Eating Vegan on a Cruise Ship (or Any Special Diet)

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Justin and I are both vegans who recently went on a Caribbean cruise on board the Emerald Princess. Before we left, we weren’t too sure how good the vegan food was going to taste on board. We’d read varying reviews posted online that ranged from excellent to poor across various cruise lines. While I can’t speak for any other cruise companies, let me tell you: the vegan food on board the Princess cruise ship was excellent! If you’re vegan (or have other dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free dining), fear not – there will be food for you to eat on board and you will be very well taken care of! Eating vegan on a cruise ship is easy!

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Fruit plate offered nightly in the dining room

Before You Leave

It’s very important to fill out the appropriate forms online before you leave for your trip. That way, the cruise ship staff will be able to prepare for your special dietary needs. They’ll be able to stock up on all of the tofu and egg-less pasta before you step foot on the ship! With Princess, you will navigate to your Cruise Personalizer where all of your trip information is stored online. You will be able to write in any special requests that you have when it comes to your diet. We received an email confirmation that the request had been received well in advance of our trip. If for some reason you are unable to do this, I’m sure that if you speak to the Head Waiter of our dining room that they will still be able to accommodate your needs as best as they can.

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Vegan Burritos for Lunch

When You Arrive

On the first evening of your cruise when you are ready for dinner, speak to the Head Waiter of the dining room and inform him of your dietary request. For us, we spoke to Andrew, the Head Waiter of the Michaelangelo Dining Room on board the Emerald Princess and told him that we both consumed a vegan diet. This was no problem at all, and he always helped us with a smile on his face! For the first night, you can choose something from the menu and they will alter it to make it vegan. From that point on, we were shown the next evening’s menu in advance and we could order something from the menu for the next evening. That way, we could pretty much order whatever we wanted and they would prepare it for us! Many times, we would choose something from the menu that we liked and they would make it vegan for us by removing the dairy or eggs. Sometimes, we took different elements from what was being served and made an entirely new dish. And sometimes, we ordered something completely different, like a tofu stir fry that didn’t appear anywhere on the menu, but he assured us the chef could make it. No matter what, we were always accommodated and had no worries that we would go hungry!

Eating at the Buffet

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We wondered if eating at the buffet might be a struggle. Needless to say, we always found lots of vegetarian and vegan options. For breakfast, there were always fresh bread and bagels with margarine, peanut butter, or jam; roasted potatoes or hash browns; cereals (you could request soy milk); rice with vegetables; and always lots of fresh fruit. Every day, we were able to fill up on lots of breakfast foods before we went out for our daily tours around the islands.

For lunch, it was even easier to eat as a vegan on board. There was a huge salad bar with tons of different vegetables and toppings, with a few different salad dressings available. We loved the balsamic vinaigrette, but there were a few other ones to choose from as well that didn’t have any dairy in them. We found that the best options for eating lunch at the buffet were to scope out the daily offerings at Cafe Caribe, the other buffet that served more international cuisine. On the Asian-themed food days, there would be lots of stir-fried noodles and rice, spring rolls, and even veggie sushi! We were always able to find something to our taste.

When the ship wasn’t in port during lunch time hours, the dining room would open up. This would operate similarly to how the dining room ran in the evening. You would inform the Head Waiter of your dietary request, and they would try their best to accommodate you. We only ate lunch in the dining room once, but they did offer to show us menus in advance so we could choose our meals ahead of time.

If you are eating a gluten-free diet or you have an allergy, it may be slightly more difficult for you to eat in the buffet. It would be best if you spoke to someone in charge at the buffet so they could assist you in choosing the right foods.

International Cafe

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For all of you coffee-lovers out there (like me!), you can get your soy coffee beverages at the International Cafe! Just ask for soy milk in place of regular milk, and you’re good to go. There are several different varieties of lattes and iced coffee beverages where you can make them vegan. Another good idea is to purchase a coffee card for $31 – you get 15 stamps on the card, and you can use the card on future cruises if you don’t use all of the stamps in time. It’s a pretty good deal to get a fancy coffee drink for approximately $2 each (I love the Americanos!). Plus, for the duration of the cruise, you get unlimited brewed coffee when you show your coffee card, which tastes a whole lot better than the syrup-based coffee from the buffet!

Unfortunately, Princess sorely lacks in the department of vegan desserts. I have seen sugar-free desserts, gluten-free desserts, but no vegan desserts! C’mon, Princess! Let’s have at least one vegan dessert offering on board at the International Cafe or in the Main Dining Room! Vegan desserts often end up tasting just as good as ones filled with dairy and eggs, plus it might make the health-conscious passenger indulge a little bit! Fortunately, we did enjoy lots of fresh, fruity sorbets each night with our dinner, which was actually quite good after eating a heavier meal!

Our Meals

Here’s what we got to eat as our main courses each night on board the Emerald Princess! Let the drooling commence!

Day 1 (Fort Lauderdale, FL):
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Vegetarian Spring Rolls

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Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette (which we had almost every night!)

