Cruise Line Food Review

By Nicholas Bryant,2014-06-17 04:33
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Cruise Line Food Review ...

    Cruise Line Food Review

    January 2003

    When travelers decide to go on a cruise, they think of sun, fun, and foodand lots of it. With three meals and endless snacks and desserts offered each day, it’s important that cruise

    passengers be careful about their food choices. Because cruise-goers are so often bombarded with high-fat “luxury” foods, PCRM dietitians wanted to find out if healthy options were

    also available. PCRM learned that while it is possible to eat healthfully on all of the cruise

    lines evaluated, the level of effort required from the traveler varies greatly. PCRM dietitians contacted the ten cruise lines most requested by travelers (based on

    information from Orbitz Travel) between July and August 2002. PCRM dietitians called

    each cruise line to obtain a copy of its menu and additionally called each cruise line

    anonymously to ensure that potential customers were given the same options when they

    called. Menus and cruise line food reviews were also obtained online. Cruise Line Rating System

    The cruise lines were rated on a four-star scale. Each cruise line received one star for serving

    at least one low-fat, high-fiber entrée for breakfast; one star for having a vegetarian entrée at lunch and dinner; a bonus star if it also offered vegan (non-dairy vegetarian) entrées for both lunch and dinner; and one star if it offered fruit for dessert and snacks. Four out of ten cruise lines received the maximum rating of four stars. Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Windstar all had healthy options easily available. Holland America,

    Princess, Celebrity, and Crystal failed to provide a non-dairy vegetarian option at lunch and dinner. They met all other PCRM criteria by having a low-fat, high-fiber entrée for each breakfast (usually oatmeal), by having a vegetarian option at lunch and dinner, and by

    having a choice of fruit for desserts and snacks. The cruise lines that received two stars, our

    lowest ranking, were Disney and Delta Queen. These cruise lines only offer vegetarian

    options if you request them in advance of the cruise. Most travelers will not be aware of this

    option (unless they ask because they are already vegetarian) and will miss out on the

    opportunity to eat a healthy meal while on board.

    Risk of Foodborne Illness

    Not only does requesting and choosing a vegetarian option ensure that passengers will enjoy

a meal lower in fat and cholesterol and higher in fiber, vegetables, and antioxidants, it also

    means they are at lower risk for contracting foodborne illnesses. According to a study

    conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.4 foodborne illness 1 Although outbreaks occur per 1,000 cruises or 2.3 outbreaks per 10 million passenger-days.these statistics are not always of epidemic proportions, no vacationer wants to risk being sick

    at sea.

    The most common means of contracting foodborne illness are through eggs, undercooked

    seafood, and undercooked meats. To eliminate the risk of becoming ill, passengers should

    focus on plant foods and base cruise meals around beans, whole grains, fruits, and


    The following is a list of our cruise line ratings, with added commentary below, from best to


    Cruise Line Food Ratings

    Cruise Line Low-fat, high-fiber Vegetarian item at lunch and dinner Fruit for Total

    entrée for breakfast (bonus star if it’s vegan for both desserts and stars

    meals) snacks Carnival Cruise * ** * **** Lines

    Norwegian Cruise * ** * **** Line

    Royal Caribbean * ** * **** International

    Windstar Cruises * ** * **** Holland America * * * *** Line

    Princess Cruises * * * *** Celebrity Cruises * * * *** Crystal Cruises * * * *** Disney Cruise Line * * * Delta Queen * * ** Steamboat Co.

    Each star is earned through the following criteria:

    1. Offering of a low-fat, high-fiber entrée for each breakfast

    2. Offering of a vegetarian item at lunch and dinner (bonus star if the items are dairy-


    3. Offering of fruit for desserts and snacks

    Carnival Cruise Lines

    4 stars

    Carnival Cruise Lines received four stars for making it easy to eat healthy food while

    on board its ships. A bowl of hot oatmeal and whole-wheat toast with preserves ensures a healthy start each day. Lunch offerings include Jamaican Red Bean Soup

    with oven-fresh foccacia. For dinner, the Mixed Garden and Field Greens Salad and

    Grilled Brochettes of Fresh Garden Vegetables provide travelers a healthy dose of

    delicious fat-free and cholesterol-free fare. With meals like this, cruise-goers need

    not worry about packing on the pounds.

