What regular cruise lines offer vegan friendly cruise holidays?

My last vegan cruise post featured a number of specialist sailings. Some are charter cruises, sold exclusively as vegan sailings with no non-vegan dining & drink onboard. The majority, however, are large vegan events on ships with their own vegan catering arrangements and social events fitted around the general sailing. But what if these few specialist sailings just don’t work for you and for your schedule. Maybe you holiday with an omni friend/partner and family who wouldn’t do a vegan cruise. You may fancy a sailing to a destination that isn’t visited by these specialist vegan cruises. So can you cruise as a vegan on a regular, standard sailing of a cruise ship? Would they offer a vegan-friendly cruise? Yes, they can. If you’re willing to be flexible.

With a good number of standard cruises as a vegan (since 2016) I have first-hand personal experience from a handful of cruise lines. I have done some research into options on other cruise lines to give you alternatives if one of the specialist vegan sailings won’t suit your travel plans. Let me start with those I have yet to try and which may interest you too.

My vegan cruise wish-list

P&O UK

(Carnival-owned UK cruise line catering mostly for the British market)

UK has become increasingly vegan-friendly in the short time I have been vegan. As a potential guest, I am impressed by P&O. They were among the first few cruise lines that even acknowledge the vegan diet on their website. They also offer a range of dairy milk alternatives, not just soy. Dining options onboard Britannia in the past have even included seitan and tempeh! I’ve had two cruises booked with P&O but like everyone else, certain global health situation meant I didn’t get to cruise to sample their vegan offering. I now have 2022 sailing booked with them that I hope will go ahead, and I will get to try their vegan food myself. 
 
Personally, I was first alerted to P&O’s impressive vegan catering on Instagram. It was accounts such as Married.And.Vegan sharing their P&O cruise dining photos, which intrigued me. Such as the aforementioned seitan dinner, pictured below.
married and vegan IG P & O meal
 
Another UK vegan blogger, VeganOlive1, has a wide selection of photos of vegan options onboard P&O as she sails with them exclusively. Spot the Vbites rashers and vegan sausages!  
While P&O UK appears to be a very vegan friendly cruise line, even serving non-dairy ice cream options, they do not have a fleetwide vegan menu. Previously they adapted meals from standard menus for those with dietary needs. These had to be pre-ordered – like all cruise lines do with specialty meals.  But since 2019, P&O have offered an allergen menu that covers many dietary needs, including gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan. You can see some of those dishes in this helpful post by CruiseMummy Jenni from her P&O Britannia cruise, as she details her vegetarian and vegan options.
Just this month (March 2021) with the announcement of the next ship-build, Arvia, it sounds like there may be more plantbased options on the way. One of the featured new restaurants onboard Arvia is marketed specialising in veggie, vegan & seafood dishes.
The newest ship in the fleet, Iona (built, currently waiting to enter service), has a gelato bar that is noted to serve vegan banoffee gelato by Snowflake Gelato. Plus Britannia’s Market Cafe has a vegan chocolate layer cake on the menu. I am hopeful that will be a fleetwide addition… as some of us vegan cruisers need cake.
Overall, reports are mostly positive and the availability of extras like yoghurt, milk, ice creams and seitan is more than most other regular cruise lines can offer. But my usual vegan cruise tips still apply, even if you book P&O.
 

Costa Cruises

Italian Costa Cruises is another Carnival-owned brand, rarely seen in the British waters. They introduced a vegetarian & vegan menu already back in 2015! Here’s a multiple-course menu to show just one example of how the Italians can cater for vegans onboard.

Costa Cruises vegan menu pdf

This past cruiser review of the vegan meals on Costa Cruises may be helpful to you, as it includes some photos too.

Having a set menu to order from, instead of having to adapt dishes, must be so much easier for both cruisers and staff. And unlike most cruise lines, who permit only non-perishables for in-cabin storage and consumption only, Costa takes a different road. They state on their website that you may bring your own items with you for the chefs to prepare meals with. 

