We boarded the Disney Wonder on Sunday April 27th, 2014. I have celiac disease and I'm very sensitive to cross contamination. My husband and son are also gluten intolerant. We chose this vacation to be our first since I developed my condition 2 years ago. This was based on all the great reviews I read about their handling of allergies. We were not disappointed. I've lived in NYC, Los Angeles, and Tokyo and consider myself a 'foodie' so my expectations really weren't that high. On the 5 day cruise, we never got sick and we ate plenty of wonderful food!
After boarding the ship we went strait to the buffet where I asked the head server what was gluten free. He said, why don't we make you something fresh so we can be sure there's no cross contamination. This was a great way to start the trip. They brought me salmon with creamed potatoes that was wonderful. They also put some lightly steamed veggies on the side, but those were a little undercooked for me. In general the breakfast and lunch was not anything too spectacular, but they really made up for it with the dinners. The first night, they brought us GF rolls. They brought regular rolls to the people sitting across from us and asked me if this was ok. I appreciated the concern, but the table was large enough that I wasn't worried about flying crumbs. My dinner was an amazing cheddar potato soup, pasta Bolognese with a champagne cream sauce on the side (I asked for a little heavy cream on the side, something I always do, and they brought me that as well as the beautiful cream sauce) Dessert was a chocolate mousse cake. After finishing dessert they asked what I would like the next day for breakfast and lunch. I was having a really hard time looking at the menus because I was totally stuffed and tired from traveling all day. I asked to look at the menus before the meal on the remaining nights, and this worked out better. You don't have to pre-order your food, but you have a lot more options if you do and the staff seems to appreciate it. Try to show up pretty soon after they open the restaurants though, so anything that had to be prepared ahead of time doesn't sit around too long. We had 1st seating, not sure if that was an important factor in our experience.
Most mornings I had a Mexican omelet with hash browns that I was happy with. My husband and son had waffles and doughnuts. The doughnuts were very good, but the waffles were just an average frozen kind. The pancakes weren't very good either. But, if they were good I would have probably gained more than the 5 lbs that I already gained. So, it may have been a good thing. One of the head servers said they could make gluten free waffles from scratch for us first thing in the morning before they contaminate the waffle iron, but we never tried this. For lunch we often had hamburgers with fries and creme brulee with berries. The rolls were good, but needed to be heated up to keep them soft. Sometimes they did this and other times we had to ask them to. When we went on an excursion that was set to return at 1pm, we spoke to the restaurant manager, Pietro. He took our order and said we needed to be back by 2pm when the restaurant would close. Well, the excursion was delayed and we didn't get back until 2:20. He actually waited in the gangway for 30 min. After we didn't arrive, he put a block on our room key. So, when we tried to board the ship they had a message to give us first. "The burgers were waiting in our room" This was very thoughtful of him and much appreciated since I didn't feel comfortable ordering room service and I didn't want to wait until dinner. Of course since they had been sitting for a while, they really weren't veryt good. But, at that point I was just appreciative to have something to eat. All of the restaurant managers (in the white coats) were wonderful. I tried to give Pietro a tip on the final night, but he said he couldn't accept it. He said please give this to your server instead. So, I did. We gave our wait staff extra tips over what is recommended by Disney. Nadia was our main server and she was wonderful. She ordered us extra entree's and desserts that we didn't even ask for and we usually ended up eating them. She wanted to make sure we were covered incase we didn't like something. I felt bad about waisting some food, but I understood the reason she did this. . . Because it's harder for them to make gluten free things once the kitchen is in full swing if they haven't prepped some of the easily cross contaminated ingredients ahead of time.
I was never jealous of the gluten filled poolside food that so many people were eating. It didn't look very good. I was surprised how many people were going for those options when they could be going to a nice meal at one of the restaurants. When we arrived for lunch or dinner, usually a manager (with a white coat) would recognize us and bring us to our assigned table. The couple of times that this didn't happen, they still asked "does anyone at the table have any food allergies" So, that was nice. They put your order on a pink slip and mark off your allergies in a check box. I usually ordered wine by the glass with dinner in the $6-$9 range. I tried a different one each night. I wasn't overly impressed with the wines. They were good but not great. I'm not sure if ordering the more expensive ones would have made a difference. The only GF beer they had onboard was Omission. I had avoided trying this brand prior to this trip because I was concerned it would cause a reaction. (I drink Green's at home) I had 3 of them onboard and I didn't have a problem with it. If you order it poolside, they bring it in a plastic beer glass. So, my husband immediately asked to see the bottle it was poured from. They brought it out to show me. The same thing happened one night when the rolls looked different. My husband said, "don't eat those, they don't look gluten free" The staff somehow overheard our conversation and brought out the bag to show us that they were indeed gluten free, just a different kind. We weren't speaking that loudly, so we were surprised by this. You get the sense that if anyone gets sick, they get fired immediately. Which, is probably a good policy. I've never eaten anywhere that takes allergies as seriously as they did on the Disney Cruise. You can truly relax and know that you are taken care of. Make sure to tell them about your allergies at the time of booking so they can prepare. I'm not really a cruise fan in general, but I would do a disney cruise again just for the wonderful GF dinner experience. Below are some photo's I took of the meals. I didn't get all of them because sometimes I was too excited to start eating, so I forgot. We unfortunately didn't try Palo, I hear it's totally worth it. But, we were concentrating on spending as much time as possible with our son and it's adults only. The ribs were good on Castaway Island (pre-ordered) I'm not really someone who writes reviews, but I am very appreciative of the safe and pleasant dining experience we had. And, I think it's important for us all in the GF community to write reviews. I rely heavily on them myself and they are the only reason I took this great trip in the first place.
Other than the food, the trip was very nice. My 5 year old son had a great time. The staff was great. I only have two complaints: The pools were very crowded. The adult only pool looked fine, but if you want to swim with your kids, you need to go out early in the morning. And, waking us up at 6:30 over the loud speakers to kick us off the ship when we arrived back in Miami. . . can't we at least get till 9am?? We were all up late dancing and having a blast, so that was really annoying.