Veganstyle Cruising

by on December 1, 2009
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Guatemala from NCL Spirit

I’m back! Sorry to leave you without new recipes for so long, but I have to admit that I needed a vacation. Now that I’m home and Thanksgiving is over, I have lots of plans for new recipes. Unfortunately, right now they’re just plans, so in the meantime, let me tell you a little about my cruise (and a lot about the food!)

As an early Christmas present, my parents took my sister and me along on their 7-day Norwegian Cruise Line trip to Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. At first I was reluctant to leave D and E (they couldn’t go because of work and school), but once we were at sea, I decided to relax and leave my worries behind and enjoy my time with my parents and sister. Of course, I was rarely without my camera, so I took hundreds of photos. I’ll scatter the best shots of the scenery throughout this post, in no particular order. Hover over each photo to see where it was taken.

Morning in Guatemala

Most of my best photos were taken in Guatemala, which, I have to say, was my favorite stop because of its unspoiled beauty. After two days at sea and one stop in flat Costa Maya, Mexico (a place that seems to have been built solely for cruise ships) waking up to see the jungle-covered hills of Guatemala was such a wonderful surprise.

Flower in Hibiscus Project Garden, Guatemala

The highlight of our time in Guatemala was tour through the Hibiscus Project, a museum of Mayan garments created by Sandra Acevedo de Voelin with her husband Eric Voelin in her parents’ old home; they devoted several acres in the back of the house to planting native trees and flowers, and I took a lot of photos of plants that I have no idea what they are. As always, your help in identifying them is appreciated.

Flower in Hibiscus Project Garden, Guatemala

Since this is a food blog, I would be remiss in not commenting on the cruise’s food. As you may know, a big reason why many people take cruises is so that they can dine in style on delicious, gourmet fare. The problem with being a vegan on any cruise is that most people’s notion of gourmet food centers on animal products, and the cruise menus reflect this bias. NCL was careful to put one–and only one–vegetarian entree on each day’s dining room menus, but those dishes were almost never vegan.

Bamboo in Hibiscus Project Garden, Guatemala

On any other cruise line, my family and I would have been dining at the same time each night with the same waitstaff, so I could make my dietary preferences known at the outset and work with one server to make sure my meals were vegan. But NCL has come up with an idea they call “Freestyle Cruising,” which meant that we could eat whenever we wanted but with a different server each time. So at each and every meal, I had to talk to a new server about vegan options for the night and was often shown the menu for the next night so that preparations could be made. (At our first meal in the dining room, no vegan entrees were available, so I ate my tiny appetizer salad and watched as my family ate their main courses and desserts. Not fun.)

Tree in Hibiscus Project Garden, Guatemala

Unfortunately, NCL’s idea of preparing a vegan meal always meant removing the non-vegan ingredients from the vegetarian dish rather than creating a completely new vegan dish; in one case, when the entree was tempura vegetables with seasoned rice, I received only the vegetables because the rice was made with butter; they did not give me extra vegetables (or anything else) to fill the empty space on my plate.

Boats by Swing Bridge, Belize City

Now having said all that, I was never hungry for long. If I didn’t get enough to eat in the main dining room, I could visit the buffet upstairs afterward, where there were salads, fruit, and a selection of vegetarian Indian dishes that were always delicious (though finding out if they were vegan was a time-consuming and awkward process).

Remote Beach in Costa Maya, Mexico

Every morning, I feasted on fresh fruit and skillet potatoes from the buffet, and if I was willing to wait for a server to track it down, soymilk was available to use in my oatmeal, cereal, or coffee. Though it lacked the ambiance of the dining rooms, the buffet provided plenty of vegan options and is probably the reason I came home a couple of pounds heavier.

Sunset in Guatemala

If you’re a vegan looking for a cruise, I think that NCL isn’t your best bet, but you certainly won’t starve. Just be prepared to repeat your request for a vegan meal every time you sit down to eat, and get used to the idea that at many times, your dining companions will be eating their appetizers and desserts while you wait, nibbling on the bread and hoping it’s vegan.

I’ll be back soon with more new recipes (I’m thinking pasta, potatoes, and Indian food, not necessarily in that order). In the meantime, why don’t you tell me what yummy vegan dishes you had for Thanksgiving? Feel free to leave links to recipes!

Labels: Flowers, Life, Nature, Travel

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{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

1 KathyF December 1, 2009 at 1:55 pm

We actually had two Thanksgiving dinners, one at a friend's house Thursday night, and she made vegan green bean casserole and other dishes for me. I was so impressed! I brought along stuffed cabbage rolls, stuffed with cornbread stuffing and a mushroom brandy sauce. (From Still Life w/ Menu)

For the next one on Saturday I went with tried and true–Bryanna's tofu/seitan "turkey" roulade. It was superb, and I've decided it's the best seitan recipe out there, probably because it also uses soy. And I made roasted garlic gravy.

