Every year, more people are diagnosed with food intolerances.
Coeliac disease affects one in 70 Australians. The immune system reacts abnormally to a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. The result: violent sickness.
Thankfully, awareness has spread to the cruising world.
NSW-based Chisholm & Turner Travel Associates has partnered with Avalon Waterways to offer a gluten-free river cruise in picturesque Europe.
All onboard meals and drinks are made with fresh ingredients in a contamination-free galley. And you don’t have to prove your gluten-free lifestyle is the result of a medical issue – those who have opted to be on a gluten-free diet (as well as those who don’t mind eating gluten-free) are also welcome onboard.
“Whether it’s a meal in the dining room, a cake or biscuit with your morning or afternoon tea or even beer at the bar, you won’t need to ask if it’s OK – everything is guaranteed to be gluten-free,” explains Matthew Chisholm, Manager of Chisholm & Turner Travel.
Matthew was inspired to create this itinerary after the issues his wife, Julia, and one of his four children face being intolerant to wheat.
“Away from home, we need to be prepared, which means calling ahead to check if my wife and son’s diets will be catered for, or arranging to bring our own food,” says Matthew. “It can be very limiting with the places we can go and the experiences we can enjoy.”
The 15-day cruise aboard Avalon Impression travels from Amsterdam to Budapest, taking in Cologne, Rudesheim, Miltenberg, Nuremberg, Vienna and Slovakia, to name a few.
Even when you hop off to go sightseeing, you won’t have to worry about sourcing gluten-free food (which could be challenging, especially with the language barriers) – there will be specially prepared tapas boxes available for pre-order on the day.
At $6999 for a deluxe stateroom, twin share, it costs about $1000 more than a regular cruise.
Bianca Shugg, Editor of yum. Gluten Free magazine, who was diagnosed with coeliac disease just over four years ago, explained why for some, the price is right.
“My specialist stated very clearly to me: ‘You now have a zero per cent tolerance to gluten, meaning never, nothing, zilch.’
“He then went on to explain this means a very strict approach, including not sharing knives or toasters that have been in contact with gluten products!”
Meanwhile, at the other end of the world, the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise caters to those following a vegan, vegetarian or macrobiotic diet. The latter is less commonly known, but it essentially involves eating grains as a staple along with fresh vegetables, avoiding processed foods and most animal products.
The galley on the MSC Divina is run by American chef Mark Hanna, who began his macrobiotics education in 1978 and has since cooked at yoga retreats and meditation centres across the world. All meals are non-dairy and, when possible, organic.
The seven-day “body pampering, relaxing and educational” cruise takes a round trip from Miami through the Caribbean, with the aim of looking after you from the inside out. Along with natural and whole foods, onboard wellness classes focus on cooking, acupuncture, shiatsu, homeopathy, massage, acupressure and even spiritual practises such as chi hung, yoga and meditation.
Do you know of any other cruises that cater to those with food intolerances? Let us know in the comments.