When the weather outside is frightful, many families will consider a cruise on the warmer, open seas ever so delightful. For families who have to manage food allergies, considering even just a weekend cruise can trigger a flurry of panic-laden questions. This leads many families to assume a cruise is not a realistic option for them.
“That could not be further from the truth about today’s cruise lines,” says Jennifer Trinidad, travel agent with Modern Travel Professionals, LLC. “Many cruise lines have designated ships and itineraries that focus on families; this goes beyond offering a child rate on an adult cruise.”
Common concerns families have about cruising include meal preparation; managing nut, wheat and dairy allergies (among others); and the crew’s readiness to handle an anaphylactic emergency.
“There are several things for families to think about when researching a cruise,” states Trinidad, who has years of experience planning vacations for clients who have food allergies, including her own school-age child who has several food allergies.
“All of these factors will weigh differently, depending on the age of the child, the extent of the allergies, and the family’s willingness to go a few extra steps in making sure their needs will be met.”
“If you need an EpiPen, make sure you have a doctor’s note and any cruise line specific paperwork completed before you say Bon Voyage,” explains Trinidad. “Remember, not all cruise line staff are qualified to administer prescriptions, including EpiPens, so knowing who, when and where in advance will ease your stress level significantly.”
Questions for the Travel Agent—Before Your Book
Having an agent who understands food allergies is important as they will be more thorough in navigating the pre-deployment and on-board policies that apply to you. Ask the agent about their experience booking trips for families with food allergies. Look for a “full service” agent who will be there to support you throughout the planning process, not just the booking process.
Other questions to ask:
“Whether you’re in the dining room or at the pool deck, never hesitate to ask the serving staff for assistance,” explains Trinidad. “Most staff are more than willing to help in any way possible. If there is a situation that doesn’t seem to be handled properly, ask for the Manager of that dining venue or head to Guest Services for assistance.”
Don’t Say Bon Voyage without These Items in Hand
For additional information, see our related blog articles about "Stress-free Holiday Travel with an Autistic Family Member" and "Vacation Planning Services for Families with ASD and Other Special Needs".
KidswithFoodAllergies.org “What you Need to Know about Cruising with Food Allergies” https://community.kidswithfoodallergies.org/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-cruising-with-food-allergies
Modern Travel Professionals: https://www.moderntravelprofessionals.com
CruiseLine.com “How to Cruise with Food Allergies”
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