Looking at Marella Cruises for your next holiday? I recently cruised on Marella Spirit on their Continental Coasts itinerary, visiting Malaga, Mahon, Toulon, Barcelona, Valencia and Cartagena. Here’s how I got on eating
A little background
My first cruise was in 2010, on the Island Escape, then operated by Thomson Cruises (now Marella cruises). I remember being really not sure what I’d make of cruising – who knew!
In July 2018 we booked what was possibly the most spontaneous cruise ever, because it fitted in with a holiday we had booked to Torremolinos on the Costa Del Sol. When I say spontaneous, the sentence “Shall I ring for a quote” and “Yeah book it” came within about 5 minutes of each other. Whilst in a car on the way to a National Trust day out. Disgusting really, but that’s cruise addiction for you!
Anyway – our cruise was with Marella Spirit, which I had cruised on before around 2011/2012. I wasn’t gluten free back then, so I was very intrigued to see how I’d find
TLDR – yes you can eat
gluten free on Marella Cruises.
Buffets can be an absolute nightmare when you’re gluten free, both in terms of identifying the food and worrying about cross contamination. Major brownie points to Marella Cruises for being the first cruise line I’ve been on that
My only gripe about the buffet (at least my experiences on Spirit) was I found that the
The Main Dining Room
If you’ve read my other blogs, you’ll know this tends to be the place where I feel the most comfortable – you preorder the night before so the kitchen have a full day to adapt any dish you want to make it gluten free.
On Marella Spirit, they did also have gluten free options marked on the dinner menus. Maybe it’s just the printing facilities on the ship, but the menus looked a bit cheap and amateur compared to some of the other cruise lines.
As per other cruise lines, there were some ‘Always Available’ options – Grilled Cheeseburger, Hotdog, Pasta Pomodoro, Chicken Breast, Spicy Ma Bo Tofu and a Triple Decker Club Sandwich.
I have to say, I never struggled to order anything but the food was really quite bland for the first half of the cruise (and yes I fed back). It wasn’t inedible, but they’d been very over cautious with seasoning. From speaking to my parents it sounds like it might have been more so the gluten free, although they didn’t love the food either.
I understand that they have to cater
Some of the nicer options I had were a spicy chilli filled pasta (although it is quite oily if you don’t like that), a really nice noodle soup and roast lamb (pictured here with mint sauce – don’t worry I didn’t eat it!)
Siroccos – Speciality Restaurant
The speciality restaurant on Marella Spirit was Siroccos – it’s about £20 for around 5 courses. Be warned, it’s a long night.
On a happy note, the Crepe Suzette is FIT! They make it at a little chef station so you can watch all the flames and booze drizzling – YUM!
Drinks on Marella Spirit
It’s worth mentioning, the drink prices on Marella are pretty decent, and spirit measures are generous. A lot of people go for
Money saving hack! If you’re ordering 2x G&Ts, you only need to order one can of tonic – it’s a 330ml can and we split it between three of us.
I honestly wish I had more nice things to say about my experience on Marella Spirit – we didn’t go hungry and things did improve later on. Food is something that is entirely subjective, and I’ve heard great things about people’s experiences on newer ships.
I do have to emphasise how lovely the staff were. Very friendly and pretty efficient, across the room stewards, bars and restaurants. Special shout out to the lovely ladies on Reception for ringing to check where I was when the system was showing I was the only person not on board whilst preparing to sail from Cartagena – I was in fact upstairs in Raffles bar with a G&T!
Our first experiences of cruising were with Thomson, and this trip reminded us what we first loved about cruising – seeing new places. It wasn’t about the shiny ships, but the waking up to a new horizon every day. Marella do absolutely amazing port packed itineraries, and I’m sure I’ll cruise with them again.
Other Gluten Free Cruising reviews
- Eating gluten free on P&O Cruises (P&O Adonia)
- Eating gluten free on Princess Cruises (Sapphire Princess)
- Eating gluten free on Holland America Line (Eurodam)
- …and don’t forget to vote for me in the Wave Awards!