Vegan It Real Cruising the Mediterranean

Our Royal Caribbean Cruise ship, Vision of the Seas from the coast of Nice, France.

Five days in the Mediterranean…it was everything and MORE!

Anchored just outside Villefranche-sur-Mer

I have spent the better part of my adult life wondering what it is like to go on a cruise. Even though several cities host ports for large cruise ships throughout my home state of Florida, you might be surprised to hear I’ve never been. So, when a friend told me this past Spring of a great value on a 5-day, 5 ports-of-call cruise through the Mediterranean in late summer, I jumped at the chance (and so did another friend). We all agreed this once-in-a-lifetime trip could not be passed up, and we started planning.

I won’t go into the details of how we managed to coordinate 3 families, 12 people, 6 adults and 6 kids, for our 5 port excursions and countless meals and activities on board. That’s for another post altogether. And, I am not going to go into the details of my vegan, all-you-can-eat dining experiences aboard Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas, because that experience was so eye-opening, it requires another post as well. Let’s just say, this cruise line has a long way to go to impress the plant-based, foodie connoisseur.

What I will tell you about is our amazing port of call adventures and how we enjoyed each city’s Mediterranean vegan eats.

Our plan was as follows.

We would meet our friends in Barcelona, Spain the night before the cruise left port. Vision of the Seas is a smaller ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet since it holds around 2000 guests. I don’t think it was fully booked for our voyage and having a little extra space in the common areas throughout the ship was nice. It never felt overly crowded.

The cruise dates were Saturday, September 10 through Thursday, September, 15, and the ship would dock back in Barcelona at Moll Adossat port on the 15th. Our port stops would include, in this order, Nice (Villefranche-sur-Mer), France, Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy, Florence/Pisa (Carrara), Italy, Provence/Cassis (Toulon), France, and back to Barcelona.

The route to each port to visit Nice, Rome, Pisa/Florence, Toulon/Cassis then back to Barcelona.

We flew into Barcelona from Tampa, FL via Atlanta, GA on a flight that lasted about 9 hours. We booked our flights through Expedia and we were on a Virgin Flight operated by Delta Airlines. Since we purchased the plane tickets through a third-party vendor, I was unable to choose our seats and our special vegan meal, online. I called two weeks before our flight to secure our meals and they told me to call the day before the flight. I called the day before the flight and they said it was too late to tell them about it but they would “try to document it”. Since we had to get our seat assignments at check-in the day we flew, I asked the person checking us in if they could notate the special vegan meal. She said she would notate it, but, with no guarantees, we would get one.

We only removed our masks for this picture and to eat while in the airport and on the plane, just in case. 😷

Moments after we took off from ATL, our flight attendant came over to confirm our “special diet” and I was thrilled! I could not wait to see what was offered. In case of a vegan food fail, we did purchase Pei Wei Vegetable Fried Rice bowls (w/o egg), for the long trip, just in case. I did not snap a pic of that bowl, but boy were we glad we had the backup after being served this…

What’s it gonna be?

 

The description: VG Root Vegetable Chili with brown rice, beets, green onions and seeds.

I understand that I should be thankful we even got a meal. And, I am for sure. I was also very thankful we got to eat before everyone else. But, just tell me, when was the last time you made a root vegetable chili using mostly cubed beets? πŸ€”πŸ€£

The rice was OK, and the salad was OK, but the beet mixture was not tasty at all. What’s that old saying? Beggars can’t be choosers.

We did receive a second, morning meal since we flew on a red eye. I did not snap a picture of that either, probably because I was tired, and because I sent it back. It was a cold, hard bagel, margarine, and mushy canteloupe. I did take a bite of the fruit but it had a chemical taste I could not get rid of. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈπŸ˜’

Our first meal in Barcelona, however, was very promising.Β  After dropping our bags at our super cute hotel, Acta Atrium, we set out to explore and eat.

We landed in the Gothic Quarter and had a light lunch at a very quaint cafe called The Vegan Corner @ Carrer d’AtaΓΌlf, 5, 08002 Barcelona, Spain. This super cute establishment right in the heart of the quarter offers sandwiches, coffee, pastries, and above all, the ambiance of a classic Barcelona cafe on a quintessential, medieval cobblestone street.

