Updated April 2017


There is nothing I love more than meeting up with old friends, so when a friend I have not seen for over a year sent me a text to say she was coming to London, I was so excited. Most social meet ups revolve around food or drink, so I started to plan where we could go. With such an extensive array of restaurants and bars in London it was not an easy task. From upmarket American diners, seafood restaurants and exotic Asian buffets, we had a varied selection.

The day before we were meeting she informed me she is a celiac. Having never suffered from a food allergy myself, it was something completely new to me and I have never had the frustration of having to look into food ingredients before. Typical me, the first thing I thought was 'How would she cruise?'


Cruising with a food allergy


I imagine going on a cruise can be daunting for someone with a food allergy or special diet, so after looking into this extensively, I have outlined how the most popular cruise lines cater for guests with food allergies...


P&O Cruises

Before you cruise – P&O Cruises require you to notify them of your food allergy. You will need to contact your agent and inform them of your specific dietary requirements so they can forward it onto the ship.

Onboard – There will already be a note about your food allergy in your booking so the chef will be notified of this before you arrive. However, during your first meal onboard it is advised you inform your Head Waiter or the Maitre’d of your specific restrictions.


Royal Caribbean

Before you cruise – You will need to call your agent before your cruise so they can update your personal information section. Alternatively, you can send an email to specialservices.uk@rccl.com with your name, booking number, ship name and sail date along with your specific dietary requirements. If you require lactose-free/soy milk, ensure you let your agent know prior to sailing. Royal Caribbean request that you advise them of your special dietary requests at least 45 days prior to sailings in US, 90 days in Europe and 100 days for Asian/Australian itineraries. 

Onboard – Royal Caribbean can cater for many food allergies, Gluten-free, kosher, low-fat and low-sodium diets. Vegetarian meals are available in the main dining room as well as the other speciality restaurants and guests do not need to request these meals. The friendly dining staff and chefs will always be on hand and doing there upmost to cater your needs.


Royal Caribbean cruising with a special diet


Celebrity Cruises

Before you cruise – Celebrity Cruises ask that you make them aware of any food allergies before your cruise. You will need to email special_needs@celebrity.com or call your agent in advance. Royal Caribbean request that you advise them of your special dietary requests at least 45 days prior to sailings in US, 90 days in Europe and 100 days for Asian/Australian itineraries. 

Onboard – Celebrity Cruises can cater for several special diets including Kosher, gulten free and low calorie. Celebrity Cruises will automatically send a report to the ship of any special dietary requests prior to sailing date, however it is still advised you remind your Head Waiter during your first meal. Celebrity Cruises offer a great range of special meals including kosher dishes, gluten-free meals and no-sugar-added desserts. 


Carnival Cruise Line

Before you cruise – Special dietary requests are handled onboard, so there is no need to inform them or your agent in advance.

Onboard – During your first meal in the main Dining Room make your allergies known to your Head Waiter. Special diets can be accommodated in the main dining room only.


Cunard Cruise Line

Before you cruise – Cunard require you to inform your agent of any special dietary requirements during the booking process.

Onboard – You will need to inform the staff at the Purser’s desk as soon as you board, as well as reminding your server during meal times.


Cunard Cruise Line special diet


Princess Cruises

Before your cruise – Princess require you to inform them of your food allergies no later than 35 days prior to departure and for some destinations, no later than 65 days prior to departure. This can be done in writing using the line’s Cruise Personaliser online.

Onboard – Confirm your request with the Maitre’d during your first night onboard.


Food is a significant part of cruising and some of the most exquisite menus can be found at sea and it is reassuring to see that this delicious food can still be enjoyed by those who may not feel they can.

After looking into all of the cruise lines, it is clear to see the dining staff and chefs onboard cruise ships cater exceptionally well for all special dining requests. They do not let certain dietary requirements take anything away from their iconic culinary delights.

My advice to anyone worried about going on a cruise because of their diet would be - do not let your food allergy put you off, you can rest assured you will have just as much dining pleasure as everyone else. During your cruise you will be able to experience dishes and treats like nothing else you have ever tasted.

By Sally Grimes