Food Allergies On A Disney Cruise
Before you start reading, please note that this is NOT a sponsored post. Our trip was paid by my hard working family and we were NOT compensated by Disney. We are a multi-generation family of Disney lovers and thought it was time to apply our Disney knowledge and food allergy experience together.
You sat over the computer for more than a few weeks (if not even months) planning the perfect magical adventure for you and your family. You finally hit the “submit” button and its booked! The kids are going to love it, its your first Disney Cruise but one or all of your little ones has food allergies. What do you do? I have four children, and three of them have food allergies with my second child being the most severe. She has allergies to dairy, wheat, barley, rye, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and red food coloring. With multiple food allergies, you would think that we wouldn’t travel. When it comes to vacationing with Disney, I feel that Disney makes a huge effort to put my mind at ease. They aren’t psychic though, as parents we have to follow certain steps to let them know our concerns.
Here are some steps that we took when we went on our Disney Cruise:
Prior to cruise:
- Make notations on your Disney Cruise reservations: If you booked through an agent, you can tell the agent. If you booked online, you can make notes on your reservation and confirmation process online.
- Remember to pack your medications and EPI-pens (at least 2), it is extremely important that you have the medication specific to your needs with you.
- Pack some allergy safe pre-packaged snack in your luggage, it is always wise to have a few safe snacks.
- Pack your favorite allergy safe toiletries like shampoo, soap, conditioner…etc. Just in case what is in the stateroom doesn’t suit your needs.
- If you have allergy children that you plan to check into the kids club make sure you label your child’s medication and EPI-pens. (I like to include the stateroom with the name.) Also, you can pre-print and fill out an allergy action form with a picture attached (this one is from FARE and I always like to keep one handy). You can either hand the form to the Kids Club counselor or attach to your medication. As standard protocol, the Kids Club will also have paperwork to fill out and your child’s picture on file.
- At port check-in, make sure you pick up a Navigator. The Navigator is your cruise daily newsletter and schedule. Make sure you check with the dining representatives, this is good time to (a) make sure all allergies are updated (b) make reservations for adult only dining (c) make any changes with dining assignments.
- At Kids Club check in, we had to fill out paperwork and forms this includes filling out paperwork for EpiPen‘s or any other medication that you may leave with them. The other thing that I noticed was that my allergy children had a red bracelet lock as opposed to a grey bracelet lock this signifies that they had food allergies or special needs. Pretty cool, I am a big fan of visual markers…especially in a room of 25-50 children.
- Go eat, the crew will be directing most people to the pool level buffet but I highly recommend for the first meal you go to the sit down restaurant. This is the most conservative and least chaotic dining option you can take. Have you ever been to an all you can eat buffet with over 2000 people…EXACTLY! I’ll be honest with you, your food will take longer to come out at table service as your assigned server won’t meet you till dinner. Its your first meal on board…lets make it safe!
During the cruise:
Get to know your server, discuss your favorite foods and details of your food restriction. Note: Your server follows you to every dinner (with the exceptions to the special Adult Only Dining at Remy or Palo depending on which ship you are on)? Our server on the Disney Magic was Ricky and the head server was Luis, both were true sweethearts! They took our information the first night of dinner and every night doubled checked the allergies with us. Allergens are put into the computer system and an allergy order form is filled out with your meal. We checked the forms every night with our server when our meal came. I have to say, I got rather attached to little pink forms and our serving team.
You can pre-order your meal, we know that the first night or a new order for an allergy meal can take a while. However, it doesn’t need to be that way, you can pre-order your meals. I recommend that you pre-order ONE day at a time, NOT the whole duration of the trip in one night. If you only have 1 allergy, you can have the dining room’s manager/chef walk you through which food is safe for your allergy. However, we opt to pre-order because of my daughter’s 6+ food allergies. For example on Sunday night, we pre-order the Monday night’s dinner with Ricky and since he met us at every dinner he had it waiting for us. Breakfast and lunch are a little trickier, you need to know where the rest of your family wants to dine. If my family wanted to dine at Cabana’s (buffet style service) for lunch, we pre-ordered my daughter’s lunch then set the destination to be Cabana’s (with an approximate time). When you check in at the location you are dining at, find a cast member who will track down your order for you.
Buffet and quick service, please note that Disney only guarantees allergy-friendly dining at table service. However, this does not mean that you can’t eat at the buffets or the quick service stations. We have been able to get fruit platters, gluten free cereals with rice milk, grilled meats and vegetables. This all depends on your communication and patience level because depending on the number of your allergies as well as your level of comfort it can take longer to get your food.
Castaway Cay, is Disney’s own private island in the Bahamas and is the exclusive port for Disney Cruise line ships on the Bahamian and Caribbean routes. If your trip happens to bring you to this stunning port then you are in for a treat. Arrangements can be made to have food sent from the ship or basic meals to be prepared in the kitchen of the island restaurant, Cookies (this is done through your server). As of November 2017, they had allocated an area in the kitchen in one of the island restaurants to prepare basic safe meals. The regular menu on the island is BBQ themed, this means BBQ chicken, ribs, corn, salads, burger, hotdogs, etc… My daughter was able to have steamed corn, grilled chicken breast, green salads and Lay’s potato chip on the island. They tried to prepare an allergy-safe meal that mimicked the food on the standard menu, I thought that was really sweet.
Plan your celebrations, our last cruise was around my second daughter’s birthday. You can pre-order a celebration online before your cruise but we opted to do something simple on board. We discussed with our server that we would really like to plan a little celebration on the 3rd night of the cruise. Sure enough on the 3rd night we were there, Ricky and Luis came out with the our dining team and sang Happy Birthday to my daughter. To top it off they created a dessert that was safe for her dairy, wheat, barley, rye, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and red food coloring allergy. It was truly magical, pixie dust and all!
My best advice to everyone is be prepared, COMMUNICATE, and ENJOY yourself. Have a magical cruise, I hope you all check back here and let me know how it went.
Food Allergies On A Disney Cruise
Clean Eating Gluten Free Foodie