    Norwegian Cruise Line

    4 Stars

    The Norwegian Cruise Line makes it easy for its passengers to choose healthy

    options by clearly marking all vegetarian selections. The company offers delectable

    healthy entrées such as the Thai Pasta Salad and the zesty Caribbean Tofu Stir-Fry. It

    also has a tantalizing Indian vegetarian buffet for lunch each day with entrées like

    curried vegetables over rice.

    Royal Caribbean International

    4 Stars

    The chefs on Royal Caribbean know that a menu item doesn’t have to be bland to be healthy. The menu offerings include items such as the Tangine Vegetable Stew,

    Risotto Primavera, and a California wrap with layers of hummus and roasted

    vegetables. For a special sweet treat, the low-fat Mango Strudel is a great choice.

    Windstar Cruises

    4 Stars

    Windstar Cruises are known for fresh, light, healthy cuisine. The kitchen provides

    one to two vegetarian entrée choices at each meal. This ensures that both vegetarian

    and health-conscious passengers have a variety of meal options to choose from. It also offers a range of fresh fruits and vegetables for all meals and snacks.

    Holland America Line

    3 Stars

    On the Holland America Line, fresh fruit is available for dessert and snacks, but

    lunch and dinner entrée choices are routinely high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

    Holland America Line does accept special meal requests, so passengers are advised

    to ask for vegan meals, which are cholesterol-free, before they embark on this cruise.

    Princess Cruises

    3 Stars

    Princess Cruises does not have a standard non-dairy, vegetarian entrée for each meal, but one is available if requested prior to cruise date. Stay away from the misnamed

    “Healthy Choice Menu” which offers things like Meatballs with Parmesan or Steak

    and Potato Salad. While hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and bacon burgers are always

    available on the lunch menu, low-fat, cholesterol-free choices are not. Travelers should call the cruise line ahead of time to request all vegetarian and cholesterol-free

    meals; otherwise, they will be left with such high-fat, high-cholesterol options such as Halibut in Mayonnaise, Lobster Tail with Butter, Royal Pheasant in Pan Juices, or

    the Beef Wellington.

    Celebrity Cruises

    3 Stars

    Celebrity Cruises received only three stars because travelers looking to eat

    healthfully cannot rely on the set menu. The health-conscious or vegetarian cruise-

    goer will be faced with the choices of Halibut with Beurre Blanc (a hot butter sauce),

    Crispy Duck, Milk-Fed Veal, or Prime Rib. All of these choices are high in fat and cholesterol and devoid of fiber. The vegetarian menu, however, has a number of

    healthy options. The appetizers include Korean Vegetable Pancakes or Roasted

    Yellow Peppers with Capers, Parsley, and Balsamic Vinegar. The main courses consist of healthy low-fat options such as Vegetable and Mushroom Pie topped with

    a cornbread crust, Thai Noodle Salad with vegetables and Tofu with Hummus,

    Tabouli, and Tomato.

    Crystal Cruises

    3 Stars

    Crystal Cruises received a rating of only three stars because non-dairy vegetarian meals are not available at every meal. However, vegan meals can be arranged by pre-

    cruise request. The menu does include a vegetarian selection for each meal, with

    lunch offerings like Potato Herb Mushroom Roll on Sautéed Leaf Spinach or Sweet and Sour Vegetables. Try the Grilled Asparagus and Parsnips or the Pressed Tomato

    and Basil Terrine on a Nicoise Salad for a healthy and low-fat dinner.

    Disney Cruise Line

    2 Stars

    The Disney Cruise Line will provide vegetarian options if the request is made prior

    to the cruise date. Accommodations will be provided by the headwaiter at the dining

    service hall. If the traveler doesn’t call ahead for a special meal request (it’s

    recommended that you call at least two weeks prior to your departure date), he or she may not be able to find many healthy choices on the menu. Luckily, quite often the

    pasta of the day is vegetarian or vegan.

    Delta Queen Steamboat Co.

    2 Stars

    The Delta Queen cruise line cannot guarantee vegetarian entrées at lunch and dinner, but it does offer vegetarian side orders. If requested prior to cruise date,

    accommodations may be available. If travelers have their heart set on having an old

    fashioned “steamboatin’” vacation cruising along the Mississippi river, they are advised to call ahead and make specific requests as to what healthy choices they

    would like to see offered.

    1. JAMA 1996 Feb 21;275(7):545-7

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