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)