It's ironic…living in a country that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, I managed to have not one but two celebrations!

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2 Shannon December 1, 2009 at 2:14 pm

I feel your pain! We went on a RC cruise earlier this year, but at least they gave 2 vegetarian options at each meal rather than only one. I got really excited when I read the headline because I thought you were going to announce a Vegan cruise. Ha ha, that would be too good to be true, I guess!

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3 erica December 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm

I'm looking forward to your Indian food recipes. We have fresh tamarind (still in the pod) and fresh turmeric in stores right now. Any ideas?
Thanks!

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4 MG December 1, 2009 at 2:17 pm

The red flower on top is belongs to the heliconia family.

I just had to use google to find the name – have seen the flower hundreds of times (recently moved back to Europe after living in Costa Rica for four years), but now I finally know what it's called!

I am assuming that you know the plant below the second red flower (which I am not familiar with) is a type of bamboo…

I am not American, so I made no special food for Thanksgiving. But, I plan to make your celebration pot pie later this week because it looks so, so yummy! I have had a real hard time finding seitan here in London though as apparently it's not very popular here. I will probably start making my own, but so far I have also been unable to find wheat gluten. Of course, I can make it with wheat flour (rather than wheat gluten), but that involves a lot more work!

Looking forward to your recipes!

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5 Shannon December 1, 2009 at 2:18 pm

As far as Thanksgiving, we also had 2 celebrations. One vegan celebration on Sunday before. I got lazy and used Field Roast Celebration Roast (enjoyed by all even non-vegans), steamed green beans, mashed potatoes (margarine and soymilk) with gravy made from vegetable broth, dijon brussel sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes, and homemade dressing. The second celebration on Thanksgiving day was at family's house and was going to be decidely non-vegan, so we merely froze leftovers from Sundays dinner and brought it with us to eat. Last year I made Bryanna's soy and seitan turkey and it was great! I will definitely make that anytime we actually host Thanksgiving at our house, but I didn't bother this year since we were going out of town.

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6 pulltaffy December 1, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Welcome home, Susan! Thank you for sharing your experiences on the cruise. It is unfortunate that Americans' idea of "good food" is inextricably tied up with meat and cheese. I can imagine the process of finding something to eat at each meal was a pain! It's too bad they couldn't have made some sort of arrangement ahead of time so you could relax and enjoy the meal with your family!

My husband wants to go on a cruise, and I've been worried about the food. I wonder if there are any cruise lines that are more accommodating of vegans?

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7 KP December 1, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Vegan cruising is rough. I did a Princess cruise as a vegetarian and I ate a lot of french fries. No fun.

If you feel like doing a great family vacation check out the Beaches all inclusive resorts. We did a trip to a Sandals (couples version) and the head chef met with me and made me amazing vegan food every day. He seemed very happy to do it (probably a nice culinary change and a challenge).

In St. Lucia there is a pink flower that looks exactly like the red one. It was called a ginger flower and they said if you touched it, it was so delicate that it would leave a fingerprint (which kills the petal so we never tried).

Very happy you are back and blogging!

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8 Anonymous December 1, 2009 at 2:32 pm

I feel for the trials and tribulations you went through on your cruise as a vegan- Luckily vegetables are vegan and most places will make a nice plate of steamed or roasted veggies if you ask nicely… :)

All that aside, your photos are gorgeous! I'm impressed with your composition and love the colors! Please do share more!!

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9 MG December 1, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Okay, after some more googling…. the second red flower actually is a ginger flower! I wasn't familiar with this variant (zingiberaceae nicolaia), but only with another (zingiber spectabile), which is sometimes known as "shampoo ginger" in Costa Rica as people use the rain water collected in the flowers to wash their hair.

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10 cookingforaveganlover December 1, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Good to know about NCL! Our cruise on Carnival was really good food wise. We only ate at the buffet but it was great nad we had tons of salad, fruits, and roasted potatoes which was great for us. At the ports we were also able to snack on some items. And more than one time we ended up getting PB&J room service just because it was yummy and fun haha.

Pulltaffy: from what I have researched Carnival is the most accomodating. Although our last cruise my husband and I only ate the buffet I have cruised before with them and they are great in the dining room. If you let the Maitre'd know on the first night they are good about making you things for the remainder of your time. The first night usually you end up with steamed veggies, salad and dry baked potato …sometimes there is an appetizer.

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11 KP December 1, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Oh yeah – the hanging flower is called a crab claw because…well it looks like one. They have those in St. Lucia too!

