If you’re committed to veganism, you may have struggled to find vacation options that fit your dietary requirements. Having had similar problems, I recently went on a vegan cruise that made all of these worries disappear!
Vegan cruises are perfect for the mind, body, and soul. All meals, snacks, and refreshments on these cruises are vegan-friendly. So unlike land-based vacations, you can forget where your next plant-based meal will come from and enjoy the sites.
In addition, the best vegan cruises use only cruelty-free products, offer vegan-related onboard activities, and support other eco-friendly initiatives.
If you’re considering combining your vegan lifestyle with a holiday, a vegan cruise may be just for you.
Join me in exploring some of the best cruises where the focus is on being cruelty-free, environmentally friendly, and all your meals come from specially curated vegan menus.
Why Choose A Vegan Cruise?
Cruise ships are an excellent way to see the world, and since you dock at some of the most sought-after locations, they make for a popular vacation.
While on board, your dining experiences are handled using restaurants, buffets, and snack bars all catering for plant-based diets, as well as normal fare.
Vegan vacations and cruises are becoming more popular as the world evolves towards more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyles, making ecotourism more and more popular.
Some suggest that these cruises take all the fun out of a vacation where you can eat great food – but that’s not the case. Here are the main reasons why as a vegan, you may want to consider a cruise tailored specifically to your dietary requirements for your next holiday:
- There is scientific evidence to support the notion that a plant-based diet can lower high blood pressure, promote cardiac health, prevent Type 2 diabetes, decrease your risk of cancer, and improve cholesterol.
- Plant-based meals are low in saturated fats and rich in nutrients, which helps with managing weight. Nutrient-dense foods help you feel full and prevent snacking and binge eating.
- A vegan diet has been linked to increased energy levels, and since vegan food doesn’t spike your blood sugar like refined and processed foods do, you are more likely to avoid energy slumps during the day.
- A vegan meal promotes good gut health, and you’re less likely to struggle with gastric issues.
- A vegan lifestyle has mental health benefits, not just because of the nutrient-rich foods but also the eco-conscious aspects.
Living a vegan lifestyle for many is an ethical choice, and this extends to how you spend your vacation time.
- Vegan cruises promote cruelty-free practices: This isn’t just limited to cruelty-free dining; the best vegan cruises don’t use any animal products or by-products on the cruise. This implies that no animal hides or animal-derived materials are used for linens.
- Going on a vegan-based cruise means enjoying a vacation without the added guilt of harming the planet.
- Commitment to reducing carbon footprints and promoting environmental conservation.
- Cruise lines committed to cruelty-free and eco-friendly practices often run initiatives to promote conservation.
Expanding Your Culinary Horizons
One of the best benefits of going on a vegan vacation like a cruise is that you get to experience a variety of dishes on a vegan menu that you may not otherwise experience.
Because the focus is on ensuring all vegan meals are cruelty-free, the vegan menu is carefully curated and put together to provide variety and avoid repetition. You’ll no longer get stuck with the staple veggie burger you see on pretty much every menu!
This means you’ll likely experience a broad spectrum of international vegan dishes on a separate vegan menu.
Cruises specifically marketed as providing vegan options naturally provide the widest variety, and some, like Vegan Culinary Cruises, even offer vegan wine tasting on board and during shore excursions to vineyards.
Vegan Travel offers home-cooked vegan meals and gourmet culinary delights with international chefs who have mastered fusion cuisine.
And the company notes that all meals are nutritious and delicious without animal products while using healthy and fresh alternatives to meat.
While some cruises are explicitly aimed at the vegan lifestyle, you can find even mainstream cruises that will cater for vegan options. Here’s what Zoe from Oceania Cruises has to say:
“Oceania caters to those with diet alternatives, including many vegan options… The cruise line has numerous plant-based options that are flavorful and bold across several cuisines, including Italian, Greek, American, Korean, That, Vietnamese, Mexican, and more… Passengers on Oceania Cruises will be able to eat well without dining on animal products.”