The Vegan Corner and me after more than 24 hours of travel.

We enjoyed a couple of cold veggie sandwiches made with Spanish Pan de barra (like a baguette) stuffed with grilled eggplant, mushrooms, and rocket (arugula).

Delicious and fresh!

We also ordered this Tortilla de Patatas, made with chickpeas and spinach. It’s similar to a delicious crustless quiche. The bread was complimentary, traditional Catalan bread with a tomato topping called Pa Amb Tomaquet, which is considered a staple of Catalan cuisine.

It’s not a quiche! 😊

We explored the city for hours, met up with our friends for a tasty sangria, and went back to the hotel for a quick nap and shower before dinner.

 

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

We found THE BEST place for dinner. If you’re looking for out-of-this-world, plant-based sushi, then you have to try Roots and Rolls @ C. del Consell de Cent, 401, Bajos, 08009 Derecha, Barcelona, Spain! This spot was everything and more!

Roots & Rolls from our outside table. Such a great place!

 

I’m incredibly thankful to the Barcelonian people who embrace the English language, city-wide.

 

Edamame and Gyozas starters.

 

I have been dying to try vegan okonomiyaki! It was delicious!

This sushi tho! I made sure not to apply any filters so what you see is what you get. Some of the most creative, plant-based food I have ever eaten.

Sushi Tasting Plate with kimchi and ponzu wakame in the background.

We also ordered Crunchy Rollitos but devoured them before snapping a picture. This place is for real and they did an awesome job servicing our crazy table of 9!

The next morning, before heading to the cruise port, our crew of three walked over to a place called Avocado @ C/ de Muntaner, 32, 08011 Barcelona, Spain for breakfast. This place was delicious! It’s not a completely vegan restaurant, but they have enough options to please all the vegans. πŸ˜‰πŸ€€

Excited about this breakfast and to be sitting on the quaint streets of Barcelona!

 

The Avocado Menu

 

We sat outside and watched Barcelona wake up!

 

I had the curry tofu scramble avo toast.

 

David had the Holy Pancakes.

Mia had a vegetarian meal so I didn’t snap a picture. Sorry to all you egg & dairy eaters, but I have a brand to uphold. πŸ˜‰πŸ‘©β€πŸ³πŸ₯¬

To finalize our foodie experience in Barcelona, we also enjoyed some incredible meals on the very last day of our trip, once we disembarked from the cruise ship, and before we went to the airport hotel.

I had the most amazing, hearty brunch of the whole trip at Cafe Equilibrium @ C/ de València, 352, 08009 Barcelona, Spain. Talk about a restaurant that is doing plant-based food right, this cafe was hustling and bustling from the moment we arrived until the moment we left.

Tables packed with a constant flow of conscious eaters.

 

 

Eqvilibrivm Cafe Menu

 

Totally in my happy place. A 100% plant-based restaurant in Barcelona!

 

David and I both ordered the Full English Breakfast. Seriously drool-worthy. 🀀

 

Mia ordered the Cream Cheese Pancakes.

 

Later that day, after a full-blown 5 hours of exploration and a tour of La Sagrada Familia, we enjoyed a delicious meal at a gem of a place, Teresa Carles @ C/ de Jovellanos, 2, 08001 Barcelona, Spain. Known as one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Spain, with no shortage of delicious vegan options, this food was vibrant, fresh, and 100% mouth-wateringly good.

Teresa Carles, here we come!

 

Specials menu.

 

Oh, we love you too! πŸ˜‹

 

So many juices and tonics to choose from. Totally recharged my batteries!

 

I had the gazpacho.

 

The special soup of the week is creamy pumpkin, parsnip & turnip.

 

Mia had the Seitan Chikin Caesar’s Salad and it was hands-down the best plant-based chikin I have ever had. Ever.

 

She also had a vegan cheeseburger with mushrooms, truffle cream, and housemade fries. Oh My Gosh, that burger!Β  It was so juicy and good.