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12 Mary December 1, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Gorgeous photos! They warmed me right up.

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13 Anonymous December 1, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Thanks for the heads' up. I'm actually going to be cruising NCL in February so it's good to know these things, I"ll be sure to order 2 salads and maybe a regular entree but without the meat. Usually the sides are great. I agree it would be frustrating to sit there while everyone else enjoys the meal. I've cruised RC as a veggie and didn't have any issues, but it definitely wasn't all vegan either.

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14 SusanV December 1, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Good luck with that, Anonymous. They wouldn't adapt any of the meat dishes for me (such as give me the noodles from a dish without the meat) nor would they, as someone else suggested, steam or roast any vegetables or give me a baked potato (as I've had on Carnival). They were amazingly inflexible, though at all meals I did wind up with something. Usually at least one of the salads or appetizers was vegan or easily veganized, but the portions were tiny.

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15 dryxi December 1, 2009 at 3:53 pm

While your cruise sure looks beautiful, that food sounds miserable! Those things aren't cheap, and it makes me so angry that they couldn't put anything together for you.

I work on a trayline in a hospital – we have specific menus each day and for each diet, and we are on an extremely tight schedule. We are STILL able to accommodate vegans!

I can't imagine why the cruise line would be incapable of giving you extra vegetables or just the noodles – its not like they cooked the meat and the noodles at the same time! I've been wary of cruises in the past, but now I know to avoid NCL.

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16 Tanya December 1, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Sorry to hear it was such a pain to get vegan fare on the cruise. We were looking for some sort of holiday/vacation that was all vegetarian at least….I did see an ad in VegTimes magazine for something called "Holistic Holiday at Sea VII". It's all vegetarian at least. Lists the website as: http://www.atasteofhealth.org That one seems a bit overboard for me (lectures, etc…) but at least it's all veg. Might be easier to get vegan food that way.

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17 Tanya December 1, 2009 at 3:56 pm

PS-it does say vegetarian/vegan natural foods!

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18 SusanV December 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm

Thanks, MG! I suspected that the red flower was some type of ginger–we saw several different varieties there and I lost track of which flowers were ginger.

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19 mysticxian December 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm

i'm going on a cruise next summer with carnival. It seems everywhere I've researched to people I've talked to pretty much have the same experiences when it comes to vegan food. It's not very fair. I did find online somewhere though about a cruiseship company that is totally vegetarian. Maybe your family could do that as a family trip at some point?
The pictures look great. I'm glad you had a good time.

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20 Stuart December 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm

I'm the only vegan at home, but my brave mother jumped out on a huge limb and buy a Tofurkey for Thanksgiving. I warned her it may not be what she expected, but she was adamant to try it. And wasn't I surprised when it came out great! I've heard nasty things about tofurkey, but it was by far my favorite dish this year. Along with the sweet potatoes and gravy, not to mention your pumpkin pie bite recipe, this was the best vegan Thanksgiving yet.

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21 AJP December 1, 2009 at 4:25 pm

My family went on a Caribbean cruise in the summer of 2008, I think on Carnival line. I had the same experience, except my server was always the same. However, even though she wrote a list down (with my help) of the foods I didn't eat, I still wound up with eggs in my rice or cheese on my pasta.

There were always copious amounts of food available on the ship, but they were never labeled with ingredients or allergy information, so it was almost impossible to tell what foods were vegan or not. The whole experience was so miserable that I will probably never go on a cruise ever again. There's nothing like being trapped on a boat, watching your family eat gourmet food, while you eat plain rice and steamed veggies.

Also, the night when they had tofu I was so excited because I figured I was going to eat 5 star tofu. Nope, it was spongy. I think I made tofu better on my first try as a young vegetarian!

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22 Michal December 1, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Glad your back! Your photography is so gorgeous, it looks like you had a wonderful time over your thanksgiving. For thanksgiving I made stuffed pumpkin, cauliflower mash, a huge salad and ani phyos raw oatmeal raisin cookies yum!

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23 Sara L December 1, 2009 at 4:49 pm

I did a Princess cruise last winter and found them very accommodating. I did the traditional seating, which was a big help. I suggest calling the maitre'd as soon as you board to avoid having to eat just steamed veggies the first night.

I had to explain vegan for the first couple of days (I stressed the no meat, egg or dairy), but once they had it, the head waiter went out of his way to make sure I had enough to eat. I looked at the menu the night before and worked with him to modify courses. They often insisted on bringing me extra courses because they did not think vegetables could be filling.

It's a bummer to hear other people did not have similar experiences. I had to work every night with the head waiter, but it was worth it-I got some great food!

