Healthy Meals on Cruise Ships
On a typical day, Americans consume too much fat and cholesterol in their diets, and when vacationing, Americans often splurge on even more greasy, unhealthful foods. But if you’re looking to give your heart a vacation from cholesterol while your mind takes off from work and common everyday stresses, several top cruise lines can now help you indulge in delicious, healthful foods.
PCRM surveyed ten major cruise lines to determine if they will serve healthful, low-fat, cholesterol-free meals to passengers who request them. The good news is that all cruise lines we contacted serve plant-based dishes, and most will create low-fat and cholesterol-free, plant-based culinary delights at every meal for passengers who ask.
Although all cruise lines routinely have some vegetarian choices, these offerings are not necessarily low in fat or free of eggs and dairy products. It pays for passengers to make their needs known before departure and to inform their servers of their dietary preferences. Many ships stock soymilk, but some will only offer to store the soymilk that passengers bring.
Celebrity Cruises came in significantly behind the other companies because their vegetarian choices tend to be heavy on eggs and dairy products, and they are not yet able to handle custom orders for low-fat, vegan foods.
The following list describes examples of low-fat, vegetarian choices:
Carnival Cruises: Examples of Carnival’s low-fat, cholesterol-free meals include Madras vegetable curry with cinnamon rice, ratatouille, and mixed vegetable chow mein. Because Carnival’s plant-based meals are not all low-fat and cholesterol-free, passengers will want to notify the cruise staff upon boarding of their desire for these healthful foods. Since Carnival does not purchase soymilk or other dairy alternatives, the staff will gladly store soymilk for passengers who bring their own. Carnival suggests that passengers also inform servers of their dietary preferences, such as no added oil or low salt.
Costa Cruise Lines: Costa Cruise’s healthiest meals include mixed vegetable curry with lentil ragout, tofu steak with Oriental-style vegetables, and stuffed bell peppers with rice and tomatoes. Costa Cruise recommends passengers request healthful meals before their embarkation date. (However, the ship will provide meals if passengers request them once on board.) Ships carry a limited quantity of soymilk, so passengers should request it in advance to guarantee an ample supply.
Cunard Line: Cunard’s best meals include stuffed zucchini with wild rice and black bean sauce. Since not all of Cunard’s plant-based meals are low-fat and cholesterol-free, Cunard recommends that passengers ask for these meals in advance of their cruise date but will still provide them if passengers ask upon boarding. Ships routinely stock soymilk.
Holland America Line Westours: Examples of Holland America’s healthiest meals include Indonesian vegetable stir-fry and bell peppers stuffed with garden vegetables and wild rice. Holland America asks that passengers request low-fat vegetarian meals and soymilk in advance of embarkation and reconfirm with the maître d’ upon boarding.
Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian serves plant-based meals, but not all are low-fat and cholesterol-free. Passengers can request healthful meals from the maître d’ upon boarding but should request soymilk in advance of the voyage. Norwegian did not provide examples of its meals.
Princess Cruises: Princess Cruises’ best meals include broiled eggplant with pistachio mint salsa, stir-fried Chinese vegetables, and Moroccan vegetable ragout. Because not all of Princess Cruises’ plant-based meals are low-fat and cholesterol-free, Princess advises passengers to make their requests before their travel date. Ships regularly carry soymilk.
Royal Caribbean Cruises: Examples of Royal Caribbean’s healthiest entrées include vegetable paella, wild mushroom turnover, and roasted vegetable Napoleon. Although most of Royal Caribbean’s plant-based meals are low-fat and cholesterol-free, Royal Caribbean advises passengers who want them to request these foods before the voyage to ensure availability at each meal. Soymilk is available with advance request.
Royal Olympic Cruises: Royal Olympic offers spaghetti pomodoro and baked vegetables with tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. The ship’s kitchen will store soymilk for passengers who bring their own.
Seabourn Cruise Line: Examples of Seabourn’s best meals include potato and vegetable roast and stuffed tomatoes and rice on herb coulis. Soymilk is available if requested in advance.
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity is off to a good start with its vegetarian menu offering everything from plant-based appetizers to desserts. Unfortunately, many of these dishes contain eggs and dairy products, and Celebrity stumbles on requests for low-fat, vegan choices. Passengers may get stuck with cheese fritters or vegetable lasagna that is nearly as fatty as the meat version. Celebrity could make its nosh more posh by adapting its vegetarian menu for those who ask for cholesterol-free foods. For example, Celebrity could prepare tagliolini with mushrooms and lemon using egg-free pasta instead of egg noodles or vegetable lasagna with tofu instead of ricotta cheese.