Everyone knows dining options on cruise ships are especially diverse, but as is the case with land based restaurants – having a dietary requirement can sometimes limit your choices.

While cruise lines are used to serving a wide variety of travelers, it does take some work on your part to make sure there’ll be enough options available throughout your sailing — and that the staff is prepared to meet your needs. Here are five tips for making sure you’re well-fed…

1. Find out which cruise lines really cater to special diets

All major lines can accommodate special requests, but some lines have larger cuisine options than others. Oceania Cruises offer vegetarian dishes and a vegan menu with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and even afternoon tea. Celebrity Cruises has a gluten-free menu in the main dining room for three meals a day, and with Thomson Cruises, you’ll find a gluten-free selection that includes baked goods, pizza, and even beer. Norwegian Cruise Line also does a great job meeting dietary requirements, as well as offering a large selection – so it shouldn’t be too difficult onboard their ships to find something to suit everyone.

2. Familiarise yourself with the menus

Many cruise lines have sample menus available on their websites to give you a sense of what’s offered in each of the restaurants. Although there’s no guarantee they’ll be the exact dishes when you cruise, you’ll get a good sense of what the standard mix of offerings will be. Check out beforehand if there’s a variety of vegetarian and vegan items. Keep an eye out for key icons marking any speciality dishes.

3. Work the buffet

The buffet can be a vegetarian’s dream – all the power is in your hands! Head to the salad bar and get creative with your concoctions. In addition to fresh vegetables, you’ll often find leaves, olives, and fresh fruit, and sometimes quinoa, hummus, and a grain dish, such as tabbouleh. Another area at the buffet that tends to have vegan and vegetarian options is the international foods section – stir-fry made to order, anyone?

If there’s a gluten-free section at the buffet, vegans and vegetarians should also head there, as it’s where cruise lines tend to stick other healthy options. Those of you with dietary requirements probably know buffets can sometimes be hazardous due to cross-contamination – when in doubt, just simply ask the staff if they can bring your items straight from the kitchen.

4. Alert the cruise line in advance

Even with all of the menu options available, you should always let the cruise line know in advance if you have dietary requirements beyond just being a vegetarian. Most lines require that you fill out a special form detailing your needs, and request the information 30 to 90 days before your cruise.

5. Take a themed cruise that’s designed just for you

A company called Vegan Travel have recently started doing specially themed cruises on some of our favourite cruise lines! This year they are setting sail onboard Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ Columbus, on a sailing around the stunning Norwegian Fjords.

Dining onboard a cruise ship that specialises in knocking up delicious, wholesome Vegan cuisine is a joyful celebration in the truest sense, with every vegan dish ‘designed for fresh’ and crafted to exceed even the most discerning appetites. How about a dazzling multi-course gourmet dinner? Or an enormous buffet all catered to the flavours and foods you love? It’s perfect!

Time to cruise?

If you’re ready to discover some fantastic new destinations as well as some new-found flavours, take some inspiration from our Deals section – or simply give us a call on 0800 027 8302. Our friendly cruise team will find your perfect sailing in no time!

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