Eating vegan on Carnival Cruise Lines

I recently had the pleasure of joining a good friend on his wedding cruise. It was my second cruise as a vegan, but first with Carnival so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Vegans are like Boy Scouts – we always come prepared. And prepared I was with Silk, peanut butter, bagels and plenty of Clif Bars (side note: Chocolate Chip has overtaken Peanut Butter as my favorite), but I didn’t need much of it. I started each day with some Silk and and a Clif bar, but only dug into the bagels and peanut butter out of obligation and needing the space for all of the souvenirs.

My first cruise as a vegan was my honeymoon. We ventured to Alaska with Norwegian Cruise Lines. It took a few days to get the system of obtaining a vegan meal down, but once we did I was pleasantly surprised by how accommodating they were – and Carnival was no different.

I tried to take as many pictures as I could, but in such a social atmosphere I regularly neglected to take my camera out of my pocket until we got up to leave the table. I also thought I would easily remember each night’s menu, but a few weeks removed (and many hours at work) have left my memory a bit foggy, but I’ll try to do my best.

Each night there is at least one vegetarian option for appetizer and entree – but rarely vegan.

Pumpkin, Squash and Cheddar Pot Pie

The first night’s menu had marinated fruit for an appetizer, which I happily ordered. The problem? It had some creamy-looking stuff holding some of the presentation together. I nervously ate around it as it was rather tasty.

The entree option was a Pumpkin, Squash and Cheddar Pot Pie – a no go for me, but my wife ordered it and enjoyed it. It was even close to being able to veganize, so I ordered the steamed vegetables and steamed rice – which were good, if a little bland.

Steamed Vegetables and Rice

Dessert was more fruit (a trend I won’t continue with anymore pictures – you’ll also have to forgive my phone camera as I forgot my point-and-shoot in the cabin).

Fruit Plate

The second night was similarly unveganizable (new word), so I opted for more of the vegetables and rice. Our server, G, laughed and took my menu, knowing what I wanted for dessert without asking.

The third night had potential – stuffed peppers. We asked if it was possible to get them without cheese – it wasn’t. It was this third night that our server decided to speak up and say that if we wanted anything special we should talk to the maitre d’. They couldn’t do anything for tonight, but would fix me up for tomorrow so I settled for some more marinated fruit, steamed vegetables and rice.

Marinated Fruit

The fourth night was my first taste of what they can do for vegans. They have one chef in the kitchen who is solely responsible for special dietary needs – vegan, low sodium, kosher, etc. Had I known that earlier, I would have made him earn his money a little more. He had prepared the menu item – black bean enchiladas – but made them without cheese. They were rather tasty, if a little on the small side.

Vegan Black Bean Enchiladas

I also had a nice arugula and spinach salad with (mediocre) watermelon and blueberries.

Arugula, Spinach, Watermelon, Blueberries

The final night was Indian fare – something I don’t care for so I asked them for some pasta and marinara, which I got. The sauce was really good – a lot of olive oil and what was the consistency of what I imagine crushed and strained tomatoes would be. I asked for seconds on this one and got it in no time.

The appetizer that night was marinated tomatoes and green beans, which was bland.

Marinated Tomatoes and Green Beans

I may have messed up which days were which on the appetizer side of things, but the entrees are right.

In addition to the sit-down dinner restaurant, they also had a buffet open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was very little vegan fare on the buffet, but they did have an excellent salad bar (greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, green olives, black olives, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, carrots and a lot more) that hit that spot everyday for lunch (red wine vinegar and olive oil for dressing).

Overall, I didn’t go hungry and once we got the system down it was a breeze to eat vegan the entire trip. I should have known better and said something on the first night (my waiter could have said something after my second night of rice and vegetables, but…).

Dessert was the biggest disappointed, but it’s not like I expected them to have non-dairy ice cream or eggless cake available. They did have their staple warm chocolate melting cake available every night which my wife fell in love with. One of the things you could do was a tour of the kitchen – something I was very interested in – but the biggest surprise was they gave us a copy of the warm chocolate cake recipe.

I’ve recently veganized it to deliciously-decadent results. Pics and recipe to come. At some point.

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3 Responses to “Eating vegan on Carnival Cruise Lines”

  1. bob Says:

    I wish I could write this well! great blog thanks.

  2. _joey_ Says:

    This blog’s where its happenning. Keep up the good work.

  3. mrred Says:

    Love this blog I’ll be back when I have more time.

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