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I have contacted Azamara to tell them i’m Coeliac and need to eat gluten free.  They gave very general advice , as you would expect.  I have cruised Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and most others many times and know that each line has gluten free items that nobody tells you about and often staff have no idea exist, until you tell them.  For example; they will make gf pancakes at breakfast.  You can get gf bagels and even great pizza.  Celebrity gf pizza is amazing but has to be ordered in advance.  They also do gf muffins.  Often on the buffet they will keep one frier free of breaded items, to allow gf chips.  They will also cook a fresh non contaminated version of most things if asked and in the main dining room, they can adapt most of the menu, although only a few items are marked gf.  They usually also make some special cakes.

 

So, the question is.  This is my first Azamara cruise and I’m expecting they will be as good, if not better at accommodating for me but can anyone who has sailed Azamara and needs to eat gluten free, give me some tips, like the ones above.

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Azamara has a special gluten free corner in the buffet so it’s easy to locate items. All their menus have gluten free labels and if you’ve advised special services on boarding day you’ll be invited to meet with the Exec Chef and Restaurant Manager to discuss what else they can do for you 

They are very good with all food intolerances 

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2 hours ago, earn said:

I have contacted Azamara to tell them i’m Coeliac and need to eat gluten free.  They gave very general advice , as you would expect.  I have cruised Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and most others many times and know that each line has gluten free items that nobody tells you about and often staff have no idea exist, until you tell them.  For example; they will make gf pancakes at breakfast.  You can get gf bagels and even great pizza.  Celebrity gf pizza is amazing but has to be ordered in advance.  


I’m not certain how you found out about the items that were not advertised as gluten-free and available on Celebrity. However, that suggests you are quite proactive, as does posting here, and I doubt that you will encounter major issues.

 

 Although not Coeliac, my wife has several dietary intolerances (including lactose) that require close attention. We have just completed a Celebrity Cruise and our conclusion was that, in general, Azamara does a better job of dealing with her issues.


It looks like you have already filled out the Special Needs Form for your cruise. This must be done for each itinerary. If so, at embarkation you will receive an invitation in your stateroom to meet with the Maître D’ at the MDR. Usually this meeting is at 5:45 on the first day of the cruise.

 

The information you provide at the meeting is shared with all of the venues which provide table service. In the MDR you can also request the same server if you feel you need consistency and, as on Celebrity, you can preorder from the menu for the following day.

 

In the buffet (Windows) there are labels to indicate gf or no lactose.

 

When there are dinner buffets in the MDR (Azamazing Evening), or on deck (White Night), you can still preorder your meal.


As I have noted, we thought Azamara provides better service for dietary concerns.

 

Hope this helps. No doubt someone who is Coeliac can provide even better advice.


I note that uktog, in the post above, has probably used the correct term for your meeting on the first day; namely, with the Restaurant Manager. It may also be with one of the Head Waiters.

Edited by nordski
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Two of  my three cruises have involved gluten free eating. My mom is celiac and I have had to eat gluten free for one cruise. Bear with me as I try to remember...

We met with the head waiter or chef on the first day to make sure it was noted. We also touched base upstairs with the specialty restaurants to see what their process was like. Wait staff uniformly took great care.

 

I think my mom pre selected her dinners in the specialty locations as well as for main dining room. When my doctor had me on gluten free, just because of who I was traveling with, I mostly ate up at the Windows or specialty spots.

 

Bring your own single portion packets of gluten free soy sauce if you want sushi in the buffet. They claim it is available and technically it is, but it involved them sending down to the main food kitchen and having it sent up. I didn't like having to wait so long. I showed a food manager type the individual packets and said it would be easier if these could be kept up at the buffet. He said that was not possible. Who knows why?

 

One of the specialty places as a fabulous gf flourless chocolate cake. The other doesn't. I was able to get one sent to the other for my dessert. I really really liked it.

