Ask anyone with a dietary restriction what’s it like when they travel and they’ll probably say it’s difficult. As a vegetarian, I could always sub in dairy like yogurt and cheese, but as a vegan it’s definitely harder. When you’re cruising, you’re restricted to whatever they’re serving you at the moment. Since we’re currently on a world cruise lasting 108 days on Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Black Watch, that means I have to find a way to eat properly or I won’t eat or I’ll end up eating junk. What vegan dining options will I have for this cruise?
Meeting the Chef
On one of the first days on the ship, I was invited to a dietary meeting with the Executive Chef, Siggi Weich. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but on arrival a server sat me at a table marked, you guessed it – “Vegan.” As I looked around the room I could see that others were also categorized by dietary restrictions like “low fat,” “diabetic,” “vegetarian,” “nut free,” “dairy free,” etc. Despite feeling like a leper forced to sit alone at the vegan table, I stayed in hopes of hearing good news. The chef then proceeded to detail what foods were appropriate for each restriction and how they could accommodate each one. The food lists were exhaustive, but informative and many did overlap. Quite honestly, I’ve never had an experience like this on a cruise ship before.
For the vegan diner like myself, I was provided a list of foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All I needed to do was tell my server the day before what I might want to have. As I never really know what I want to eat until I sit down to eat, I told them to surprise me every day. Let’s see how this is working so far.
For breakfast, especially on port days, I like a filling and satisfying meal. I usually order the vegetarian breakfast of Quorn vegetarian sausage, which is vegan, baked beans, mushrooms, and maybe spinach, but without the bread or eggs.
Other times I just bring my coconut almond milk that I purchased in Ponta Delgada and have that with a bowl of cereal and some coffee. If I was my ideal weight right now, I might indulge in the croissants or toast, too, but that’s not meant to be. Manny the Maitre D’ did have a special stash of peanut butter, which he shared with me so I could have it with toast one morning. That’s definitely a treat kind of thing or I might end up eating it every day.At every single meal I have, he checks on me to see the quality of the food and if I like it.Click To Tweet
Speaking of Manny the Maitre D’, he’s one example of the dedicated staff on board this ship. At every single meal I have, he checks on me to see the quality of the food and if I like it. I’ve never had that kind of experience on any cruise or at any resort anywhere in the world. The fact that someone cares enough to see if I like the food, well that’s a huge plus in my book. There’s no way you can be on a Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines ship and not eat exactly what you want. A simple conversation with the maitre d’ and the chefs and you’ll get what you want while you’re cruising.
Lunch is always interesting as it has been a wide variety of items from veggie burgers that are vegan to stir fry with tofu to pasties. Sometimes I will grab a bowl of salad from the salad bar first if I’m really hungry. The salads are always incredibly fresh and tasty with ones like the provençal salad of peppers, cucumbers, and olives to green bean salad as well as fresh cut tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, peas, and more. Other times there’s the Indian curry buffet at lunch, which is so good and one of the only times I can definitely find food right off the buffet.
Derek was one of the chefs on board who kept an eye out for me and really tried to be creative and innovative. We were talking one day about fried avocado and that night in the Black Watch Room for dinner, guess what I had? Unfortunately, Derek left to go back to another ship, Balmoral, and I do miss him. Things always change around here and crew, including the chefs, come and go often.
If we dine in the main dining room, the Glentaner, I still look over the regular menu as Danielle gets to choose on the spot. As for me, I wait patiently for my dinner surprise courtesy of the kitchen. For starters I’ve had quite a variety of items like veggie sushi or salsa, guacamole, and chips to hummus and pita to asparagus salad. Each plate is always beautifully presented and thoughtfully crafted especially for me.
For entrees at dinner, there have been many satisfying offerings such as chickpea, potato, and eggplant curry or cottage pie or pasta. While I could eat chips and potatoes at every meal, I can’t have an ever expanding waistline on this cruise so I did ask them to cut back on those items a bit.
