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

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.

  • Jan Hamilton

    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????????????

  • Jim Schwar

    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.

  • Julie

    Hi Jim, you’ll be able to dine on delicious food, and we’re happy to help. As a precaution, I would call ship services yourself just to be sure. While I’m sure your travel agent is doing a great job, it’s a simple call to ensure your dietary needs are met onboard. 1–800–541–1576

  • Julie

    We’re delighted we could meet your dietary needs!

  • Liz Poole

    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!

  • Julie

    Liz, you will have plenty of delicious options. However, please call ship services several weeks before your cruise to chat about your needs so the ship can be prepared! 1–800–541–1576

  • Tanya Peters

    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.

  • Liz Poole

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

  • Julie

    Please contact Ship Services and they can work with you on your dietary needs. 1–800–541–1576

  • Jim Schwar

    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.

  • Julie

    Jim, Happy Belated Birthday! And thank you for your feedback. We’re delighted to hear that the ship was able to make accommodations for your special diet and that you were able to enjoy your cruise without worry. We will pass along your suggestion, as we aim to make the process clear for both guests and the ship. We appreciate your thoughts!

  • Nancy

    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.

  • nisha

    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

  • Julie

    Absolutely! We have a FULL vegetarian menu, in addition to vegetarian selections on the main menu. When you embark, please tell the Maitre’d so they can have the vegetarian menu for you. And be sure to check the main menu to see that selection.

  • Jane K Turnipseed

    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!

  • Julie

    Hi Jane, thanks for reaching out prior to your cruise. Please contact Ship Services, and they can assist you in ensuring that you have access to dairy- and gluten-free food. 1–800–541–1576

  • Jen

    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.

  • Julie

    Jen, please call ship services as soon as possible so the ship can assist: 1–800–541–1576

  • Mary Keith

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

  • Julie

    Hi Mary, please contact ship services to discuss your special dietary needs. 1–800–541–1576

  • Cheryl Kurchin Chapman

    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.

  • Julie

    Thank you for your note and your suggestions. I have passed along your note to our Food & Beverage Team for review. We appreciate your feedback.

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