Finding The Perfect Vegan Cruise
If a vegan cruise sounds appealing, you’ll want to read on.
I’ve put together a guide on the most popular cruise lines to consider, and I can help you decide on which one to choose based on what they offer.
Popular Vegan Cruise Lines And Locations
Like most other cruises, vegan cruises can take you to exotic locations or keep you entertained in your backyard.
While some, like Vegan Culinary Cruises, have historically traveled to Cambodia, Vietnam, Portugal, Spain, and France, the company also offers tours to the National Parks in the USA.
Vegan Travel has a range of tours, including trips around France (Normandy and the Seine), India, Portugal, Germany, and Budapest.
This company also offers a cruise on the Nile River in Egypt and a trip along the Mekong River in Asia.
With Holistic Holiday At Sea, you can experience a vegan cruise in the Caribbean Sea. Departing from Miami, Florida, the cruise travels to Belize, Honduras, Mexico, and the Bahamas.
The Oceania Cruise Line offers the most variety, covering the most destinations. It’s worth noting that these cruises aren’t entirely vegan, despite offering vegan cuisine as an alternative.
Oceania destinations include:-
- Europe – Scandinavia, the British Isles, the French Riviera, and the Greek Isles, to name a few.
- North America – Alaska and Canada
- Tropics – Bermuda, the Pacific Coast, Panama Canal, and South America
- Exotic locations like Africa, Antarctica, Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East and the Holy Lands, and the South Pacific and Tahiti.
Selecting The Right Duration
The cruises mentioned above vary in duration, with short trips lasting between three and five days, medium cruises taking between six and nine days, and longer cruises from ten days and up.
Choosing a suitable duration depends on how much time you have for your vacation. But other than logistics, these are the things I recommend you should consider when booking your vegan cruise:
- Choose the destination you want to go to. This will determine how much time away you need.
- Consider the time of year and the ports you’ll be stopping at – will you have enough time to see everything you want to and experience everything on your itinerary?
- Bear in mind whether you’ve undertaken a cruise before. Beginners may want to start with shorter cruises to get accustomed to being at sea –the same goes for those new to a plant-based lifestyle.
- More experienced travelers and those accustomed to veganism can undertake longer cruises.
What To Expect On A Vegan Cruise
So, what can you expect from a vegan cruise ship, or is it all just about the food?
What sets vegan options on a cruise apart from a regular cruise is not just the plant-based menu but also the eco-friendly amenities.
All the products, materials, onboard equipment, and furniture are cruelty-free.
You won’t find animal products like leather or wool on board, and even the linens in your cabin will be eco-friendly.
Similarly, the cruise ship itself will be committed to preserving the environment with water-saving protocols, responsible waste disposal, and recycling, and using sustainable sources of power as a means of nature conservation.
Vegan Dining Experiences
Meals on board vegan cruise ships form a big part of what makes such a holiday appealing.
Naturally, those committed to a plant-based lifestyle want to be sure they can dine on the right foods without struggling or making a fuss.
The best vegan cruises offer exclusive plant-based food, starting with fine-dining restaurants where you can choose from various meals.
Additionally, buffet-style meals are available in the main dining room on most popular cruises, making breakfasts and lunches all the more convenient.
Being presented with a broad array of options to select from that are all vegan dishes, instead of having to settle for one or two isolated meals off a non-vegan menu, is the ultimate.
The same applies to snack bars and drinks, with cruise lines such as Vegan Travel and Holistic Holiday At Sea noting that vegan beverages and cocktails are catered for on all cruises.
Traditionally, cruises offer non-stop entertainment for guests, and while shows and performances are excellent, plant-based cruises provide a unique environment for learning, sharing, and engaging with kindred spirits.
Holistic Holiday at Sea is known for providing experts and advocates for the vegan lifestyle as speakers and presenters in workshops on the cruise.