But even more than Costa’s menu, I am wanting to try…

Oceania Cruises

Oceania is the premium brand of Norwegian Cruise Line and back in May 2017 they sent out a fabulous press release about a brand new vegan menu onboard. Not just healthy food. They had me at vanilla waffles, chocolate vegan ricotta pie and strawberry sable. The raw juices and smoothies on the menu are good too, surely. Even if just to offset the calorie-laden vegan desserts.

I was able to visit one of their ships in Scotland and sample the vegan menu later that same year.. and it was divine. The best food I have EVER eaten.  And even the plating of the dishes was exemplary. See more on the visit in my separate Oceania Nautica post.

Oceania Cruises vegan lunch

Since the release of the vegan menu I sampled onboard Nautica, Oceania have further revamped the menu in 2019.

 

Holland America Line (HAL)

HAL is another cruise line I am looking forward to trying. They are another Carnival-owned company and offer a separate, official vegetarian menu that has vegan options clearly highlighted. As a company they do appear to attract an older crowd so I haven’t booked a cruise with them yet. And for that reason I wouldn’t recommend them to families as first choice.

Much like on most other cruise lines that improvise or amend regular dinner menu courses to suit a vegan diet, you may need to pre-order items from this menu. Feedback has varied, some have had to preorder, others have been able to order on the night, just like anyone orderding from the omni menu. 

Canadian bloggers Justin & Lauren sailed on one of HAL’s ships and produced this great review of their vegan dining. The below photo of the entrees/main courses from the vegetarian & vegan menu is off the review I linked to above. You can find great images and full menu in their review.

HAL vegan menu main courses photo by Justin and Lauren blog - shared with permission
Main courses from HAL’s Vegetarian & Vegan menu. Photo provided by JustinPlusLauren.com (see link above)

 

Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages vegan menu post featured image

One last wish-list cruise line I must add, is the brand new Virgin Voyages. Even before she was finished and sailing, we knew that there was going to be a ‘vegetarian forward’ restaurant onboard – whatever that means and that vegan options would be included in the menus.

When Scarlet Lady was finished and arrived in the UK for a trade visit, my friend Jenni from Cruisemummy blog agreed to review the vegan offering onboard for me. You can find her report here. I too was meant to be onboard, but couldn’t use my invite for being out of the country. Jenni’s report plus the quirky ship/designs onboard really make me want to sail on Scarlet – or her two sisters.

Valiant Lady, the middle sister is due to launch at the end of 2021 and the third, Resilient Lady, in 2022. Got a few cruises booked for 2022 already but hoping to add Resilient to my list..  and sample all the vegan food myself! If you book anything before I go, let us know how the vegan options were!

 

 

My vegan cruises so far:

Princess Cruises

Princess is another Carnival Corporation brand and the American cousin to UK’s P&O. They cater for both US and international market, offering sailings all over the world on a much larger fleet of ships. Those who follow me on Instagram will have seen photos of our three to five-course dinners from my two Mediterranean cruises with Princess. You can find individual reviews of both the Royal Princess and the Crown Princess in the ‘cruiselines’ section of this blog.

 royal Princess vegan meals

 

  
Onboard Royal Princess we were catered for with much more care and finer dining than before – though we had to take our own vegetable spread as Princess offers no vegan spread. I had been in touch with Princess’ customer service team prior to the sailing to request vegan meals & plant milk for the length of our cruise. They responded stating that only a vegetarian diet was offered onboard. I knew not to worry, though. I already knew Princess to be vegan-friendly, as I had found a number of posts by Canadian travel bloggers Justin&Lauren, about their Princess cruises and vegan options onboard.
 
Indeed MrVegancruiser and I were well catered for by the allergy/dietary kitchen team that we would not hesitate to sail with Princess again. Plus, on the two ship visits to Caribbean Princess (2016 pre-refurb and 2017 after refurbishment), I found plenty of vegan options in the buffet restaurant.
Also, we were able to take our own vegan wine onboard last summer, more than the usual 2 bottles per two adults allowed by most cruise lines. Princess are generous and allow extra wine & champagne to be brought onboard for a corkage charge of 15USD per bottle.

