Updated: Apr 10, 2019
Boarding the ship was a pretty bad experience for me at the beginning. (If you haven't read part 1 yet, read it here).
At least going through security was much easier than I thought. I had a HUGE bag full of so much food - most of it not in original packaging as I made it myself. I had ice packs, coolers, so much stuff.
I loaded my stuff onto the security belt and they asked me to throw away the water bottle that was in my bag, and... that was it. Literally that's all. They didn't ask me anything about any of the food. They didn't ask me anything about any of the medications. It took less than 5 minutes to get through.
Once past security, you walk through the guest services line. You only need to stop if you have a question, otherwise you continue.
Obviously, I did stop but they told me to board the ship and speak to the guest services desk inside the ship itself. Okay, no problem I thought to myself. So we continued on and boarded the ship.
Getting on the ship was very chaotic. People were already drunk at the bar in the atrium, and no one really greeted us or told us where to go. The last time I was on a cruise was years ago as a young child, so I don't remember how it works, and Assaf, my fiance, has never been on a cruise. I definitely felt a bit overwhelmed.
After asking where guest services was located, we headed over - it was just a few steps to our left. I first asked about our room - where do we get the room card? Apparently, the room key was in an envelope outside our stateroom. I didn't even know how to find out what stateroom was ours so I started getting frustrated.
But, I immediately continued to asking about my medical condition and all the food I was carrying. Who was I supposed to speak to? What was I supposed to do now? Guest services told me that the dining hall we are assigned to doesn't open until 6pm, and it was now only about 4pm. They proceeded to tell me that there is another dining hall that opens at 5:45pm and I could go speak to them 15 minutes earlier if I wanted to. Guest services didn't even tell me who to speak to. I felt very flustered and quite upset.
We decided to head over to our stateroom, which took us forever to find, so by now I felt like I was going to cry. I can't find my room, I don't know who I'm supposed to speak to about my food situation, and I have food that needs to be refrigerated - I was about to lose it. (Aka why it took me so long to make a post that day about all the snacks I brought with me!!)
We finally find our stateroom, there is the sealed envelope with the room key, and we are able to go inside. It's only 4:30pm by now, so I decide let's at least unpack, settle in, and organize all the food. By 5pm, there was a mandatory safety meeting for everyone on board (safety talks about what to do in case of an emergency).
By the time that ended, it was already 5:45pm, and the dining hall we are assigned to was about to open. As soon as I walked back into my stateroom, the phone in the room was ringing.
I picked up and it was a lady named Diane who was calling from the dining hall that we were assigned to. She told me that she has an email about all of my special food needs, and if I would like to come up now to speak to her and to also give her all my food. I suddenly felt a little more relieved and told her I would be right there!
I put the pre-made sweet potatoes and chicken in my big tote bag, along with the two barilla pasta boxes that I brought, the cooler with the cheese, and even my own pot from home.
When we got to the dining hall, it was extremely hectic as the early dinner seating at 6pm was entering. Diane immediately found me and pulled me aside to a spot where we could talk. She asked me what my food allergies are and I told her I would rather just explain what's safe since I have over 100 food allergies!
I showed her the pre-made dinners, I gave her the boxes of pasta, and she told me it was no problem to make the pasta in my own pot that I brought. She said she would immediately put everything in the fridge, and that when I come up for dinner at 8:15 (the late dinner seating that we chose), she would have the chef himself come out to speak to me.
Just when I started to feel a huge sense of relief, she then proceeded to ask me if I would feel more comfortable using paper plates and plastic silverware just as an extra precaution. Wow, I thought, she must really understand the seriousness of cross-contamination.
Just the fact that she even asked me that question made me feel even more relieved and so happy that she was in charge of my food. I said yes of course! I was so impressed by Diane and I was so happy about how she handled the whole situation. I was definitely feeling much more relieved for dinner in two hours and even excited that I might be able to actually safely eat!
Once I knew that all the food was taken care of, there was one last thing that I did before we set sail. I went to the bottom of the ship to the medical center. I wanted to see what was available and if they would be able to deal with an anaphylactic reaction.
As soon as I got there, I was greeted by a member at the front desk. I explained that I had life-threatening food allergies and wanted to know if they are able to handle anaphylaxis. He responded by telling me that they have a FULLY EQUIPPED ICU. In case you don't know what that means, the answer to my question is yes, they are equipped to handle anaphylaxis at basically the same level that any emergency room on land would be able to. I was so relieved to learn this.
He then proceeded to ask me what I was allergic to, if I had my EpiPens, and to avoid the buffets. That only added to my sense of relief because not only do I feel confident that they can treat anaphylaxis, but they also UNDERSTAND food allergies. We all know that it's unfortunately rare to find that even at emergency rooms on land.
You can be sure that I returned to my stateroom with a huge smile on my face and ready to set sail.