 

The big buffets held in the main dining room had some cross contamination and made me nervous. I would find a worker and point to what I wanted and she went behind to get a fresh item. My mental image is of the dessert area where serving utensils would migrate and signage was clearly for something else. The meats, veg, salad area was fine.  EDIT: The big evening chocolate extravaganza was another tough one and I ended up only taking chocolate covered strawberries. The gf options were not at a separate table and I couldn't trust the utensils. I made the decision that it was too far from the kitchen and wasn't worth it to me to get someone to help.

 

Signage was pretty good up at Windows. I think I once had to clarify with a manager whether or not a food was safe. One time the signs for the two hot cereals were swapped and that was an easy fix. Something like grits or oatmeal - super obvious.  I am trying to remember- I think I was able to get gf pasta at the design your own pasta bar and they used a fresh pan.

 

In general I think the cookies etc on Azamara are not particulaly good. To me the chocolate chip cookies (not gf) in the Mosiac coffee shop are one step up from boxed. The gf option was coconut macaroons. Up in the Windows I remember lots of small cakes called Financiers. My mom makes an amazing peanut butter chocolate chip cookie with four ingrediants that my kids (not celiac) request all the time. Azamara needs to step up their cookie game. Maybe they are afraid of people like me who would eat five!

 

We did the behind the scenes type kitchen tour. Guests with special diets have their main dining room and delivery meals assembled by one dedicated cook, reducing the possibility of error.

 

If I think of anything else, I will add it later.

 

 

Edited by MNgardens
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Thank you everyone, that is very helpful.  The tip about the chocolate cake is particularly useful.  We have the three meal specialty package and I love chocolate cake 🙂  The best gf deserts I have had on a ship were on MSC Preziosa.  Italy is great for gf, as testing for Coeliac is the first thing they do rather than the last and consequently there are a higher number of diagnosed Coeliacs per head of population than anywhere else, I believe.

 

 

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I am Celiac also, with an additional 7 dietary restrictions besides gluten.Azamara has done and exceptional job in accommodating me on all the sailings with them (there have been MANY)  since I was diagnosed 4 years ago.  Because of that I have sailed with Azamara exclusively.  If you meet with the Chef or head waiter on the first day when you board, they will get all the information from you and work to prepare food according to your needs and likes.  If you preorder your meal from the MDR they will make whatever you choose from the menu according to your dietary restrictions..  I have not sailed on the Pursuit yet, but the Chefs on the Quest and Journey are extremely well educated and sensative to dealing with allergies and food sensitivities.  And once you're listed as "gluten free" on your record, nearly every waiter on the ship will be aware of it and work with you on it.  It's truly remarkable how good they are at this.  I just returned from 24 days on the Quest and my dietary restrictions never interfered with my pleasurable dining experiences, either in the MDR, Windows Cafe, or the specialty restaurants. So enjoy your cruise and don't worry.  My advice to you is if you want something specific,  just ask them for it and they will make it happen so you won't ever feel "deprived."

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17 hours ago, earn said:

Does anyone know if gluten free beer in available on the normal drinks list?

I don't know the answer to this, but your question does remind me of the conversation we enjoyed a few days ago at Matavino Winery, during our East Coast Matakana Winery Tour out of Auckland.  Their wines are vegan, and the owner chuckled as he related the story of folks looking for gluten-free wines.

Normally wines are gluten free, unless aged in barrels sealed with wheat paste or if the fining process takes trace glutens beyond 0.002%.  Matavino wines are aged in clay amphora imported from Italy, hence no gluten issues.  Anyway, the conversation flowed as merrily as the wines and I learned something new.  Highly recommend the winery, and the tour which included a fabulous lunch and tasting at Brick Bay Winery, all via our guide Sanjay Shah at travelnztours dot com.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2/4/2020 at 4:06 PM, uktog said:

Azamara has a special gluten free corner in the buffet so it’s easy to locate items. All their menus have gluten free labels and if you’ve advised special services on boarding day you’ll be invited to meet with the Exec Chef and Restaurant Manager to discuss what else they can do for you 

They are very good with all food intolerances 

Sorry to disagree but no they are not, I had problems galore, I would never book with them again.

