Cruising Meets Nutritarian

Hi Everyone!  I have another fun post for you today from my mom.  As mentioned in her post a few weeks ago about ridding herself of a lifelong caffeine addiction, she and my dad LOVE cruising.  They have been cruising since their pre-Nutritarian days, and even more so as they have become empty-nesters who focus on whole plant foods for optimal wellness.  Here is my mom’s explanation on how they like to cruise with being healthful in mind.
My beautiful mom when we went to have a mother-daughter tea for last mother's day.
Cruising Meets Nutritarian

This is Amy’s mom again.  I think she may be sorry that she let me write on her blog at all, but now she has asked me to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart.  CRUISING!!!!  I do love to cruise!  My family would tell you if you mention the word ‘cruise’ within earshot of me, I immediately perk up and emit delightful squeals in anticipation of the conversation.

We discovered cruising in 1996 and it fast became our vacation of choice thereafter.  I have been on 26, soon to be 27, cruises mainly with my husband, but a few with family and friends.  We have experienced the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Pacific Coast, and soon we will be on our dream cruise through French Polynesia.

It is definitely more challenging to eat Nutritarian on a ship.  When we began cruising in our pre-Nutritarian days, I ate anything and everything without much thought.  Now, I try to eat as close as possible to this new lifestyle we have chosen.

Cruising (Food) Basics: 
For those who may not have been on a cruise before, there is food around every corner.  Often times on-board comedians joke about not really being entertainment, but just a way to pass the time until passengers can eat again.  Depending on the ship and where you are in your itinerary (sea or port day), there are several different options for every meal.

The buffet is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.  The main formal dining rooms are open every night for dinner, and some days for breakfast and lunch, particularly on sea days.  Most ships have on deck eateries such as a grill or pizza bar.  On sea days or in the evenings, there can also be temporary buffets set up on deck, and many ships have such a thing called the midnight buffet.  On a few cruise lines, they also have small mid ship cafes that are often open 24 hours and offer brewed coffee and smaller finger foods and desserts.  On Princess they call them their International Cafes, and Royal Caribbean have Cafe Promenades on some of their fleets.

As you can imagine, there is not a lack of food venues or eating times on cruise ships!

We usually start the day with a fruit plate and whole wheat toast with a little bit of peanut butter.  Peanut butter is often hard to find sitting out (probably due to allergies), but if requested the wait staff is happy to bring you a small bowl of it.  Also, when I ask them to throw every fruit of every kind they can find onto my plate, they come back with some wonderful creations for me.  Fresh fruit is plentiful at every turn on a cruise!!
Our gorgeous assortment of fruit to share before a day of adventure in port.

Adorable fruit sculpture creations we were shown when doing a ship kitchen tour.

Another one of our breakfasts filled with fruit and a few almond whole grain muffins.

As I said, the wait staff is happy to get you peanut butter whenever you request it.  This particular time, a young man brought us what we have called a "vat of peanut butter".  This picture is from AFTER we had peanut buttered our toast.  I saved the rest in our room for the next few mornings, until ultimately our room stewardess took it away to clean!

The buffets usually have incredible salad bars, and in the main dining room there are always wonderful salads with many different kinds of greens and vegetables on the menu.  For salad dressings, I either have balsamic or mix salsa with a tiny bit of a ranch-type dressing.
Salad created from the buffet.  I believe this was a salad Amy had from the buffet topped with a green goddess dressing.

One of the wonderful salads in the formal dining room.

The one place most cruises are lacking is serving beans.  AND you know how Nutritarian tummies love their beans!  It is rather hit and miss from cruise to cruise whether beans will be offered regularly or not. I have seen beans offered on the salad bar, and sometimes I ask the attendants if they can put some out, and other times I go without.  We have felt “bean hungry” at times.  In ports we generally seek out Mexican food or other local cuisines so we can up our bean quota when lacking. On board they do have bean burgers available, but I lose interest in those rather quickly.
Jim's bean burger loaded with onions that he enjoyed while soaking up the sun on deck during a sea day.

There are always vegetarian selections on every menu in the main dining room and we stick to those choices.  They are marked with a “V” which helps us to choose.  I have heard tell, but never experienced, that the wait staff will work with you and come up with completely vegan menu if you put forth the time and effort.  I know someone personally from our last cruise in January 2014 that did it, and they ate amazing meals.  Here is a link to her blog for her experiences during that cruise.

This planned customization works best if you have the same wait staff each evening in the main dining room.  We usually have what is called “anytime dining” where you come to the dining room on your schedule, not a set dinner time, and usually end up with different wait staff each night, so I don’t even try to plan ahead.  Also of note, is that “Vegan” does not mean oil free nor low in salt and sugar, so I am sure these items would never be completely Nutritarian.
Fancy rice pilaf wrapped in grilled zucchini.  Who says nutritarian food had to be plain!? ;)

Pesto Pasta in the main dining room.

The one thing about cruising that does increase hugely in our life is the exercise we experience.  We take very active excursions in each port, and we take the stairs almost 100% of the time while moving deck-to-deck.  Believe you me, when you have anywhere from 12 to 14 decks to climb to get to the buffet or to the pool, and you do it several times a day, you get quite a workout.  My husband loves to hit the gym and I love to do the Zumba or line dancing on sea days.  There is usually a wonderful promenade deck to walk around while viewing amazing sites of the ocean all around you.  Hmmm I can smell and feel that ocean breeze right now!
Jim walking on the promenade deck.

My friend Vonnie and I in our evening dresses getting our line dancing on!

More Food Oggling:
Breakfast one morning with some nuts and seeds we brought ourselves.

Wonderful chocolate strawberries!  Fruit AND chocolate?  Now that's our kind of dessert!

This picture is of Amy's buffet plate when she was first starting out on eating Nutritarian, before we had joined in.  Like us, she likes to have a little bit of seafood when she cruises, but sticks to Nutritarian when she is home.

Fun fountain food display at the midnight buffet.

Part of a midnight on deck buffet.  We love seeing the artful food displays, but try to limit ourselves on late night food intake.

A Mediterranean sampler with hummus, cous cous, and baba ganoush.

A vegetarian bean patty with mixed vegetables.

Creamy mushroom stroganoff-like dish.

Creamy potato zucchini boats with white beans on the side.

My special occasion treat, mussels!

One of our vegetarian meals topped with a phylo-type crust and lots of veggies hidden underneath.

Hearty tofu, potato, and veggie dish.
Do your best:
We are usually Oil-Free Vegan Nutritarian at home, but on a cruise we end up with some dairy products in there and once in a while a bit of seafood as well.  I have to admit I love to eat escargot, mussels, and clams while cruising; so I allow myself these special occasions to not follow as strictly as I would at home.

As I said, we try hard, but we also allow ourselves to have some desserts, and the alcohol consumption increases from our norm.  Vacation is a celebration of the memories we are making, after all.  We balance all of this with going right back to our normal way of eating when we get home.

We don’t usually bring home a great deal of extra baggage in the form of weight gain, souvenirs and amazing photos however, are another story.  The weight gain we do experience is usually water weight from the higher salt content in the food, and disappears in a few days.
In summation, it is not as hard as people think to eat plant-based on a cruise. If I wanted to be even stricter, I could, but it is, as always, a choice.  Your body lets you know if you made too many of the wrong ones and the next day we try harder.  I hope if any of you do book a cruise in the near future, that you can rest assured there are always food choices for you!

Happy Cruising,


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