 

Royal Caribbean

I have sailed twice on Royal Caribbean, on those early occasions there were no official vegan menus onboard or vegan options mentioned on their website. Since then, Royal Caribbean have released a vegan menu in the main dining room (MDR), and it should be available fleetwide. However, it has been reported that some ships have chosen not to adopt this menu and offer their own vegetarian/vegan menu.

On my past cruises, the main dining room staff liaised with me to adapt existing vegetarian menu items to suit vegan passengers. On the first night, I had the cheese omitted to make the vegetarian starter dish vegan. Since 2019 that should not be required with the new menu, though.

 

Royal Caribbean vegan MDR dinner adapted

The Windjammer buffet (lunch & dinner) has a selection of vegetarian options including stir fry and pasta stations, vegetarian curry…and an extensive salad bar, naturally. Even if no vegan marked dishes were available when I personally last sailed with RC, I was always able to build a meal or sometimes have what was prepared. You just have to speak to one of the chefs to confirm vegetarian items are dairy-free (often have butter). You can read my old Royal Caribbean (2016) cruise review on vegan food here.

At breakfast, the Windjammer buffet serves bread, beans, mushrooms, etc with a selection of fruit, soy milk and JusRoll cinnamon swirls. My dessert for the week! Porridge was made with water so that was my breakfast choice, every day. No dairy-free spread on Royal either, so you either have to use fruit or jam.

In the past vegan desserts served onboard have been either fruit, fruit salad or sorbet. Nothing like what Princess served us two months later. But with the new vegan MDR menu there now will be vegan dessert options on Royal Caribbean too! Check out the new 2019 vegan menu post for more information on how the Main Dining Room caters to you. 
Royal Caribbean vegan menu featured image for post detailing the new 2019 menu

 

MSC Cruises

I have written a separate post titled “Vegan food on MSC Splendida” about my three-nighter taster cruise. I found the buffet great, with lots of options but none marked vegan, just a sign for vegetarian dishes. On this initial taster cruise, the main dining room did not impress so much. But on the basis of the ship, the overall service and the staff I would have chosen to sail with them again – even if it meant having to dine in the buffet on all nights. But that is no longer an issue as MSC either. New vegan options have been added!

MSC Splendida vegan friendly cruise holiday food in buffet

 

I am pleased to report that my 2019 experience onboard MSC was much better, as they now have vegan menu options in the MDR. The vegan mains courses are marked with a leafy V logo, as seen on the curry dish on this menu image.

 

 

 

The only obvious disappointment compared to our Splendida sailing was the lack of vegan spread. You can find the full IG story review of my MSC Seaview meals here.

 

MSC cruises vegan meals

Marella

(former Thomson Cruises)

I have sailed on both Marella Discovery 2 and Marella Explorer as a vegan, and I would heartily recommend them to any new vegan cruiser. Marella is an exceedingly vegan friendly cruise line, with all ship restaurant menus having vegan options. And even the Marketplace buffet has items clearly labelled vegan options.  You can’t really get any more vegan friendly than that  (same applies to gluten-free markings). You can see my full Explorer review here.

Even before the vegan items appeared on Marella menus, they were great at offering options, even having vegan breakfast sausages. On my last Marella cruise, they even had vegan cheese for our pizza. I was over the moon. No other cruise line had been that good to me. On any other cruise, I have always had to take my own vegan cheese with me and ask staff to use it on my pizzas. They are not meant to, for food hygiene reasons, but most usually do. But just like the other Brit P&O, Marella carries vegan cheese, so you don’t need to.

vegan food on Marella review by vegancruiser

Carnival Cruise Line

Other than UK’s own Marella, above, my second firm favourite for vegan cruising is Carnival Cruise Line. Their ships aren’t a common sight in Europe, as they focus heavily on the US market. They’re instantly recognisable for their red whale-tail funnel and have a reputation for relaxed, informal family cruising. FunShips, is their tag line and for a reason. I have never had as much fun as I did on Carnival Horizon in 2018. And even though there is no fleetwide vegan menu (some of their ships do), I dined so well onboard Horizon that I can’t wait to get back onboard. I seriously miss those breakfast burritos.

can you cruise vegan on carnival vegancruiser blog post image

I wrote a three-piece review on Carnival vegan catering which should reassure you and give you ample tips on how to ensure a great vegan cruise onboard one of their ships. You’ll find them here, on my Carnival page, among other related Carnival posts.

