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Food Allergies - DCL vs. Royal Caribbean?

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Hello Everyone,

 

My wife and I are considering booking a cruise on either Royal Caribbean or Disney, and we wanted to know if anyone has had an experience that went "above and beyond" with regards to food allergies? Our son has severe food allergies to dairy, eggs, and peanuts; and based on a few reviews, both DCL and RC can accommodate his allergies in the main dining room and kids club. However, my question is...has anyone had an experience where they (or their child) were able to eat at some of the other restaurants on the ship? (on RC: Johnny Rockets, WindJammers, Cupcake Cupboard, etc and on DCL: Cabannas, Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats, etc). We would be especially interested in hearing about any experiences where the staff went "above and beyond" to accommodate a child's food allergy...especially in places that serve sweets (cupcakes, candy, etc). 

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Hi! I am unable to say how Royal deals with children, but I am an adult with a nut allergy. I always alert them in every venue that I choose to eat and I feel very secure they are concerned with my safety. If they do not know if a food is safe someone goes and talks to the chef. Several times they have brought me special desserts when the ones available contained nuts, even in the Windjammer. Hope this helps.

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At least in the MDR, they are very accommodating.  Contact RCL's "Special Needs Dept." (866) 592-7225. My wife is both diabetic and has problems with her blood pressure.  Each night, she and the Head Waiter/Waiter go over the next night menu to be sure that no salt is in any of the appetizers or main entrée.  One time, to her surprise, she ordered crock of French onion soup and she found it delicious.  She also orders extra vegetables and salads.

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Also not a child, but am vegetarian and have Celiac disease (very sensitive to cross contamination). I have never gotten glutened on an RCCL ship in the 5 or 6 cruises since my DX. In addition to the MDR, I have eaten at WJ on all ships, Sorrentos on the ships that have one, Izumi, Givovani's, and Sabor. I will say in the MDR and WJ, it really helps to know what you want. Early on after my DX, I ended up with a lot of salads with oil and vinegar, and mixed berries for dessert. However, Belic on the Explorer went above and beyond and had them make GF, vegan, nut free chocolate cake for me every night for dessert (they tasted like fudge- SO GOOD). I asked for the same on the Brilliance; definitely not as tasty, but better than more berries, and the servers only ask the chefs because I asked them. Same with a grilled cheese; it didn't occur to them to make that an option, but one day I asked if I could have one, and it was no problem. They also have sorbet every night, and I believe that meet's all of your kids needs? Ask them to add chocolate sauce, or berries, etc.

 

Disney is probably going to be better. That is part of their schtick is making that kind of magic happen. They are also 2-4x more expensive, so that might play into your decision making too.

 

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They are excellent with dealing with allergies.  I tell them at every meal about my allergy.

i had the chef make me my own dessert because he felt so bad!  They usually give me the next day’s menu so I can order for the next meal.  They will not serve anything they are not sure of.

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Our 6 year old daughter has celiac disease and must eat strictly gluten free. We have been on 3 Royal Caribbean cruises and had great experiences, though I’m not sure I’d classify them as “above and beyond”. They promise a safe gluten-free experience and they certainly deliver on that promise, and compared to most places on land, I guess that is above and beyond. 

 

But it if you’re thinking about “roll out the red carpet above and beyond” you may be disappointed outside of the main dining room.

 

Some positives: 1) the main dining room will have safe food and will make off-menu food when they have advance notice (including desserts)-our service there has been the closest to the type of “above and beyond” you are hoping for; 2) at Windjammer, a headwaiter will personally take your order and it will be prepared by a chef in a special area and delivered to you; 3) they’re really nice to the kids and don’t act like it’s a hassle at all which is how I wish everyone would act! 

 

On the other hand, I wouldn’t expect areas where they don’t have trained head waiters and chefs, such as a cupcake shop or quick service restaurant, to be able to accommodate, much less go above and beyond. Our experience was kind of hit or miss outside of the main areas. Some places safely accommodated (Sorrentos) but others couldn’t (boardwalk dog house), which was ok with us. We were just glad to have safe options available to us.

 

We never ate at specialty restaurants, so I cannot comment on those, but I bet those restaurants would open up many more options for you. 

 

I’ve never been on a Disney Cruise, but we are Disney annual pass holders, and for what it’s worth, I don’t find the service at Disney to go above and beyond either. They do a great job with allergies, no doubt, and serve safe food which is the most important thing to me, but there are occasional frustrating experiences, long waits, etc. 

 

I think if you go in with realistic expectations about what they can do, you’ll be quite happy. We certainly have been. Good luck and have a great cruise whatever you decide!

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the MDR and buffet will  give you more personalized attention WRT  safe options and  futzing with a menu item to make it safe.  anywhere there is pre made stuff,  not so much.  

 

egg and dairy free deserts  are going to be limited unless you get a chef who  embraces the challenge.  

 

that being said, on our only Disney cruise we sat with a couple who was also on a limited diet.   he basically had poached chicken, broccoli  and rice every night.  whereas on Royal our table mates have been offered  not only to pre order the next night's dinner,. but also have been the recipients of off menu items the chef  whipped up on the fly.

 

I myself have a shellfish allergy and   in any of the specialty restaurants we have dined in( including Chef's Table)   they have easily  made something for me out of ingredients  on hand .  once, the first course was some sort of  shellfish salad.   he instead gave me some duck that was earmarked for a later course and made the most amazing cold appetizer I have ever had.   our table mates were jealous( and my husband said it was better than the menu item he had)  

 

On Disney, I never could get a straight answer out of the wait staff about  whether or not shellfish was included. even after he supposedly brought me out a new bowl of chowder that he claimed was  safe.  I found lumps of something in it that looked an awful lot like lobster meat....

