Thursday, October 27, 2011
Eating Healthy on a Mediterranean Cruise
The cruise started on October 11 in Venice. Our Oceana ship carried us to Dubrovnik, Corfu (Greek Islands), Sicily, Amalfi, Livorno/Pisa, La Spezia (Tuscanny), and Monte Carlo. This was a vacation of a lifetime. We had a terrific time.
One of my modest worries prior to starting the cruise was whether I could stay true to my whole foods plant-based eating style while away from home for so long. Cruises are known for overindulging their guests in rich foods. Of course, I was prepared to compromise, but I needn't have been concerned because the staff of the Oceana ship, Marina, went out of their way to accommodate. There were multiple restaurants on the ship, and every one of them either had healthy vegan options on the menu, or, if not, were willing to prepare a dish to my needs. This was true even in the specialty restaurants. There was a French, Italian, Asian, and steak house restaurant on board. I had a great meal in all these restaurants thanks to a very accommodating staff. In Jacques (the French restaurant), for example, the head waitress put together a special meal of some very nicely prepared vegetables for me.
Now you might be thinking, why didn't I just "go with the flow" since this was a very special vacation? The answer is that I did not have to. There were no sacrifices involved in any of the vegan meals prepared for me. There were mostly all delicious, some even exotic. We ate breakfast at a buffet restaurant that had a outside patio. Each morning we went through the buffet line, selected our food, and sat with beautiful views of the Mediterranean and our port of call for that day. I usually selected tropical fruits, dried fruits and nuts, and oatmeal. I ate some of the dried fruit/nuts, but also stored away a nice supply of the delicacies in a baggy for snacking throughout the day.
Lunch was often eaten on shore, and even there, I was usually able to order a nice large salad with lots of interesting ingredients. Lunches on the ship were taken in the same buffet-style restaurant where we ate breakfast. They always has great salad, and vegetable and fruit options. Dinners were in one of the specialty restaurants or the ship's dining room. In Red Ginger (the Asian restaurant), there were several good options. The one I choose was a Pad Thai dish, made special for me without egg. Every restaurant on board had a fresh fruit option for dessert. The Italian restaurant prepared a pasta dish with a fresh tomato sauce, a large salad and lots of steamed vegetables. All I had to do was ask, and they went out of their way to accommodate. The key was to not be afraid to ask, and be very specific as to my requirements.
Airports on the trip to and from the cruise had very few good options, but I solved that by loading my carry-on backpack with lots of fresh fruit, dried fruit/nuts, and chopped veggies. Even though the trips to and from were very long and arduous, I had enough food stored away to keep me happy. Good thing, because even though my wife ordered a vegan meal for me on both legs of the trip, what was delivered to my seat was overcooked and horrid.
Although I only got one day of formal exercise in the ship's very well-equipped health club, most every day we walked for several miles during our port tours. In Pisa I climbed the 289 steep steps from the bottom to the top of the Leaning Tower. During our walking tours near La Spezia, one of the little towns on the coast, had a steep winding outside staircase with almost 400 steps and spectacular views of the Mediterranean. So, I even got a little hill climbing training. Upon returning home, I felt well rested and ready to resume my normal workout routine.
Although there were some compromises I had to make along the way, for the most part I stayed true to my whole foods plant-based eating style for this entire wonderful journey.