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6 Tips for Eating Vegan on a Cruise

Your guide to a stress-free vacation at sea!

Royal Caribbean boat in ocean
Things To Do

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Your guide to a stress-free vacation at sea!

Booking a cruise vacation as a vegan can be an intimidating process. Picture it: You’re on the water, in the middle of nowhere, without access to the internet, and no way to pop over to the nearest grocery store for an emergency vegan snack. Yikes! But setting sail doesn’t have to be a nerve-racking experience for plant-eaters. Try these six tips to make dining vegan on vacation easier!

1. Book the Right Cruise Line

First things first: Not all cruise lines are crafted the same! Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Virgin Cruises stand out among the pack—though eating vegan on any cruise is easier today than it’s ever been. If your budget permits, opt for a cruise line with a good reputation for vegan meals and avoid those that are sparse in their vegan offerings. Selecting a cruise line like Royal Caribbean, which boasts a daily vegan menu with rotating options, may save you a headache later.

2. Contact Your Cruise Line

Reaching out to your cruise line by phone or email is a great way to get a better grasp of what vegan offerings you can expect on board. They may be able to provide you tips on which restaurants serve more (or better) vegan options than others or which dishes to look for. They may also be able to mark your reservation according to your dietary preferences or special order food for you prior to departure!

3. Read the Menu Legend

Many menus aboard cruise ships, especially the main dining hall and buffet, should have allergen signage that can be helpful for vegans. Celebrity Cruises, for instance, lists various icons on their menus to indicate the absence or presence of certain ingredients. Aboard the Celebrity Solstice, a blue cow with a line through it means “Lactose Free,” which, when paired with a green leaf, likely indicates a menu item is vegan. Other cruise lines may simply notate that an item is vegetarian or vegan.

4. Speak with Your Server

The most surefire way to confirm your vegan options on board a cruise is to speak directly with your server each night you sit down to eat. They will be able to guide you through the menu or share with you off-menu alternatives. Often, for example, they are able to work out a meal from another location on board if there is not a vegan-by-default dish on the menu that night. If you are unsure about your menu legend deciphering abilities, ask your server to tell you whether or not an item is vegan.

5. Go to the Buffet

When in doubt, go to the buffet! The buffet is your most likely space to find vegan items at any point of the day in the greatest variety. In addition to salad and fruit options, many cruise buffets include individual ingredients that can be mixed and matched into a delicious combination of inventive dishes. For example, pair pasta noodles with mushrooms, spinach, and oil for a filling and nutritious lunch. Get creative! Breakfasts are more straightforward with bread, peanut butter, smoothies, and oatmeal, options offered on most cruises.

Inside of Royal Caribbean boat kitchen

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

6. Pack Any Non-Negotiables

Can’t down your coffee without non-dairy creamer? Pack it. Will hot sauce make any meal a bit more enjoyable? Pack it. Prefer not to risk sad salads without a vegan dressing? Pack it. If there are any vegan items you can’t live without that don’t require refrigeration, it’s worth considering throwing them into your bags ahead of time. Although cruises are getting better each year, they are not perfect, and packing essentials with you could make or break your culinary experience on board!

Allison van Tilborgh

Allison van Tilborgh

Allison is a digital media consultant, writer, and aspiring vegan-feminist scholar living in the Orlando, Florida area. She’s the founder of The Sanford Vegan, a vegan media brand, through which she connected with VegOut. As an early reader of VegOut Magazine, she dreamed of one day putting her own writing on the national stage (spoiler alert: that dream came true!). Allison loves experimenting with plant-based cooking and reading up on the latest trends in veganism and animal rights scholarship.

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