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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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).
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.
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!