Do you have to go on a vegan cruise to eat well whilst cruising?
Booking a cruise
Suraj and I have been talking about booking a cruise since before the summer of 2016. We first started talking about it because I was mega excited about going on a vegan cruise. However, for one reason or another it hasn't happened, and then quite spontaneously, we decided to go to the travel agent closest to us and find out which holidays were possible during our availability. We had a number of restrictions in terms of dates, and of the few options that appealed to us, there was a cruise called 'A Canarian Christmas' which ticked several boxes!
What drew me towards booking the cruise?
For this trip, I fancied going on a cruise, rather than, taking a trip to a single destination for a number of reasons:-
- it would be different to what we usually do
- although I'd been on a cruise years ago, it would be our first cruise together
- we would be able to visit a number of places without having to hire a car, book excursions etc
- lots of things would be in one place - meals, places to indulge in the sun, the gym, a salon and so on
- we would be going to destinations where it would be sunny
The process of booking the cruise
We booked the cruise directly with Tui, and apart from a few snags, two on our part and others due to staff error, we were all set!
We went from Luton to Tenerife by plane, after which we boarded the Marella Dream. We visited the following five places:-
- Las Palmas in Gran Canaria
- Puerto del Rosario in Fuerteventura
- Funchal in Madeira
- Santa Cruz de La Palma in La Palma
- Arrecife in Lanzarote
As I mentioned earlier, we began in Tenerife, and on our final morning, we departed from there. We didn't see Tenerife during those times, but I had no unmet expectations about that.
Vegan food on a non-vegan cruise
When we got to our cabin, we found a letter on the bed, suggesting that we speak with the head waiter of any restaurant when we dine there for the first time, so that they are aware of what we will and won't eat. I made the assumption that we wouldn't need to keep repeating it once we had done that.
Towards the end of the cruise, we learned that we should have been assigned a section where we would be seated for each meal. This way we would have the same waiter who would be aware of our requirements.
As passengers enter the restaurant, they are asked if they want to share a table with others. Being allocated a section, as opposed to a specific table, would mean that we could choose between sitting at a table for two and sharing.
We ate well. However, at the end of the cruise, I took the opportunity to pass some feedback to the Food Manager through one of the Receptionists. She asked me to meet with the Food Manager, and that's when I learned that they had vegan cheese, vegan margarine, vegan bread and so on. So although we had eaten well, we could have access to many more options than those that were presented to us.
Here are some of the (inclusinve) meals we had on the cruise.
The image below shows the meal that we enjoyed in Mistrals restaurant, which isn't included in the package. It was one of my favourite meals, because of the food, the service and the ambience.
How well did we eat when we were on land?
What we learned about cruises
We met and chatted to a number of passengers on the cruise. Some of them were on their first cruise, whilst others had lost count of the cruises they'd been on.
Here are some of the lessons, tips and experiences that they shared:-
- the bigger the boat, the greater the number of facilities, areas to sunbathe, and events e.g. theatrical shows, comedy and so on
- you pay for what you get, so if you pay less, the service is likely to be less spot on and there may be fewer options in terms of food, drink, facilities etc.
- going on a cruise with Tui enables you to meet people from all over the United Kingdom
- one passenger told us that some cruises are known for the majority of their passengers being from Germany, for example
- there are different types of board i.e. some may offer full board and all-inclusive, some may not have options, and others may have more than two types of board
- all-inclusive means just that on some cruises, whereas, on others, it doesn't include all brands of drink, and dining in some of the restaurants may be excluded
- some cruises are informal and whilst they'll have a dresscode for dinner, they won't expect you to be in formal wear, whereas others will demand that for each and every meal
- if you have dietary requirements it would be easier if the staff ensured you sat in a specific section each night, so that you have the same waiter to avoid confusion, errors, and repeating what they need to know to serve you well
- at many ports, you won't need to book a taxi or bus of any sort, as you'll be able to walk to a town or village
- even though the company may suggest you book excursions through them, and quickly; if you miss the boat, (pardon the pun), you'll probably be able to go to a local resort and book the same excursion through them
- if you book transport or an excursion through the cruise, and there's a delay, they will wait for you, but if you go solo, and are late, they may leave you behind
Would we go on a cruise again?
Definitely! Next, I would love to go on a vegan cruise.