There’s always plenty of excitement at the thought of travelling overseas, but if you have a food allergy or intolerance it comes with concerns about what you’ll be able to eat. Take coeliac disease, for example, a common food intolerance affecting around one in 70 Australians and people of all ages where the only treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.

Managing a special diet at home can be challenging enough, but when a person with a food intolerance is away from home, food availability sometimes causes great anxiety, leaving many with the idea that travel is impossible.

Chisholm & Turner Travel Associates manager and travel consultant Matthew Chisholm has first-hand experience of food intolerance; his wife, Julia, and one of his four children are wheat intolerant.

“We are definitely more vigilant about everything we eat,” Matthew says. “Away from home we need to be prepared, which means calling ahead to check if my wife’s and son’s diets will be catered for, or arranging to bring our own food. It can be very limiting with the places we can go and the experiences we can enjoy.”

These issues however, provided the inspiration behind a specially chartered 15-day river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, departing on August 23, 2016. It’s a cruise which explores the stunning Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers, but will also be entirely gluten-free.

“My job is to take the hassles out of a holiday by organising a trip to suit a person’s needs,” says Matthew. “The aim of this cruise is to create an environment where passengers can enjoy the best of Europe from the sanctuary of a private river cruise charter, without the stress of having to worry about what they can eat.”

The cruise is aboard the glamorous Avalon Impression, one of Avalon Waterway’s newest “suite ships” launched last year. It’s a vessel with a contemporary design worthy of a stylish boutique hotel, and a host of facilities including an open-seating dining room, a Sky Deck with sun loungers and a whirlpool. Another major drawcard is where you sleep. In addition to its 16 staterooms, the ship boasts 65 spacious Panorama Suites, sharing the unique feature of wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling sliding windows which transform the space into an open-air balcony.Avalon Waterways is already well known for fine dining, but this cruise departure will operate with a 100 per cent gluten-free kitchen and gluten-free drink options, mitigating any cross contamination issues.

“One of the most exciting benefits is that coeliac or gluten-intolerant guests won’t be limited to the ‘gluten-free option’, and instead will have a full menu to choose from daily,” says Matthew.

Besides a hot and cold buffet breakfast and buffet lunch, options to whet the appetite for dinner range from a Caesar salad or tropical coconut and lime turkey soup, to grilled beef tenderloin steak and broiled fillet of Norwegian fjord salmon with all the accompaniments. Avalon Waterways is also known for its knack of matching cuisine to the region the ship is in on any given day and, with a 100 per cent gluten-free kitchen, this unique feature is preserved for all guests. There’s also no need to worry about sourcing gluten-free food to take ashore in unfamiliar locales as specially prepared tapas boxes will be available for pre-order on the day prior.

Avalon Impression will meander through the heart of iconic European countries including Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary, calling in at fascinating destinations along the way. Experiences to savour include cruising the scenic canals of Amsterdam and along the dramatic Rhine Gorge past the legendary Lorelei rock, and exploring Cologne, the charming wine village of Rüdesheim, medieval Bamberg, historical Nuremberg and magical Vienna. The magnificent rivers on this Gluten Free European River Cruise are a quintessential experience which everyone should enjoy at least once in their lifetime, combining a diversity of countries, coupled with a fascinating history and dramatic landscapes. And for anyone following a gluten-free diet, it’s a great way to see it all in comfort, style and without the worry.

For more information: 1800 734 796

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