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gluten free carnival cruise

A GFFR 1 star badgeCarnival cruise review was not what I would have considered one of the most difficult writing tasks to have for this site. But it is. It’s not that the words won’t flow, but rather it’s my inability to find a way to write a balanced review. Typically when I have a negative-leaning restaurant review, I will still offer up something positive. A restaurant being a good option for a quick appetizer and glass of wine or suggesting a place is great if you want to eat light, for example. Sadly, there’s not one redeeming comment I can make about the Carnival cruise experience other than the company I was cruising with–which Carnival can’t be given the credit.

Here are a few stories from this gluten free cruise experience:

  • The first night on the ship (this means I was at sea and could not get off) I asked our server for a gluten-free menu. He asked if I had met with someone at the hosting booth in a different restaurant (how would I know to do that??) earlier in the day. I had not. Flippantly, the server said, “I am not sure what we can do for you for tonight. Make sure to see someone tomorrow so we can have food for you tomorrow.”
  • I didn’t meet one Carnival employee in the casual dining areas who understood what it meant when I said I couldn’t have gluten.
  • Even after speaking to someone at the host booth the morning of the second day, I continued to have issues with my food, becoming sick every single night of the cruise.
  • I witnessed the most egregious cross contamination I have ever seen when I watched one of the staff  make my “gluten-free” pizza. Instead of eating the pizza, I ate dry lettuce from the buffet that night, praying I wouldn’t be sick.

My main priority each time we docked was to find safe food to eat, trying to eat big lunches so I wouldn’t be very hungry at dinner on the cruise. Had I not been successful, I can’t imagine how much worse my health would have been at the end of the cruise. As it was, it took almost a month to feel well after this trip.

While this  Carnival cruise review is harsh, and there could be gluten-free foodies who have had successful Carnival cruise experiences, I would caution anyone considering this cruise line. Unlike a restaurant where you can walk out to find another one, you are at sea with no other options. It’s too big of a risk in my option.

In the time it has taken to write this review, I did think of something positive about the Carnival cruise.

At least the ship didn’t sink.

If, for some reason, you are interested in booking a Carnival cruise, this is a link to their booking website.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly (Based on a Sprue Story) June 25, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Oh brother! This sounds like a horrible experience; I’m sorry you had to go through it. Just curious, had you let the cruise organizers know before booking that you were going to need gluten-free food? (I assume you did, just thought I’d ask.) I have to say, a cruise is something I had little interest in doing before I had to go gluten-free, and zero interest now. Captive on a boat with zero control over my food supply, watching everyone else stuff their faces without a care? No, thank you.
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Gluten-Free Foodies June 25, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Hi Molly!

I did let them know, but the information didn’t seem to make it to the staff on board. Please don’t give up on the idea of a cruise. I have a GREAT cruise review of a different cruise line that will be publishing soon!


K June 25, 2014 at 11:29 pm

I went on carnival elation April 5-10- first cruise since diagnosis and had a similar experience as yours. I stopped eating my third meal in and just relied on fruit/packaged items I brought. I couldn’t wait to get home! I filled carnival in on the post-cruise review everyone fills out, but have yet to hear anything back. No more cruises for me (and no recommendations for any gf people I know who inquire about carnival).


Gluten-Free Foodies June 26, 2014 at 1:36 am

I am so sorry you had the same experience! Hopefully Carnival will respond to your feedback and make adjustments to accommodate gluten-free diners traveling with them. Please check back with us soon. We have a VERY positive review of a different cruise line. We would hate to see gluten-free foodies give up on the idea of enjoying the cruise experience.


Sandy June 26, 2014 at 1:28 am

I have been on 3 carnival cruises and had fantastic service and never an issue. If you are going to cruise you must let the cruise line know 30 days in advance so they can be prepared. They have a dedicated area in the kitchen for food allergy preparation. There is a person dedicated to you and making sure all your needs are taken care of. The food is excellent and from soup to nuts it can be made gluten free they even surprised me eggs Benedict. I did not get sick once the key is that you have to make the cruise line aware of your allergy in advance.


Gluten-Free Foodies June 26, 2014 at 1:38 am

I am happy to hear someone with a gluten issue actually had a positive experience with Carnival. With early notification of my issue, Carnival wasn’t capable of meeting my gluten-free needs which led to serious health issues for me. I am happy to hear others have had positive experiences.


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