Going for a trip on a cruise ship is a very enjoyable way to travel. You get to see other countries, meet interesting people and generally leave the driving to others. However, for heart survivors there are many possible dangers in the dining room.
For anyone who hasn't cruised yet, the dining can be one of the best things. For dinner, you have assigned or open seating in an attractive dining room and great food, wine and service. Although your meals are included in your ticket costs, there are also several specialty restaurants, at a modest extra cost, for your dining pleasures. You need reservations for these restaurants and you should make these reservations early in your cruise. For your other meals, there is buffet eating and the food is good there too but it isn't fine dining. You can also choose to eat your dinner in the buffet area, although I don't know why you would want to pass up the elegance of the dining room. And, you have your choice of early or late seating.
Gourmet dining shouldn't put you at risk.
If you have any kind of dietary restrictions, your travel instructions tell you to let your travel agent know of your needs and they will pass them along to the cruise company. You think that these instructions will be passed onto the crew members on your cruise. THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN. When you get to the cruise, and you inquire about your needs, you are told to find the head waiter for your time of seating and tell him your needs. That by itself isn't easy as there are several head waiters, as the dining room is large and on, at least, two levels of the ship. And these people aren't in the dining room until the first seating as they are working elsewhere on the ship.
So, you really don't make any progress until you arrive for dinner. You then tell your head waiter and he tells you to tell your waiter. Eventually, you do that and he then have to figure out what to do. He brings you a menu which describes the meals for that night. Indicated there are meals that are for diabetics, gluten-free, and low sodium. And low sodium isn't good enough for heat disease. You need no sodium meals ! One of the reasons for this is that the American guidelines for sodium are generous and, as a result, you need no sodium meals so that you can control your daily intake with other meals. If you enter anything ashore, it likely will not be low sodium so you need the extra margin.
With the help of your waiter, you try to 'guess' at dishes that will be safe for heart patients.
For the following nights, you get to look at the menu one day early and make your selection then. This gives the kitchen time to prepare your special meals but your only guidance is still from your waiter.
Living or dying shouldn't be left to a waiter
Often, English isn't the first language of your waiter and yet your health is in their hands. The system is flawed and your life could depend on this system. And yet, the cruise lines could do much better.
Seniors have money to travel & need special diets
One group of cruisers that needs help in this area is the seniors. They have the money to cruise and the low-impact life style is ideal for their desires. And, they have more health issues and heart disease than any other group. Why wouldn't the cruise lines recognize that they are missing a great opportunity to serve this group. Seems to be bad business planning to me.
Cruise ships need nutritionists on staff
So, what are some of the things that the cruise lines should do ? Well, one of the first things would be to add nutritionists to the food planning in headquarters and then have nutritionist on every ship to serve their public. At HQ, they could work with the food planning department to select proper meal choices for all passengers, especially those with special needs. And on the ships, they could ensure the quality of the meal choices and they could be available to advise 'special needs' passengers on what they choices are and should be.
Seat people with heart issues in the same section
One idea to make the system work better would be to seat all passengers with special dietary needs in the same section. This would make it easier to serve their needs and to have knowledgeable serving. staff.
Buffet doesn't have many choices
One of the comments from the cruise lines is for special needs passengers to eat their dinners in the buffet areas. This isn't a good suggestion because these people paid the same amounts as other passengers and should be treated accordingly and there aren't enough choices for them from the buffet. One of the few things in the buffet that is safe is the 'make your own salad' bar. Most of the meat and fish dishes are covered with sauces of questionable sodium content. And the fries, burgers, pasta, breads, potatoes, donuts, etc. all have too much sodium and are high in cholesterol.