traveling on a river cruise with food allergies

4 Essential Things to Consider When Planning a River Cruise With Food Allergies

If you have taken an ocean cruise, you know it is all about more space, more activities, and more staff; however, have you ever thought about taking a river cruise with food allergies? A river cruise is going to take you down rivers through Europe, Africa, Asia, or even the US. Considering I mainly work with the European side, I will focus on that in this blog post, but many aspects apply to river cruising in general.


Smaller Ship than an Ocean Cruise?

While river cruises use a significantly smaller ship due to the depths of rivers and heights of bridges. That does not mean you won’t still find amenities onboard. Depending on the cruise line you will find top-deck activities, spa, salon, multiple restaurants, fitness center, a pool, and more! A smaller ship though, brings a much more intimate environment between guests and staff. 

What to consider when planning a River Cruise with Food Allergies



Depending on the river cruise line they can all function slightly differently; however, meal times are at set window times. This is to account for the excursion times and time everyone will be off the ship. With food allergies and dietary restrictions the staff will work with you to prepare meals. While the kitchens are small compared to ocean cruises many river cruise lines can take great care to prepare your meals. As with anytime you are away from home there is always a risk of cross-contamination so it best to confirm with staff everytime you eat. 

While on ocean cruises, they don’t prep a meal for you to take off the ship, some river cruise lines will prep meals to be taken off the ship. Both for those going on an excursion that will keep you from making it back for lunch or simply if you are going out on your own. This is a great option if you don’t want to worry about finding meal options in the small towns or prefer to have a backup. 


Restaurant Research

Researching restaurants in each location is best to have an idea of whether you will take the packed lunch option or eat locally. Now, you will need to decide on excursions offered; some will end with time for lunch on board or in the town. While others will extend through lunch and contain either a packed lunch or lunch included.

Restaurant research is a service I offer, and this extends to ocean and river cruises as well, whether you want help with full-service travel planning or just restaurant research. 


Food Allergy Restaurant Research


Lots of river cruise lines have one excursion included in the cost and then additional things that are an extra cost. Excursions come at a variety of activity levels, from walking to hiking to biking you can find something that works best for you. 


Specialty Cruises

Whether you are interested in a wine tour through Portugal, France, or on the Rhine and Danube. Or maybe you want to experience the Christmas Markets starting at the end of November going into December. Navigating the stalls and holiday magic is amazing!


Why consider a river cruise with food allergies?

Just like an ocean cruise it gives you the ability to have at least 2 meals if not all 3 meals (plus sometimes afternoon tea) onboard and not worry about having to try different restaurants throughout your day. Just as with anytime eating out or away from the comfort of your home there is always a risk. It is highly recommended to double check with staff before eating anything, but on a smaller ship you will find the same staff greeting you each day typically. 

Outside the food aspect, river cruises are a great way to see more of the smaller towns that sit along European rivers. Not only these small towns but sailing down the rivers you’ll see castles, hillside towns, vineyards, and more! Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to touch multiple different countries or immerse yourself in one country like France or Portugal in Europe. 


Why should you not take a river cruise?

Not every trip type is for every traveler. If you like to go at your own pace and not have certain times you need to be places then a river cruise may not be it for you. Also, if you have destinations you would like to see that are not part of the itinerary then a customized itinerary may be best for you. 

Overall, taking a river cruise allows you to see so much more while only unpacking once. You also have staff on board you can discuss each meal with, but it is always best to let your travel agent or the cruise line directly about any food allergies or dietary restrictions. 

If you need assistance with your next international trip, whether that includes a river cruise or not, I offer full-service travel planning and restaurant research. Set up a call with me to discuss your trip HERE.


I'm Lauren!

Food Allergy Travel Agent + your advocate for a well-planned ( + delicious) vacation.

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Food Allergy Getaways Agency, Lauren Scheffer agent, and website are not providing health or medical advice.

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