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Cruising Along

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The hassle of the plane rides was completely worth it…

Monaco castle

(Mom, sister, and me in Monaco. Note the castle in the background!)

To cruise all night and wake up in such exotic locations as Greece, Italy, Croatia… it was unreal. Over the twelve days, we stopped in Monte Carlo (Monaco), Marseille (France), Barcelona (Spain), Livorno/Florence (Italy), Civitavecchia/Rome (Italy), Sorrento (Italy), Corfu (Greece), Dubrovnik (Croatia), and Venice (Italy). From an early-morning run through the streets of Monte Carlo to late-night Flamenco dancing in Barcelona, from exploring the walled fortresses of Dubrovnik to taking in the museums of Rome, from shopping in Sorrento to splashing at the clear beach of Corfu, I definitely packed in a full schedule. I took so many pictures and walked so much that I’m surprised my camera and feet held up!

But putting aside the wonders of the excursions, even just being on the boat was an amazing experience. For anyone ever thinking of taking a cruise, I can’t recommend the Crystal Cruise line highly enough. The boat was so well-staffed it was almost as if there were more attendants than guests. Everywhere you looked, there was a friendly face eager to help, no matter your request. And each family was assigned personal waiters, so the staff really got to know us, and they were always greeting us by name. (Ugh I probably sound so Paris Hilton-ish right now– personal waiters?!– but I swear I am not usually this spoiled. I always felt badly about asking the staff to get things for me, and more than once they had to scold me for trying to clear my own breakfast dishes… or for trying to help our maid–who was so sweet– make the bed.)

I could write an entire book about the past twelve days. But since this is a food blog, I guess I’ll try to keep the posts pertinent to food and. (Plus, I really don’t think you all want to read a whole book about my adventures.)

I’ve always heard that cruises are nightmares for one’s diet. (I was conjuring up images of deep-fried chicken strips, milkshakes, and double cheeseburgers.) But I was easily able to eat a healthy diet on this cruise. The chefs were accomodating beyond my wildest dreams. It was like having an entire teaam of personal chefs! They offered almost every variety of vegetable one could imagine (which they were happy to steam up sans butter), a never-ending salad bar (so many varieties of beans, greens, and nuts), and a fruit bar with some of the most succulent fresh fruits I’ve ever tasted– figs, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapefruit, oranges, plums, kiwi, and on and on. Plus, they had brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, barley, and bulgur! And there was a first-class sushi restaurant on board (run by the famous Chef Nobu, with whom everyone in Hollywood seems to be obsessed), so this meant lots of piping-hot miso soup (they had no problem leaving out the bonito flakes), soba noodles, seaweed salad, and edamame.

Above, soba soup with fresh bok choy

And if somehow I couldn’t make do with “only” this, the chefs assured me that they would be thrilled if I challenged them to make special vegan meals– every night if I so desired. (I told you the hospitality was incredible.) Some of the wonderful meals they made me included watermelon gazpacho, regular gazpacho, a portabella mushroom salad, vegetable soup, homemade tomato sauce for my whole wheat pasta (ingredients: tomatoes, basil, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, onion powder, and that’s it!), and one day they even cooked up some spelt berries that I bought in Italy!

But I’m not finished yet! There was also an ice cream bar on board that offered at least one flavor of sorbet each day (0ne day, the flavor was Sangria. Talk about exotic!). Now, sorbet is not my favorite thing in the world… but I do love smoothies, and the ice cream station was equipped with a milkshake/smoothie-maker. The ice cream man (who told me I was his favorite customer) let me store my soymilk and almond milk (I brought some from home) in his fridge. Whenever I wanted a smoothie, all I had to do was bring him the ingredients and he’d blend them up for me. A perfect smoothie and no mess to clean up? What could be better?!

Even the bathroom amenities were vegan-friendly.

Thank you so much, Grandma, for giving us this trip of a lifetime. And congratulations to everyone who made it to the end of my interminable post!

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Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. Green Eyes, Green Heart says:

    Wow, it sounds like you had a GREAT time! Those memories will last a lifetime, I’m sure! You have such a wonderful family!

  2. magpie says:

    What an amazing trip! It sounds like an incredible experience 🙂 I want to go on a cruise like that…

  3. Animal-Friendly says:

    Wow- your trip sounds like it was fantastic! It’s great to hear how nice the staff was and how willing they were to make sure that your meals were delicious. Glad to see you had a wonderful time 🙂

  4. Ricki says:

    Absolutely amazing! I’ve never been on a cruise, but it sure does sound like something very special. And all that FOOD–almost as if you had a personal chef for 12 days! Glad you had such a great time. And what a gorgeous family you all are!

