If you thought veganism was little more than the latest hipster trend, think again. The number of vegans in the UK has increased almost 400% in the last ten years and more than 1% of the population is now known to adopt a purely plant-based diet.
Eating out as a vegan has never been easier but what about holidaying? Cruises are renowned for offering an abundance of food at all hours of the day, but how much of it is suitable for vegans? If you follow our top tips for vegan cruising, quite a lot.
Here’s how to cruise happy as a vegan.
TIP 1: BE A CHOOSY CRUISER
All cruise lines are not created equal when it comes to being vegan friendly, so it pays to do your research before you book. Speak to your travel agent, look at the FAQ’s and dining guides on individual cruise lines’ websites and contact the cruise lines direct if you still have questions you need answering. What each cruise line offers to vegans varies. Some are great at arranging alternatives on an ad hoc basis, often switching items on the vegetarian menu for vegan friendly versions, while others have put some serious work into creating extensive menus for vegan guests.
Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin has created a 22-dish vegetarian and vegan menu with a full range of appetizers, salads, soups and mains. The menu is available at no extra cost in the main dining room of every ship in the Holland America Line fleet. Oceania are already known as the foodie cruisers’ favourite and they are hard to beat for vegan options too. The luxury cruise line rolled out cruising’s most expansive vegan menu in April this year, featuring a total of 250 vegan dishes including desserts, something vegans will be especially happy to hear about (no more fruit salad, yay!). From Tortilla Española or Vanilla Waffles for breakfast to Thai Red Curry with Jasmine Rice for dinner and Strawberry Sable with Shortbread for dessert; the options are ever-changing and always delicious.
TIP 2: ALWAYS PLAN AHEAD
Once you have decided on your cruise line and are preparing to book your holiday, it’s time to put in the planning that promises your cruise can be as vegan friendly as you would like it to be. In most cases you should inform your travel agent of your special dietary needs at the time of booking. They will then advise the cruise line, who will send a form to you for completion well ahead of your holiday. In some cases, you may be required to contact the cruise line direct; this will be advised at the time of booking. Letting the ship know of any dietary needs ahead of time will allow the provisions team to stock the ship with special items they wouldn’t bring on as a matter of course, such as soy milk or tofu.
As soon as you are settled in your stateroom on board, your first port of call must be the maître d’. He’ll already have a note of your dietary needs but upon meeting he will run through your options and how the process works on board. You will usually need to order your menu choices for the following day 24-hours beforehand. Unfortunately, this means that your first night’s meal on the ship can be a little uninspiring, unless you’re cruising with one of the vegan-friendly focused cruise lines mention above, but you’ll be good to go from day two.
TIP 3: LOAD UP ON SUPPLIES
While everyone else is planning what wine to take on board for the sunset Sailaway, vegans should be thinking about the snacks that they can’t go a week or two without. Most cruise lines have got vegan meals all sewn up, but snacks can still be somewhat sketchy in terms of what is offered. Throw some biscuits in your case to enjoy with your morning coffee and cereal bars or dried fruit to keep you going until you find a vegan restaurant for lunch ashore. Vegan sweet treats from the likes of Hotel Chocolat will ease the envy when everyone is enjoying the turndown chocolate on their pillow before bed.
TIP 4: DON’T FORGET YOUR SMELLIES
Cruise lines are incredibly accommodating of vegan diets when it comes to cuisine but there’s still some way to go in terms of toiletries. The shower gels, shampoo, conditioners and body lotions in your stateroom are usually high-end brands that smell delicious but are rarely officially-certified as suitable for vegans. Speaking to your travel agent at Bolsover Cruise Club or calling the cruise line direct can go some way to getting information on whether the toiletries in your cabin are vegan friendly, but we’d prefer to be safe not sorry, taking the hit on our luggage allowance and loading up on our favourites from home. Lush has a great range of vegan toiletries, as does Superdrug, whose Solait sun cream is cheap and Leaping Bunny approved.
TIP 5: APPS MAKE LIFE EASIER
There’s a whole range of vegan apps available to make life easier when you reach your ports of call and head ashore. Happy Cow is arguably the best known of them all. Turn on your location services and the Happy Cow app will locate the nearest vegan-friendly restaurant based on your position. It is free to use and works in more than 180 countries. Also worth having on your phone is Veganagogo , an app which will translate your vegan requests to any one of 50 languages, meaning you can leave the chicken impressions at home and simply show the server your screen instead. Finally, Is It Vegan? takes the guesswork out of grabbing a snack on the go. The app will scan the barcode on thousands of products and tell you how vegan-friendly it is on a red-to-green scale.
See, cruising for vegans is easy when you know how! Call Bolsover Cruise Club today to find out more about vegan friendly holidays.