We chose this cruise and no other, because Princess is the only company that goes inside the Glacier Bay National Park. We traveled in two cabins. Cabin L308 for my husband and myself, and stateroom P222 for my two daughters, Natalia and Cristina, with severe dairy allergy.
Before hand, I checked Allergy eats, Trip advisor and many travel webs to make sure that they knew how to accommodate allergies. The general impression was that they were capable. We called them in advance and checked with them, both in writing and on the phone. They assured us that they had experience with food allergies.
As soon as we set foot on the vessel, we had to talk to the Maitre D’, Mr. Beppe, who, without paying much attention to us, recommended a fixed table and a fixed waiter for the whole Trip. We agreed to it.
While going to the restaurant, I ask a kind Portuguese Mr. Fernando, responsible for Horizon Court buffet area, if they can manage food allergies. He answered “Oh, of course, do not worry. Feel lucky that you ONLY have Lactose Intolerance, because in English, “Alergia a la leche “ it is said Lactose intolerance” he patronized us, poor Spanish that of course do not speak English. If you had Gluten Intolerance… , puff! that is serious!”.
At that moment, my husband and I looked at each other, and knew that we will have problems on board, and soon we were proven right.
Andrew, the waiter assigned to us that night at the Donatello, took my daughter’s order for the following’s day lunch and wrote “dairy allergy”. They were supposed to prepare it separately. He didn't allow me to talk to the chef myself. "That is my job. I know how to do it", he said.
But the following day, having lunch at the Canaletto, another waiter, that was from Philippines, and hardly spoke English, was on duty. And he kept saying “it is safe! Is gluten free!”. We asked him for my daughter’s previously ordered dish and when she had it, she had a reaction.
As we found out later, because the chef Jerry Diaz told us, the waiter didn’t bring her the dish specially prepared for her. He brought her another one. (probably gluten free).
So, we saw the Hubbard Glacier from the Medical Room window, where she received three shots of adrenaline. The doctor Cesmee and the Nurse Pey, where kind and attentive and I will always be grateful to them. But we wanted to leave the vessel. That was serious.
My husband had a conversation with Mr. Nicolas, the customer service manager, and told him that we wanted to disembark. He asked us to stay. He personally guaranteed us my daughter’s safety. And we did. Those were our dreamed holidays.
I must say that the rooms were nice.The excursions too. I was pleased with the quality of the entertainment, although everything was like demodé, out of fashion. I guess it is because the average age of the passengers was 60 and above.
That very night we spoke with chef Abella, at the Horizon Court, and he committed himself to cook for my daughter and saved most of our cruise. Every day, we would go to him and Cristina would ask for simple things like rice or salad or steak or whatever, and he, and his colleague chef would cook for her. Thank you to him too.
During all this time at the cruise, the Court manager Fernando and the Food and Beverage Manager Mr. Nando checked on us at the Horizon Court to apologize and insisted on us having dinner in any of the other restaurants. So much insisted that we felt obliged to give it a try. We told them which night we would go, which dishes Cristina would like to try and they prepared a special dinner for us at the Sabatini.
Apparently, it all went well. But, one hour later, my daughter Natalia called us: Cristina was vomiting and she was having another reaction. We could not believe it. Again at the Medical centre, and again she received an adrenaline shot in the middle of the night. She believes it was the chocolate from the dessert. It probably had traces of milk in it.
They didn’t know how to apologize.Obviously they were ashamed. But the worst thing is that they charged us 750$ for the treatment! We complained and complained and they removed the charges, but no Food and Beverages Manager, no Customer Service Manager, no one, had the guts to face us.
I told them that they will kill somebody one day. There are 2.600 passengers on that ship in every cruise. 4% of USA adults and 8% of USA children have food allergies. Let’s suppose that they are all adults. That makes 104 adult allergic passengers in that vessel. If only 10% of those has severe allergy, they are playing Russian rulette with 10 passengers in each trip. It is only a matter of time that they will accidentally kill somebody.
Good intentions are not enough. You can not have waiters that mix Dairy allergy with Lactose intolerance or Gluten free foods. You can not have cooks that do not look for traces in the foods.
You can not simply afford that. Therefore, with enormous regret, because I believe these gentlemen to be good people, I would not ever recommend this cruise or this company for anybody with food allergies.
I am still waiting to receive the check with the refund of medical expenses charged in my card. And of course, I am still waiting for written apologies from the company.
The cabin was nice. Small but comfortable. The pillow and the duvet were excellent. The balcony, a pleasure.
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As an update. We have received the check for the medical expenses and written apologies from the company. They promise to take care of the gaps in their formation. That speaks well of them. Let's hope that they really do it.