Cruising Vegan-Style

Angela Youngman


With the number of vegans rising steadily along with general demand for plant-based food among diners, Cruise companies are taking note and setting out to attract vegan passengers.


Leading the way is German based specialist, Vegan Travel, who have been organising specifically vegan travel for several years.

Dirk Bocklage, director of Vegan Travel comments “It is very hard for vegans to find holiday destinations. It is not just food, but everything including toiletries, linens and wines that form part of the Vegan lifestyle. We always wanted to do something for holidays but could never agree on a location due to the difficulty of obtaining vegan food and vegan products. Vegan Travel was founded in 2013 and chartered a Vegan River cruise. We didn’t know what to expect. There was so much demand that we continued chartering. Most of our clients prefer an all-vegan cruise with compassionate people from around the world. We now run two or three river cruises each year and are now running ocean cruises too. It’s our dream to offer all-vegan cruises all year round one day.”

During their cruises, they endeavour to make sure that everything is as totally vegan as possible. Since the food for the staff is prepared in separate facilities, it means that the main galley providing food for passengers can be kept totally vegan. This ensures there is no risk of contamination with non-vegan produce. Once on board, passengers can use 100% vegan toiletries, drink vegan wines and enjoy vegan alternatives to popular drinks such as Pina Colada using plant based cream. In addition, recommendations are provided for vegan restaurants and shops at every port of call.  


Vegan Travel’s cruises definitely top the list when it comes to vegan friendly cruises since they specialise in this sector and guarantee to consider every aspect of a vegan lifestyle. Even the snacks and chocolates are totally vegan while the coffee machines offer vegan lattes. A useful option is the provision of vegan friendly tours such as vegan wine tasting or visiting vegan shops.

Mainstream cruise companies are becoming vegan friendly, mainly via the provision of plant based vegan menu options. Azamara have just introduced their first ever Vegan menu, while Oceania launched a plant-based cuisine in 2019 as did Royal Caribbean. Emerald Cruises provide a vegan option on all their river ships. Vegan passengers just have to notify the Head Chef on arrival.

Cruise companies are focusing on providing high quality, gourmet vegan food, and mouth watering dishes. At Oceania for example, typical menus include Sweet Potato-Oat Tarte with Forest Mushroom and plant-based Truffle Cheddar Sauce, Som Tam Green Papaya Kelp Noodle Salad, An Impossible Cheeseburger, Apple-Oatmeal Crumble with plant-based Vanilla Ice Cream and Coco-Vanilla Cashew Crème Brûlée. While at Azamara typical delights include Big Bean Burger with Garlic & Chipotle Aioli and Cauliflower and Quinoa Rissoles with Harissa Jus.


The range of locations available for vegan friendly cruises is extensive, covering both river and ocean cruising. Vegan Travel’s upcoming tours include the Nile River from Luxor to Aswan, the Dalmatian coast, the South of France and a tour along the Danube from Budapest to St George on the Black Sea, passing through Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. Other popular long haul destinations are the Galapagos, Amazon and Mekong.

Among the Azamara cruises are Mediterranean locations such as the Greek Islands, the Norwegian Fjords and the Baltic Sea with destinations such as Helsinki, Tallinin, Gdansk and Copenhagen. Over at Oceania a journey along the Amazon becomes possible visiting places like Parintins and Boca Da Valeria in Brazil. Emerald Cruises offers cruises along a wide range of rivers worldwide including the Volga, Douro, Main, Mekong and Nile.

An added advantage when cruising vegan style is that you can meet people with similar interests from all over the world and often gaining new ideas and new insights into vegan lifestyles. 


Be prepared and do your research before booking. Check with your chosen cruise company exactly what provision is available including vegan wine and alternatives to dairy milk. If there is no specific mention of vegan food, they will usually be prepared to arrange alternatives on an ad hoc basis by switching items on the vegetarian menu to create vegan friendly.

The majority of companies now provide vegan food as an automatic choice on board, although it will rarely be created in a totally vegan environment. Much depends on the size of the ship as to whether there will be a dedicated menu. Azamara have a vegan menu available in all its food & beverage outlets on board its Quest, Journey and Pursuit vessels. Likewise at Oceania Cruises there is no need to book vegan food in advance, passengers can automatically expect to find it on board.

On arrival, make contact with your maître d’, who should have a note of your dietary requirements and will be able to explain how your options will work on board. If there is no specific vegan menu available, it may involve ordering menu choices 24 hours in advance. At each meal, you will usually be given details of the potential choice for the following day.

Be prepared to pack any snacks you want within your luggage. Items such as vegan friendly chocolate are rarely available on board, likewise cereal bars or biscuits. The same is true of toiletries – check in advance what is available, and be prepared to bring your own.

When exploring destinations it is worth using apps like Veganago, which can translate vegan food requests into around 50 languages, or using the Happy Cow app to locate the nearest vegan-friendly restaurant. 

Become a member to join the conversation!

Become part of the world's leading travel & lifestyle community!