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Just off Allure in June and my daughter in law has a dairy allergy. They were extremely accommodating.  Gave her the next days menu every night and she picked what she wanted and they made it dairy free. When we told them we had reservation at Chops they called ahead and told them too. She was very impressed and LOVED everything they made for her. 

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My mom and I both have food allergies. She can't have wheat, corn or soy. After every cruise on RC she mentions how wonderful it feels to actually EAT food while on vacation. 

 

I'm allergic to fish and shellfish. No problems yet on this cruise. I'm currently on Jewel OTS. I love salad, but can't have Cesar salad dressing d/t anchovies in the dressing. Every night I've got a different green salad and salad dressing. The staff has been great warning me what has hidden allergens in it. I do wish they would have the food symbols on the food name plates in the WJ and on the menu in the MDR. 

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Posted (edited)

We have the same 3 allergies with 3 people and we have always been fine in the main dining room, and my girls were ok in the kids club they take food allergies very seriously just be sure to tell the servers before each meal and remind them in the kids club on the nights they will be eating, now the specialty restaurants will be fine, but the cupcakes will be a no go at least they were for us and Johnny Rockets you will need

to check to see if they have the dairy free buns and a grill where there has been no cheese, however I can tell you we will not eat in the windjammer, even though they tell you the safe options we ran into cross contamination as people put the wrong spoons back into something else so just be careful with the buffet, we did all possible meals in the main dinning room when open but dessert was tough most nights there was none other than the fruit which to my kids was not dessert LOL.

 

 

Edited by shelby2002
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I have sailed both DCL and RC with a shellfish allergy. On DIsney, our server was great but I never felt she really knew what was safe and what wasn’t. She wouldn’t let me order something if it looked like it ‘might’ have shellfish (tuna tartare for instance). On Symphony in April, our waiter gave me the menu for the next night each evening and took my order in advance to make sure it was safe. They even made me a special salad one night, which I felt was ‘above and beyond’. Over 5000 guests on board and my meal came out safe and ‘special’ each night, it was a great experience. I have dined in the specialty dining in RC as well and they are careful about allergies there as well, as long as you alert them. I have a friend who has a child with severe allergies and she said sailing with RC was their best experience for food safety. Hope this helps!

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On 6/29/2019 at 11:40 AM, foodallergycruising said:

Hello Everyone,

 

My wife and I are considering booking a cruise on either Royal Caribbean or Disney, and we wanted to know if anyone has had an experience that went "above and beyond" with regards to food allergies? Our son has severe food allergies to dairy, eggs, and peanuts; and based on a few reviews, both DCL and RC can accommodate his allergies in the main dining room and kids club. However, my question is...has anyone had an experience where they (or their child) were able to eat at some of the other restaurants on the ship? (on RC: Johnny Rockets, WindJammers, Cupcake Cupboard, etc and on DCL: Cabannas, Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats, etc). We would be especially interested in hearing about any experiences where the staff went "above and beyond" to accommodate a child's food allergy...especially in places that serve sweets (cupcakes, candy, etc). 

 

We have sailed on DCL and Royal (and Holland) with food allergies and I feel they were all on equal standing.   We mostly avoid the buffet and dine elsewhere, and it has been fine.  You have to be very proactive, though, and alert them in advance through their special needs department, and then talk to the head server on the ship and make sure they show you the menu for the next night's dinner so you can pre-order.  

 

DCL doesn't have kid-friendly specialty dining, so that wasn't an issue.  I would use the same precautions you would use at any other cupcake shop for Vanellope's (didn't have that when we sailed).  For us, I talk to a manager about their practices and that helps me determine whether or not I am comfortable with DD eating there.

 

We ate at Chops Grille on Royal and DD had no issues getting safe food.  Again, you have to be proactive and tell them about the allergy and listen to whatever they advise.  DD ate at El Loco Fresh, Sorrento's, etc. and again, we avoided the buffet.  

 

With the allergies you mention I would completely avoid the buffet 100% and alert the ship in advance, and follow their guidance for how to manage on board.  And just be proactive, the same as you do at any other restaurant anywhere else.  Don't assume that everyone on the ship is looking out for your safety. 

 

Just as an example of how you cannot assume that anything is safe just because of what other people tell you: people RAVE about how AWESOME Disney is with allergies, right?  Well they brought DD the wrong allergy meal.  It was for a child at the table next to us, with completely different allergies.  That could have killed my daughter, or the other child (assuming they had brought him the wrong meal, too).  Disney also served regular bread and called it gluten-free, then came back 20 minutes later and said "Oh oops, that wasn't GF bread, sorry".  So you have to be aware and check everything, every time.  

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My daughter has celiac disease and needs to eat strictly gluten free. We have been on two Royal Caribbean cruises and both were wonderful experiences for her. We sailed on Oasis and Adventure. We ate in the main dining room and in Giovanni’s. She was treated like a queen and ate the most amazing food! She loved ordering ahead. It made her feel more secure. The Windjammer was able to accommodate her as well, but the food there didn’t knock her socks off. She liked Sorrentos for pizza as well. Didn’t love it, but was happy to be able to be a kid and get pizza like everyone else. I would trust Royal completely. 

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