Special Dietary Needs? It’s Easy to Cruise with Holland America Line

Freestyle Cheese Burger

No matter where you go on a cruise, food is an important part of the onboard experience, and it’s also a gateway to the cultures we visit. Today, more people are traveling with dietary restrictions, and we don’t want that to deter anyone from enjoying their vacation! Onboard all of our ships, we have plenty of options to make sure our guests with special dietary needs have an equally delicious experience as those without.

For guests who avoid meat and dairy, we have plenty of vegan choices in our restaurants. The main Dining Room offers an exclusive vegan and vegetarian menu with an extensive list of items to choose from. Guests can enjoy everything from vegetable spring rolls and grilled tostadas to vegetable jambalaya and tempeh kebobs! No matter what your taste, you’ll be sure to find something delightful. Just be sure to ask for the menu early in the cruise. Tamarind, our award-winning Pan-Asian alternative dining restaurant, gives guests many vegetarian dishes, as does the casual Lido Market. Many dishes in our other venues can be altered and made with substitutions to make them vegan friendly.

Veggies chopping

For guests who are vegetarian, we have even more options at your disposal. In the Dining Room, the main menu offers a variety of vegetarian selections spanning each course, and guests also can request the exclusive vegetarian and vegan menu. In addition to a number of choices in the Lido Market, alternative restaurants Pinnacle Grill, Tamarind, Canaletto, Rudi’s Sel de Mer, Dive-In and New York Pizza all have vegetarian choices. Each of these restaurants also features a leaf icon on the dishes that highlight the vegetarian-friendly food, making it quick and easy to scan for appropriate items. Our In- Room Service offers the same feature as well. Finding vegetable-based alternatives is easy task onboard.

Beyond meat and dairy restrictions, we understand that there are many guests who have food allergies that make it hard to travel and dine without extensive planning. Our travelers with Celiac’s disease or gluten sensitivities will find items made without gluten are marked with the symbol of wheat next to their descriptions. Our Dive-In burgers also can be made with gluten-free buns. While our main ingredients are listed with each menu item, you may not know if a meal contains trace amounts other common allergens such as nuts, milk or butter. If you are excited about a menu item, but not sure if it is gluten free or contains another allergen, speak to your server and our culinary team to be sure that each meal is safe and healthy for you to enjoy.

Chef greeting guests

The Main Dining Room has plenty of special options.

We do our best to keep our guests with dietary needs in mind when planning our menus. Traveling should be an enjoyable way to experience the world, and we encourage our guests to feel empowered to have a carefree vacation with Holland America Line! If you have special dietary needs that require assistance, please contact Ship Services at least three weeks prior to your departure: 1–800–541–1576.


Join the Discussion


  1. Becky EGGERS January 15, 2024 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    How do I let you know I am gluten free. So I will need gluten free dinners in the dining room in the evening? Also are dishes marked on the buffet what is gluten free? Thank You!

    • Julie March 15, 2024 at 10:53 am - Reply

      Hi Becky, we apologize for the delayed reply. You can call our Ship Services team before your cruise: 800–541–1576.

  2. Judith Sitkin May 12, 2023 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Our TransAtlantic Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Barcelona in April 2023 was our first, but hopefully not last transatlantic cruise.
    Other than the in-escapable music by which reading was impossible…
    Our prior experiences with Holland America demonstrated that Gluten-Free is not a hardship for neither the Culinary nor Pastry chefs and staff. This was our first experience with an In-experienced Pastry chef. One who had stunningly little knowledge of the depth and breadth of gluten-free baking. Mousse and Jello are poor substitutes. Here are 3 recommended books:
    The Gluten-Free Bible from Publications International2010; from Cooking Light, Robert Landolphi Gluten-Free Banking;and the prize – Patisserie Gluten-Free, The Art of French Pastry by Patricia Austin.
    We are looking forward to our next adventure.

  3. Fran Dickson February 17, 2023 at 10:57 am - Reply

    My husband and I are unable to consume UHT milk products. Could you please tell me if Holland America has, like many other ships, gone to serving UHT milk products? If they have, how do I ensure that there are whole milk products available for my husband and I so we don’t get upset stomach and diarrhea? In our coffees, cereals, etc. we will probably consume 1 L per day of whole milk.

