and ugly parts of cruising Gluten Free. I have the Unlimited dining package for this cruise,  so I'll be looking particularly at how the speciality restaurants on board cope with a teeny bit of fuss from me.  Hopefully what I share will help others with CD and also be helpful in general for those who might need to also be "that person" where food is concerned. 

20190430_112317.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

2 - Lets get to the Yummy Stuff!!!

 

Our first speciality restaurant for this cruise was Hooked Seafood Restaurant.  I had tried out Hooked onboard Symphony last year, and I was really looking forwards to eating there again.  I visited the restaurant after we boarded to book in for the first evening and to give them a heads up on my dietary needs.   On Symphony, the Hooked chef had made me some truly mouthwatering Gluten Free Calamari, so naturally I asked about that again - the lovely lass behind the booking desk was sure the chef could do that for me and she even popped back to see him and check.  - Came back with a thumbs up, so I was really happy!!  

 

I recommend always nipping by a restaurant before you visit for the first time to let them know what you need. Definitely gives them a better chance of being able to provide the food you really want, and also helps to reassure you that they know, and are prepared.  You can relax more easily!!  

 

When we arrived and got seated, I mentioned that I would need Gluten Free bread to the waiter as soon as possible.   Never assume the pre visit and info filters down - things get busy, and of course you might not have turned up for your booking etc. - once you are there, they remember your request and you are all good!!

 

I had GF Bread to start and checked out the menu - many of the dishes could be made GF  and I found our waiter to be quite on the ball with what I could have - I'd already requested my GF Calamari for starter (It was HUGE tho, make sure you are hungry when visiting Hooked!!) and then I chose The Captains Platter - Lobster tail, Jumbo Shrimp, and grilled sea bass for my main course, which came with Seasonal Veg, Fresh Coleslaw, and I was able to request some Fries which were done GF (I think on the Navigator, the Johnny Rockets Fryer was kept GF and only used for fries.  In most of the Speciality Restaurants, this was where they went to get me some fresh Fries cooked GF.  They were always very crisp hot and fresh too!) 

 

Dessert was marginally less successful as there wasn't an option on the actual menu for me - They did nip to the main dining room and brought me a Creme Brulee (More on this later) which was a nice sweet finish to a very filling meal.

 

- here are shots of my lovely Captains platter and sides, and my Creme Brulee to finish 🙂 ( I managed to forget to take a picture of the GF Calamari so I found a pic of the same lovely treat on Symphony )

 

 

20190426_205452.jpg

20190426_205444.jpg

20190426_212025.jpg

20180422_171552.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Unlimited Dining Package - allows you to visit speciality restaurants every night of your trip.  In theory, you can even go to more than one - say starter and main courses in one place, nip to another place for a special dessert!!   It also allows you to eat Lunch in the speciality restaurants on sea days, so our next meal was Lunch in the truly fabulous IZUMI 🙂  When I booked with the lovely server, I of course mentioned my need for GF again 🙂 

 

As a Coeliac, I often lean towards Sushi when I'm not cruising - its freshly prepared, many non gluten containing options, and very healthy for my tum!!  I also know that GF Tamari Soy sauce is usually readily available.  So, I do love my Sushi!!

 

We had salted edamame (fresh soya beans) as an apetizer while we decided what to eat - IZUMI is an a la carte priced restaurant, so when eating on a dining package, you get a $35 allowance for each person - you can get a whole lot to eat for that!! 

 

IZUMI on the Navigator of The Seas also has the wonderful Hot Rock options - they bring a superheated slab of Rock and you can cook fresh steak, or fish and seafood however you like - accompanied by a bowl of warm sushi rice, sauces and some fresh veg.  - So we ordered a tenderloin Beef Hot rock to share.   I ordered some salmon Nigiri and Sashimi, and asked the waiter if any of the signature rolls could be made GF - He said yes, they had Champagne Rolls, with Octopus filling, avocado and a nice mayo drizzle so I ordered those (They were bloomin delicious!!)  My hubby ordered some non GF stuff and we asked for it to come whenever it was ready.  