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24 merathon December 1, 2009 at 4:50 pm

since you said you'll be posting some Indian recipes. . .have you ever made a vegan tikka masala? i loved this dish at Indian restaurants before i became vegan but have never tried making it vegan myself! would love to know if you've got a great recipe!

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25 Erin December 1, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Call me crazy, but if a company is going to ask you to pay premium prices for premium food… you should get premium food. My husband, who is omni, and I have figured out the best way to tell the quality of a restaurant (the food and skill of the chef/prep staff in back) is to ask for a vegan dinner.

Services that are as inflexible as Susan describes are probably relying on cheap help to reheat frozen, pre-packaged food (which is probably why dishes can't be prepared differently.) What a disappointment, and certainly not what you pay for on a cruise.

I don't mean to sound negative – it just makes me mad when hospitality businesses cut corners like this. I'm so happy that the scenery and the experience made up for the abysmal culinary experience, Susan!

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26 Tiffany C. December 1, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Sorry to hear about the food issue on board :( but it's nice that you were able to get a vacation and spend time with your parents and sister. Your photos are absolutely beautiful!

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27 Kristen December 1, 2009 at 5:05 pm

One word: Celebrity!

We've been on two cruises with Celebrity, the second time as vegetarians. It is an older crowd for sure, with assigned sit-down dinners, but they have great food.

On our last cruise, they had three vegetarian options for dinner, one of which was always vegan (not just a main dish either…appetizer, main dish, and dessert). And it was GOOD! The chefs were creative and the food was just delicous!

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28 Jelli Bean December 1, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Glad you{re back! Is your Guatemala photo of Lago Atitlan? It looks similar, if it is not. I agree that Guate is a beautiful country. Climate isnt too shabby either. For what it´s worth to any non-vegan readers, NCL does have a wonderful menu for those with less-strict dietary conditions. A few years ago my family went to Hawaii with them and loved every minute of it…including one night´s special chocolate buffet!

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29 Kristen December 1, 2009 at 5:31 pm

I've only cruised once as a vegan but I can't say enough great things about how well Carnival accommodated me. I didn't get to meet my waiter until the second night but from then on I saw the next night's menu in advance and was able to make arrangements for the following night. They made me tasty, filling meals using the night's vegetarian meal as a guide and I even got dessert!

PS — Beautiful photos, and I love this blog!

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30 Anonymous December 1, 2009 at 5:31 pm

We were originally going on Celebrity and then switched to NCL.

I just had a thought – maybe I could raid the buffet for a bunch of fruit and then bring it to the dining room, ROFL.

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31 SusanV December 1, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Jelli Bean, I would love to go to Lago Atitlan one day. These photos were taken just outside Santo Tomas De Castilla, where we docked. And I saw the chocolate buffet–it was amazing with beautiful ice sculptures and chocolate sculptures. They were setting it up as we finished dinner one night, and the line to get into the dining room was forming even an hour before it started. I looked from a distance; no sense torturing myself with something I wasn't going to eat.

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32 Erika December 1, 2009 at 5:55 pm

We had a very FatFree Vegan Thanksgiving! We made your Green Bean Casserole as well as 3 of your Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecakes! Besides that we had cornbread stuffing, Tofurkey (it was great!), cranberries, and roasted asparagus. And lots more dessert. It was fantastic! We had a 100% vegan meal and even the omnis were impressed. =)

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33 MeeshOne.Love December 1, 2009 at 6:13 pm

I adore your blog! I also went on a cruise semi recently and found eating vegan to be pretty tough. I mostly ate from the buffet as well…since eating mostly raw for a week didn't bother me I wasn't so disappointed in the lack of food options…what got to me more was the overwhelming saltiness of the cooked options I did have…tempeh and stir fried veggies with rice…cooked in fresh sea water? I stuck to fruits and veggies and the occasional cereal or oatmeal with that specially requested soy milk (even ordering a soy chai latte from the cafe required some foot work…and thats not even a strictly vegan issue). Oh and for some reason peanut butter was a specialty item as well. So strange…I'll be waiting on that Vegan Cruise line too. ;)

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34 Anonymous December 1, 2009 at 8:32 pm

I have to say that I went on a Holland America Cruise last February, and even though they had the free choice dining, they were incredibly wonderfully unbelievably accommodating to my vegan diet. They would make me ANYTHING I requested, asking me how I would like it prepared. The Chef even came out one night and talked to me. He was the happiest man alive. And told me to request anything, and they would happily make it for me. If I wanted Thai style, they made it, if I wanted Indian, they made it… Lunches and breakfasts were not so easy, but there were plenty of salads and fruits for those meals. As long as I get protein at dinner, I felt I had enough for the day.

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35 Vivacious Vegan December 1, 2009 at 9:45 pm

My husband and I were going to cruise on NCL last December but when I called them to inquire about vegan food options they were so unaccommodating and inflexible we decided against that cruise.

