Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Carnival Cruise and Vegan Food

After our wedding and ceremony, Mr. Bolsh and I dashed through the sparklers to our pedi-cab where we were taken through the city in a bike powered cab. We arrived at our hotel room very late, took a three hour nap before catching our 6am flight to Houston, Texas. Luckily, our baker, Sweetpea Bakery, supplied us with breakfast treats. We then took an hour and half bus ride to Galveston, Texas where we waited in line for over 2 hours before entering our beautiful balcony room to start our 7 day Caribbean cruise on Carnival's Conquest.

This is what our cabin looked like:
The View:

Of course, this is about food and not our trip. We had a great time on every island we visited. Now onto the food.

I had contacted Carnival prior to our departure to make sure we had vegan food. They tried to assure me there would be vegan food for us and that we should just speak with our wait-staff when we got on board. I wasn't very happy with that solution and was preparing to eat pasta with condiments and lots of fruit.

We packed an entire suitcase of junk food. Mr. Bolsh and I have sweet tooths so most of our food was cookies and candy. We must have been the only people who brought food on a cruise!

The first night of food was a salad and a baked potato. The hostist introduced herself and asked about our needs and showed us a prepared vegan menu. We approved our breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next day, all of which had more hope for the boring salad and dry baked potato of the evening.

Breakfast was boring oatmeal and fruit, but it was good enough. Later it was blueberry pancakes once they found out that's one of my favorite breakfasts.
Lunch was grilled onion and peppers on a hot dog bun.

Food photos in no particular order:

"Burrito" with a side of Salsa and Guacamole:
Simple, but good.
Tomato Soup:
Salad with Italian Dressing:
Pasta with peas and plain tofu:
We thought this soft, plain tofu was microwaved. They only served us tofu one other time, covered in BBQ sauce. It was no better.
Black Bean Burger:
Coconut Rice Pudding with Berries:
This won my favorite dessert award
Breakfast was often Blueberry pancakes and fruit:
Vegetable Soup:
Black Bean Soup:
Fruit Struddle:
Soggy and not my favorite.
Dinner Salad:
Herbed Polenta:
This dish could have been terrible, but it was fantastic and served with a side of sauted mushrooms and another of spinach.
Dinner Salad:
I must say that some of the saddest salads I've ever had have been on this cruise.
Corn Chowder:
I forgot what this was called but it seemed like left over veggies rolled in tortillas, deep fried, cut into pieces. Then, served with a side of pureed peas:
Creamy Pasta:The Chef and Webly:
I don't think he really wanted his photo taken with me, or anyone else.
Non Main Dining Room Food:

We checked out the sushi bar:
We found the coffee shop with soy milk:

Left over polenta with herbs, glass noodles and vegetables, and watermelon:
What do you call an alcohol-free, dairy-free drink? I don't know but it seems like the begining of a joke.We found the 24 hour Pizzaria!
The food was hit and miss. Most of it was good, if not great. I give them a lot of credit for trying. I would encourage other vegans to travel Carnival without fear. There's no need for an entire suitcase full of junk food, but it sure was nice to have some vegan baked goods! We're headed up to Alaska next year for a family cruise. We will be taking more Sweetpea cookies for sure and those little cartons of soy milk came in great for quick breakfasts with their boxed cereal.

Mr. and Mrs. Bolsh
(Tulum, Mexico; 125 F)


VeggieGirl said...

what great pictures!!! glad to see that you were able to enjoy at least some of the food, and that you had some goodies from that vegan bakery. looks like you had a wonderful cruise and vacation.

Emilie said...

good god, webly. your cabinet of junk food made me laugh so hard i hurt myself. that stack of mint newman Os is like straight out of one of josh's fantasies. we've got a package to send you, btw, so keep a look out! glad you had a good time and a happy honeymooning.

laura jesser said...

I'm glad that you found the food to be at least satisfactory, and sometimes really great! It looks like a relaxing, wonderful time.

erica said...

Well, at least the fruit looked awesome :D

Emmie said...

Haha, I love that picture of all your junkfood :) The other picture that really impressed me was the buffet. OH MY GOD. That looks fantastic.

Glad to hear the food was ok, it's not fun going somewhere and being served nothing but fried rice.

bazu said...

Wow- you had the best vegan experience on a cruise that I've heard of! The cabinet of junkfood cracks me up. I took several bars of chocolate to Puerto Rico in June and my husband thought I was crazy! Can't not have my nightly dark chocolate, dammit.
That buffet picture is striking- I want to make a fruit display like that for my next party!

Glad you 2 had a good honeymoon.

bazu said...

Good god, I just looked at the cabinet o'junk food again- what were you guys going to do with a box of silken tofu?? lol

Webly said...

I am sorry to have hurt you guys from your laughing at our junk food!
We have an "after" photo somewhere. I'll post it when I find it.

Emilie - When Brian was really active he could eat an entire bag of those mint newman o's in one evening!