Edited by spiritoftravel
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2 hours ago, spiritoftravel said:

Sorry to disagree but no they are not, I had problems galore, I would never book with them again.

Sorry to hear this.  Can you expand on your comments, not so anyone can challenge them but so that those of us with members of our travel group who have allergies can learn if experiences are not as they once were.  Disappointed for you they did not set up to the mark.

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2 hours ago, Host Grandma Cruising said:

Did you advise them beforehand about your food intolerance?

Yes three times and they said just see the manager of restaurant to sort it. I am vegetarian and do not eat whole eggs I am allergic to mushrooms. The veggie food is the worse I have ever had on any cruise or on land, the one different thing they had on one night in the mexican was full of mushrooms and they told me they could not make anything else.

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1 hour ago, uktog said:

Sorry to hear this.  Can you expand on your comments, not so anyone can challenge them but so that those of us with members of our travel group who have allergies can learn if experiences are not as they once were.  Disappointed for you they did not set up to the mark.

Hi I am vegetarian and allergic to mushrooms I don't eat whole egg but will eat it them if not obvious, ie cakes, etc.

I saw the manager of restaurant 1st day soon as we boarded gave our cabin number, he told me, as we were booked to eat in Aqualina if I did not eat what was on menu just to ask for the vegan menu-wrong info you cannot order anything for the 1st night, so I ended up with dried up pasta with pumpkin.

They kept telling me I was allergic to egg?? The chef must have shares in a pumpkin farm as virtually every dish had pumpkin or eggplant or pasta, none of it was nice, just bland, on Indian curry night the veggie choice was pumpkin curry in thin coconut milk sauce!  The portions were tiny and everything was cold, if we ate in the Speciality restaurants my food had to come from 'downstairs' twice served way before my family had even finished there starter. When I complained about the  two potato croquettes, cold with a teaspoon of sauce the manager told me there was plenty to choose from or they could cook me pasta in tomato sauce, I can make that at home for a few pence. The vegan offerings were generally salad with nothing on them, ie spinach one night with a dressing!! I asked inthe patio for a cheese roll and salad and was told by the manager no, but you can have the  burger or nachos, all the ingredients were sitting there! One of my starters because I don't eat bacon was a spoonful of coleslaw with blue cheese dressing as they could not put crumbled blue cheese on??? WHY?  I paid the same as everyone else, falafel pumpkin wrap and burger are not fine dining, We will not be sailing with them again, we have booked with Oceania who do not treat vegetarians as second class citizens! We 

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1 hour ago, spiritoftravel said:

Hi I am vegetarian and allergic to mushrooms I don't eat whole egg but will eat it them if not obvious, ie cakes, etc.

I saw the manager of restaurant 1st day soon as we boarded gave our cabin number, he told me, as we were booked to eat in Aqualina if I did not eat what was on menu just to ask for the vegan menu-wrong info you cannot order anything for the 1st night, so I ended up with dried up pasta with pumpkin.

They kept telling me I was allergic to egg?? The chef must have shares in a pumpkin farm as virtually every dish had pumpkin or eggplant or pasta, none of it was nice, just bland, on Indian curry night the veggie choice was pumpkin curry in thin coconut milk sauce!  The portions were tiny and everything was cold, if we ate in the Speciality restaurants my food had to come from 'downstairs' twice served way before my family had even finished there starter. When I complained about the  two potato croquettes, cold with a teaspoon of sauce the manager told me there was plenty to choose from or they could cook me pasta in tomato sauce, I can make that at home for a few pence. The vegan offerings were generally salad with nothing on them, ie spinach one night with a dressing!! I asked inthe patio for a cheese roll and salad and was told by the manager no, but you can have the  burger or nachos, all the ingredients were sitting there! One of my starters because I don't eat bacon was a spoonful of coleslaw with blue cheese dressing as they could not put crumbled blue cheese on??? WHY?  I paid the same as everyone else, falafel pumpkin wrap and burger are not fine dining, We will not be sailing with them again, we have booked with Oceania who do not treat vegetarians as second class citizens! We 


Just to clarify, did you fill out the Special Needs Form approximately 1-2 months prior to embarkation?

