As the meat-free lifestyle gains momentum, many cruise lines now offer gourmet vegan and vegetarian cuisine onboard. The cruise industry is rife with vegetarian-friendly lines offering at least one veggie option per course without special request in the main dining room, along with buffet-style breakfasts and lunches featuring pasta and salad bars.
Tip: If you’re a sea-faring vegan, it’s best to contact the cruise line and notify their special needs department 30-60 days in advance. It’s also a good tip to introduce yourself to the maitre d’ when you embark.
Take a look at our list of top cruise lines for vegetarians and best cruises for vegans to start planning your magical, meat-free break on the seven seas.
Each of the ships in Marella Cruises’ fleet offer at least three restaurants, so you’ve got plenty of variety where dining is concerned. There will almost always be at least one vegetarian option on these menus and in the buffet – even Marella Discovery 2’s Surf & Turf Steakhouse has a few fish and veggie plates for meat-free types. Just look out for the icons on the menu that designate a dish as vegetarian-friendly.
As for vegan options, the line recommends vegan cruisers get in touch before your voyage to let staff know you have special dietary requirements. From there, the onboard maitre d’ is happy to cater to your needs and make sure you’ll have suitable meals prepared.
P&O Cruises is renowned in the cruising world for going a step above the rest when it comes to offering vegetarian and vegan options. They recommend cruisers with special dietary requirements get in touch before setting sail so the chefs can prepare accordingly. If you make reservations at any of the specialty restaurants you’re advised to do the same. Once boarding, you’ll then have a chance to speak with the Head Waiter on your first night to discuss your dining requirements.
The chefs do their best to adapt dishes from the main dining menu to suit vegans and vegetarians, and each night will prepare a menu for cruisers to choose from for the next night’s meal so they have time to prepare. Their going the extra mile extends to milk options too – cruising here, you’ve got the choice between soya milk, lacto-free milk, rice milk and unsweetened almond milk too.
Princess Cruises follows a similar vein in the cruising world, in that if you notify operators in enough time ahead of your cruise, they’re happy to cater to special diets including vegan and vegetarian. They operate much like P&O Cruises does, in that, once you’ve spoken with your Head Waiter, he or she will bring you a preview of the next night’s menu for you to pick out your favourite option.
As for the buffet options, you’ll want to check with the waiting staff to make sure butter or cream isn’t hidden in the food. Regardless, you’ll always have fruit, salad and bread at a bare minimum, plus soy milk upon request.
Cunard is part of Carnival Cruise Line along with P&O Cruises, so they operate under the same vegan and vegetarian policy. If you give them enough time to prepare, they’ll go the extra mile to ensures you’re well fed on your cruise. There are usually a few restaurant options onboard, including a buffet, so as long as you keep the staff informed ahead of your dining they should be able to help.
If you want to bring a special vegan wine onboard, you’re also allowed to do so. Cruisers are restricted to one bottle of wine per person over the age of 18, or 21 if you’re sailing through US territorial waters. There’s just a $20 corkage fee to drink it in a dining room, restaurant or bar.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages
In September 2017, Cruise & Maritime Voyages partnered with Vegan Travel to offer an all-vegan cruise onboard their ship Columbus, with vegan fine dining and vegan-centric activities. All of this suggests that their commitment to catering for special diets is strong.
Onboard Cruise & Maritime ships, the menus each feature vegetarian sections so you can clearly see what options are available to you. Vegetarian options are guaranteed at each meal, while vegans will want to check with cruise operators ahead of time to see how they can provide for you.
Off the boat
Not all meals on a cruise holiday will be enjoyed onboard, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to taste local foods in cafes and restaurants during shore excursions. For instance, cruises on the Mediterranean will spoil you with hundreds of exciting meat-free options when you port, from organic juice bars, pizzerias and traditional tapas options.
Enjoy a fairytale river cruise along the Rhine and explore the extensive vegan scenes in Berlin and Amsterdam, or sail to the other side of the world and learn how delicious vegan-friendly Asian cuisine can be. Excursions are also a great time to stock up on vegan treats in health food shops and grocery stores for when you’re back out at sea.
Each cruise line wants their guests to feel well looked after and have the best experience possible, so don’t be afraid to make requests and ensure you speak to the special needs department prior to departure. Cruising as a vegetarian or vegan needn’t be a stressful affair, and with a little forward-planning you will be extremely well catered for.
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