Erica - The fruit always looked cool, but we're so spoiled living in Oregon with all the great fresh, oragnic fruit that anything else tasted bland to us, like it came from Safeway.

Emmie - One night they had a chocolate buffet. That was just too tempting. There was another bufet with a large dragon ice sculpture.

Bazu - We had 5 bars of chocolate so we wouldn't be tempted by the chocolate they put on our pillows every evening. The tofu was brought as a tip from someone. They mentioned taking a bunch of very simple recipes any kitchen could make (we did that.) and they said how they gave the chef a box of silken tofu with instructions on how to make pudding and the chef made it for them. Since our chef already knew what he was doing we didn't offer it up.

Cherie said...

Maybe I'm a tough customer, but I think if you paid the same amount as the omnivorous folks, you should have had comparable meals as what they had, i.e., concerning quality (if we can call animal products "quality"), variety, gourmet-ness, etc.

Webly said...

Cherie - I can understand that, but we knew going in that we were going on an omni cruise. If we were going on a vegan cruise and got what we got I would be disappointed. But there was never a night we went to bed hungry!

RV Amy said...

Very interesting post. We (2 vegetarians who try to eat vegan most of the time) are looking into a cruise next year. It seems like cream is a staple in the vegetarian dishes!

Anonymous said...

Wow! You are so lucky!
My husband and his family and I went on a Carnival cruise last April (six vegans) and got nothing even slightly resembling cuisine.

I was protein starved by the time I got home.

Also agree with your fruit comment.
Very tasteless, but beautiful.

Mike said...

thanks! i'm a vegetarian going on a carnival cruise with my family in a few weeks. at first I thought I was gonna be royally screwed, but I guess I'll do fine seeing how vegans seemed to manage nicely with flying colors. =P

Webly said...

Mike - you will be well fed as a vegetarian! Enjoy your trip!

Anonymous said...

For anyone looking to go on a vegan cruise, check out They have one every spring. We went in April and it was amazing! said...

I am a (mostly vegan)vegetarian. Just got back (7/3/2009) from 8 day cruise on Carnival Miracle. Enjoyed the cruise. Ship was clean, staff was great, shows and excursions were fun.
Food was acceptable, but coulda/woulda/shoulda have been better. I would like to do another cruise, but before going, I will have to ask for clarification on a few issues.
A few comments:
1) Chef salads at dinner had anchovies in them, which could not be omitted because the salad was already pre-prepared. What are they thinking? Anchovies?
2) They had soymilk at coffee bar. That was nice. Several days later, they wanted to charge me $1.50 per cup. I said 25 feet away they have FREE little containers of whole milk, skim milk, fat free milk, AND chocolate milk. After arguing and getting irritated, they gave it to me. I suggest they install small containers of soymilk right next to those cow milk containers.
Unlike cow-goo, these containers of soymilk last for 1 year before expiring!
3) Every morning they had all that expensive traditional meat with eggs at breakfast and buffets. I had inexpensive oatmeal or wheatina or corn grits with soy milk, and rye toast and a half grapefruit. I suggest they include some soymeats like Yves Canadian Bacon or Fakin Bacon.
4) On sandwich bars there was nothing for me any time. Meat-eaters had plenty of expensive cold-cuts and cheeses. I think it is reasonable for them to provide soy meats such as Yves Roast Without the Beef or Bologna.
5) They had Veggie-Burgers and baked beans at hot dog/hamburger stand, open til 11pm, all you want. Not cooked next to dead cows. Not bad. How about Veggie Hot Dogs?
6) Each dinner menu had 1 vegetarian option, so there was something for me. Examples: Eggplant with summer squash parmagian. Tofu with vegetables, tasty. Pasta with vegetables.
7) Pizza 24/7. OK. Gooey cow cheese. I ate it.
8) All vegetarian items are CHEAP for them, considering we don't eat their expensive meats, chicken, fish or eggs.
9) I could not understand their under-utilization of beans. I did not see any hummus or lentil soup.
OK, yes, I had navy bean soup, it was on the menu once.
10) I did see chili-CON-CARNE. Can't they forget that CON CARNE?
Is that asking too much?

Anonymous said...

Great blog! I am vegan and going on a cruise from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas soon. Did you have to call ahead to Carnival and let them know you were vegan or they just had vegan options naturally? Thanks so much!

Webly said...

I called ahead but was told to talk to our table server the first day to get it sorted out. I've heard of others providing recipes for the chefs using very simple ingredients. I wouldn't provide recipes unless the chef was at a loss for what to make - it could be insulting.
Have fun!

Anonymous said...

hi! im vegan and i am taking a cruise vacations this sunday!!!

question: the blueberries pancakes are vegan?

i cant wait!!



Webly said...

Always let them know you are vegan - they may or may not accommodate your needs but can help point you in the right direction.
Ingredients in food changes all the time - always ask before assuming anything is vegan. The chef on one ship could be different from another's.