Gluten Free Cruise To Nowhere
We have just returned from a three night Cruise to Nowhere on Royal Caribbean and I want to share our gluten-free experience. This cruise is open to all Singapore residents. The ship is sailing at half capacity but with a full crew. It departs and returns from Singapore's Marina Bay Cruise Center with no ports of call. At the moment, there are 2, 3, and 4 night cruises available between now and the end of June 2021.
I traveled with my husband, No-Wheat-Pete, who is gluten intolerant. (Note: Teen-celiac and her brother did not join us on this cruise, but I would love to take them in the future.)
I won’t spend time telling you all about the pool, entertainment, activities, or all the new rules. Instead, let’s focus on what you all really want to know: gluten-free food.
I sent two emails through the Royal Caribbean website under the category of Guests with Special Needs. I listed our sailing reservation and information and asked for information about gluten-free options. I did not get a reply from them.
To be honest, I could have followed up on this further. If teen-celiac was coming with us, I would have put more effort in to reaching someone about the food. If you need a reply, it is best to reach them through the USA contact information.
Soon after we boarded, we headed down towards the main restaurant and asked to confirm our gluten-free request. It was not listed on our reservation, but they added it right away and let us know it would not be a problem.
We ate dinner and breakfast in the main dining room each day. On the first night we spoke to our waiters about gluten-free and met with the Head Waiter who oversees food allergies. No problems. They checked with the chef for each dish we requested. If something we asked for could not be prepared strictly gluten-free, they let us know.
One of the nice perks about cruises is that you have an assigned table and the same waiters for dinner through the whole voyage. It is especially nice on the second day when you arrive and they already know your dietary needs.
Although we had a different table and waiter for breakfast, we often saw our evening waiters in the dining room and they went out of their way to bring No-Wheat-Pete gluten-free bread.
There are many buffets on the ship. We were able to request a chef to walk through the safe options with us. There were plenty of items for No-Wheat-Pete to eat and the chef offered to prepare gluten-free pasta for him.
We did not make on reservation at the specialty restaurants on the ship. From what I had researched previously, they are less able to accommodate dietary restrictions.
The impact of Covid-19 on our experience
New dining and social distancing rules for Covid-19 are beneficial for gluten-free dining.
- All buffet food is served to you by a staff member. This cuts down on the risk of cross contamination from shared utensils.
- There are barriers in front of every station. You just need to point to what you would like and a chef will plate it and hand it to you.
- There are no common containers for butter or jam. Condiments are all served in sealed containers or personal size dishes.
- On a Cruise to Nowhere, there are no port calls or excursions, thus no need to worry about packing a gluten-free lunch to go.
- The menus are all on the Royal Caribbean app. It was helpful to be able to look through the dinner menu in advance and decide on a few options to ask about.
Things that make me happy...
At the Windjammer buffet I stopped by the bread station. I could see a plate of gluten-free bread on the counters wrapped in cling film. I asked the server about it and he told pointed to the dedicated toaster and told me that they change gloves before toasting it. Beautiful!
Each room as a little mini-fridge. It is not large, but fine for chilling drinks or keeping snacks. You are allowed to bring food and drinks back to the room if you wish.
During the cruise No-wheat-Pete ate:
- Gluten-free toast
- Gluten-free pancakes
- Escargot in butter sauce (with gf bread)
- Salmon Gravlax
- Ahi tuna & vegetables over rice
- Prime rib and baked potato
- Baked sole over jasmine rice
- Creme brûlée
- Gluten-free chocolate cake
And much, much more.
- Pack a small carry bag to hold your phone, room key, mask, reading glasses, etc.
- Bring a lanyard with a pouch to hold your key card. You will need to scan it each time you enter a new area of the ship. You can wear it around your neck for easy access.
- Stick with the main dining rooms. The kitchens are well equipped to handle gluten-free and other dietary restrictions. The buffets are a good back up choice, but they will have less safe options and will take more time to sort out. If you just want a little snack such as a bowl of fruit or a salad, the buffet is a fine option.
- Ask and ask again. If the host or waiter is not sure what is gluten-free, ask to speak with the chef. If the chef tells you something is not gluten-free, believe him (or her).
Learn more about living gluten-free with our Gluten Free Bootcamp.