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Pasta with tomato sauce, broccoli, olives and capers

Day 2: (Nassau, Bahamas):
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Black Bean Soup

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Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Vegetable Stir Fry with Grilled Tofu

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Pineapple sorbet and mixed berries

Day 3 (At Sea):
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White Bean and Vegetable Ragout

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Justin’s pasta with tomato sauce

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Lauren’s Stir Fried Vegetables with Steamed Rice

Day 4 (St. Thomas):
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Vegetarian Sushi Appetizer

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Green Salad

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Beans in Tomato Sauce

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Apple Cider Sorbet and Mixed Berries

Day 5 (Dominica):
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Pesto Pasta

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Vegetable Tempura with Rice

Day 6 (Grenada):
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Prickly pear, pineapple and chili flakes!

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Another green salad!

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Vegan Pad Thai

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Day 7 (Bonaire):
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Pearl barley and leek soup with garlic crostini

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Penne all’ Arribbiatta (Justin’s dinner)

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Whole wheat pasta, Swiss chard, potatoes and Napa cabbage tossed with a garlic and sage sauce

Day 8 (Aruba):
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Mushroom Soup

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Green Salad with Asparagus

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Gnocchi

Day 9 (At Sea):
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Green Salads

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Vegetable Stir Fry with Tofu and Rice Noodles

Day 10 (At Sea):
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Tofu Vegetable Stir Fry

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Eggplant Fritters with Tomato Rice

Vegan Cruises

If you are really into Veganism and want to enjoy a vegan cruise holiday, there is a Vegan Cruise out there that sails once a year, hosted by Holistic Holiday At Sea! This year’s already sailed back in March, but stay tuned for next year – it looks like a great time and you definitely wouldn’t have to worry about vegan food at all!

Part of the #Sunday Traveler series! Check out this blog post about The Best National and Provincial Parks in BC by Pack Me To, as well as links to all of the participating blogs at the bottom of the post!

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Lauren

Lauren

Travel Writer/Photographer/Video Editor at Justin Plus Lauren
Lauren is one half of "Justin Plus Lauren". She loves to travel, take photos, and write all about it! Lauren eats a plant-based diet and seeks out yummy vegan food on her travels. She loves nature, animals, outdoor adventures, coffee, and her cat, Chickpea.

20 thoughts on “Eating Vegan on a Cruise Ship (or Any Special Diet)

    1. Justin and Lauren

      And even then, it was probably a good thing we stayed away from all of the desserts anyway as I didn’t end up gaining any weight on board :) We did enjoy lots of fruit and sorbet! Maybe they will introduce some sort of vegan pastry at some point!

  1. Meggie Kay

    The food looks amazing. I’ll be going on my first cruise later this year (most likely) and I like to avoid dairy and lactose as much as possible. Never really considered actually changing the meal or what was offered to accommodate that since it’s not something I’m too strict about. But now I’m thinking I will.

    1. Justin and Lauren

      You may want to put in a request because from my experiences, almost everything seems to have dairy in it! Either they add cheese to everything, or it is in a creamy sauce…if you put in a request, they’ll be able to alter the meal to take the dairy out of it for you, or you can request something different if you’d like – they are super accommodating! Have fun on your cruise!!!

  2. frankaboutcroatia

    It pays off to be a vegan! At the end you could choose what you wanted to eat, and you could create your own menu. This is like having a private chef at home :). Food looks amazing.

    1. Justin and Lauren

      It really was like having a private chef – as much as I love to cook, it was a rude awakening coming home and having to do all of our own cooking…and our own dishes! Yuck!

  3. Margherita Ragg

    Really surprising! I always thought vegan food would be hyper boring, but that looked super yummy! Shame for the dessert, but looks like the lovely fruit made up for that!

  4. Adelina | Pack Me To

    I’m impressed with your ability to stick to your vegan diet while on the road. Everything looks really fresh and healthy on the boat though. Fruit for dessert is always good in my books. Especially when you’re in the Caribbean.

    1. Justin and Lauren

      For me, I was raised vegetarian and have been vegan for 4-5 years now, so it comes as second nature! I don’t even think twice about it anymore, plus I don’t digest dairy very well so it is for the best that I don’t eat it! The fruit was yummmm!

  5. Ashley Hubbard

    Okay, I’m not vegan (by a long shot) but this food looks amazing! Great photos as well! Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler!

  6. Bronwyn Joy

    Sounds (and looks) like you were very well catered for. One of the big things that makes travel a whole stack easier for me is just eating what’s put in front of me whether I like it or not. I always feel for those with special requirements, but it’s good to see some companies stepping up to the mark.

  7. Mary {The World Is A Book}

    What a great selection of cruise food. One of our favorite things about cruising is the food and I’m glad you were able to eat well. I’ve always love the variety of food on Princess. Now, you’re inspiring me to start looking at cruises :)

  8. veganinbrighton

    How great that they fed you guys so well, that’s awesome! I love how many options include tofu (my fave!) and both the sushi and apple cider sorbet from day 4 look wonderful.

    1. Justin and Lauren

      I loved the tofu stir fry so much! And the pad Thai! It was so good. The sushi was a nice little treat and there was a different type of sorbet to eat every night! We were spoiled!

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