Hello Everyone!!! I wanted to say that I have been watching this forum for a few months now and it has been a great educational tool in helping me learn more about the maritime industry! Thank you everybody, as you all have been a big help in helping me choose this industry as a career. I have just accepted my admittance offer to the Great Lakes Maritime Academy for their three year deck officer program (not the four year program as I will graduating this coming may with a B.A in History and minor in Ethnic and Gender Studies). Can't wait to start the program next fall though I am little nervous. I was also quite shocked to find out that only 5 out of 60 people entering the program each year are women, its a shame that more of us aren't entering this industry. If anyone has any tips to to assist me on making my academy education a success that has not been covered in the forum it would be greatly appreciated.
However I do have one question to ask as I can't seem to find an answer in the forum as I have searched for awhile.
How well do the cooks work with those with special diets?
I'm asking this as I have Celiac Disease and cannot eat gluten which is found in wheat,barley and rye (similar to an allergy). All I can find online is that those traveling as passengers on non-cruise ships can not get special accommodations, but nothing regarding those who work on the ships. When I toured GLMA, John (director of admissions) told me that they can accommodation special diets as long as you give them advanced notice. However I am hesitant to believe this due to my many negative experiences, even lost my job a few years ago as they refused to provide the food that I needed.
This is a subject close to home for me as my wife and son eat gluten, casein and soy free food. I eat that way when I'm home but at work it is hard to do. There is no real way for a cook to have a food prep area set aside to keep from cross contamination. At your school they may be able to accommodate you to a certain degree. I'm not sure if there is a law or rule that says they have to make a reasonable effort to accommodate you. At sea I would say it depends on the galley crew and how much they like you as to how far they will go to help you out. Other factors to consider in close quarters is people eating and not washing their hands and touching everything on the vessel. Neither my wife or son are diagnosed celiacs but they definitely have no tolerance for it. There have been instances where my son has broke out in rashes just from touching common surfaces while going shopping around town. Sadly and I'm sure you know this but the public at large isn't very educated on this subject. Most people just don't get it and they never will until it affects them in some way.
I sailed with a mate who seemed to be allergic to everything. He would walk into the mess, look at the menu and say" I can't eat today" not sure if he talked to anyone about it but you would be hard pressed to find a vegetarian meal let alone anything other than high fat and fried. I believe articles state 3000 calories a day but nothing about other diets. I remember a brand new 3rd showed up to the ship and the first morning he ordered an egg white omelet with tofu and spinach. The steward just looked at him like he was speaking Japanese. I think the only time I have seen food accommodations like vegetarian meals was when the captain told the steward to supply it
Thank you so much to all of those who responded, your input is greatly appreciated! :-)
Fraqrat: Sorry to hear about your wife and son's intolerance to gluten, soy and casein, it must be extremely difficult for them to eat anything besides homemade food from scratch as I know that a lot of premade GF food contains soy. :-( Yeah not many people know about this issue, but it has been getting better (though sadly it has become a fad diet in the process). In regards to my sensitivity level I'm no where near the level your wife and son are, as I can touch it no issue (during the summer I work as a camp cook and I touch 8 hours a day, LOL but I just have to remember to wash my hands before I eat anything). At home and at college my food is not really prepped in a totally GF area, but they try there best. I have a feeling that I am going to have to bring most of my basic food with me (ex: bread, noodles, etc.) and work really hard with the cooks to understand to help them understand my needs, and am prepared to possibly have to cook my own food during any off time I have. I am truly the least pickiest person when it comes to food, as I will eat anything one puts in front of me as long as it doesn't make me sick.
Oh I just remembered that when I went on my tour at GLMA John stated that a handful of cadets had to eat gluten free. So I'm going to try to get a hold of John and ask him if I could possibly talk to those few cadets and see what they do during their internships/sea projects in order to eat gluten free. If I get to talk to any of those cadets I will make sure I post their responses on this thread in case anyone else had the same inquiry that I did.
It's easier on tugs, we buy our own food most of the time. One of my mates is gluten free he usually gets what he wants from the store that fits in his diet. It's always easier when there is only 3 to 4 of us though.
GLMA is a federally funded school. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires them to make "reasonable accommodations" for your dietary needs.
MSC or NOAA might might, I say again might, also be required to provide reasonable accommodations. The Acme Boat Rental Company is probably not required to do anything to accommodate your dietary needs..
Deep sea union, the cooks come from SIU. It's a crap shoot there. I just had a steward who couldn't cook an egg to save his life. That membrane around the yolk was still raw when served up the first time. When I bitched, he started grumbling how he had cooked for 30 years. I don't think you would get any sympathy there. I've also had SIU cooks who have continually given me stomach aches because their cooking was so damn good. But the company provides everything they use and gluten free wouldn't be on the shopping list with them.