Instead we cruised with Royal Caribbean and had the most wonderful experience. We mostly ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch. When we inquired as to the whether or not an item was vegan they would bring out the head chef to answer any questions. They didn't have vegan veggie burgers at the buffet but they were always willing to run down to Johnny Rockets (at the other end of the ship) to pick up vegan ones for us (so long as we didn't mind waiting an extra 5 minutes).

In the dining room our server and the maitre'd went out of their way to provide us with plenty of vegan options. They would show us the next day's menu and we would work with them to create something out of the vegetarian selections (just because we didn't want to be complete PITA's) but if we wanted something not on the menu they were happy to make if for us. We mostly feasted on Indian cuisine since this is our favorite and not one I'm inclined to make at home. The waiter made sure only to bring out the vegan bread rolls and they always had special appetizers and dessert for us. One night they really went out of their way and baked us a 3-layer vegan cake. I was so touched I actually cried.

I would recommend RC in a heartbeat. We're cruising with them again in January and I can't wait.

We also have a cruise coming up in 2 weeks with Princess and, while they did tell us they would happily accommodate our dietary needs, I feel a lot better after reading some of the positive comments on here about them.

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36 Elyssa December 2, 2009 at 12:10 am

Hi Susan!

I've been following your blog for some time now but this is the first time commenting. I've gotten lots of great ideas from here and I say idea's because I rarely ever follow a recipe to the T!(except one absolutely yummy, easy "butter" recipe that doesn't have oil unless you want to count coconut milk as oil)

Anyhow, I just wanted to say that I've really enjoyed your website! All the food looks so good and sometimes I want to try a whole bunch of recipes all at once. I'm vegan although not a fatfree vegan.. I don't see that fat is unhealthful but good for our bodies – the good kind I'm talking about.

We had mashed potatoes, nut roast, gravy, salad, peas, pumpkin pie with coconut whipped cream and.. I can't remember what else we had for thanksgiving. But thanksgiving was great! So many things to be thankful for!

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37 K December 2, 2009 at 12:14 am

Ugh, I'm sorry to hear that the food situation wasn't really up to par. I think that people should be able to expect to have their needs met when they are paying the kind of fees you do on a cruise. Someday I am going to go on the vegetarian cruise, sounds fantastic!
I have a similar tale-of woe about pathetic vegetarian service. I shall share since misery loves company, no? For my high school graduation, we had a catered dinner in a fancy hotel that came with quite a hefty price tag (I think around $60/ person) and you could notify yourself as a vegetarian when ordering your tickets so they would know in advance how many dishes to prepare. (This was in my pre-vegan days) So the day comes, and our food arrives: first up, Italian wedding soup. When me and my friend (my blog-partner Eve, incidently) mentioned to the server that we had ordered the vegetarian meal, so she took our bowls off to the side, scooped out the meatballs and returned them (and later was miffed when she had to take them away, untouched) The entree wasn't much better, there was a clear hole on the plate where the meat had just been removed. They couldn't have even moved over some of the veggies?

Anyways, sorry for the novel here. Looking forward to the sound of your recipe ideas!
-K

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38 deborakerr December 2, 2009 at 7:04 am

Hi Susan:
For several months I´ve been surfing your blog and found the most precious vegan recipes.
But I´m from Argentina and it´s kind of difficult to reech the goal an a pure meet eater country, as you may know.
That is why I´m asking you the reciepe (if it´s not too much asking) for making tofu or some other kind of "meat", since we cannot find it in here. Any would be very appreciate!!!

Congrats for your trip! You certainly picked some of the best we have in LatinAmerica. Only next time be sure to reech some other places also as good as those… ;)

I also want to congratulate you for those shootings! All of them are AWESOME!!!

Well, thanks a lot and sorry for my english!
Merry Christmas for all of you!
From far…
Debbie

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39 Amber Rubenfeld December 2, 2009 at 8:51 am

We did a very non traditional thanksgiving. I am newly married and i offered to my mom to have thanksgiving at my place and we could bring our own respected meals & share on the veg options. (my husband is also the pickiest eater on the planet) and so she decided to go to old country buffet. They had some vegan options, many steamed veggies, a salad bar, and they had plenty of vegetarian options. Overall it was a good time, but very strange.

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40 TW December 2, 2009 at 10:05 am

Welcome back, Susan! We missed you, but it's great that you were able to enjoy some much-deserved R&R! Your photos are just beautiful!

