Cruise holiday cuisine

Posted by Guest on 05/04/17 in Articles, Life After Retirement, Travel

To help you choose the ideal holiday, vegan Mike asked a range of popular cruise lines how well they can accommodate vegetarians and vegans.

Would you be tempted by a cruise holiday? If you were, you'd be joining more than 1.5 million people from the UK who enjoy shore excursions each year. This number has grown rapidly in recent years as the cost of cruise holidays has fallen, brand new luxurious ships have launched, and the range of destinations has expanded.

Current trends suggest people like to combine a hotel stay with their cruise – for example a few nights' stay at a luxury hotel in Barbados before cruising the Caribbean. Another strong trend is for life on board to become much more relaxed and informal. Many commentators refer to this style of cruising as ‘American’ and contrast it with what was seen as a more formal ‘British' style.

For dining, this means that there are no longer formal sittings in one or two large restaurants. Instead, there are numerous restaurants on each ship and they will usually serve food throughout the day. And many of these restaurants will be names that you have heard of such as Jamie’s Italian, which you can find on Royal Caribbean cruise liners.

Combined with the cruise industry’s reputation for excellent customer service, vegetarians are promised an excellent and mouthwatering choice of meals. For example, vegetarian dishes served on Princess Cruises include leek and ricotta cheese tart with vegetable ratatouille, tomato sauce and basil oil; and spinach & potato flan, spicy tomato sauce with asparagus spears, zucchini batons, cherry tomatoes, and roast potatoes.

For vegans, some cruise lines require advance notice of your diet, but once this is known, the hope is that you'll then be offered a delicious and varied choice of meals. The providers just generally aren't transparent about what exactly these meals are.

We asked some of the cruise lines that are particularly popular with UK holidaymakers about their catering provisions for vegetarians and vegans. Each had the option of providing additional information, such as sample menus. We’ve summarised their replies below. We hope that you might reflect on their commitment to veg*n catering, and draw your own conclusions.

  Vegetarian option/s Vegan option/s Notes

Carnival Cruises

Yes Yes

We have a variety of vegan-friendly dishes within our two stand-alone vegetarian menus offered to guests in the main restaurant. We presently encourage our vegan guests to pre-order because this ensures we can get the dish to them rapidly each evening. We are looking at effective ways of offering further vegan/vegetarian dishes within the menus to passengers without them having to pre-order.


Yes Yes

We cater for vegetarians and vegans on board our ships. Please call our Customer Contact Centre on 0843 374 0000 prior to sailing to apply this to your booking. 

Fred Olsen

Yes Yes

We currently cater for vegetarian, vegan, low-fat, dairy-free, gluten- and wheat-free diets. All special requests must be specified at the time of booking, and we will endeavour to source the products required, but cannot guarantee specific brands. (Please note: some special requests may not be possible due to the location of the vessel and availability at local ports.)

Holland America

Yes Yes

Advise them of dietary requests at time of booking.

View sample vegetarian menu.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Yes Yes

Can be requested. Any guest requesting any of these diets should be advised to speak to the restaurant manager or executive chef once on board to further discuss their dietary needs. Ideally, request at time of booking.

P&O Cruises

Yes Yes

All ships can cater for vegetarian and vegan diets. Book at time of reservation or contact their customer service centre on 0843 374 0111.

Princess Cruises

Yes Yes

Guests can make a dietary request via their cruise personaliser. This is a section on the Princess website that guests log in to before their cruise. They can also let the Maitre d' know at the beginning of their cruise. Vegetarian items are designated on dining room menus with a 'V' and vegetarian selections are featured in all dining locations, including the buffet. Although we do not offer a vegan menu, some vegetarian selections may be suitable for vegan requirements. 

View sample vegetarian menu.

Royal Carribean

Yes No

There is an extensive choice of vegetarian options already available on board so they do not need to be requested. A remark in the booking is still necessary though. Please note, we are unable to fully accommodate a vegan diet.

Thomson Cruises

Yes Yes

Advise them of dietary requests at time of booking.

Viking Cruises

Yes Yes

Vegetarian/vegan meals are available on our ships but we would always advise to request this at the time of booking so the ship can source ingredients.

Related posts: Australia and NZ with Fred – black marks for the Black Watch! | Haute cuisine on the high seas | Veggie airline meals: Which firms pass with flying colours?

So that is what the cruise providers tell us, but what do you think? Please share your thoughts on how well they are doing – and your catering experiences, good or bad – in the comments below. 


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