 

By the end of the meal we were extremely stuffed, and I think our bill possibly has around $3 to pay over the allowance.  We ate in Izumi a few more times this cruise because the staff were fabulous and so was the food.   I never had desert in Izumi as I was always full - I think they had Fruits and Icecream options tho. 

 

As usual, Pics to prove it happened 😄  And the great view from IZUMI on Navigator, which is on Deck 14 🙂 (Yes we did eat all the steak before I remembered to take a pic, but I've added one from Rhapsody to show you) 

20190427_141013.jpg

20190427_141017.jpg

20190427_133808.jpg

20171106_193425.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Next up was Jamie's Italian.   Being from the UK, we have lots of oportunities to eat at Jamie's on land here in Manchester.  And the experience onboard a cruise ship is more or less the same.  Once again, I let them know I needed GF food before we went and there were lots of choices.  

 

For starters, we ordered The Plank - a lovely appetiser and to make it GF they had simply subsituted the usual bread with some GF Toasted Bread.  Lots of lovely flavours!!

 

My main course was Short Rib, boneless and served on a bed of creamy mash with veg - I also ordered a side of Garlicky Fries (Again from Johnny Rockets, fresh and GF!!)  It was melt in the mouth succulent and its making my mouth water thinking about it again.

 

But my most delicious part was dessert - A lovely big Pavolva / which has cinder toffee and fresh cream - it was LUSH and I was thrilled to find a dessert on the menu that was GF rather than something retrieved from the Windjammer as a substitute.

 

Managed to remember all the pics this time - yayyy me!!  

20190428_201732.jpg

20190428_203554.jpg

20190428_204457.jpg

20190428_205310.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chops Grille followed - You can find this Speciality Restaurant on every Royal Caribbean ship - I usually have a Filet Mignon, but decided to try something else this evening...

 

For Starter I had Prawns with a kind of Tomato spicey sauce - A nice appetiser 

 

Main Course was Rack Of Lamb, and it was cooked exactly to my order - some fries, sauteed Mushrooms and Creamed Spinach to accompany.  

 

For dessert, they didn't have a menu item, but brought me a selection of moussey things from windjammer and some Mango Sorbet!  I was happy 🙂

 

I'll pop a final post on later, with some general stuff and overall thoughts.  

20190427_211131.jpg

20190427_213531.jpg

20190427_213536.jpg

20190427_220259.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Very interesting review. I am lucky enough not to have any special dietary needs but I do remember thinking that there doesn't appear to be very much on the menus for those who do. It's nice to see that you managed so well. Thanks for sharing. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent post!

 

As a fellow Celiac sufferer, I can totally relate to this...I always find myself being apologetic in a restaurant when explaining to the waiter my needs...and then I silently curse myself for being apologetic, as it is NOT MY FAULT that I have Celiac! I guess it’s because it is exactly as you stated - people sometimes judge us as being picky and finicky, and it’s not that way at all! I would give ANYTHING to sit down and dive into a big bowl of bread or pasta, or even a halfway decent dessert - trust me!!!

 

Anyways - I cruised on the Allure in January, and was able to find things to eat...my only complaint (albeit a small one) is the lack of G/F desserts. There are some truly delicious flour-free cakes out there, and why RCI can’t have those as a staple in their restaurants, I don’t understand. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow - this is making me think we need to do the unlimited dining option when we go on the Navigator. Excellent write-up and perfect pics. Thank you!

 

p.s.

 

Any other Navigator recommendations? First time for us.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you!

 

im about to book Anthem tomorrow and my 14 year old is Coeliac, we've been doing Disney for years because it's 'safe'!

 

last time we cruised RC she was not even thought of!

 

how much is the unlimited dining?

