Holland America cruise in Alaska
We recently traveled aboard the Zaandam on a 7 day inside passage cruise in Alaska. The cruise was wonderful and magical. However, I feel the need for those with peanut allergies to pass along our experience.
I have a 9-year old daughter with a confirmed peanut and tree nut allergy. This has been clinically tested (1/2 of a reese's pieces caused a major reaction). We carry epipens everywhere we go and avoid foods for her that could be contaminated. Vacations are hard in this regard. We filled out the forms Holland America provided ahead of time and read all of their allergy material on the website.
On the Zaandam, they were not equipped to deal with this food allergy. The Lido deck was unusable for her. This is not uncommon for a buffet, but it was impossible to get the staff to explain what was in certain foods. They just did not know.
The dining room was also just as bad. The wait staff was NOT informed ahead of time about her allergy. We were NOT visited by the chef or anyone regarding her allergy. When we asked the waiter about the bread, we were told "it is fine". However, as those of you dealing with this will know, it was said in that way that you suspect he is wrong. We spoke to the head waiter, who went and checked with the chef and told us only one bread was ok. All the rest was cross-contaminated. This demonstrated to me that the staff was NOT trained on food allergies, even though HAL implied they were. The head waiter told us the vanilla ice cream was OK for her. He personally went to get it for her each night. One night it was delivered with an almond in it. the regular waiter delivered her an appetizer with nuts in it (it wasn't listed with nuts on the menu, but he didnt check).
The head waiter tried hard to accommodate her, but the kitchen of the Zaandam was not capable of this. I will not sail HAL again while this is the case. Had HAL told us they could not accommodate this allergy, we would have made different choices. I feel like we did everything HAL asked of us.
We filled out their forms ahead of time and informed our wait staff of the
issue. This did not result in anything useful for us. If you have a peanut allergy in your party, you need to seriously consider whether or not HAL is capable of handling this. Perhaps this is just the Zaandam, but the lack of staff training was bothersome.
Our children also used the Club HAL. The staff there were also NOT informed of her peanut allergy and did not indicate they were trained in the use of her epipen. Again, I'm not sure what else we could have done.