    • Julie March 8, 2023 at 7:23 am - Reply

      Please call ship services and speak to them about your dietary needs: 800–541–1576

  4. Susanne Capehart May 12, 2022 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Could you please send me a menu that shows items that are low in carbohydrates?

  5. Michael Gilroy December 18, 2021 at 8:37 am - Reply

    I have a friend going with me on a cruise in four days and is an extremely finicky eater. He doesn’t do most vegetables, especially onions, tomatoes, mushrooms yet does olives. He is literally a meat and potatoes guy. He also doesn’t do. Seafood AT ALL. Can Holland accommodate a simply meat and potatoes diet?

  6. Julie September 21, 2021 at 12:21 am - Reply


    My husband and I are booked for an Alaska cruise next year.

    I see a lot of other things, but are you able to accommodate a heart healthy and diabetic diet?

    Thank you

  7. Rebecca April 10, 2021 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    I’m sailing to Alaska and I’m on a no fat, oil, butter, dairy. Would this be something that can be accomadated ? :)

  8. Jan S. Breemer February 12, 2021 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    My wife and I hope to travel on Nieuw Statendam in April 2022. She is severely allergic to any and all shellfish – shrimp, lobster, crab, etc., so much so that she will likely have an allergic reaction when she is within inhaling range of steaming warm shellfish. Any advice how she might safely enjoy dinner in the main dining room? Thanks.

  9. carol January 4, 2021 at 11:43 am - Reply

    do you have a menu that is diabetic friendly?

  10. David Benn November 6, 2019 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    My wife has to keep her carbs down. We are sailing on the Volendam Jan.4/20 77 day round trip South America. Do you have low carb bread?

  11. Dawn August 10, 2019 at 8:23 am - Reply

    Due to a liver problem, I have been advised to be on a VERY low fat diet, however I am not a lover of salads etc. How will I know if the food onboard is very low fat?

  12. Livia July 4, 2019 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Do you provide zabiha halal dietary option on beef, lamb and chicken?
    Cruise from Seattle to Alaska.

    Thanks in advance

  13. Batchen May 30, 2019 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    For your vegetarian menu should inform in advance or only ask when I board or at the dinner restaurant?
    I mean is it limited only to whom inform in advance?

  14. Julie May 28, 2019 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    I am traveling on the Canada/New England Cruise out of Montreal on June 29th. I am gluten intolerant. My travel agent said she made a note on the reservations. Do I need to contact HA beforehand to let them know?

  15. Elizabeth May 21, 2019 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    I am hoping to travel on your Mediterranean Tapestry cruise in August 2020, with a group.
    My daughter is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, soy protein, chick peas, beans, peas and lentils.
    Would you be able to accommodate her?

    Thank you,

  16. Isadoria May 8, 2019 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Hello, I will be cruising with my family on the Nieuw Statendam this August. I am vegan and I read that there is an alternative menu. I am just wondering if I need to contact ship services prior to boarding or I can inform the crew when I board.
    Many thanks!

  17. Shirley April 26, 2019 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    I am cruising Vancouver to Alaska in September 2019. Very recently I suffered a heart attack and now am on a reduced sodium diet. Is this something HAL can assist me with? Thank you.

  18. Annamarie April 15, 2019 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    We will be sailing on the Zanndam in August 2019 from Boston. I am highly allergic to Propylene Glycol (PEG -8). This is found in many pre packaged foods and I am wondering if the cruise line can tell me what to avoid or give me a list of ingredients. Thank you.

  19. Sherri March 22, 2019 at 11:24 pm - Reply

    Hey, I was just wondering if HAL has considered offering nutritional information for menu options, or at a minimum, calorie information. I know that a lot of land based restaurants are now offering that for customers and in certain states, it is even required. If you don’t want it stated right on the menu, you could offer an online resource or other means of providing it for those passengers that would benefit from the info (it would help the Keto and WW people above as well :) ). Thanks

  20. Don Forman March 16, 2019 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Traveling from Rome to Venice on Veendam. Hoping they have vegan options. I see that Julie posts to call CS number so I will call.

