Gluten-Free Carnival Cruise to Cozumel

   Don and I took a post-Thanksgiving cruise to Cozumel. Don’s sister, Pat, flew in from Maine and joined us onboard the Carnival Ecstasy in Galveston. Those of you who eat gluten-free and/or have other food issues know what such travel implies. Don and Pat were trying to eat healthy and especially low-fat while I avoided gluten. Most passengers consider shipboard dining to be a major attraction. Personally I regard it with all of the enthusiasm usually reserved for galloping horseback through a field of beehives – somebody’s going to get stung and it’s not going to be pretty.
   My survival stash included Larabars, a package of dry figs, some raw almonds and Brazil nuts. We collectively agreed to eat only at the ship’s buffet where I could scout the main offerings as well as the salad bar. There may have been safe options on shore but we deemed that to be too risky to search out in the time allotted for excursions.
   Our previous experience has been that cruise lines have real chefs onboard and they prepare a tremendous amount of fresh fruits and vegetables. Every day there were fresh apples, oranges, pears, grapefruit, and bananas available. Slices of cantaloupe and honeydew melon were also available. A fruit salad of diced cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, and pineapple was in the service line and/or the salad bar. There were dairy products including several milk options, yogurt, and cheeses. The main serving line had so many offerings that only once did I pass it up completely because of doubt over the possibility of gluten in breading or a sauce. Fish and chicken were on nearly every menu. Two evenings featured roast lamb or prime rib. I sampled several of the delicious vegetarian options that did not have a pastry, sauce, or breading.
   The Salad Bar! There were some incredible taste surprises at the salad bar. By the last two days I was completely entranced and eating double portions of salad for a meal. It was so good I could savor each bite without a twinge of envy while my companions enjoyed the famous and incredible Warm Chocolate Melting Cake topped with ice cream. That is some seriously tasty salad! Of course it was the creative dressings that made it special. After enjoying these salads so much I have resolved to be more adventuresome with salad at home.
    A typical trip to the salad bar started with a few greens, slices of tomato, slivers of red onion, fresh sliced mushrooms, a few black olives and then finished with something like these (I should have copied the labels but here are just a few of the combinations as I remember them):
Rice, pineapple tidbits, seasoned and grilled tofu crumbles, red pepper, black olives in a vinaigrette dressing
Red beans, garbanzo beans, diced celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives in a sweet dressing
Roasted chopped pears, red peppers, sautéed spinach, candied walnuts with bleu cheese dressing
Roasted yellow potatoes, sautéed spinach, mushrooms, onions with bleu cheese dressing
   An internet search turned up several websites with recipes for those Carnival Cruise Lines Chocolate Melting Cakes which are more like ramekins of warm chocolate fudge sauce topped with ice cream. These really should be reserved for a cruise where you can spend all day walking off those calories! And if you do your own search be sure to select one that includes techniques. I will be searching my recipe box for the Chocolate Fudge Pudding Cake recipe that was totally vegan and low fat but always was received with rave reviews. That is the one that needs to have a gluten-free makeover!




  1. Angie said

    came across your blog entry today, just wanted to let you know for the next time you travel, as a group of us were on the Ecstasy right before Thanksgiving last year 2010. They now have Gluten free selections, you let the people at the front know and they will come by your table everynight to let you see what is being prepared the next night to make a Gluten free version. They also made my roommate who can’t have gluten, Gluten free bread, and they made her Gluten free Warm Melting cake. =O) So hopefully your next trip will be much better. Seeing my roommates face light up when they said they could make her stuff off the main menu gluten free… was amazing. =O)

    • gfedge said

      Wow! That is great to know. I will be sure to look into that the next time we travel. There were a lot of things I didn’t try because I didn’t know the ingredients. Up until recently gluten-free requests were treated like you were unreasonable if not outright obnoxious. Thanks so much for that information.

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