 

thanks

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

My oldest son (age 10) has celiac disease. As a mama who feel frustrated with the lack of awareness, caring or understanding that is sometimes given at restaurants, I appreciate your explanation of celiac disease and how it affects you. I think a lot of people just assume being gluten free due to celiac disease is just part of the "fad diet" people, when it is wholly different. Long term/repeated gluten exposure to someone with celiac disease can result in loss of fertility and/or severe bone loss, among other things.

 

We took our kids on Radiance OTS last August and sailed Vancouver to Seward, Alaska. My son ate like a KING and loved every minute of it! He had lots of options and the staff was amazing everywhere we went. We ate in Windjammer, Samba Grill, and the Main Dining Room. The MDR staff was especially amazing, and made him GF pasta one night at his request. He looked at the menu for the following nights dinner before we left the MDR each night, and ordered ahead for the following night. On the following night, the waiter double-checked that he wanted the same thing, and it was done. A couple of times he changed the appetizer, or added one, but mostly he was consistent. The waiter didn't bat an eye.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, K8T said:

Thank you!

 

im about to book Anthem tomorrow and my 14 year old is Coeliac, we've been doing Disney for years because it's 'safe'!

 

last time we cruised RC she was not even thought of!

 

how much is the unlimited dining?

 

thanks

 

The cost varies by ship and sail date. The price is listed in your cruise planner. Generally it’s about $20 - $24 per person per day.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for a brilliant explanation at the beginning.

 

I have family, friends and work colleagues who have also received this diagnosis and your explanation was right on point.

 

Thanks also for advising how much easier it is on the RCI staff with letting them know ahead of time and not simply trusting the information will get to them.

 

As with many health issues planning can be a big factor on how your needs are met.

 

Neat to have the photos too.

 

TraceyG 😊

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I bit the bullet and booked it, waiting to get access to the cruise planner.

 

The food in the specialty restaurants looks great, how is it in the MDR?  

 

Also, is the Ice cream GF in Windjammers and the fries in a separate fryer?  Is Windjammers safe, or do they get stuff out the back?

 

Sorry, so many questions, I'm a bit paranoid as my daughter is so ill if glutened, so I like to plan!

 

Thanks

 

K8

Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, K8T said:

Well I bit the bullet and booked it, waiting to get access to the cruise planner.

 

The food in the specialty restaurants looks great, how is it in the MDR?  

 

Also, is the Ice cream GF in Windjammers and the fries in a separate fryer?  Is Windjammers safe, or do they get stuff out the back?

 

Sorry, so many questions, I'm a bit paranoid as my daughter is so ill if glutened, so I like to plan!

 

Thanks

 

K8

 

You need to speak to the Windjammer chef once you are onboard who can answer these questions with regard to your specific sailing.

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Host Clarea said:

 

You need to speak to the Windjammer chef once you are onboard who can answer these questions with regard to your specific sailing.

Yes I will of course. I just wondered if anyone had experience, it would be good to know so I can prepare my daughter for disappointment! 

 

Nothing worse than you get on board full of excitement to find you can’t freely have something!

 

Sadly she’s used to not being able to have stuff like chocolate and cakes etc.,  without some detective work first!  

 

Kate 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for posting.  I also suffer from Celiac's Disease.  The cruise ships have definitely come along way in the past year or two since I started sailing.  I now gain weight on the cruise ships and don't have to eat shrimp all the time.   

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the post! I'm going on Navigator in July for my bachelorette trip and both my maid of honor and I have celiac. I'm so glad to hear that we will be able to eat more than just salad or plain grilled chicken!

 

Did you happen to find some good options for breakfast too?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry for being absent, I was getting back on track after my cruise!!   - a few replies....

 

KansCocoa, I totally agree on this front!!  Meringue is a great GF base for deserts, as are Flourless choc cakes. TBH, GF Flour is very available and cheap these days, and most cakes can be made using a straight swap!!!  Truly tho, I don't think I can face another Creme Brulee!!!  