  5. CeciLiA says:

    OMG!! What an amazing trip you had there – I’ll definitely choose Crystal Cruise over other cruises when I’m ‘rich’ enough to go on one some day in the future :0)

  6. Peace by Pastries says:

    wow that trip sounds great! and that makes me soooo much more comfortable about traveling abroad and such…it’s kind of my biggest fear that i will travel and not have anything to eat! thanks for the great post and the confidence booster 🙂

  7. eatingbender says:

    Your trip sounds so wonderful, CCV! I’m really glad the staff was so open and willing to make sure you had some good eats!

    And wow, eight different restaurants?! That’s insane! But soo much fun :o)

  8. Simple and Divine says:

    F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S. twinny, darling! I couldn’t be HAPPIER that you had such an amazing vacation! What a divine grandmother she is, indeedy-do! I will DEFINITELY choose Crystal Cruises in the future! LOVED THIS POST SO! 🙂

  9. Fitnessista says:

    what an amazing trip! i love that they had vegan options for you and that the smoothie-man was so awesome!!!

    i’m begging the hubby to take me on one now 🙂

    can’t wait to hear about the rest! enjoy your evening!

  10. Caitlin says:

    looks like you had a great vacation! traveling is always rough when you have a restricted diet, and it’s awesome they could accomodate you so wonderfully! 😀

  11. Ruby Red Vegan says:

    Woah, you must have had the time of your life! I already thought you were extremely cultured for having lived outside of the U.S. before, but you visited so many different cities! I’m so glad the cruise ship staff took such good care of our CCV, and the list of food supplies you brought to “prepare” yourself for the cruise is quite impressive. (And I really like the Chocolate Green SuperFood powder too — I got a lot free when I used to work at a smoothie place. It’s sooo good mixed in steamed chocolate non-dairy milk with a shot of espresso, which I know sounds really weird b/c the powder has all those greens…Anyway.) But you look so pretty and happy in your pictures. I can’t wait to see more!

    And it doesn’t surprise me at all that you were the ice cream man’s favorite customer.

  12. Patrick says:

    Hey Katie,

    Did you get my email?

    I know what you mean about waking up in exotic places.. When I was sailing in Australia, we would pull into a hidden cove in the middle of the night. You couldn’t see anything but the lights on other boats on their anchors nearby.. Then in the morning when you poke you head out the hatch… WOW!

  13. herbstsonne says:

    Sounds like you had an awesome time! 😀 I’m so glad! (And so jealous, haha!)

    That fruit bar sounds amazing. I too have had lovely lovely figs recently – aren’t they divine?

  14. Lisa says:

    Wow! Definitely a trip of a lifetime! And to do it with the food being a joy and not a stressor is even better!!

    Your grandmother is a wonderful person!!

  15. Nikki Douglas says:

    What a vacation – great Grandmother to give such a gift to your family. You look so happy in the photos. I am glad you were able to eat well on your trip and that they were so incredibly accommodating. It definitely was the cruise line because you went on a first-class trip – other cruise lines would not be so friendly since they would be catering to a different crowd. It’s exciting that you got to spend some quality time in each place.

  16. madeleine says:

    Hey Katie,
    your trip sounds amazing! I’m glad you had such a good time and enjoyed such great food!
    I’m real jealous :-).
    But I will be going home (Germany) over Christmas and will be doing a bit of travelling over there. Not comparable to a summery cruise in the Mediterranean, but it can be quite magical, the European winter.
    Hope, you’ve settled in again at home.

    Looking fwd to chocolate covered posts

  17. Alice (in Veganland) says:

    I can hardly believe that it was so easy to eat vegan during the cruise. You lucky girl! 🙂

  18. shellyfish says:

    You have such a perdy family! I have never been on a cruise, and to be honest it has never been something that interested me…but after reading your post, I’m thinking, yeah, I could get down with that! Such a wonderful experience for your family to share!

  19. Lauren says:

    That is so great that they took care of you like that! I always worry about going away, especially out of the country. When I went to Jamaicia on my honeymoon I ate pasta with red sauce almost everynight! Not very Jamaician! 🙁

  20. Cookie says:

    I’m so jealous!! What an amazing trip. Personal chefs AND beautiful cities! I would like to take a cruise someday…as long as I can see the shore the whole time. I must say, I wish I’d had the foresight to take along all that food with me when I went to Moscow last summer–I found tofu ONCE and it was about $10…and I don’t think they’ve even heard of soy milk!

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