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Carnival Cruise - Eating Vegetarian and Vegan Review

We take a family cruise every year. Our last five cruises have been on various Carnival Cruise ships. They all seem to offer about the same thing when it comes to dining (literally many of the meals in the dining room are the same each year, regardless of ship). Not a big deal, but I just wanted to post about our experience dining as a vegetarian family on the Carnival ships.

We just got back from our most recent cruise two days ago. This time we went on the Paradise, but year it was the Ecstacy, and prior to that it was Destiny. The food has been the same, so this post should provide some accurate vegetarian and vegan dining tips fleet wide.

Buffet or Small Restaurant Options
Breakfast options for vegans on the Carnival cruises are great. And if you want to eat vegetarian there's even more options (e.g., pancakes, etc.). We love that we can get some tasty oatmeal or grits and add in raisins or cranberries, walnuts or slivered almonds, brown sugar, etc. There's also a variety of fresh fruit and cereals. They do have soy milk on board, but you have to request it. They do not have it sitting out where you'd find the other milk. Just ask one of those working in the dining room, however, and they will happily get you soy milk. You may also find other options that are vegan, but you'd want to inquire first, including hash browns, bagels, toast, etc. 

Lunch for us is one of more difficult meals to find something vegan, although there are vegetarian options, including a veggie burger, fries, and wok station. At the wok station they offer black bean sauce. You tell them what you want in the stir fry, so you could request that it be vegan. 

Hopefully you like lots of fruits and veggies (which, as a vegan you should anyway!). For dinner in the buffet area there is always a great salad bar and fresh fruit bar. The salad bar has lettuce, a variety of veggies, kidney beans, chickpeas, seeds, and dressings. You can certainly dine on a nice big salad. Get there early and it's all very fresh, because most people are heading for the meat carving stations! The fresh fruit bar has a variety to choose from as well, including sliced watermelon, bananas, apples, oranges, various melons, pineapple, etc. There are also baked potatoes available every evening for dinner.

Main Dining Room Options
When it comes to dinner you have the option of eating in the main dining room each day, or at the buffet. We switch it up, depending on what's being offered in the main dining room. The dining room has one set vegetarian main entree each day (an Indian dish) and then one that changes each day. Options included enchiladas, eggplant parm, chili rellanos, a sweet potato pie with cheese, spring rolls, and tofu steaks. The only one of these that I ate this time around was the tofu steaks, which were good. You can also get fresh greens, and some other sides that are vegan and/or vegetarian.

In the main dining room they offer a pasta with marinara sauce on the children's menu, but it's not on the adult menu. But that's what I wanted, and they were happy to oblige. So keep that in mind. You can ask them for some pasta with marinara. It was actually pretty good, too!

What I Like
The food on the Carnival Cruises is not the top of the line. But we eat just fine. I like that they put "vegetarian" on the label of the foods that are so. That way if we want to know if a particular pasta or dish is vegetarian we have the answer right there. I also like that they will accommodate you if you ask. They seem happy to get you something that may not be on their typical menu or put out for everyone.

What I Don't Like
My biggest complaint as a vegetarian diner on the Carnival Cruises is that when you go into the buffet at dinner time they often have zero main entress that are vegetarian. Ugh! Seriously, they will have four to five main entrees, all of which are meat-based. I think they should strive to always have at least one main entree in the buffet at dinner time that is vegetarian (preferably vegan). It would also be nice if the soy milk were more readily available, rather than always having to ask for it and wait five minutes while someone hunts some down.

We typically eat oatmeal or grits for breakfast, a veggie burger and fries, stir fry, or something similar for lunch, and then try new things for dinner (e.g., tofu steaks, pasta, stir fry, dish of the day, salad/baked potato/fresh fruit, etc.). We also usually eat lunch off the ship when we are at various destinations. We do that because we like to try some of the food at the places we are stopping to visit. 

I have also cruised with Princess and Disney. I can say that they had way better vegetarian food options, but we do manage on the Carnival Cruises. Still, it's nice to be so spoiled with the great options on the other cruise lines (but you pay for it big time in the price, as Carnvial so much more affordable). 

Here are some pictures of the vegetarian food we had on the Carnival Cruise:

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