 

Vegan luxury cruising?

There are a handful of other cruise lines with vegan menus I should mention. But as those are premium and ultra-premium and come with the associated high price tag. Some higher than others. But if you want a six-star luxurious cruise with vegan options, consider  Silversea who offer not just vegan but vegan raw meals. For seekers of luxury cruising with plantbased options, I can also recommend checking out Paul Gauguin cruises, Regent Seven Seas, and Azamara.

Regent Seven Seas plantbased vegan menu sweet and sour tofu
One of Regent Seven Seas’ vegan dishes: crispy sweet and sour vegetables with tofu, cashews and sesame seeds

For everything else.. there are vegan options in cruise ports

Cruising as a vegan on a ship full of omnivores can be a challenge with the abundance of omni food on display. Dining experiences vary even on different ships of the same company, as I discovered on my two Royal Caribbean sailings. But, I have always been fed, haven’t gone hungry, and have had a great time regardless. Both on and off the ships. In port you can always utilise the HappyCow app and locate local vegan food options for lunch. Essential if you end up cake-deprived onboard.

Once, back in 2017, I even met with a local vegan baker to get cupcakes since the port had no vegan cafes (or cafes open with vegan options) I could support. If calling at Gibraltar, I recommend getting your hands on some of the lovely MrsWheelmakerBakes‘ goodies.

 

 

 

Hope these examples and cruise line suggestions help you with navigating your options for your first vegan cruise. And of course, don’t forget the 100% all-vegan charter cruises by Vegan Travel cruises & Tours or any of the other specialist vegan sailings available. Some of the latter are vegan groups on otherwise omni ships but at least provide a separate group menu to enjoy, and other vegan travellers to mingle with. For these, check out my post on specialist sailings!

I am convinced vegans can have successful sailings on ‘regular’ cruise ship sailings. For many it may be the only kind they can take, to accommodate those they travel with. If you have any questions on any cruises that I have taken & dined vegan, do ask. Check out the menu at the top of the page for information specific to each of the cruise lines featured.

 

Happy vegan cruising,

Sanna

 

profile pic of vegancruiser

 

 

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4 thoughts on “What regular cruise lines offer vegan friendly cruise holidays?

  • 5 June 2017 at 2:23 pm
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    This series of posts is fascinating me. It’s so great to get a real persons view of things. I do wish that they would give a menu though as I personally find it quite draining having to ‘liaise’ with staff!

    Reply
    • 5 June 2017 at 4:35 pm
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      The ‘liaising’ bit is not too hard though. Normally they can do veggie soups vegan by putting some aside before adding cream for the rest. Many vegetarian dishes can be veganised. If not, staff usually have a few menu suggestions or ask if anything else from the menu can be combined. And sometimes the veggie option is accidentally vegan 🙂 Hurrah!

      Reply
  • 7 April 2018 at 7:20 am
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    I have just returned from a p & o Cruise and as a non egg eating vegetarian found the food some what challenging. Very little healthy non fried or roasted foods, given pasta in warm ketchup one night. Another given croquettes with ham, deserts all containing dairy or meat derivatives, very few salads very disappointed
    I found royal Caribbean more accommodating

    Reply
    • 7 April 2018 at 9:32 am
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      Oh my, I am so sorry to hear that! I have heard great feedback from others and seen pictures too of fabulous & varied vegan dishes (seitan, even tempeh!) and some desserts incl. vegan afternoon tea. Veganolive1 blog has lots from her cruises with P&O too and she hasn’t struggled. Can you tell me which ship this was? There seems to be much variety in the service quality. Did you have a meeting with the maitre ‘d to discuss your dietary need? And did you pre-order your vegan meals the night before and they still got it so wrong? I suppose this is why some vegans sail with Oceania and Costa (with vegan 3-course menus, incl. desserts) or the vegan-only charter holidays.

      Reply

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