  21. Jill March 11, 2019 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Hi, can you provide dairy and lactose free food that is not all spicy? Soya milk substitutes are fine.

  22. Sharon March 11, 2019 at 4:20 am - Reply

    Hi. I read somewhere that you order off the vegetarian menu the night before your meal. Is that true? I find the variety amazing and wanted to do the right thing

  23. Sandy March 9, 2019 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Hi Julie
    I am on weightwatchers and don’t want to be temped as I’m sure I will be! Are there sugar free deserts being offered and healthy entrees.
    Thank you.

  24. Mariam Rajah January 24, 2019 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Hi, my husband and I will be on the Westerdam on the 3rd of March traveling from Shanghai to Hong Kong. We would like to request Indian vegetarian and seafood. Our cabin no. is 5113 Verandah. Hoping you will be able to accommodate us, regards,
    Mariam Rajah

  25. mona January 13, 2019 at 7:53 am - Reply

    hello I was wondering if there is also an option Koosjher or Halal food for people who eat meat in a religious manner..i am waiting for your answer by email.
    greetings from holland

  26. terry william schramm December 31, 2018 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    Will you be able to get Silk Coconut for our coffee ect which is Gluten and Soy free on the Alaska cruise or
    do we have to bring it with us. Thanks Vivian

  27. Mahi November 18, 2018 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    We are planning to sail to Alaska in June 2019. I can see that, you have got a vegetarian menu. Do you offer Indian cuisine on board ? Travelling with parents and we need Indian vegetarian food everyday. Is there any option for that?

  28. Marguerite Mark October 15, 2018 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    I live in Australia. I will try to ring the US number but isn’t there an email address I can send my information to. I have done so in the past but I didn’t keep the address.

  29. Marguerite Mark October 14, 2018 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    I will be travelling next June on the Prinsendam on a 28 day cruise. I have a number of intolerances. What email address do I use to list my intolerances including dairy and gluten.
    I always include a detailed list of what I can eat as well.

    How can I find out what gluten free brand of bread they use so I can check the ingredients on the internet? I need to know whether to source bread in Amsterdam.
    Also I wanted to find out if the ship makes oats with water. The oats don’t need to be gluten free.
    Hope you can help.

  30. Adrienne Marcy September 21, 2018 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    We will be traveling on the Grand Asia 82 day cruise and I was wondering how I can identify foods that might cause gout to flare up. I will be choosing a lot of the vegetarian choices, but wonder how I could find out which soups and sauces use meat broth. I do eat meat, but in limited amounts (4 oz.) and find that broths and gravies, while delicious, are not good on a low-purine diet.

  31. Cheryl Kurchin Chapman August 26, 2018 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    I recently sailed to Alaska on Holland America’s Ms. Amsterdam. My son is gluten free and I am dairy free. If ordered in advance, they offered gluten feee in the main dining room and specialty restaurants. Dairy free desserts seemed more challenging; I was offered jello two times and sorbet as only other dessert. I was hoping for similar dessert choices to all of the guests. My solution:
    Have a small section of vegan/ gluten free desserts. This could be ordered from a local bakery and brought onto the ship. This would offer some cakes, pies, tarts, cookies and muffins. How about coconut milk ice cream as well on the ice cream line? There are endless alternatives. I was asked to inform the ship 6 months ago when I reserved this cruise. I verified 3 weeks before and was told “ no problem”. I would love to discuss ideas with a food service manager to help create a more varied dessert menu for persons with allergies, intolerances or Celiac.

  32. Mary Keith July 21, 2018 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Are there options for people on a Keto diet. Also desserts that would be ok

  33. Jen May 21, 2018 at 12:52 am - Reply

    We are cruising in June to Norway on HAL. I have a swallowing issue and require soft/Liquid foods ie porridge, soups smoothies etc hopefully I will be able to find enough of these foods on board.

