Hawaii has always been a bucket list trip for me so having the chance to board Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America in August was a dream come true! I really didn’t know what to expect because I’ve traveled enough to know that pictures on the internet never quite do justice. Because of this, I wanted to be in great shape and health for this trip so that I could enjoy every moment I had on the Islands of Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai.
Leading up to the trip I was taking extra precautions to ensure that I didn’t have any reactions to gluten before the trip! I wanted to get on the ship with a perfectly health gut but I also hoped that I wouldn’t experience any problems while on the ship. I had just recently got over an unpleasant sailing experience in July (because of both taste and cross-contamination…) and was hoping not to go through that again! So basically, my nerves were shot! I really wasn’t sure what to expect from Norwegian Cruise Line when it came to a gluten allergy and I am definitely the kind of person who likes to know what I’m getting into!
That’s why I was so relieved to be put at ease from the very moment we got on the ship! The first waitress we had at lunch was completely knowledgeable of food allergies and was able to go through everything with me that was gluten free and explain that it was safely prepared. I was ecstatic that I was able to have a favorite of mine that I very rarely have to opportunity to enjoy, sea scallops!
Whether I was just on cloud nine because I was in Hawaii or it was actually true, I must say that these were the best, perfectly cooked, and most flavorful scallops I have ever had! I couldn’t have been more pleased with my very first meal aboard the ship!
Dinner the first night was just as impressive. As soon as I told my waiter of my gluten allergy he went over the entire menu with me! He didn’t just list off what I could choose from, he literally went down the line going over every choice on the menu and took the time to explain why certain items were not an option. He also let me know that they do have a gluten free pasta that they can substitute and that it would just take an extra 15 or 20 minutes to prepare but if a pre-order is placed for your meal they will have it ready for you so that you don’t have the extra wait. I never took advantage of the gluten free pasta, though. There were just so many wonderful options to try that I never got the chance.
I also spoke with one of the managers who explained to me that if there was anything on the menu that I wanted that was not gluten free that I could pre-order the meal and they would especially prepare it gluten free for me! That is the first time that I have ever been offered that on a ship and I was floored by it! Norwegian’s Pride of America really pulls out all of the stops for the passengers with allergies. They are not afraid to go out of their way to make each person enjoy their dining experience.
Our entire cruise I only ate in the main dining rooms and specialty restaurants because buffets frighten me to death. I did however walk through to see what they had to offer. I was definitely surprised when I walked past their “made to order” station to see a sign that said they prepare gluten free options upon request. That’s definitely something that I have not seen in the buffet aboard other cruises.
Also, if you book a long or all day excursion that includes a meal, all you have to do is inform them of your allergy and they will be sure to have a meal prepared especially for you to suit your needs that day.
Each day we enjoyed breakfast in Cagney’s steakhouse. Only those with suites aboard the ship can have breakfast here. They do open for lunch for anyone but there is a charge per-person.
I was so pleased to find out that I had options beyond eggs and bacon for breakfast. They had muffins, toast, and waffles! I had the gluten free waffles multiple times throughout our cruise because they were absolutely divine!!! I also tried the blueberry muffin and all I will say is that if you’re going to have one then eat it right away while it is warm. It is delicious and soft but if you let it cool it becomes dry and hard as a rock! I know this because I decided to save it for our excursion one day since it was going to be long and we wouldn’t make it back in time for lunch on the ship. I ate it, but it was quite the task…
Aside from our first day, there was only one day when we were actually on the ship for lunch. We ate at Cagney’s again and I chose to have the brie burger. I expected to just have the burger without a bun which I am use to doing at some restaurants but I was pleasantly surprised with a gluten free burger bun that was absolutely delicious!
I took quite a few opportunities to try things I normally wouldn’t on this trip and even though I learned of a few things that aren’t quite my taste, I was never disappointed by the quality of both food and service. I was even able to learn of some new things that I never knew I would enjoy such as swordfish. I hadn’t even considered trying it in the past but this time around I decided to give it a go and found that I truly enjoy it! Now I know to order it the next time it is offered to me as an option.
Two nights on our cruise we decided to try out the specialty restaurants. The first we tried was Cagney’s Steakhouse which is a complete transformation for dinner from what it is like for breakfast and lunch. Of all the steakhouses I have tried, I must say this experience was my favorite. We had tried Cagney’s on another Norwegian ship a few years prior and were not that impressed but decided to give it a second chance and I am so glad we did.
What a difference! My favorite part of the meal was the bread! I never thought I would say that over steak but there it is. I’ve just said it. Don’t get me wrong, the steak was excellent but the bread stole the show for me. I ate so much that I hardly left enough room for the rest of my meal.
We had a waitress that had already served us at breakfast a few times so she was aware of my allergy and took initiative to have gluten free bread sent up. The bread is Pao de Queijo which is a Brazilian cheese bread which they have brought up to Cagney’s from Moderno, the Brazilian Steakhouse on board. It is so heavenly that the first thing I did when I returned home was look up a recipe for it and made it with dinner!
The second specialty restaurant we decided to try was Moderno because…Brazilian cheese bread, of course!!! I was so thankful that I was able to eat at the specialty restaurants because the cruise line we had previously sailed with in July had said for gluten free, I had to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the main dining room only and that they would not be able to accommodate me in any specialty restaurant which was extremely disappointing for me. What a difference on Pride of America where they would take special care of me wherever I chose to eat!
Once again, the food did not disappoint at all! How could it? It’s meat!!! By the end of our meal I had so much meat in my stomach that I felt like I could burst! Not to mention the amount of meat left over on my plate. Good grief! That night I learned my greatest weakness…when I eat at a restaurant with servers walking around offering me a slice of a huge chunk of meat I no longer have the ability to say, “No, thank you.” The only thing I wasn’t able to have was the Brazilian pork sausage because it contains gluten but I was definitely not short on options. I had Leg of Lamb, Filet Mignon, Bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon, Flank Steak, Beef Ribs, Bacon-wrapped Chicken Breast, and a Parmesan Chicken Drumette as well as a few slices of brown supar and cinnamon Pineapple. I never even touched the side dishes! And dessert….we didn’t even bother looking at the options because there was no way we could eat it. If you ever decide to eat at Moderno, which I strongly suggest you do, then make sure you go extremely hungry!
I am happy to report that I left this cruise as happy and healthy as I did when I walked on. Though, possibly a few pounds heavier. If you have concerns about eating gluten free on a cruise ship I can tell you from my own experience that Pride of America is a great option! You will be able to fully enjoy every moment you spend in Hawaii and every meal you eat!
Take a video tour of Pride of America