Carnival Sensation Cruise Line: Vegan-friendly food.

If you are on a plant-based diet, aka vegan, and food is hindering your decision to tag along on a family reunion cruise vacation, well, I’m here to tell you that you will not starve onboard at least one I know by experience. I went aboard the Carnival Sensation last week for a 5-day Bahamas vacation with the fam. And surprise! I was fed very well, leaving me energized to experience all our shore excursions around the Bahamas, which I will continue to tell you more about in a series of upcoming posts, summarizing my family’s first ever cruise on any cruise line. 2019 Family Vacation is down on the books. What will 2020 family vacation bring? It probably won’t be another cruise. haha It’s a bit pricey for a family vacay, for me, since we also had to fly to the port in Miami.

I won’t lie, I was dreading going on this year’s family vacation on this annual family vacay, because I knew in my heart of hearts, I’d starve there. I love food and while it’s not the most important factor for me in deciding where to vacation, I have to admit that it’s a big contributor, especially while isolated in the middle of the ocean with no other food alternative. I hear about the endless array of steaks, seafood, baked goods, and so forth, and yet, I’m convinced that salad will be all I’m eating while on board, that and bread. I hear the salad option on the menu from family and friends a lot whenever we eat out as a large group. I’m not a food snob by a long mile but if you want to see the food I gravitate toward, check out my Insta where I feature simple, yet satisfying meals. If you are on the verge of making a decision whether to plan your next big family vacation on board the Carnival Sensation, read more below to find out what is in-store for you, my fellow vegan, when on board the Carnival Sensation.

Please note, that although there are many that harbor opinions regarding cruise line ships and it’s damaging effects on the environment, this post will not center around that. This post is regarding the food that I was served while on board a cruise line, without any pre-boarding food arrangement, aside from setting a late sit down dinner for each night during booking. (P.S. This is also not a sponsored post, just my true accounts while on board one.)

Day 1 (Embarkation Day)

We did an early check-in and was pretty much among the first few on board. So, we got ample space to choose from before it got crowded. The cruise management prefer to congregate all the passengers in one area during embarkation. We are a bigger family of 9, so we personally reserved 3 tables in the air conditioned area with a view of the sea, 4 people per table capacity. There are bigger table settings available but I find the booth types too exit limiting. We passed the pool area to the smell of burgers and tacos before proceeding to the air conditioned area known as the Lido Marketplace buffet, which were all on the 10th floor.

Lunch: (Self-serve Buffet, 1st meal aboard)

  • Burrito: black beans/refried beans, rice, corn, tomatoes, lettuce. 
  • Small platter of mushrooms from the burger condiment section.
  • Roasted Vegetables
  • Side Salad
  • Bread
  • Fresh cut fruits (melon, watermelon, honeydew)
  • Iced tea

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Dinner: (3-course sit-down meal at Ectasy)

  • Fresh Spring Vietnamese Roll (without the Shrimp) with peanut sauce
  • Chickpeas Curry (without the dairy) with Rice (This was really yum!)
  • Strawberry cake and fresh fruits

*Once our head waitress knew there were a couple of vegans, 1 vegetarian, 1 pescatarian in our party, more food options opened up to us to cater to our dietary restrictions. There was a chef in-charge of our food. I was very happy about this. I opted to have the Chef surprise me every night with a new vegan-friendly 3-course meal. Plus, I get to eat whatever I request off the pre-selected dinner menu for that night as well. It’s eat all you can, which my husband was very happy about.

Day 2 (Shore Excursion Day)

To save time and prepare for our early meeting time for our shore excursion, I ordered room service. It’s free.

Breakfast (In-room Service)

  • Bagel
  • Strawberry Jelly
  • Banana
  • Boxed Cereal
  • Coffee with sugar and soy milk

Lunch (Off ship, shore excursion, out-of-pocket expense)

  • Vegetable Burger and Fries

Late lunch, early dinner (Pizza Pirate)

  • Mushroom Pizza without cheese (I loved the crunchy, thin crust)

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Dinner (3-course sit-down meal at Ectasy)

  • Broccoli Salad
  • Quinoa stuffed roasted bell pepper with marinara sauce with mushroom stuffed Spanakopita
  • Strawberry custard

Day 3 (Beach Day at Half-Moon)

Breakfast (Lido Marketplace self-serve buffet)

  • Toast
  • Home brought Justin’s hazelnut spread
  • Bowl of nuts and dried fruits
  • Dry boxed cereal
  • Hot tea

Lunch (Cruise line provided at the beach)

  • Tortilla and salsa
  • Fresh fruits
  • Quinoa salad
  • Roasted brocolli

Dinner (3-course sit-down meal at Ectasy)

  • Fried spring rolls
  • Fried mushroom with squash and marina sauce
  • Chocolate dessert (It’s between a cake and pudding and it is so good!)

