As a vegetarian or vegan, holidays can be a bit difficult to navigate at the best of times and a cruise, where you can’t just pop to the shop after a disappointing dinner, might seem like it would be especially hard. Many cruise lines, however, are great at catering to special dietary needs, and even those that don’t have an extensive vegetarian menu will be able to adapt something for you to eat. That being said, being a vegetarian or vegan is always easiest when there is plenty of choice, so we’ve rounded up some of the best cruise lines for vegetarian and vegan food. Follow our handy tips whilst you’re on board to make your vegetarian or vegan cruising experience even smoother sailing.
Vegan and Vegetarian-Friendly Cruise Lines
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line is known for the wide array of choice it likes to offer to its passengers, from the wide variety of dining venues to the extensive menus. Most menus offer a couple of vegetarian items, although in a meat-focused speciality venue it might be a good idea to let the staff know in advance in case something has to be made specially. The main dining rooms always offer a couple of vegetarian options, which are marked with a ‘V’. As a vegan, it might be a little more difficult, although most vegetarian meals can be adapted if you let your server know. Norwegian Cruise Line are really good for providing protein sources that aren’t just cheese based, so tuck into some tofu and relax about meeting your nutritional needs.
Carnival Cruise line
Carnival has a good selection of vegetarian dishes in both the dining room and speciality dining venues, many of which don’t charge an additional fee. The main dining room always has a couple of vegetarian dishes available for both starters and the main course, although you might have to talk to the maître d about suitable vegan options. Carnivals American Table menu has loads of great Indian food options that are both delicious and great for vegetarians and vegans. Plus, the main dish changes nightly so you won’t have to eat the same meal over and over until you never want to see it again. The casual dining venues are also good for vegetarians, with Guy’s Burger Joint making a great veggie burger and Bluelguana Cantina making a bean burrito that will satisfy both your taste buds and your protein needs.
Celebrity cruises not only marks vegetarian options on all of its menus, they also offer a separate vegetarian menu in the main dining room, so you aren’t left choosing between broccoli pasta and a goats’ cheese tart every night. The speciality venues might be a bit more of a struggle, although they can all accommodate vegetarians if notified in advance. Lots of the options do focus on cheese, however, which might make it difficult for vegans and vegetarians that prefer tofu and bean based protein sources.
In 2015, Costa Cruises completely overhauled their vegetarian offering, creating completely separate vegetarian and vegan menus to go alongside the main dining room menu. They also ensured that their speciality restaurants also have both vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. Costa is probably one of the best cruise lines for vegetarians and vegans, as you can wander into any of their restaurants without having to notify the staff and still enjoy a delicious veggie meal. Specially formulated menus for vegetarians and vegans also means that there is a good selection of protein sources on offer, making cruise dining that little bit easier.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line is great at catering for both vegetarians and vegans, due to the emphasis they place on meeting special dietary needs. Vegan and vegetarian meals are available at all sit-down restaurants on Disney ships, including the adult-only speciality restaurants Palo and Remy. In spite of this, they do recommend alerting the head server that you will require a vegan or vegetarian meal when you arrive at the restaurant.
Jacqueline Bodnar, of Vegblogger.com, says, “Some cruise lines, such as Disney, offer outstanding vegan options that are creative and delightful, while others do make a great effort, by offering up tasty tofu dishes, veggie burgers, soups, and more. When visiting buffets, watch for the signs that indicate the food is vegetarian (it usually has a V or says vegetarian), but you may still need to inquire about if it is vegan.”
Holland America Line cruises have a separate menu for vegetarians and vegans, with one of the widest varieties of options at sea. The buffet also includes multiple vegetarian options, and all restaurants offer at least one vegetarian meal for each course. It is still recommended, however, that you fill out a Special Requirements Information Form before you sail and speak to the restaurant manager on the first night of your cruise.
Princess Cruises mark all vegetarian options with a ‘V’ on the main menu, although many of them are not suitable for vegans. If you follow a vegan diet, you must let the maître d know on the first night of the cruise and may be required to order your food for the next day each evening. That being said, veggie burgers, tofu and egg free pasta are all available on the ship to modify your meals, so as long as you let the Head Waiter know you shouldn’t have any problems.
Lauren Yakiwchuk, of Justin Plus Lauren, says, “Princess Cruises offers delectable, custom created vegan dishes based off menu items or according to my personal tastes. Their buffets have several vegetarian options for every meal of the day. Contrary to popular belief, you can dine as a vegan on cruise ships and it’s very easy. All you have to do is let the cruise ship staff know your dietary preferences, and they’ll take care of the rest.”
Tips for Veggie and Vegan Cruisers
Even when cruise lines offer vegetarian and vegan options, there are a few things you can do both before and during the cruise to make sure your dietary needs are met without any hiccups.
- Always talk to the Maître d on the day you board to make sure they have a note of your needs and find out if there is anything else you need to do to ensure a delicious veggie dish is waiting for you at every meal.
- Check whether you need to fill in a special requirements form when you book your cruise, this will make sure that the kitchen is aware of your needs.
- Ask! Often if the menu doesn’t have anything you fancy on it, you can ask for something to be adapted or made specially for you.
- Even if you’ve followed all of the processes, still let your server know about your needs at the start of each meal to avoid mix ups.
- Be aware of any previous notice requirement for dietary needs on your cruise, some lines need as much as 75 days’ notice to accommodate your needs.
- As a vegan, you might find that more planning is required, so check if the menu will be suitable for you and who you need to speak to if it isn’t.
- You may have to pre-order meals each day to help the chef accommodate your needs. Check whether you need to do this as soon as you board to avoid any problems.
- If food is a really important part of your holiday, consider a themed cruise such as Vegan Vacation at Sea.
- Don’t forget about excursions, as staff may need to alert restaurants to your needs ahead of time.
If you want to try some of the delicious vegetarian and vegan options available on a cruise holiday, why not book one of Cruise1st Australia’s amazing deals today? Browse the full collection online or call our friendly team on 1300 857 345.