Cruise ship cuisine - gluten-free dining on the Independence of the Seas
GOOD TO KNOW: https://www.royalcaribbean.com
Ports of Call: Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica
Specialties: Buffet, dining room, specialty dining (additional charge), fast food (additional charge)
Gluten free: Excellent menu in the dining room, no labeling in the buffet
Other: Room service is available at no extra charge. This is a great option for early mornings in port.
Three women, one stateroom, and five days of dancing on the first ever Zumba Cruise . . . what could possibly go wrong? <wink> Traveling with a restricted diet, I am always a little uneasy about dining options. Will they have anything gluten-free? Can I trust the kitchen staff to take appropriate care in preparing my food? I had visions of being stuck on a floating resort, wasting away and hangry while surrounded by the most enticing gluten-filled food known to humankind. Food allergies and intolerances are becoming more prevalent and many companies — including cruise lines — are doing their best to accommodate high maintenance eaters. Royal Caribbean is no exception. Food is a big deal on cruises. There's a lot of it, it's readily available, and with a few exceptions, it's included in the cost of the cruise.
Here's what I found on board the Independence of the Seas.
The Independence of the Seas relies on Windjammers Cafe, an enormous buffet with spectacular ocean views, to feed the masses throughout the day. Buffets are not my favorite for several reasons but they are especially challenging for a gluten-free eater. Labeling is rare and the absence of dedicated fryers and the possibility of cross contamination make buffets the wild west of dining. Risk aside, I loved that I could pop in anytime and grab a quick bite without wasting time on full service dining and an added bonus, there was always a large selection of fresh fruit and salad bar items. With all the calories we were burning (Zumba from sun up to sun down), light fresh meals were perfect for lunch. Breakfast was easy, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit and bacon. I don't trust chaffing dish eggs with unknown ingredients and preferred to order from the omelet bar where they are cracking actual eggs in a pan. Gluten-free bread and buns were available at every meal for sandwiches, burgers and toast. With the exception of a sign for GF bread, nothing was labeled so I had to take my chances with the bacon, deli meat, and hamburger patties. All were fine for me.
Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear Dining Rooms
A note to readers:
I am gluten sensitive/intolerant so I am not overly concerned with possible cross contamination. If you have severe reactions, I recommend taking additional precautions.