 

Seriously, tho. Now, that’s a plant-based burger!

 

David had the special, Cannelloni stuffed with mushrooms with a soya bechamel.

 

I had the 5-Layer Lasanyuki, (lasagna), with spinach, pine nuts, mushrooms, pumpkin masala, and a bunch of other things that made me say “Wow!”

 

David had the special dessert of apples & cashew cream w/figs & grape jam.

 

I can’t recall but I believe this is the Catalan cheesecake. Whatever it was, it was a bit like flan and chocolatey delicious.

Our meals in Barcelona were everything and more. Barcelona is definitely pleasing its vegans and keeping the food fresh and real. Even though I did not get to enjoy all the vegan-only places on my list, the restaurants we did hit were all commendable and restaurants I would visit again.

A few spots I researched that we didn’t get to, are Vegan Tulsi, Veggie Garden, Vegasana, and Virens. One more reason to go back!

Once we left Barcelona and set sail to our ports of call, we enjoyed early morning breakfasts and dinners on the ship, usually picking through the buffet offerings. You can check out my vegan meal experiences on our 5-day Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas blog, where I share our specific food options, in comparison to the omnivore passenger.

Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas from the tender, coming back from Nice.

Despite the vegan food limitations on board, the rest of the cruise experience was incredible and completely positive. Since we sailed during the night, we could usually catch the sunrise as we cruised into the various Mediterranean ports. Our first stop was Nice, France, specifically the port of Villefranche-sur-Mer.

We went by tender from the ship to the docks @ Villefranche-sur-Mer. What a beautiful port!

Since we only had about 4-5 hours to explore, and we were relying on an unreliable Hop on Hop Off Bus to get us from point A to point B, we had to limit what we could actually experience in Old Nice. I had a list of vegan eateries that Nice offers, but, unfortunately, we were there on a Sunday, and many places were closed.

We did stumble upon an incredibly cute cafe called Les Petits Pains de MΓ©diterranΓ©e @ 41 Rue de France, 06000 Nice, France, where we grabbed a piece of this delicious dairy-free pizza. And, if I had known this place was the only food stop we would make in Nice that day, I would have ordered another slice or a vegetable tartine too!

Simple, authentic, and completely delicious. A slice of cheese-free pizza!

A shot of the beautiful street of Old Nice, from the outside patio.

Sitting @ Le Petit Pains de Mediterranee

A street in Old Nice.

After enjoying an incredible day in Old Nice, and having an opportunity to hang out on a beautiful rock beach along the Promenade des Anglais on the Mediterranean, it was time to grab the hop-on hop-off bus to go back to the tender which would take us back to the ship for the night.

One of my favorite pictures. I can’t believe we’re in the Mediterranean!

If you are heading to Nice for the day and it’s not a Sunday, you might want to try some of the vegan foodie places we didn’t get to experience, such as, KOKO Green Vegan & Raw Food, Caju Vegan, and Saj Nice.

We sailed all night, and the next morning we pulled into the port of Civitavecchia to disembark for our day’s journey in Rome. This was a day 11 of us decided to explore together. We took a local bus to the train station in Civitavecchia, which was about a mile from the port. We then took the regional train to Rome Termini, a huge train station in the heart of Rome, where our true adventure began.

11 herded cats for a great Colosseum picture! πŸ€­πŸ˜‚ This was the most memorable day ever! I love my friends and their families so much!

David and I were the only vegans in our group so for lunch we split up and met afterward. There are a lot of vegan establishments in Rome and I created a walking map of where they are located in comparison to the famous landmarks. I will publish that information in a follow-up blog post.

Since we were near the Pantheon around lunchtime, we choose to go to Buddy Veggy Restaurant Cafe @ Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 107A, 00186 Roma RM, Italy, and boy were we happy we did. Although the restaurant is not strictly vegan, it was on my list of places that offered authentic Italian vegan cuisine, so we found a table outdoors and devoured a hearty lunch.

Our view from the patio @ Buddy Veggy. Our friends ate at the restaurant across the street with the awnings!

