Yesterday, I posted pictures from my vegan-friendly breakfasts and lunches on my Carnival cruise vacation from New Orleans to Cozumel. Tonight, I'm sharing pics of my dinners in the Paris Dining Room, one of two formal dining rooms on the Carnival Triumph.
Before embarking on my family cruise vacation, I did lots of googling for "vegan options on Carnival cruises." My searches yielded quite a few blog posts from vegan blogs I'd never even heard of. After reading several posts and chatting with some folks on the PPK, I gathered that Carnival could be very vegan-friendly so long as the dining room hostess or maitre'd is made aware of dietary needs. Most people said they had to make due with the vegetarian menu option on the first night, but after making the dining room staff aware of their veganism, every other night offered a special vegan dish just for them.
On the first night (Thursday), I started my meal with an appetizer of Fresh Fruit with a Tequila Sauce:
Since the staff didn't know I was vegan yet, I was lucky that the standard vegetarian menu option was an Indian Dinner with a chickpea potato dish, onion flatbread, crispy cracker bread, jasmine rice, a roasted veggie cake, onion slaw, and lemon pickle:
Underneath the bread was a ramekin of cottage cheese with peas that I couldn't eat. And I'm not totally sure how vegan everything else was, but I just ate it and hoped for the best. However, when I ordered the Indian dinner, I let my server know that I was vegan and that I'd been told that I should let the maitre'd know. The server was so nice. He said the chef would be happy to prepare vegan meals for me every night. He sent a hostess over to talk about my likes and dislikes. Lucky for the chef, I like everything so long as its vegan!
Dessert on Thursday was yet another plate of fruit. It was only thing on the dessert menu that I could eat:
Friday night was Elegant Cruise Attire Night in the Paris Dining Room, and despite my dad's protests about having to dress up, my mom and I convinced him to don some dress pants and a button-up shirt. I think I've seen my dad dress up maybe three times in my whole life!
Once in the dining room, I started my meal with a salad (not pictured). Our server told me the chef had prepared a vegan entree and dessert for me, but I didn't know what I was getting until this Potato-Stuffed Pepper with Spanish Rice and Steamed Veggies arrived on my table:
The peppers were burn-your-ears hot, but I love, love, love spicy food. So I totally devoured these veggie-stuffed peppers though my nose was dripping the whole time. Here's an inside shot:
My surprise dessert was a Raspberry Puree with Fresh Strawberries. It tasted almost like raspberry preserves and it was really, really sweet. Almost too sweet to eat without toast. But I ate it anyway:
Dinner on Saturday night (the night after we boarded back onto the ship from Cozumel, Mexico) was lighter fare — another starter salad followed by this Creamed Corn with Green Bean Bundles and Sauteed Mushrooms:
Since we stuffed ourselves at lunch in Mexico, the lighter meal was much appreciated on Saturday. The corn dish was very flavorful and creamy, and the mushrooms were absolutely perfect. My main course was followed by another surprise dessert — Pureed Strawberries with Blackberries:
This dessert was much better than Friday night's, mostly because it wasn't quite as sweet. Just fresh, pureed berries with only a hint of sugar.
On Sunday — our last night of the cruise — the vegetarian menu option was a spinach lasagna. My mom ordered the cheesy version, and I was delighted when our server placed a Cheeseless Spinach Lasagna in front of me:
Though I've had lots of vegan cheese lasagna in my day, I'd never tried a totally cheese substitute-less version. It was really tasty. The sauce was so good, and that really set the taste over the top. The inside lasagna noodles were a little chewy, like maybe they were undercooked. But I don't mind undercooked pasta, so I devoured the entire massive serving.
Dessert was another Raspberry Puree with Strawberries, and this one was even sweeter than Friday's version. I could only finish half before the sweetness became too cloying:
Overall, I'd give the Carnival's Paris Dining Room a B++ for Vegan-Friendliness. The staff went out of their way to make sure I had my own special dish every night. My entrees didn't disappoint in terms of taste, though the texture of the lasagna noodles could have used some work. And although I loved the hot, hot heat of the stuffed pepper, I know some spice wimps (like my mom) who wouldn't have made it past the first bite. Perhaps it could have been less spicy and served with a hot sauce to allow the diner to determine spiciness for him or herself. The strawberry dessert was fab, but the raspberry dishes were a little too sweet to be eaten on their own.