 

It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t meet your needs. My wife has a number of dietary issues, both intolerances and allergies, and we think she is well cared for.

 

However, it’s clear you were very disappointed.

 

Indeed, looks like Oceania is the cruise line that you should choose.

 

I couldn’t tell if that choice is based upon prior experience.

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I'm sorry to read about your several unhappy meal experiences on Azamara, spiritoftravel.  I was able to enjoy nearly all of my recent meals, and now feel I must defend the Indian buffet...  Or was it the Turkish buffet?  Or Asian??

At any rate, I thought it was one of the best meals available on that cruise, and I'd like to offer a shout-out to the wonderful Chef who, when I praised his Nagasari dessert to our server, came out from the kitchen with 2 photocopies of the recipe for me!  This is a yummy, coconut and rice flour cake stuffed with banana, steamed and then served in a cleverly folded banana leaf.  Scrumptious!  An unusual dessert following an excellent spread, capped by happy and super friendly restaurant staff - it all made for a very positive Azamara experience for me. 

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56 minutes ago, nordski said:

Just to clarify, did you fill out the Special Needs Form approximately 1-2 months prior to embarkation?

I mentioned it when I booked and then sent two emails, I then re-confirmed and got a reply from Azamara to say all dietary needs were booked into their system and the chef would be able to accomodate me,, just to ask onboard, maybe I was just unlucky but the same thing happened when we sailed with them 10 years ago! 

We sailed with Oceania 2 years ago they could not do enough for me, they did ask me to choose from the main menu, but altered it to suit and I could change my mind if I fancied something else, the food was amazing, inventive and hot. 

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8 minutes ago, Ithikan said:

At any rate, I thought it was one of the best meals available on that cruise, and I'd like to offer a shout-out to the wonderful Chef who, when I praised his Nagasari dessert to our server, came out from the kitchen with 2 photocopies of the recipe for me!  This is a yummy, coconut and rice flour cake stuffed with banana, steamed and then served in a cleverly folded banana leaf.  Scrumptious!  An unusual dessert following an excellent spread, capped by happy and super friendly restaurant staff - it all made for a very positive Azamara experience for me. 

Well I guess we are different; pumpkin curry which was taste less and cold with clogy rice is not my ideal of a nice meal. I did like the rice pudding but they only had a few left so 3 teaspoons later it was gone.  I guess if you praise them they are fine, but if you do not like something  or criticise it  I was  met with an abrasive  and a tough luck attitude.  I have been a vegetarian for nearly 50 years have eaten in all sorts of restaurants in many countries and on many ships, sorry for me this was the worst of the worst. However I am pleased you enjoyed it and I am sure there will be many others who will also enjoy it..onwards and upwards, happy sailing, happy eating.  

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Sorry to read of the issues.  I think I would have been asking for a meeting with the Hotel Director if that had been my experiences.  We do find they adopt a blanket policy when dealing with allergies and will not listen when you explain a particular item is ok.  I was a little confused what you meant by whole egg, I suspect they took the view you were allergic to all egg products or items with egg in them, though not sure why that extended to cheese.  

However we did find an increasing habit of saying "oh you cannot have that" which we felt was a kind of global "I am not sure what's in it so I will say no"  

Last cruise DH got cross on a few occasions when meals he had ordered came out altered for incorrect reasons - a coconut dessert had all the elements relating to the coconuts removed and a poor substitute served - the waiter argues coconut is a nut no its not!.....  Likewise pine nuts are not nuts they are seeds and he can eat them.  Most frustrating, we had to ask for the original bread baskets in Aqualina many times, they kept substituting it for both of us with a basket of bland french bread.  We are 100% satisfied with the original baskets, we know DH can have them apart from one item and in any event as the other guest I don't want bland bread.  We did however eventually resolve this frustration after a conversation with the Food and Beverage Manager.  So its a case of escalate beyond the restaurant staff if you need to.

