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Our Gluten-Free Vacation, From Boston to Bermuda

This is a relaxing no worries type vacation for most people but if you have food allergies this trip is not like going to Disney you’re going to have to work hard at staying safe.

I just returned home from a seven day cruise from Boston to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn. If you are looking for a reasonably priced way of traveling to and staying in Bermuda an NCL cruise from the port of Boston is a good option.

You board the ship at noon on Friday and by 4:30 p.m. you are on your way. This ship has several dining options and entertainment every night. You can chill by the pool, try your luck at the casino or just sit and listen to live music which can be found in several locations throughout the ship and best of all this ship stays docked in Bermuda for two and a half days. This is a relaxing no worries type vacation for most people but if you have food allergies this trip is not like going to Disney you’re going to have to work hard at staying safe.

The ship provides unbelievable amounts of food and food choices. They have several buffet lines, two formal dining rooms and several specialty restaurants (for an extra charge). If you choose a restaurant the menu states you should tell your server about any food allergies. I found our allergies somewhat problematic for the staff. The restaurant staff is very friendly and they work hard to make your experience a good one but there seemed to be a lack of allergy awareness training and often a language barrier. Many staff members come from foreign locations and communication can sometimes cause unintentional problems when it comes to food allergies. One example, my husband wanted a dessert at a specialty restaurant and wanted to know if pine nuts/Pignoli nuts(actually seeds that comes from a pine)were in the recipe. Our server kept saying he couldn’t have the dessert because my husband had a plain nut allergy.

My son, who has a wheat and barley allergy, had even a harder time. When we told the staff about the wheat allergy it seemed they weren’t sure what was safe for him to eat. On more than one instance they would bring out an ice cream with a cookie stuck off to the side and then take the ice cream away and not bring back a dish of just ice cream. No server ever mentioned the fact they had gluten free bread. It would have been nice to be asked if he would like gluten free bread with dinner when the regular bread basket came to the table.

 It didn’t seem to matter the restaurant location. Once we asked about the French fries and asked if they had gluten free hamburger buns. We were told they did have gluten free bread but it was in a different location and they could send for it but the buns never arrived. We were then told he could not eat the French fries because none of the fryers are free of gluten. They never provided him an alternative; he was told no so often that he no longer wanted me to tell staff about the allergies.

I never saw a book or list with recipe ingredients like they have at Disney food establishments. I never found a food staff member ready to explain ingredients in the dishes being served. This was very different from our Disney experience when the chef came out and went with my son through the buffet line and told him what he could and could not eat. I think NCL is missing and opportunity, it’s a shame with a bit more thought and planning NCL could make this a great cruise for people with allergies (I also think in general many people just like to know what they are eating). 

The cruise does have fresh fruit and several items that you can be sure are gluten free. We for the most part ate in the restaurants, and this is the better option. Even if several food items get taken away it’s better than having allergic reactions. This trip is a great vacation but it could be made even better with a little help from NCL.

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