The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

My Vegan Time with Carnival Cruise Line

Posted on May 27, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Lily Donofrio

My time with the Carnival Cruise Line was amazing. I traveled to Mexico,
Belize, Roatan, and Grand Cayman. I snorkeled, tubed through El Chibalba
(a cave named hell by the Mayan Indians), repelled from Honduran
mountains on a zip line, and swam with massive stingrays. This cruise
was both relaxing and enlightening. I got to experience foreign
countries for the first time, see beautiful landscapes, and hear riveting
tales. I also witnessed true poverty. Being my first time out of
America, I had not been prepared to see such economic struggle within
the countries that I visited. The streets were often filled with rubble
and litter, and water was not safe to drink. I learned a lot about my
homeland in relation to “developing third world countries.”

Everyone knows what goes down on a cruise. Boozing, partying, sunburns,
and eating. Food is always readily available. They have 24/7 buffets,
burger and burrito bars, ice cream pumps, brunches, dinners, tea
parties, chocolate buffets, juices, coffees, desserts, fruit platters,
bread baskets, pastry lines, complimentary room service, you name it.
Finding vegan foods really isn’t an issue, but always keep aware of what
you’re eating and ask questions. I enjoyed participating in the
stereotypical overeating during my stay.

It was around three o’clock when I first arrived on the ship, and we
were starved. The first thing we did was head to the buffet while we
waited for our bags to arrive in our room. I immediately gravitated
toward the salad section. I loaded my plate up with mixed greens,
turnips, chickpeas, cucumber, cauliflower, onions, sunflower seeds,
dried cranberries, and balsamic vinaigrette. As I moved down the line, I
picked up some fresh melon, a piece of a French baguette, and some
Rosemary potatoes. I sat my food down and got a glass of lemon
concentrate diluted with ice and water. I was in heaven.

We convened again for dinner at the dining room. We were all dressed up
and feeling great. When the waiter passed out the menu, I was elated at
its diversity. They have tons of vegetarian options that can be easily
tweaked to be vegan. I immediately notified my waiter of my diet and he
was very understanding. The staff aboard the ship is quite amazing, and
they all memorized our names and preferences. We sat in the same station
every night for dinner. Unfortunately, there aren’t any specifically
vegan options. I got the Indian dish that consisted of rice, lentils,
mushrooms, chilies, along with a side of ratatouille. I had never tried
ratatouille. It quickly became one of my favorite dishes. With my Indian
entree, I had to omit some of the add-ons, like the cream based beans
and veggies cooked with sour cream. For dessert, I had a beautifully
arranged fruit plate and a cup of black coffee.

The next morning, we returned to the buffet for breakfast. I had
oatmeal, grits, wheat toast, fruit, something called Rasta juice (guava,
papaya, orange), and my ever necessary black coffee. I made sure with
the buffet operators that all of my selections were vegan. For lunch, I
went to the burrito bar. It was as good, if not better, than our
American commercial burrito bars. I began my burrito with a wheat
tortilla, then stacked on black beans, spicy corn, watermelon salsa,
grilled peppers and onions, brown rice, and as we know, GUAC on a cruise
does not cost extra, so I took full advantage of that. That night at
dinner, I was sad to see that the other vegetarian option was not vegan,
so I ate the Indian food again. It was a great meal, but I had hoped for
more variety. I paired that with a fresh house salad with balsamic
vinaigrette.

The next day was our first port! We ordered room service and hit the
ship gym up before departing. My breakfast was fresh melon, whole wheat
toast, tomato juice, and coffee. I was ready to face my first time out
of the country with these added nutrients. While in beautiful Cozumel,
we ordered salsa and guacamole. And boy they did not jip you on the
guac. I made sure to inspect the guacamole, to make sure they didn’t
make it with sour cream, but always as vegans, we should confirm it with
the chef. The chips were obviously fresh baked and salted to perfection.
I learned that in Mexico, cilantro is not used sparingly. For dinner
back on the ship, I had verified vegan spring rolls, steamed butterless
broccoli, corn and vegetable succotash, and a baked potato (minus the
bacon and sour cream).

The next day was Belize. For this port, we had to take a ferry into the
country. While we were waiting for our tender, my friend and I split a
veggie breakfast burrito and a plate of fruit. This kept me going during
our mountain hiking and cave tubing. After, we were given rice and beans
flavored with coconut milk. As a frequent consumer of rice and beans, I
must say that the Belizians know what they’re doing. That night, back on
the ship, I had minestrone, tofu steaks (spicy seasoned tofu and grilled
veggies), ratatouille, broccoli, carrots and onions, and coffee for
dessert. I made sure to ask my waiter about the type of broth used in
the soup, which he confirmed to be vegetable broth. The next day was
Roatan (an island belonging to Honduras), which happened to be my
favorite port. We ordered room service again that morning, I had tomato
juice, wheat toast, orange and grapefruit segments, and black coffee.
That day we experienced zip lines through the jungle. For lunch,
we drank the water of a fresh young coconut (purchased from a local
vendor in a cart), fresh sliced mango, pickled salt and vinegar mango,
and fried plantains. We left shortly after lunch. For dinner, I had
mixed greens salad, vegan roasted quinoa stuffed tomato (without the
cheese sauce), broccoli, and succotash. I had the fruit plate and coffee
again for dessert.

Thursday was Grand Cayman. The tenders started later, so we went to the
buffet. I had oatmeal (walnuts, raisins, craisins, and almond slivers),
whole wheat toast, grits, Rosemary potatoes, and melon. I was quite
satiated. We had some fresh squeezed lemonade on the island, and didn’t
eat my lunch of build your own tacos until around 4 o’clock on the ship.
That night at dinner, I had the Indian dish again.

The rest of my trip consisted of repeats of dishes already eaten. In
conclusion, I was quite impressed with the selection. I wish that there
was more vegan awareness on the ship, but I was able to figure it out
myself.

3 to “My Vegan Time with Carnival Cruise Line”

  1. huda says:

    I want to go on a cruise and I was worried that eating vegan would be hard. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Taffy Gonzalez says:

    We just went on a Carnival Cruise (Triumph). The Dining Room staff was amazing. They created a custom vegan meal for our son every night, using such things as tofu and quinoa. It seemed like the chef used it for creative freedom, rather than a burden. The vegan dinners were Always very pretty and tasty. Our waiter was very knowledgeable and supportive of our son being vegan…gave him a big hug at the end rather than treating him like he created more work! For lunch aboard the ship our son hit the mexican place mainly and had black bean burritos. Since is is no charge, he would eat a few as a vegan teenage boy eats a lot! There was also a stir fry place that had tofu. For breakfast there were plenty of vegan things to get by. For the tours, one of our tours was very supportive and we didn’t even have to tell them he was vegan as there was so much to eat that there were plenty of options. The other tour was not understanding of vegan folks, but our family and another veggie family talked to the Carnival Cruise Director and they were so appalled by this that they refunded money and let us know all of the senior people at Carnival who would be looking into this. He was genuine with his concern. All in all, our son who was extremely worried he would starve ate very well each day. Be sure to tell the head waiter as soon as you board the ship of your vegan needs. We did and as a result had a vegan dinner for us that first night as a result.

  3. Melina Santos says:

    Taffy, what do you mean the “head waiter” like the one that is specific to your table? This will be my first cruise since I have become a vegan and was very worried about the options they would have. I’m very pleased to have found this article!



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