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2 hours ago, spiritoftravel said:

I mentioned it when I booked and then sent two emails, I then re-confirmed and got a reply from Azamara to say all dietary needs were booked into their system and the chef would be able to accomodate me,, just to ask onboard, maybe I was just unlucky but the same thing happened when we sailed with them 10 years ago! 

We sailed with Oceania 2 years ago they could not do enough for me, they did ask me to choose from the main menu, but altered it to suit and I could change my mind if I fancied something else, the food was amazing, inventive and hot. 


Thanks for the reply.

 

We have enjoyed an attentiveness that you did not receive.

 

Enjoy your future cruises!

 

 

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1 hour ago, uktog said:

Sorry to read of the issues.  I think I would have been asking for a meeting with the Hotel Director if that had been my experiences.  We do find they adopt a blanket policy when dealing with allergies and will not listen when you explain a particular item is ok.  

However we did find an increasing habit of saying "oh you cannot have that" which we felt was a kind of global "I am not sure what's in it so I will say no"  

 


I wonder if they are operating from an abundance of caution since, if they get the ingredients incorrect, then a passenger may be seriously affected and there will be much guilt felt by the staff.

 

For example, recently we asked if the oatmeal cookies on Celebrity contained milk. We were told they did. My wife was reasonably certain that they wouldn’t and, accepting responsibility for the outcome, tried one. Apparently they don’t

 

The problem of certainty may be exacerbated when products are centrally sourced by the cruise line. Therefore, the list of ingredients may contain that catch-all phrase, “May contain....”

 

For my wife there is no question that the service provided now is considerably improved from when we started cruising.

 

Although we have never had to escalate a similar issue to that level, I agree that we would contact the Hotel Director if dissatisfied.

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On 2/29/2020 at 5:53 PM, uktog said:

 I was a little confused what you meant by whole egg,

I explained I do not eat boiled, fried, scrambled eggs etc but would eat them as a glaze or in a cake or something similar. I appreciate they have to be careful, but the food was generally very poor not fine dining and they were very rigid in their approach,  never mind I guess we have been unlucky like 10 years ago, but are booked onto Oceania for next year, so no worries, still enjoyed the ports of call and azamazing evening.  

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So, having started this post, I thought I would add some comments now that I have returned from my cruise.

 

This was our first Azamara cruise but we have cruise on other lines many times.  I found Azamara’s gluten free provision to be below average and I suppose that was really disappointing, as I was expecting it to be above average.   Staff were fabulous and tried to help.  Here is my summary

 

Bread was the absolute worst I’ve ever eaten.

Bagels were ok if they toasted both sides but mostly they just toasted the inside.

Bagels ran out day 7 of a 12 night cruise and never replenished

Bought in muffins at breakfast were dry and tasted poor quality, same for cookies.  The bread I was offered in Prime C and Aqualina was the same as Windows.  On that note there were not any really appealing gf starters or desserts in the speciality restaurants.  Aqualina seemingly makes fresh gf pasta but when I asked for the ravioli 24 hrs in advance they couldn’t make it for me as the ravioli machine is not dedicated to gf .  I think even I could have improvised and made one ravioli by hand but that was not possible.   I spent half of the cruise not eating any salad dressing as I was told none were gf.  Discovered later that in fact they all are.  Same with nachos in the patio.  Told I couldn’t ever have the fries or nachos as they were fried in same oil as onion rings.  Eventually found out from chef on second last day that they always fry nachos in fresh oil.  Most days at the buffet they did have quinoa pasta gf, so that was a positive.  Also every night we were given chocolates of some description in the room.  I never ate them until the steward eventually told me that he had been getting gluten free ones for me, which was lovely.  However be very vigilant, as one night I thought they looked like cake and checked, to find out he had got them mixed up.

 

I could go on.  Food not labelled correctly, two days when all three main dishes in Windows contained gluten.   Dreadful deserts in main dining room.   Choosing dinner the night before is standard but they never knew what the two chefs specials would be the next day and wouldn’t let me see the desert menu, I just got what they decided.

 

So, great cruise, great ship but probably my a lot of improvment needed in the gf department,

 

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