Tag-Archive for » Gluten free food «

Cruise Food's Ever-Changing World

Food has always been challenging for cruise lines, which have developed an amazing ability to handle just about everything. In the early days of cruising, the challenge was to make sure the customers didn’t refer to “cruise ship food” the way patients refer to “hospital food.”

From those pre-historic culinary times, you can now dine in restaurants that are often the equal of the finest of fine dining in big cities, and that’s become pretty much industry-wide.

But there are always glitches.

Today’s world includes more food allergies than ever before, and cruise lines have to cope. It doesn’t matter what makes the customer unhappy with their food so, while the onus is always on the person who is allergic, cruise lines want happy, satisfied clients. A big one these days is gluten…or more specifically, no gluten.

A couple of decades ago, it sounded like a word lifted from a German dictionary. Today, grocery stores have sections of gluten-free food. Restaurants in growing numbers serve gluten-free food — and that means food that has not so much as touched anything containing gluten. The reaction can be devastating for the sufferer.

We’ve started to notice more and more gluten-free items on cruise-ship menus, in part because we have a granddaughter with Celiac disease. It’s the old story, isn’t it? You don’t pay attention to things like this until it touches you.

The same goes for cruise lines. Years ago, they probably would have thought gluten might be from a German dictionary, too.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Celebrity Reflection
7 nights
December 13, 2014
Miami (return): San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

Scaling Back on the Food Issue

So you're worried about packing five extra pounds, are you, after a just-completed holiday season of over-eating?


"So you're going on a one-week cruise?" said the dentist, his fingers and instruments making it impossible to answer. "I went on a cruise once and I wasn't worried about putting on weight. You know what the experts say?"

Again, no answer.

"They say — and 'they' are the experts in gaining weight — that's it's physiologically impossible to add more than two pounds in one week. It's also physiologically impossible to lose more than two pounds in one week. Physiologically impossible!"

There's another reason to relax, one that didn't come from the dentist.

Cruise lines understand passenger concerns about obesity. Their menus are increasingly health-conscious. Check any dining room menu on a ship and you'll find what's low-cal, low-carb, low-fat, vegetarian, gluten-free…items marked to cater to just above everybody's dietary concerns. When we were on the Celebrity Reflection last month, on one evening's menu 16 of the 21 items were gluten-free.

Besides that, portions are smaller. You can still eat as much as you can fit down your throat, but not usually in one serving. Two main courses? Go for it. But the cruise lines have really thrown the guilt complex back at the passenger, where it should be, of course. 

Dessert? You don't have to chow-down on all the chocolate you can find because desserts are smaller, too. Sometimes, three or four bite-sized desserts is better…and better for you.

If all else fails, naturally, you can hit the gym and work it off.

Or…just take the dentist's word for it.

Norwegian Breakaway
7 nights
April 30, 2013
Southampton, New York
 Inside: $749
Cost per day: $107

Dining Getting Royal Treatment


We spent last weekend in Las Vegas, because that's what people who like Jimmy Buffett do when he's playing his tunes for you and 15,000 of your closest friends. And speaking of friends, a woman of our vintage said "Did you eat lots of food?" after we returned, because that's what Vegas used to be known for, and obviously still is…to people who haven't been there for a while.

Well, Vegas has changed, if you hadn't noticed. No more $1.99 buffets — matter of fact, Jimmy's no cheap Buffett either — unless you're a high roller, in which case you don't frequent $1.99 buffets.

Cruise ships were known for the same thing, cheap food, and if you want to make the connection between slots and table games in both places, go ahead. Then cruise lines invented specialty restaurants, to "sell" copious amounts of upscale food for an extra $5 at first…now up to $30 or $35.

That's per person, of course.

Just like airlines are enjoying the fruits of all those extra charges, it seemed cruise lines were profiting, too.

And now?

Now, Royal Caribbean has changed the game. It's upgrading the free food. The icing is off the cake, so to speak. Now the customers want more than copious amounts…they want quality.

Here's what Royal Caribbean is doing:

1. Changing complimentary dining menus to include "dishes infused with regional flavors reflective of the destinations of the world the line’s ships sail to)…translation: dining room patrons want variety.

2. Improving choices for guests with dietary restrictions. For example, daily gluten-free bread offerings will be available upon request, for those with conditions like celiac disease. A new widely-recognized vegetarian symbol will appear in the appropriate place on menus.

3. Ramping up the quality. It's rare that you find dishes like these in the main dining room with any regularity — rack of lamb, surf & turf, premium beef sliders, escargot bourguignonne and “hot from the oven” blueberry peach crumble. You will now.

Royal Caribbean calls it the "next evolution" of dining concepts, which is fine. We call it trying to deliver what used to make cruise ships famous: cheap, good food.

Is Vegas next?

Carnival Miracle
8 nights
January 17, 2013
New York (return): Port Canaveral, Nassau, Freeport
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $49

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