Hi and welcome back.
Last week, I shared my What I Eat in a Day whilst onboard the Azura during a sea day. You can read that blog here. Those days were more relaxed and you had the time to truly indulge in the best food the cruise ship had to offer. This week, I am sharing what i ate when disembarking the boat at one of the many ports whilst on our two week cruise. These days were more action packed so I needed food that would satisfy my hanger but that I could also take off ship and would still remain in perfect condition to enjoy on the beach or while exploring. Sadly, I struggled to find gluten free eats at any of the ports we visited. If you have any recommendations for gluten free foods in the Caribbean, please let us know in the comments down below. I hope you enjoy. C. -x-
Breakfast – Venezia/ Verona Buffet
The boat docked at the ports early in the morning, often between 7 and 8 am so our mornings on the port days started early. The Oriental (the main restaurant onboard) opened later so it was too difficult to enjoy breakfast and get off the boat for our shore excursions (we were required to meet the tour operators within 30 minutes of the boat docking and if you were late, you couldn’t go on the trip). As a result, we often breakfasted in the buffet restaurants found on deck 15. Verona or Venezia are both two clean and open spaced settings with plenty of seating and a buffet style serving. You found the table first then went for food. They serve cooked breakfasts and continental with a range of fruit, yoghurts and gluten free items available. On sea days, I was more likely to indulge in a hot breakfast or croissant but on days where I knew I was going to be up and exploring, swimming or hiking within 60 minutes of breakfast, I tended to go for a lighter option. In my case, this was bananas, fruit salad and gluten free yoghurts. Alternatively, I would opt for a bowl of gluten free cornflakes which definately stopped the hunger cravings!
As I have previously mentioned, it can be very difficult to find gluten free lunch options whilst at the ports. When we visited the zip-lining site in St Maarten, we were told they could offer gluten free food but that is only if you give them ample time to fully change the oil in the fryers. Sadly, we were only at the zip-lining site for a few hours so were unable to delay for food. Instead at most ports, we often had a shore excursion booked in the morning so would go back to the ship, have lunch then go back to explore the port in the afternoon. In that case, we stopped at Breakers Bar for chips and fruit salad (see last week blog here). Other options for lunch were to make a sandwich at the buffet Venezia/Verona in the morning using the gluten free bread and meat from the deli counter (the chicken, ham, turkey and cheese are all gluten free but I would be careful and check with the staff first) and then take that with us. This worked out well for us as it means we weren’t tied to the boat. If you have any shore excursions that include lunch this is an option I would recommend. While we were in Barbados, we went on an excursion to swim with sea turtles that included lunch. Sadly the message I was gluten free didn’t make it to the tour operators so I am glad I had alternatives.
The ship left for the next port between 5 and 6 pm on port days so it was very difficult to explore the islands for evening food. We were often overtired after our long day. After watching the sail away which is a party hosted on top deck with the entertainment crew where you can enjoy a cocktail, watch the sunset and watch the islands disappear behind you. It is a truly spectacular sight that I never grew tired of. The evening meal at the Oriental is served at 6.30 pm or 8.30 pm and we opted for the early sitting so we could watch the shows in the evening. However, after a full day of exploring, we often couldn’t manage a 3 course dinner. As a result, we often went back up to the buffet for our evening food. The buffet on board serves a range of hot and cold food during the evenings – from salads, to roast dinners to themed nights with incredible Caribbean curries, there is something for everyone. I loved the convenience of finding gluten free food and though I did check with the staff before selecting any food, there was so much variety I never got bored. My favourite meals where the Cottage Pie or gluten free Tadka Dal with rice. There is also a selection of desserts: my favourite had to be the chocolate layer cake (gluten free) – heaven on a plate.
Whilst out and about on the islands, I often got peckish. After the first island where I struggled to find food, I began taking bananas and gluten free muffins from the buffet in the morning. There is nothing worse than getting hungry when exploring so I also bought snacks from the UK. My go-to has to be the gluten free chocolate orange popcorn bars found in Aldi/Lidl which are cheap but so filling too.
I hope you enjoyed this new mini-series What I Eat in a Day and it has given you some inspiration on new meal ideas when planning your weekday meals. If you have any go-to recipes, leave a comment below. If you experience any of the gluten free food on board Azura then please let me know by tagging me on Instagram using #livingcoeliac or by sharing photos directly to my Facebook page. Newsletter is now live! Don’t forget to subscribe so you do not miss out on any future blog posts.