Aaaaaaannnndd… We’re back!

June 15, 2010

Ok, so we’ve been back for a few days.  Had to at least attempt to recuperate.  I took today off work so I could get some requisite odds and ends done, and I’m sad to say that only the odds got done, the ends, I’ll have to squeeze in somewhere in the week.

How was the trip?  I have to say it was OK.  Yes, I realize a cruise that is essentially free (minus tax, and there’s a hefty amount of that…) can’t be all bad, can it?  I got to go snorkeling, after all.  But I have to say, there’s one or two glaring things that kind of overshadow the entire experience.

RCL is an odd company.  It has some amazing people working for it.  Our stateroom attendant, for example.  Pampering almost to the point of smothering.  But I will say, our sheets were clean and drum-tight every time we walked in the room.  As near as I can tell, his job is to scrub the room, top to bottom, either two or three times a day.  And there’s the cute little towel animals, too.  The pics are uploading in the background (1.6 GB takes a little time on my DSL…) but I’ll link one here when I get a chance.

However, RCL has some absolutely crap-tastic managers.  Vesta has Celiac disease, which for the unindoctrinated, means that she has a…  negative… reaction to eating gluten.  Rashes are really the least of the symptoms here folks, and we own a single-bathroom house.  Prior to the cruise, I had to fill out a little questionnaire asking about food allergies.  They even had a little check box next to Gluten-Free Diet, right next to peanut and shellfish allergies, so they are aware of the issue.  I thought this was a good sign.  I called ahead, and was told (by a very rude CSR) that the ship would be able to accommodate any special diet.  When I got on board, I made a point of asking the guest relations desk.  They said that the chefs would be able to make anything.  OK, I thought, we’re good to do.

I, as it turned out, was wrong.

The main cafeteria-style buffet on most RCL lines is called the Windjammer Cafe, and it is about as average as cafeteria foods get, albeit a little more colorful palette (I should mention that my father is an executive chef, and Vesta is writing a food book – it’s a subject we’re comfortable with)  The only thing I could find the entire week that I was sure was GF was some yogurt, pineapple, and maybe the salad, although Vesta stopped eating the salad because something gave her a rash, indicating a cross-contamination issue.  Even the meats were slathered in a gluten-containing rub and rice cooked with stock (they both use it as a texturizer and extender.)  Even dishes that are normally prepared with corn starch, like sweet and sour chicken, were done with flour.  It’s not a matter of cost, because corn starch is a lot cheaper than flour, it’s a decision that one of the kitchen managers made to simplify their ordering.  The net result is that Vesta was left with virtually nothing to eat for a solid week.

In case you weren’t aware, a suffering spouse is not conducive to a good vacation.

To Vesta’s credit, she did ask one of the line chefs to show here what was gluten-free.  After a very frustrating tour of constant ‘no, that has flour in it’ the chef told Vesta that if she’d brought her own food ingredients, like GF pasta, they’d be happy to make it for here.  Lot of good that does in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, really.  The next meal, when I asked the same question, a different line chef said ‘Well, she can have a salad right?’  I didn’t even bother explaining the cross-contamination issue.

So bottom line, my wife couldn’t really eat anything but some Snickers bars and stale potato chips the I’d found in the on-board shops, which were expectedly overpriced.  I thought that a good deal of the reason that people went on cruises was the so-called fabulous food.  I guess not.  Culinary Fail, Royal Caribbean.

So, that aside, we got to go to Key West and the Bahamas, which was very cool.  Actually, I tell a lie.  It was not cool, it was hot.  Very hot.  Fog-your-camera-lens-when-you-step-outside hot.  Key West set a temperature record while we were there.  In 95% humidity.  Joy.  Snorkeling was cool.  I have a Kodak Playsport camera, which is waterproof to about 10 feet, so I have some really cool footage of use snorkeling in the Bahamas (again, waiting on the upload to post here) so there are parts we did enjoy.  But such a glaring issue does tend to overshadow the fun we had.

I have more thought on the cruise that have been bopping around for two weeks or so, I’ll see if I can hammer them out for my next post.


One comment

  1. Yeah, I have gluten intolerance too and sometimes people just don’t “get it”.

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