If you’ve read the full online guide, you already know that the first dinner tends to not go as smoothly as the remainder of the nights do, and that all the information you carefully told the cruise line long before you boarded somehow went missing or was garbled beyond belief. Thus, a bit of patience is required.

But now I really have to ask myself, why does it need to be this way?

This happened to us yet again on our current Alaska, and this time I’m going to name names. Yes, Holland America Zuiderdam, I’m talking to you.

On the first day, we get onboard fairly early, around 1:00pm, and immediately go see someone in the dining room to confirm our dietary requirements. Yes, everything was entered into our reservation profile, and yes, half of it was wrong. We correct that, making sure what was entered into the computer is precise and accurate. Took a bit of communicating (“allergic to dairy” vs. “lactose intolerant”) but ok. Politely listen to familiar advice about how meals will be handled in main dining room.

Go up to our assigned table in the dining room for dinner at 7:45pm (more than a few hours later). Waiter knows we have allergies (a good sign). Informs us that given this was the first night and they didn’t of course have time to prepare, the chef has decided we will be having plain chicken.

Three obvious things wrong with this are (1) this wasn’t presented as “given your allergies, the chef has suggested that the chicken would work well for you…”, (2) none of the information we long ago provided or that we had updated earlier that day had been communicated, and (3) I don’t eat meat or poultry.

It took us about five minutes before we finally saw someone a little higher up wander past and we snagged him to help us since then…

Honestly, must it be this much of a challenge every time people with special diets get on a cruise ship?

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