  34. Jane K Turnipseed May 18, 2018 at 5:57 am - Reply

    My husband and I will be sailng in October to Canada and New England aboard one of your ships. I need dairy free foods. Both of us require gluten-free diets. What should we do in advance to assureba smooth sailing regarding dietary needs? Thanks!

  35. nisha May 9, 2018 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Are there good vegetarion choice on volendam alaska cruise – we are vegetarian and were wondering – just found out tamarind will not be on this cruise

  36. Nancy April 28, 2018 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    I was a little apprehensive about sailing with Holland America when my other cruise lines requested more dietary info up sooner in the registration process. It sounds reassuring that Holland handels food sensitivities similarly.

  37. Jim Schwar April 24, 2018 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    I would like to follow up on my previous post. We just got back from our 11-day Panama Canal cruise on the Zuiderdam. I am on a dairy free diet and was apprehensive about making mistakes in my food choices. I must say that the ship staff did an outstanding job of accommodating me and I am very grateful. Having identified myself as someone with special dietary needs, each night in the dining room, the staff gave me the menu for the next night and asked me to order for the next night. They were then able to prepare for me, making modifications and substitutions as needed, to give me as close to what I wanted as possible without “crossing the line” into forbidden territory. I was also delighted to find that almond milk was available in the lido and that the Explorations Cafe was able to make me a dairy free hot chocolate using almond milk! Now how about some dairy free ice cream alternatives for the future? Sorbet is OK but does not quite hit the spot. I should also mention that on my birthday, the chef prepared me a nice portion of dairy free birthday cake which was very good.

    A suggestion for the home office in this area is to become better acquainted with the procedures followed on the ships. Prior to my cruise, I either misunderstood or was misinformed on two points. I thought I was told that once I identify my dietary needs prior to the cruise, that once on board, someone would track me down to discuss my needs. That did not happen. So there was some uncertainty until I discerned how my situation would be handled on the ship. But once I understood the system, everything was fine.

  38. Liz Poole March 4, 2018 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    Thank you Julie. I feel reassured. I’ll make a note in my diary to give them a call

  39. Tanya Peters March 3, 2018 at 8:47 am - Reply

    We are looking to book an Easter Caribbean cruise on the Nieuw Amsterdam, but I have many food restrictions. I’m gluten free plus have extreme allergies to onions, garlic, red and green peppers. The onions can not be in or near my food. Also no marinated food and very limited seasoning.

  40. Liz Poole February 24, 2018 at 8:55 am - Reply

    I am looking forward to my first ever cruise (to Alaska) this summer. I have been a vegetarian all my adult life. Subsequent to booking the cruise I have learnt from my GP that I need to follow a gluten free diet too – otherwise I may experience digestive problems. Can you reassure me that I will be able to eat gluten-free Veggie, /vegan food on board. Many thanks!

  41. Jim Schwar February 11, 2018 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    This is a very interesting article. My wife and I will be cruising on the Zuiderdam next month for 11 days. This will be our sixth Holland America cruise but the first since I had to be so concerned about my diet. For over a year, I have been on a dairy-free diet. If I consume anything with dairy, I will likely pay the price. I have to admit a certain amount of apprehension going on this cruise. On previous cruises, the culinary aspects have been wonderful. This time, I just want to make sure that I avoid any dietary missteps. Dairy hides everywhere, and I definitely do not want to get sick while on a cruise.

    I notified my travel agent of my dietary restrictions, and I am led to believe that the ship dietician will be tracking me down when we embark on the Zuiderdam. I hope this is true, as any guidance will be very much appreciated.

  42. Jan Hamilton February 11, 2018 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    We cruised on ms Westerdam December 2017 and had a wonderful cruise through Pana Canal to Ft Lauderdale and stayed on board for the Christmas cruise.
    I am a dietetic and also have an allergy to seafood including any dish made from a seafood base. The culinary team were fantastic. Every night at dinner I was presented with a copy of next day’s menu. If I had any question about an item the chef was consulted and I felt assured about whatever I ordered. In at least one instance, they assigned my meal to a special chef so my choice could be prepared in such a way I could feel assured of no trace of seafood and/or prepared in a safe zone with no chance of cross contamination. This is one happy cruiser????????????

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