A VERY VEGAN (and Gluten-Free) DISNEY CRUISE

The picture of my son above should have a caption reading, “Dreams really do come true” OR “I succeeded…hinting and mentioning something for 2 years straight eventually wears-down the parents!!!”

My family and I just returned from an amazing vacation to Florida and the Bahamas.  So, brace yourselves…the slide show follows…

I never imaged that I would go on a Disney Cruise, or any cruise for that matter, but after two years of begging by my son who knew every bit of trivia about the Disney Dream (his knowledge base is actually quite impressive…he would absolutely ACE the entire Jeopardy category if there was one), we caved and boy am I glad that we did.  My kids are now 10 and almost 6, which made this vacation so memorable since my son is still young enough the enjoy Disney and my daughter is now old enough to remember and appreciate the vacation.  Disney also does a fantastic job planning activities for all ages.  My daughter really liked the pirate theme one of the days (she is currently OBSESSED with Jake and the Neverland Pirates).  Do you like her pirate face?

One concern I had about being on a cruise ship was food.  Would they be able to cater to my daughter’s food allergies (dairy, egg, and gluten)?  Would I have anything to eat?  I knew there was a salad bar, so I was prepared to eat salad the entire time if need be.  Let me tell ya…I need not have spent a minute worrying about it.  Disney was abso-fricken-lutely amazing when it came to our food limitations!!!  Everyone in the dining room was so knowledgeable about food allergies and since our waiters followed us every night to each restaurant, there was no need to re-tell our story every meal.  My daughter was given anything and everything she could have wanted.  They prepared her special dairy, egg, and gluten-free pancakes whenever she wanted them, served her rice milk ice cream at dessert, and even had gluten-free bread rolls at the ready.  All of this despite the fact that I NEVER gave them a heads-up about her issues prior to the cruise.  They were crazy accommodating.  I’d say the biggest disapointment was the fact that the self-serve ice cream bar on the top deck did not have a dairy-free option.  I had to consciously steer her away from it because she REALLY wanted some.  It would have been nice for them to have some sorbet in the line-up.

Disney has their own island in the Bahamas called Castaway Cay (see pictures above).  The night before we docked there our head waiter, Simone (from Italy) , asked us if we would like to have them send some food to the island for her lunch.  We told them that pasta would be fine, but when I went to the restaurant and asked Simone for her meal, he presented me with three separate meals for her and said, “We want to make sure she is happy with her meal and has a choice.  Oftentimes children change their minds.”  She had pasta with tomato sauce, a hamburger on a gluten-free bun (she does eat meat on occasion), and a tray of sides.  They also sent the most gorgeous fruit platter for me since they knew I eat a plant-based diet.  It was HUGE and had watermelon, honeydew, cherries, grapes, pineapple, and raspberries.  I was blown away with their service.  I wish I had pictures of the dishes for you, but we had some camera trouble that day.

I had wonderful vegan options to choose from at every meal whether it was a buffet, in a dining hall, or at their swankier restaurants.  This is a picture of the appetizer I had on the first night (straight off the menu).

The second or third night (It is already a blur) my husband and I made reservations to go to Palo for dinner.  As I looked over the menu they had a fancy baked casserole with beans and veggies that I thought I would have.  When I asked the server to prepare it without dairy she took my order and I thought that was what I would be having.  A few minutes later the Maître d’ came out and told me that the chef would like to prepare me a vegan meal from appetizer through dessert and asked me if I that would be agreeable with me.  I was so excited that the chef would go to the trouble of doing that and of course gave my blessing.  If I had only known how wonderful it would be, I would have bolted to the cabin to grab my camera.  It is a crime that I am not able to show you what the chef created for me.  It was honestly the best vegan meal I have ever had.  We started with a huge antipasto platter and I was then given an appetizer with three separate vegan terrines that were so tasty…how the chef prepared this all so quickly I have no idea!  My entree was braised mushrooms with greens and a vegan mushroom cream sauce and my dessert was lime sorbet and strawberry basil sorbet with berries on the side.  Ah-may-zing!  I am still so impressed as I sit here and write about it over a week after I had the meal.

We were also able to spend a day in Nassau at the Atlantis Resort (pictures above).  And yet again, I was able to find a vegan option in the form of a wrap (not gluten-free).  That was a very fun day of water-parking it.  And to prove the fact that we do live in a very small world, as I was walking back up to the place we ordered our lunch (to get ketchup for my son), I ran into a family from my son’s school!  They are such great people and huge supporters of our community through their two local businesses, Swirlz (self-serve froyo ALWAYS with a sorbet option…yay!), and Juice-It-Up (where I can always go for a quick carrot juice).  And…oh my goodness it can rain in the Bahamas!  We got DRENCHED walking back to the ship.  A rain gutter in the terminal building even came crashing down as we were walking back because the rain was coming down so hard.  Somehow I don’t think my mother-in-law’s trash bag helped her much!  Note to self…white dresses become REALLY see-through when wet!

I so highly recommend this cruise.  We all had such a great time and made memories that will last a lifetime.

After the cruise we opted to stay in Orlando for 5 more days and hit the theme parks.  We started with Disney’s Blizzard Beach (where they made me an off-menu veggie burger!), then went to Epcot (where I had a wonderful grilled veggie pita), and we ended on a high note by going to Universal’s Islands of Adventure where my daughter thought she’d died and gone to heaven in Dr. Suess Land …

…and my son and I completely geeked-out in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter… UNBELIEVABLE!!!  I am still giddy when I think about walking through Hogsmeade and Hogwarts, drinking Butterbeer (dairy and gluten-free…bonus!), eating at the Three Broomsticks (not as vegan friendly, but corn and fruit did the trick on a hot day), buying my son a wand at Olivander’s Wand Shop, walking through Zonkos, and my son buying a chocolate frog at Honeydukes.  JK Rowling really and truly brought her books to life.  Phenomenal!

