Updated: Apr 10, 2019
Thanks for stopping by my blog! If you have been following along on Instagram, you probably know that for my 25th birthday I celebrated in a way that I never thought I would be able to with food allergies - I went on a cruise!!
When you have life-threatening food allergies, the last thing you want to do is be in the middle of the ocean far away from any hospitals and no personal kitchens to cook in and no grocery stores to buy food at, right? Those were my thoughts going through my mind when thinking about cruising.
With over 100 food allergies, some life-threatening and the others being on the border of severe OAS and anaphylactic (with the risk of becoming life-threatening at any time), I do not eat out AT ALL. I do not eat out at restaurants, I don't eat at other people's houses, and I rarely let anyone cook for me.
I cook all of my own meals at home in my own kitchen with the limited ingredients that I can safely eat. So obviously, a cruise would never be an option for me. But I decided to call guest services anyways just to confirm this.
I have heard a lot about Carnival cruises being good with food allergies, and they are also the only cruise line that sails out from Los Angeles on a frequent bases, so I decided to contact them over other cruise lines.
While on the phone with guest services, I told them my situation and wanted them to confirm that it wouldn't be a safe option for my situation, but to my surprise, they kept saying that they can make all of the necessary accommodations for me. I kept mentioning how I can't have any spices, vegetables, most fruits, any herbs, and how it would be very complicated to have safe meals.
Every problem I mentioned, they found a solution. They really, REALLY worked with me. We came to the conclusion that I would bring my own food! I could decide if I wanted to bring ingredients for the chef to cook with, or if I wanted to bring pre-made meals that they could store in the refrigerator for me and warm up for meals.
At that point I thought to myself - if I can bring my own pre-made meals and eat only my own food, then what's the risk here? It's almost the same as eating my own meals at my apartment. So I decided I'm going to go for it. I booked one of the shortest cruises - only 3 nights, that way if anything doesn't work out, I know that I can survive for 3 days off of my snack food.
Guest services had me send an email to their special services department with a list of exactly what I want to bring on the ship. This is what my list included:
Breakfast - Boiled eggs that they would store in the fridge for me
Lunch - Barilla Pasta box that they would cook in my own pot from home, and cheese that I would store in their fridge to put on the pasta
Dinner - Pre-made sweet potatoes and chicken that would be stored in the fridge and warmed up
For snacks, I would bring the following foods that I would just keep in my room: cookies, brownies, roasted chickpeas, bread, my maintenance nuts and starburst.
Within 24 hours, I got an email back saying that all of my requests were approved.
That's when I officially booked the cruise, which was less than 2 weeks away! The night before, I stayed up all night baking and cooking everything. The morning of, I packed every medication I could think of in large quantities - EpiPens, chewable Benadryl, liquid Benadryl, Prednisone, Claritin, Xyzal, Zantac, Mylanta, Flonase, QNASL, the list goes on. I also brought my pulse oximeter and blood pressure machine.
The next thing I did was email the SoCal Food Allergy Institute (the clinic where I am doing my food allergy treatment) about my cashew dosing. I figured that maintenance foods wouldn't be an issue because I am completely cleared to free eat them, but I am currently in treatment, dosing for cashew, and I didn't think it would be safe to dose on a cruise in the middle of the ocean. But, to my shock, the clinic told me to continue dosing on the cruise.
One of the nights on the cruise (the last night) was even an updose night for me. I decided though for peace of mind, to dose the current amount for one more night and updose when I get back. So I prepared three nights of cashew dosing to take along with me.
The last thing I did before boarding the ship is eat a huge meal in case I was going to end up not eating for three days. Scared but excited, nervous but positive, I boarded the Carnival Imagination at the Port of Long Beach at 4pm.