Our vegan Thanksgiving dinner was centered around your very own Quinoa and Red Lentil Cutlets, as it has been for the past several years. They're delicious, and with the traditional trimmings make a perfect Thanksgiving meal. Thank you for once again being the founder of our feast! :-)

It's a real shame that the dining portion of your vacation was so abysmal. Vegans and vegetarians wishing for a more accommodating cruise might want to check out (as Tanya mentioned) The Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise, or, for something on a much smaller scale, a voyage on Maine's Wanderbird. Also, the vegan travel agency Green Earth Travel can help with cruises and other types of vacations. And anyone planning to cruise with one of the main corporate cuiselines and who cares about their environmental impact might want to first check Friends of the Earth's recent Cruise Ship Environmental Report Card.

Thank you for sharing your vacation with us, I'm looking forward to your new recipes!

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41 N December 2, 2009 at 3:43 pm

I recently cruised on Celebrity and I did not have the same food experience as a previous poster. Perhaps because mine was only a short cruise? It was only three days.

There was one vegetarian option each night and it was sometimes vegan. However, even with that, it was usually chock full of added oils, which made it not something I really wanted to eat.

What I ended up doing for dinner was put together an assortment of sides and appetizers. My main dish was usually a baked potato or two and an assortment of steamed veggies. That was okay, but uninspired.

Breakfast and lunch, with the buffets, was better and, if my cruising companion had been willing, I'd have just done the buffet for dinner, as well, but she really wanted the dinning room food.

For breakfast, I had a ton of fresh fruit – delicious – and I asked for uncooked oatmeal which I added hot water to and ate with fruit and/or nuts.

Lunch was a big salad and Indian food. Quite tasty, but on the salty side.

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42 Harvest Hands Los Anonos December 2, 2009 at 4:24 pm

I don't know of vegan cruises, but Dr. John McDougall does a vegan trip to Costa Rica every year that looks wonderful!!
A cruise would be great!

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43 Deborah W December 2, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Eating away from home as a vegan can be tough! I'm a newly hatched vegan (less than one month) and ate out for the first time this evening at Chevy's, a mexican restaurant. Not a single vegetarian OR vegan item on the menu (that I could find) so I ordered the grilled romaine salad but had to specify no bacon, no cheese, no chicken, and asked for their salsa vinaigrette dressing instead of ranch. It was excellent! As soon as I got home I googled recipes for both the salad and the dressing and can't wait to make them myself. I've just found your blog, and it's awesome. You've got a new follower!

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44 Melissa December 2, 2009 at 10:21 pm

I'm sorry your cruise food experience wasn't great. My husband and I went on a cruise with Celebrity this winter. I was really nervous that there wouldn't be enough vegan fare for him- but they were really accommodating. The waitstaff in the dinning room was awesome and by the end they were prepping full Indian dinners (most of cooks seemed to be Indian) and bringing them to the table for everyone. The ship also had a new sorbet every day and had soy milk available.

Vegan cruising can be done. Of course there is also the macro cruise:http://www.atasteofhealth.org/

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45 Shannon December 2, 2009 at 11:04 pm

I second (or third?) the suggestion of going to an all-inclusive. We went to one for the first time this year for our anniversary. Hands down, it was the best vacation EVER (yes – even better than the honeymoon!) and everyone there was very accomodating to make us anything we wanted. We had no problem eating vegan the whole time. It was so relaxing, unlike on a cruise where you feel like you are on a rushed timetable the whole time. We will probably never cruise again, but all-inclusives we will be doing at least once a year from now on.

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46 moonwatcher December 3, 2009 at 12:49 am

Welcome back, Susan, and thanks for the beautiful photos. . .you saw some amazing places and plants. I, too, am sorry your eating experience wasn't very accommodating . .I've never been on a cruise, and so I found all these comments about what it's like, and what it's like if you are vegan, fascinating. I also enjoyed reading what everyone had for Thanksgiving! We had your chipotle barbequed tofu (breaking with a more traditional choice, but it was just right!), delicata squash stuffed with a wild rice stuffing, mashed potatoes with a gluten free poultry type gravy from the McDougall web site that was awesome, your confetti cornbread made with your soy yogurt, steamed green beans with walnut sauce, cranberry sauce with orange and star anise, and your double lay pumpkin cheesecake! What did you have for Thanksgiving?

xo

moonwatcher

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47 FoggyVegan December 3, 2009 at 3:28 am

Welcome back! Pictures are beautiful! I recently went on a Celebrity Alaska cruise and did not have a great dining experience (I actually lost weight on the cruise). Uninspiring is also the best description for the food. I ended up eating alot of fruit & was pretty tired of spaghetti by the end of the cruise. It was difficult to find out how things were prepared and I was surprised how many things (minestrone, miso soup, rice) they put animal products in. Too bad really.
I had tofurkey for the first time this year – and I have to say I liked it. And dessert was a berry cobbler – so easy, and perfect after a big meal!