LadyDivot I liked Navigator a lot and the new changes were brilliant!!  Pool Deck and Lime And Coconut Bar were great places to meet people.   They have a new system (new to me) of serving the soft serve icecream from a kind of bar, instead of being help yourself which is better for me, but take a saucer or cup from the WJ to put your icecream in / on!! 

K8T - we paid $168 each for a week for the Unlimited Dining.  We could easily have eaten more snacks in Playmakers, but weren't totally sure it was included until the last few days.  I didn't see the MDR on this cruise at all but on other cruises Its been fine tho I feel tey sometimes take their time over the sitting and you get less time to go to shows etc.  I often ate in WJ when I wanted to eat quickly and get to a show or event 🙂  Fries in Windjammer in my experience aren't stated GF.  But I think if you asked for them GF they may well do what the restaurants did and send for some from Johnny rOckets. Anthem is a more up to date ship - you will find gf crisps/snacks in the 270 cafe, and I also recommend the solarium bistro at breakfast as being better for GF (or if the MDR is open for breakfast, thats also good)  

Sdonlon13 - you'll have a smashing time, no doubt!!  Breakfast is good in MDR if they serve it in there.  Windjammer is OK - top tip is don't get the self serve scrambled egg as its powdered egg - worth queueing for the omelet station as they use real eggs 🙂

 

Daisy x

Link to post
Share on other sites

The final bit of my review - Best Of The Rest - El Loco Fresh and Playmakers!!

 

I adored El Loco Fresh on Symphony and it was just as great on Navigator!!  Most of the toppings or fillings are GF including chilli beef, and the nachos, cheese sauce and the salsas!!   Really great shredded salad also, which made lunch there a lovely fresh naturally GF experience.  My choice was usually a plate of Nachos, with chilli beef and lots of salsas and salad.   Oooh and the sour cream and spring onion dip was a fave!!   And the best part?  IT IS INCLUDED - not a speciality venue.

 

Playmakers serves some similar fare like nachos but also wings and stuff.  But one of the best treats is the Sundaes - $12 each and include 5 scoops of Ben And Jerry's. These ARE included in the Unlimited Dining Package along with all the other stuff on the Playmakers menu, and you can go as often as you like, I believe.  As far as GF goes though, you will need to know your B and J flavours of icecream and specify them..  In my case, I just asked for only Vanilla and Chocolate and knew they were GF 🙂  But I think if you went to the Ben & Jerrys stand itself, they might have known more flavours that were GF - the stand is just opposite Playmakers :)

 

We went to Hooked and Jamies a second time so here are some pics of my choices then - a lovely Muscles Starter in Hooked, Carpaccio beef? in Jamie's, some GF Pasta with tomato sauce, Garlick Prawns, and Blackened Seabass entrees.

 

I had a fabulous time and will likely get the Unlimited Package again - I thought it was good value for me and made more sense than a drinks package as we don;t really drink that much :)

 

My next cruise is on Brilliance in November and I've got Unlimited dining again - 

 

Happy Gluten Free eating!!  - Daisy xxx

20190429_133404.jpg

20190502_130204.jpg

20190501_205806.jpg

20190503_011904.jpg

20190503_005841.jpg

20190503_013822.jpg

20190430_201143.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have enjoyed your pictures and report. Thank you! Can you please answer one last question: what happened on the first night? Did you get assigned a restaurant and a time? Everything I've read says RCCL will let you know your dinner location and time for the first night through a note in your cabin.

 

Thanks again...Pam 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Once you get onboard, go straight over to the restaurant you want to eat at that night - there will be someone on the desk to book you in, regardless of where Royal might have put you.  TBH I've never had any dinner reservations in my cabin once I got onboard and I've always gone straight to the restaurant and booked in.  

 

Daisy xxx

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • Q&A with Chris Prelog, President of Windstar Cruises!
      • Register Now for Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Royal Caribbean
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...