For a few weeks I was having the same thing for dinner after mentioning I loved one meal in particular. That was tofu with broccoli and carrots served with peanut sauce and chilies on the side. May not be everyone’s idea of a great dinner, but protein and veggies with a little heat sounds perfect for me.
At lunch or dinner I can also request dessert like the soya ice cream. As I’m not a huge fan of soya milk, that makes it easy for me not to order dessert. But when we get new provisions, including a fresh supply of fruit, I can’t help but want some of the grapes, apples, and oranges. Nothing beats fresh fruit after a big meal and I don’t feel as guilty as if I loaded up on cakes, cookies, and other things that I can’t and shouldn’t have.
Other Dining Options
For lunch or dinner while on Black Watch, our other dining venues are the Brigadoon buffet or the Poolside Cafe. My regular lunch option has been the tofu wrap along with the chicken kebab entree minus the chicken and yoghurt. That’s basically hummus, salad, chickpeas, and pita along with chips on the side. I know — more chips, but I can’t stop eating them. That’s what the gym is for I guess.
Other times at the Poolside Cafe I’ll order something like the Bruschetta minus the bread as apparently it contains dairy. Strange but true. But fresh tomatoes and avocado are always great, especially when it’s super hot outside.
The buffet is a great option if you just want to dine at your leisure. There’s always plenty of salad options and the servers are always on the ready to grab my entree from the kitchen. One night in the buffet I was able to choose vegetable biryani right off the buffet and skip the special vegan dining meal. Of course, the salad options are always a great back up if you’re only looking for a light meal.
The Black Watch Room
The Black Watch Room is a steak and seafood restaurant on board Black Watch. From the Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ website:
Enjoy a choice of succulent steaks or mouth-watering seafood complemented with a delicious choice of desserts. Our attentive waiters will ensure the perfect evening and your personal chef will prepare and cook your cuisine.
While some might balk at the added expense of £20 per person, everyone I’ve spoken with that’s eaten there has said that it’s been their favorite meal on the trip. There’s high end cuts of steak, seafood galore, and even a special vegan or vegetarian option. The food is beautifully presented and the service is spectacular. As you can see in the images above, the food looks delicious. This is where I enjoyed my starter of fried avocado courtesy of Chef Derek.
If you like to stay up late and enjoy a cocktail, go dancing, or sit out under the stars, then you might be interested in what we call “Supper Club.” At 11 pm you can visit the Brigadoon Restaurant and partake in some late night munchies. Unfortunately, there aren’t any vegan options other than chips (french fries), beans, biscuits, and fruit. I don’t know about you, but if I’ve had a few cocktails, I’m definitely not nibbling on fruit. So chips it is and yes, I know it’s so bad, but they taste so good. Meanwhile, Danielle seems to thoroughly enjoy the special fried chicken made especially for her. Maybe someone can make me some mock fried chicken or fried tofu?
Final Thoughts on Vegan Dining On Board Black WatchIf you have special dietary restrictions and you’re not sure how you’ll do on a cruise, I can promise you that Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will be more than able to accommodate your needs. Click To Tweet
Overall, my entire vegan dining experience on board Black Watch has been stellar. I’m not just saying that because I think I should either. I really mean that every meal has been one that has been prepared with me in mind. The staff has made a concerted effort to take my dietary and personal requests like no potatoes, rice, or pasta at every meal into consideration. Recently Chef Siggi returned to the ship and within a few hours I saw changes to my meal rotation. That’s right — new vegan dining options for me so I was ecstatic.
If you have special dietary restrictions and you’re not sure how you’ll do on a cruise, I can promise you that Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will be more than able to accommodate your needs. You’ll be so happy, you won’t believe that you’re on any special diet. No more picking a few things off the buffet to eat as you’ll get special meals designed just for you. It’s another example of how small ship cruising keeps the focus on the individual passenger for an exemplary cruise holiday for all.
Do you have special dietary restrictions that affect you while cruising? Have you ever sailed with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines? Leave your comments below. Discover some other great destinations and travel ideas here on the Travel Shop Girl website.