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Last week I was onboard the Pride of America for an amazing sail around the Hawaiian islands. Disclaimer: If you need to eat gluten free onboard, please speak with the chefs, servers, etc. yourself as menu items are constantly changing. I do not have celiac disease. I have been DNA tested and I do not carry the ‘celiac’ gene. However, like so many others, I feel 100% better when gluten is obsolete from my diet . If you have celiac disease or know that you will get sick even if eating even a crumb, then this blog post is not for you. But, if you are trying to avoid gluten with the least amount of inconvenience, then please read on.
It is fantastic that most places/restaurants will accommodate for a gluten free diet now. But still, sometimes I don’t like to alert the ‘gluten free’ alarm because it means my food will take longer to make. I think it’s hard to communicate my needs to servers. It’s an educational thing and how can I blame them? Even for those of us who have gone through the process, it’s still unclear all the differences between celiac disease, gluten free allergy, gluten free intolerance, gluten free sensitivity, and gluten free preference. What seems to work best for me in communicating my particular situation is to state I do not have a gluten free allergy, but have a gluten free preference. This means I do not need my food cooked using a separate area in the kitchen, with separate pots and pans, separate utensils, etc. But if you have some gluten free bread in the back you can quickly heat up, I’m all for it. Then I will order off the menu items I know that are gluten free like proteins, potato products, rice products, veggies and fruits, etc. If there is a questionable item with a sauce or something, I will inquire with the waiter to ask the chef if there is flour in it. This process seems to work for me as I do not get sick anymore and continue to reap the benefits of having gluten out of my diet.
All of that being said, these are my experiences on NCL’s Pride of America. The first night we ate in one of the main dining rooms. I asked the waiter if he had any gluten free bread. He inquired if I had an allergy and I told him no, it was just a sensitivity. He did not seem to understand this as I tried to explain to him I don’t need a special meal, etc. It was lobster night so I enjoyed surf n turf, baked potato, and vegetables. But, the gluten free bread never arrived. The next night we ate in the other dining room. I explained to the waiter I had a gluten free preference (preference seems to be the magic word, not sensitivity) and a few minutes later I had four slices of gluten free bread and warmed up English muffin. They were delicious!
The specialty restaurants were fantastic. One night we ate in the Teppanaki restaurant. I asked the waiter if there was any flour in any of the sauces or salad dressing. To my joy, there was not. I was able to eat the entire meal. Please note that I will eat regular soy sauce as I’ve never been sick from that and there is soy sauce used in the restaurant. But, here was the real test – the Italian restaurant ‘La Cucina’. I did notify the restaurant in advance I would be eating gluten free. I was brought gluten free bread with four flavored oils in the beginning of the meal. Even though the entrée I selected didn’t include pasta, I ordered the gluten free pasta anyways to try it. It was a
rainbow type pasta and cooked perfectly. Well done La Cucina!
The buffet was quite phenomenal. I did not have a bad item the entire week and we ate there 1-2 times a day. There were so many products to choose from that naturally did not have gluten in them I certainly never felt deprived.
I give NCL’s Pride of America two thumbs up for their service, food, and handling of gluten free.
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Dominique Barba, CTIE, ECC, TAE