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48 jamberry December 3, 2009 at 11:35 am

So glad to hear that my husband and I were not the only ones who had trouble with Norwegian Cruise Line! We just got back from their Eastern Mediterranean cruise and were so frustrated with meal times that, unless they drastically change, I don't think we'll ever cruise agian (at least not with them). I even wrote a long letter and left it in their comment box explaining that they need to be more accomodating to their vegan guests. I guess it didn't work! :(
Oh well, we still had a good time seeing all the sites and spending time together. I guess that's what counts.

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49 Lolly December 3, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Hi, Susan. I don't think I have ever commented before but I love your blog and your recipes are scrumptious! For Thanksgiving, I made your green bean casserole and the very sweet, but oh so good, sweet potato pecan pie (can't think of the exact name). They were so fantastic that I couldn't have eaten both all by myself but did refrain and shared it!! Yum-O!!
Lolly

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50 Allison Reece December 4, 2009 at 11:22 am

OH, so lovely! Gorgeous photos, thanks for sharing. I have an idea why don't you see if you can find a cruise line that would be willing to set up a First Ever Vegan cruise week(s)! You could host it, find vegan chefs, vegan bloggers, musicians, etc that would be willing to participant… to put on programs for vegan families.
Oh, still love your vegan mac n cheese.. thanks. Love your blog!

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51 Jacqueline December 4, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Lovely photos, especially the flower shots. Just the kind of photos I enjoy taking.

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52 asima December 4, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Hi Susan,

I've been meaning to ask for the longest time – if you can attempt a vegan twist to a traditional indian dish 'biryani'" saffron infused basmati rice with protein. That is one dish i really miss after becoming vegan as i'm from a part of india that is very carnivorous :(

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53 small house December 5, 2009 at 12:59 am

I think I should also have a break. I am envious of your photos and your stay in Guatemala! I like to visit that lace because it is really very beautiful!

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54 Anonymous December 6, 2009 at 8:47 pm

I'm incredibly disappointed to hear that you went on a cruise.. Cruise liners have an terrible environmental impact. Some googling came up with some pretty terrifying numbers:

On a typical one-week voyage a cruise ship generates more than 50 tonnes of garbage and a million tonnes of grey (waste) water, 210,000 gallons of sewage and 35,000 gallons of oil-contaminated water. On average, passengers on a cruise ship each account for 3.5 kilograms of rubbish daily – compared with the 0.8 kilograms each generated by local people on shore.

In addition, there is significant damage to coral reefs from cruise liners. There are 109 countries with coral reefs. In 90 of them (about 70% of cruise destinations are in biodiversity hotspots) reefs are being damaged by cruise ship anchors and sewage, by tourists breaking off chunks of coral, and by commercial harvesting for sale to tourists.

I'm sorry that the cruise line inconvenienced you with a lack of a vegan option.

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55 vegan.eating December 9, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Your post reminds me of my trip to Cuba years ago. They like to put in everything, even the rice! So we ate mostly fruits and veg, when there were some, and bread. We brought a lot of food with us: CLIF Builder's bars, Primal Strips Jerky, JUVO supplement, vegan margarine and cans of Tartex. It was a treat trying to explain all of it to customs with no knowledge of Spanish.

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56 Jessica December 12, 2009 at 9:34 pm

I came across your blog and wanted to mention that there actually is a vegan cruise! I saw it briefly in another article: http://www.atasteofhealth.org/vegan-cruise.htm

:)

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57 Kim and Megan December 14, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Your trip looked amazing despite the disappointment in the cruise food! So happy that you enjoyed Guatemala so much! We have a special place in our hearts for Guatemala that I blogged about this week…it makes me excited that one more person fell in love with the beauty of it! Enjoy!

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58 DanielleL December 18, 2009 at 4:47 pm

This has been one of the best vegan sites ever! I really mean that! I started to be a regular vegetarian at first which lasted about a month, then I became vegan just 6 months ago. I had to do a lot of research and that's when I found this site. I felt your pain when you said it was getting awkward asking for vegan options. Sometimes I tell people that I cannot have dairy products and leave it at that. It is a struggle, but I really am proud of my decision and know I am doing what's best for my body everyday! I live in New Jersey about 20 minutes away from NYC and I am quite lucky because there are many food stores and restaurants that offer vegan options, so I have gotten along fine, and miss nothing. I am married and have three children. My oldest, my daughter is also a vegetarian, but will consume milk and cheese. My husband and two sons are still meat eaters. Most nights I have to cook two or three different meals to accommodate everyone. Thank God I like to cook! This Thanksgiving, we had it at my mom's and I literally brought up all my own food, an entire Thanksgiving meal for me. My husband being the supportive sweat heart he is, ate my Tofurky instead of Turkey. Gotta call that love! Now my new challenge is Christmas. We are Italian and are used to having seven fishes on Christmas Eve! It is a spread that my aunt so delicately makes! I really do not want to bring my boxes of food with me again! I am making breaded "crab" meat patties for both my daughter and I, but other than that I will have to hope for some bread, maybe a salad (if it is not "cheesed" up) olives and pasta, but we all know how pasta can go! Anyway, beautiful pictures, and I really look forward to seeing what you create for the Holiday Meals. I am hosting Christmas Day with a Lasagna, and I already know how to make a veganized version for me! Happy Holidays Everyone!