The company notes that it “Curates a dynamic roster of plant-based speakers who span the realms of nutrition, wellness, and animal welfare” with whom guests can engage, learn from, and enjoy.
Physical and mental well-being are also catered to with yoga classes and workshops on Vegan Travel’s cruises. Similarly, Oceania offers cruises with wellness in mind.
While these aren’t necessarily vegan-based, it upholds health and wellness principles through spas, meditation, and – like many vegan cruises – cooking classes.
If you are a yoga enthusiast, you should know for future vacations that eco yoga retreats are a growing ecotourism area, with retreats popping up in various exotic locations.
Cooking workshops and vegan-specific classes are a significant draw on such cruises as they sustain the plant-based initiative and can teach and inspire those new to the lifestyle to its benefits.
Additionally, it’s easier to maintain the lifestyle once you are armed with the knowledge and information on vegan cuisine.
One of the primary considerations when booking a cruise is where you’ll be making port and experiencing some time ashore.
Vegan cruises not only choose exciting destinations for this but must ensure that all ports cater to the vegan lifestyle in terms of available cuisine.
To this end, these cruises often offer local food tours with a vegan focus as well as providing options for ethical and eco-friendly activities.
And, for those interested in giving back and wanting to sow back into the environment, there may even be volunteer opportunities at some ports.
If you’re into this, it’s worth exploring the itineraries for the available cruises before booking.
Tips For A Smooth Vegan Cruise Experience
If this sounds like the right type of experience for you, I’ve compiled a helpful list of things you need to know to make your vegan cruise experience unforgettable.
Booking Your Cruise
Doing your homework is more than checking which destination the cruise line you’re researching offers.
If you’re serious about a vegan lifestyle and a related vegan experience, then examining the policies and principles the cruise line stands for should be step one.
For example, Vegan Culinary Cruises has a Sustainability Initiative that sees the company partner with conservation foundations and NGOs to preserve the waterways and rivers they cruise on.
The company has also banned single-use plastics and has moved to a purely digital platform to cut its carbon footprint. Lastly, the company plants a tree for every guest to give back to the environment.
It’s also important to look at reviews of guests who have gone on vegan cruises – whether the cruise has lived up to expectations and upheld the standards expected of them should be a guiding factor in making your booking.
Packing For Your Cruise
Getting ready to pack for your cruise isn’t limited to the weather-appropriate outfits and cameras you need, but the following are vegan essentials:
– A reusable water bottle that you can take on your day trips to the shore.
– Cruelty-free personal care products, including toiletries.
– Vegan snacks for any outings or when you’re hungry between meals.
For further information, see our post on sustainable travel tips, which explains how to make your trip more eco-friendly.
Communicating Your Dietary Preferences
If you’ve settled on a cruise that isn’t exclusively vegan, it’s essential that you connect with the onboard dining team to inform them of your dietary preference in advance.
Communication is vital, and once you’ve communicated your vegan lifestyle, the cruise manager will assist you with other requests, such as cruelty-free products in your cabin.
Making The Most Of Your Vegan Cruise
Now, all that’s left to do is to enjoy the cruise and take as much from the experience as possible.
The travel should be highly rewarding, but a vegan cruise can also enrich you and those around you.
Participating in onboard events is the first step to expanding your knowledge base about the vegan lifestyle, especially if the cruise line offers workshops and talks by experts.
And if there are cooking classes specifically, there is no better way to learn to prepare the best, most nutritious meals than first-hand.
This lets you network, learn from other experts, and interact with the chefs. You can share your experience with others through a blog, online, or in person.
Not only is a vegan cruise an eco-friendly way to take a vacation, but it is a guilt-free and mindful experience that can benefit your health.
Vegan food is nutritious and healthy and promotes a lifestyle that is responsible and empathic to the environment.
A vegan cruise allows you to experience the world – but also the world of veganism – all in one.