Day 4 (Shore Excursion Day)

Breakfast (Lido Marketplace self-serve buffet)

  • Fresh grapefruit
  • Dry cereal, nuts, and dried fruits
  • Fresh fruits
  • Bagel and jam
  • Roasted potatoes

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Lunch (out-of-pocket expense at excursion site)

  • Beans and Rice
  • French Fries

Late Lunch (lunch in bed brought by my husband)

  • Mushroom pizza without cheese

Dinner (3-course sit-down meal at Ectasy)

  • Italian vegetables salad
  • Quinoa stuffed roasted tomato and broccoli
  • Chocolate cake/pudding

Day 4 (All day at sea/ship)

Breakfast (Lido Marketplace self-serve buffet)

  • Fresh grapefruit
  • Oatmeal with brown sugar, nuts, and dried cranberries
  • Tater tots
  • Green tea

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Lunch (Lido Marketplace, Guy’s Burger, BlueIguana Cantina)

  • Taco bowl with rice, beans, corn, lettuce, and tomatoes
  • French fries
  • Fresh fruits
  • Home brought Ocho coconut treats

Dinner (3-course sit-down meal at Ectasy)

  • Italian vegetable salad
  • Tofu, vegetable, and rice
  • Strawberry custard

Day 5 (Disembarkation Day)

Breakfast (The last meal on the ship.) (Lido Marketplace self-serve buffet)

  • Fresh grapefruit
  • Oatmeal with nuts and fruits
  • Tater tots
  • Green tea

Food Notes and Tips

  • Our dinner was set at 8:15 pm every night, which I felt was the perfect amount of time for us to get back from our shore excursions, wash up and get dressed, without hurrying. Swimming/snorkeling is very tiring and by time 8 o’clock comes around, I felt like skipping dinner by Day 3 and just sleep.
  • Since our dinner is sit-down, we have the same waiting staff serving us, on the same table, every night. No need to hurry. If you come early, you will be standing, waiting at the lobby while the earlier dinner guests exit the dining room.
  • I noticed that some programs run around the same time us our late dinner. You just have to choose which you prefer to do. There are certainly other places to eat.
  • There is one formal night at Ectasy fine dining. I’ve seen gowns worn. I just brought one of my Sunday’s best dress.
  • The Carnival Hub really was helpful during the trip. Food restaurants hours, menus, and location are posted in it.
  • There is also an “any time” sit-down breakfast/lunch/dinner at the Fantasy restaurant, which we didn’t get a chance to try; although, we could have.
  • In-room food service was predominantly free, but certain food were not. It will be noted on the order form, which I just hung on my door by 3 am to get the food delivered for breakfast.
  • Certain food places were open 24 hours every day. The pizza and the sandwich place were the busiest in my opinion, as is the burger joint.
  • I’ve seen a person wash his hand on the water serving station, as the water streamed down. I thought that was pretty gross, considering the restroom were just a hallway down. Eww, please don’t be gross.
  • In the buffet area, there will be a lot of people. My sister had someone’s finger on her lemonade stream as she was getting her a drink. Eww, let’s be mindful.
  • I was a bit disappointed that sushi was not free, as is the bakery, or the java place.
  • Beer and soda is not free. Lemonade, water, and iced tea are the free drinks on the buffet line. Lemonade was too sweet. The iced tea was not sweet enough. Haha
  • We preordered 1x 12-bottle water packs and had it delivered to our room on day 1; however, I felt that getting water from the buffet area was sufficient and fairly easy to do. Some of our prepaid water bottles were wasted, or left behind, because we used reusable drink containers during our excursions.
  • Bring small reusable food containers, if possible. Peanut butter with jam toast, nuts, and other non refrigerated food can be brought to shore excursions. Who knows what vegan-friendly food are available at nearby restaurants? Plus, teens are always hungry and some shore excursions do not provide food.
  • I found out that leftover food from the restaurants were grounded together to make fish food. I’m a bit disturbed about that. Bacon, eggs, and other fried foods are included in a food mix that is not naturally fed to fish.
  • I’ve seen others bring bread from the ship to shore excursions to attract fish while snorkeling. Not sure that’s safe; but, it did happen.

Final Words

My favorite part of the day on the ship is dinner time. It is the time when all my family congregate, sit, and talk about our day. I loved the food we were served every night, and for the most part, most of the food were free (included with the fair). While there are other food choices that will also cater to a plant-based diet, like avocado toast, the ones mentioned above are what I ate during my 5-day stay on board Carnival Sensation. I’m not sure if all dinner management are done the same but our head waitress really did hook us up. She understood and treated us like family. So, during the segment they call “Show time”, a few of our family members, including me, participated in the fun. While I did have my share of carbs on this trip, I was happy that I had something other than bread and salad to eat. And now, you know. Yes, there are satisfying vegan-friendly meals available on board the Carnival Sensation. What has been your experience with dietary restrictions aboard a cruise line?

Stay tuned for my next post on Carnival Sensation when I talk about our shore excursions at the Bahamas.

Until next time.

Mabuhay!

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