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59 Anonymous December 19, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Oh, my goodness! Your photos are gorgeous! I wish I could go (oh, yeah, I did. . .) I've gotta learn to take photos like these. Great job, sis!

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60 michaelmybeloved December 20, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Susan,

The photos are beautiful but I am sorry about your food experience. I hate to say it but NCL just does not get good ratings (for more than just the food).

I have only been on one cruise (two years ago, with my mom). It was on Holland America (to Alaska!!). I can echo what the other Holland America poster said (which seems similar to the Celebrity cruise posters….both lines are similar "grades" of cruise line) about the dining experience.

First of all, I contacted Holland customer service before the cruise to discuss the options. We had a traditional dining option (which I enjoyed…"dressing for dinner" is one of the fun components of a cruise that is different than "real life") so we had the same servers. I met with them the first night to sort out my needs.

On the regular menu, they had one veg soup and one veg entree each night (different each night of course). I could request these being veganized the night before (I picked out my meal the night before so they could be prepared for veganizing things such as soups). In addition, they had an all veg (not necessarily vegan) menu that I could pick from (this was the same every time but I picked different items on different nights) and could veganize, if possible. They also had different sorbets every night.

Lunch and Breakfast was a bit more limiting but I was able to get things every time without too much effort (including an amazing pear soup that my mom thought was better without the cream than with! :))

As one poster mentioned about Celebrity, Holland has a slightly "older" clientele (which I consider to be a good thing!). That amounts to better dinner conversation with your dining companions, a more civilized atmosphere all around and less chance of seeing far more skin than you care to :)

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61 Amy January 13, 2010 at 11:06 pm

On cruising as a vegan: We went on a Carnival Cruise and I notified them I was a vegan when we were setting up the tickets. The first night, as we came into the dining room, I was approached by a member of the wait staff exclaiming they were excited to offer me vegan options throughout the cruise! Perhaps it depends on the staff but, I would think that chefs 'relish' the challenge that comes with fixing something out of their norm. I was pleased. The rest of my family are omnis and they loved it, swore it was the best pizza they ever ate. In the end it was all about family time. But don't our best memories normally revolve around yummy, delicious meals?

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62 Shannon January 16, 2010 at 2:52 pm

http://atasteofhealth.org/

This looks like a vegan dream come true!! Wish I could afford to do this.

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63 Patti January 18, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Hi. I was so glad when I found your website a few months ago, and have been preparing many of the dishes. I just returned from a 7 day Southern Carribbean cruise on the MS Westerdam, Holland America line. I went with a raw food group (Halleluja Acres)-they worked with the chef to provide raw, vegetarian food choices and menus. There were about 140 raw food diners on board. The food was prepared with more nuts and fat than I would normally use and it really triggered my IBS, (I should have started each meal with a little easier to digest bite of food with soluble fiber…but that's another story). So cruise lines are beginning to cater to vegan and vegetarian eaters. Thanks again for your great web site.

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64 Kelly October 29, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I have cruised with Norwegian, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and have yet to find one to be very accommodating.
Princess’ main salad on the salad bar is “meat salad” a mixture of cold cuts with dressing. I always mention my preference ahead of time, but the best they can do is steamed vegetables. I was able to get a cheese-free pizza on Norwegian, but when I requested veggie sushi, it was filled with parsley.
I am a quiet sort who doesn’t like to make a scene, so I have resorted to packing food – chopped nuts to add to salad, dried fruit for snacking. I would like to see the cruise lines become more accommodating and label items veg, gluten free, low sodium, etc, so passengers would not have to rely on questioning servers with very limited English.

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65 TIMM March 5, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I just retuned from a 7 day Royal Caribbean cruise and I have to say they went way beyond what I have experienced in the past. I’ve always been able to find something on the RC, but usually at the buffet (they even have soymilk, but you have to ask). This time, however, while dinning in the formal dining area the head waiter had a special vegan dish made for me every night after the first night. So hopefully, it’s getting better to be a travelling vegan!!. :-)
P.S, love the pics!!

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