My wife and I went on an Alaskan Cruise recently and loved much of the experience, but my wife is gluten-free, because she has Celiac Disease! Boy did she have a terrible problem!!
FOOD..BEWARE, BE VERY AWARE, IF YOU ARE GLUTEN FREE BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE A CLUE WHAT THIS MEANS!! On Day 1 my wife asked a greeter in the Lido Buffet Area about what items them have for lunch for someone with Celiac Disease. He looked at her like he was going to catch a terrible disease and actually backed away from her!!! He then told her, "how am I to know what you can and cannot eat?"!! She was discouraged, but walked away so I followed. She stopped at the Italian area to ask if they had any gluten free items. She was told they had pizza and pasta, but she had to wait 30 minutes, which she did. When 30 minutes had passed, she went over to pick up her Pizza. She was told she had to get in line, again. Once it became her turn, she asked for her gluten free Pizza and before the server handed her the pizza, he cut it with the pizza cutter he had just used on a regular pizza which does contain gluten. She then told me she could not eat that, for which he replied, why, it is gluten free pizza. She told him that now it was contaminated because he cut her pizza with the knife he had just used on the regular pizza. He got a little upset with her, and shrugged his shoulders and then threw her pizza in the trash, and asked VERY rudely if she needed another. She just walked away! We were very discouraged!
At dinner that same evening, we went to our table that was assigned to us, looking forward to dinner because she had found very little (tomato's and lettuce) for lunch. We sat down and asked what items could she choose from or what items on the menu were for her. The server looked at her like she was speaking Russian and he was from Indonesia! She then told him she had filled out the paperwork two months ago because she had Celiac Disease. He then looked very confused and said he could not guarantee they had anything for her, and he knew nothing about me having any disease!! We told him it meant she was gluten free, and that we needed to speak with his supervisor. To make a very long story not any longer, she was given salad dressing that was not gluten free and fish for dinner with a sauce that was definitely NOT gluten free! She was very ill for the first 2 days of our cruise!! We could not get too far from a restroom, and she was in terrible pain all night and most of the second day!!! We could tell you many other stories, but why? I am sure you get the drift of the problems we ran into!!
We had to make a decision as to how to get food that she could eat, and not ruin our cruise. So, we went to the Pinnacle Grill and found the Chef (Andrew). We explained to him our problem, and from then on we ate in the Pinnacle Grill or ordered a shrimp cocktail from room service. Andrew did a great job, and gave my wife many wonderful gluten free meals!! The only problem was you have to pay extra for the Pinnacle. So we did have a vacation that cost us much more because we ate lunch in the Pinnacle ($20) or dinner in the Pinnacle ($50), or if we were in Port we found food she could eat. Our first day in Juneau, we went to a grocery store (had to pay $44 for a taxi) to stock up on gluten free foods for our room, so we did not have to pay every meal for food we had been promised was part of our cruise price, but was not supplied!!
CABIN and ENTERTAINMENT: We just loved our room, a SA suite, and found the entertainment to be top quality!! We think the Entertainment was the best we had seen in 10 years on a cruise ship!!
EMBARKATION AND DEBARKATION: They were both great and we were on and off very quickly. Signs need to be posted for Suite Cabins for priority boarding, which we not found in Seattle, and would have been a good thing!!
SERVICE: WE FOUND THE SERVICE TO BE JUST A GRADE OF A, C- to D+, except for our Cabin Attendants! They were great, and did everything and anything we needed!! We give them an A plus!!
I feel The Westerdam is beautiful and very nice looking, but the service and the food problems are big enough to keep us going on Celebrity because they know was gluten free means, and my wife has a right to food that she can eat on a cruise ship! The attitude of many employees was bland, and they seemed to need education about Celiac/gluten free. When the head Chef in the dining room came to our table, he just blamed a lack of knowledge, but it was NOT his fault, because he had tried to tell them, but they just have a hard time learning and understanding this, because of the language sometimes. I refuse to accept his explanation!!! They were excuses for his inability to do his job!! My wife was very ill for 2 days because he did not think it was important enough to fix!!! AGAIN I SAY, IF YOU OR A FAMILY MEMBER HAS CELIAC DISEASE, THINK TWICE ABOUT THE WESTERDAM, even though it is a beautiful ship with great entertainment!!
We did not get to go to the Hubbard Glacier, but the captain did take us to Tracy Arm which was wonderful and very appreciated!!