This is part 3 of a 3 part blog post. If you haven't read part 2 yet, click here to read it! If you also need to read part 1, click here to read part 1. This post - part 3 - is all about the food/meals on the cruise itself!
It was finally 8:15pm and we were ready to head to our assigned dining hall for our very first dinner aboard the ship. Even thought I was extremely nervous, I can't even imagine how much more nervous I would have been if I hadn't met with Diane earlier that evening.
As soon as we got to the dining hall, Diane personally greeted me, introduced me to our waiter who was also completely aware of my special food needs, and they both walked us over to our private table for two. As soon as I saw the set up, I had a huge smile on my face:
They were so ready for me! Paper plate, plastic silverware still wrapped, paper cup, but for Assaf they still had all the normal silverware and glasses. It was amazing. They even set up the paper plate and plastic silverware so nicely which I truly really appreciated. I mean it was honestly so nice.
That's when the server brought over the glass pitcher filled with ice water and looked at me and asked if I would prefer a water from a closed water bottle. It's like, even the waiter himself fully understood food allergies! My smile only got bigger as I said yes.
Next, Diane came out with the executive chef who introduced himself and told me that he has assigned one of the head chefs - Chef Rajbir -to be my personal chef throughout this cruise. Chef Rajbir would be taking care of all of my meals throughout the whole cruise.
Chef Rajbir was the nicest man I have ever met. So kind from the soul, he told me that he was raised to treat everyone like his own family and he wants to make sure I am well taken care of. He asked me what I wanted for dinner, and I told him to just heat up two of my sweet potatoes and two pieces of my chicken. He then asked me if I want something else because he felt bad that it wasn't much food. He asked if I can have any fruits. I told him I can safely do (and feel comfortable eating) grapes and oranges.
He told me he can bring me those as well. I told him that I'm concerned about cross-contamination because I am very allergic to some other fruits and he told me that he is very well aware of cross-contamination because he is a chef and that is his job. He will use clean knives, he will make sure it doesn't touch anything else and that all of my fruits are prepared in a completely clean area. I told him I really appreciate his understanding of the seriousness of my food allergies because most chefs don't understand.
All of my food was brought out on paper plates, and I had absolutely no allergic symptoms while eating any of it - even the grapes and the cut up orange. The sweet potatoes were even brought out in my original tin foil, meaning they didn't even unwrap them, they heated them in the tin foil, which made me feel even safer regarding cross-contamination.
For lunch, they would bring me my pasta with my cheese melted on top, and it would be wrapped in plastic wrap to ensure that nothing gets dropped or spilled on it!!
On the day that the cruise ship docked at the port in Ensenada, Mexico, there was no sit down lunch available. Of course they still had the buffet open for guests, but because most guests were off the ship, they didn't offer a sit down lunch. I thought to myself, I will just eat my snacks for lunch and I'll be fine until dinner!
That is, until Diane came up to me the night before and asked me if I would like to have my lunch delivered to my room on the day that the ship is docked at Ensenada. I asked her if that is something they do for all the guests, and she told me no. She told me they will do it only for me because they are worried that I won't have anything to eat for lunch if they don't bring me my food! I couldn't believe how they thought of every single little detail. We set a time, and my food arrived to my room at that exact time.
Chef Rajbir was always so concerned about me eating enough. On the first day at sea, we didn't arrive for breakfast because we slept in, and we came for lunch, Chef Rajbir came up to me and told me he was very worried that we didn't come for breakfast because he was scared that I was hungry. I made sure to be there for breakfast the next two days, and I was so glad I did because the breakfast he made me was amazing! I told him I only eat one boiled egg and he told me that he is concerned I am not getting enough protein so he begged me to allow him to make me two.
Not only did he make me two eggs, but he was concerned that the eggs I brought weren't as fresh as they could be and he asked me if I felt comfortable to let him boil me fresh eggs every morning, which I did.
By the last night on the cruise, I had run out of my chicken and had only sweet potato left. I purposely only brought enough chicken for the first two nights because I knew that by the third night it would be bad. Chef Rajbir was aware of the situation on the second night and came to speak to me. He asked me what I was going to eat, and I told him just the remaining sweet potato and maybe some pasta too.
He told me this was unacceptable, that I needed a meal and he also didn't want me to eat my sweet potatoes because he said they aren't fresh. He begged me to let him make me food. Assaf told him how I don't even let my own mother cook for me. Chef Rajbir assured me that it would be safe, that he would make me fresh baked sweet potatoes and fresh chicken breast completely plain. I decided to trust him.
When the third night arrived and it was almost time for dinner, I started having a panic attack and told Assaf that I don't think I can eat what Chef Rajbir makes me. I was way too anxious, but decided to go to the dining hall anyways and then just see how I feel then.
The chicken breast he made me was truly so fresh and it tasted amazing. The sweet potato was a white sweet potato rather than an orange sweet potato which I was a little anxious to eat at first but Chef Rajbir assured me it's a sweet potato, not a regular potato, and even told Assaf to try it first to confirm.
It was definitely a sweet potato and it tasted so good. I ended up eating everything he made me. And I didn't have an allergic reaction, not even any allergy symptoms. I was so impressed, I almost cried. I actually let someone else cook for me, and he made exactly what I asked for, and he made it perfectly and safely. It was one of my best dinner experiences in a long time.
I am so thankful for Diane and for Chef Rajbir. They were absolutely amazing, I mean honestly, I could not have expected anything better. Seriously, they surpassed all my expectations by a long shot. If I had to rate them from 1-10, they are way above a 10. My cruise could not have gone more perfectly. Diane made sure EVERY SINGLE THING was taken care of, and Chef Rajbir came out to speak to me for EVERY SINGLE MEAL. They made my 25th birthday a dream come true.
What I am shocked about the most is that I think cruising may be an easier and safer vacation for someone with food allergies than traveling somewhere on land. I will most definitely be going on a Carnival Cruise again.