There was so much to do in Orlando that we barely touched upon everything.  In our down time (what down time?), we also did miniature golf, went go karting, and my mother-in-law did some expert shopping at the outlets.

I guess that means we will need to make another trip…although next time I say we do it during a different season…holy humidity Batman!

For more tips on gluten-free cruising, please go to http://www.celiac.com/blogs/54/The-First-Day-of-Your-Gluten-Free-Cruise.html (NOTE – this link is to a gluten-free article and is not a vegan article)

 

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27 Comments

Filed under Gluten Free, Product Reviews, Services, Vacation, Vegan, Vegetarian

27 responses to “A VERY VEGAN (and Gluten-Free) DISNEY CRUISE

  1. That’s awesome!! So good to know! Looks like you and your family had a blast!

  2. Looks like so much fun! ps-I’m excited I found your website. After reading this Mom’s Guide (http://www.1dental.com/moms-guide/), I was inspired to pay more attention to how much sugar my son eats, which lead to looking at processed foods and our whole diet in general. I am excited about making healthier choices for us this year.

  3. What a wonderful family vacation. I’m so glad the food preparations went way better than expected. Our oldest daughter also had concerns going on our Carnival Cruise since she is a vegetarian. She had more than enough options and came home very happy too.

  4. I’d heard that Disney Cruises were very accommodating, but I am blown away by your experience! That is so awesome! I’m so glad to know my son can have some fun vacations when he gets old enough.

  5. as soon as seamus is old enough, i’m so sold on trying out a disney cruise – your trip sounded totally amazing!!!!! and I might just make up some food allergies just to see what they come up with ;)!

  6. Oh, Gretchen, it looks like you and your children had an amazing time, and how great that the Disney folks were smart enough to have all of their special dietary needs under control! (And how great for you that you only had to explain them once!) Your family is beautiful. I’m so glad you had such a lovely vacation!

  7. livinglearningeating

    I love Disney! I’ve never thought about the cruises but after that…I’m tempted! That appetizer looks delicious, btw :)

  8. What great news that one doesn’t have to be an outcast to be a vegan! Cause this is about as mainstream as it gets!

  9. Looks like you and your family had a blast. My family went to the Disney parks and Universal around Thanksgiving last year. I was impressed at how Disney was able to accommodate vegans like me.

  10. I’m always impressed by these reports on how accommodating Disney is to vegan diets… Makes me actually want to give them a try! Not a real fan of the whole theme, but I’m definitely intrigued. Looks like fun, at least!

    • It was a lot of fun to watch my kid’s experience the Disney theme, but in my mind I definitely would not have tried it without having kids with me. Now that I have gone on the cruise I realize that it is great whether you have kids or not.

  11. Collette

    I was never big on Disney either. But once we went on our first cruise, we were hooked. Like you we are also vegan and my 10 year old is GF. The staff is so well educated and makes everyone feel comfortable and able to enjoy the experience to the fullest. We never felt deprived. In fact, we’re going again in a few weeks time and my children are most looking forward to all the eating they will be able to do. As vegans, that’s really saying something.

  12. carolina

    I saw an add on TV about the cruise and would love to take my daughter, now 2years old, when she is a little older, but my main concern was that we are Vegans and since you pay a bunch a money for the cruise with meal included, I was worried I was going to be paying for food I don’t eat and starve the whole cruise. thank you for all the tips . I’ll really look into going in a few years.

    • Trust me…you will not starve! The buffets had a lot of options and I always had a viable dinner option from the restaurants as well. I do however wish that they had a dairy-free ice cream option at the ice cream bar on the deck by the pool because it would have been nice to be able to serve myself an icy treat along with everyone else on the cruise (they had almond milk ice cream in the restaurants, but not on deck). Hopefully they start serving a sorbet along with the other ice cream.

  13. So good to hear! My daughter, son, and I are registered as vegan for our cruise, and my son is severely allergic to gluten, nuts, eggs, dairy, meat and a bunch of others we haven’t really concluded yet as he has EE. We leave Sunday! I have heard nothing but good things. I just got back from a trip to Turkey, that aside from the yogurt at every meal, was amazingly vegan friendly as well.

    • Collette

      We just got back from our 2nd Disney cruise. Just be aware that even though you state your dietary need when booking the cruise, the chef and cruise staff don’t know until you tell them. We were not nearly as impressed with the food this time. I realize now that what we should have done is to make not just our dietary needs known but our food preferences. We got bland food the whole time. Maybe for people that are used to the SAD diet, it would have been okay; but for us, we would liked to have had food with more interest, definitely more spices. They will make what you ask but you have to ask. Also be prepared to order your meals for the following day, the night before and to have to go to specific restaurants on board to get them. I don’t want to rain on your parade. I’m hoping these tips will actually make things easier on you. I felt like so much of this cruise was focused on making sure we got the right food. If I had had a game plan, I think it would have been more relaxing for me.

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  15. I’ve wanted to take a cruise but I had no idea they were so accommodating. I had just assumed a cruise was out of the question. I’m so glad I read this. I’m wanting my boys to both be potty trained before we try it though.

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  17. Allison

    So glad you posted this, as we are gluten free, grain free vegans and are going on a Disney cruise in a few weeks. I was worried about food options and am now looking forward to it. Thanks!

  18. Beth-Ann Weiss

    thank you for sharing your experience! I am vegan and my family is veggie almost vegan and we are going on Disney Dream next week. You have helped me feel more relaxed about the food situation!

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