 

I will do what I can to promote this place. I don’t know how they make their vegan cheese but man-o-man was the food good!

It was a difficult choice between the pizza and pasta but the pasta seemed to call to all three of us. Here’s what we ordered.

Mia had Pasta Amatriciana

 

David had Vegan Carbonara

 

I had Caccio Pepe and it was out-of-this-world.

 

The very definition of being in my happy place. In Rome enjoying vegan pasta! Of course, I had to try David’s and Mia’s. 🀀

 

We tossed the coin so I know we will be back!

There were other places on my foodie list in Rome that we didn’t get to, so, if you head that way be sure to try Origano Camp De Fiori (which is right across the street from Buddy Veggy), Vega Food, Ginger, and Avocado Bar Roma. I was excited to find so many vegan options in Rome. I hope I get the chance to try them all one day.

After an extremely full day, we found the time ticking away so we literally had to run for our train. If we missed the train, we would miss the boat! Thankfully, all 11 of us made it back and that night the ship took us to our next port of call in Cararra, Italy. The next day we were going on an excursion to Pisa and Florence. It was a dream come true!

Pulling into the port at Carrara, Italy. The marble mountains in the background.

 

I love this picture! I seriously need to be pinched every time I remember that we were actually there! Pisa, Italy.

The only foodie downside to the Pisa & Florence excursion is that we did not have time to enjoy any food in Pisa. I was able to stop by some of the vendor carts though and I purchased some authentic dried spices. Since writing this blog I have had a chance to enjoy them in some quick and healthy pasta meals that you can find on my Instagram page. I wish I had experienced more of the food in Pisa, but I was in awe just standing there!

One word describes Florence. WOW! I would share 100 pictures now if I could because it’s so beautiful and mesmerizing…but, it’s not that kind of blog.

An ancient street in Florence.

 

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

When we went to Florence, we had to go to the restaurant the tour guide took us to. Since we were an excursion group of about 30 or so people, they made arrangements ahead of time for the entire group for lunch and we had to let our guide know if we any dietary restrictions to could accommodate. David and I were the only vegans on this tour. πŸ€”πŸ˜²

Letting the servers know!

I have no idea what the restaurant was called because I didn’t see a sign outside. If you were not vegan, you had a delicious meal filled with free wine, 3 platters of different pasta, and liquor and biscotti for dessert.

If you were plant-based, this is what we had.

Bread with oil & balsamic.

 

The complimentary house white and red wines! 🍷 Always appreciated!

 

Penne with marinara and bits of eggplant. It was really good but, the non-vegans had 3 different kinds of pasta to sample. We had a giant plate of this one kind!

 

Currants, raspberries and blueberries for dessert for us.

It was a little awkward for the non-vegans at the table because they kept being offered different types of pasta almost the moment they sat down and we were there just patiently waiting for our pasta marinara w/eggplant. The experience was incredibly memorable and rewarding, even if we didn’t have the same food selection. We drank a bit of the free wine in the meantime and really got to know our new friends at the table, a family of four adults on vacation celebrating the mother, who had recovered from a brain tumor. It was their first vacation together in nine years. They were a lovely family and it was fun to share a meal with them.

Since we were on an excursion from the ship, we had to stay on a strict time schedule so it did not allow us time to explore, to try more food. Sadly, we went to three cities in Italy and did not sample the pizza. Instead, we had pasta. 😁 Another reason to go back. (The list is getting long!)

A few of the vegan places on my foodie Florence list that we did not get to try were Raw Vegan Firenze, Flower Burger, L’OV Osteria Vegetariana, and Il Vegano -Firenze.

On our way out of Florence, I grabbed a picture of the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Finished in 1345 🀯😦 (wow!), it is considered an engineering marvel. And, a fun fact and what makes the bridge so famous…it’s the only bridge the Germans did not destroy in WWII as they were fleeing the Allies. Instead, they demolished two medieval buildings on either side of the bridge to block the way but they left the bridge standing.

Ponte Vecchio – Its builder, Taddeo Gaddi, completed the bridge in 1345.

After making our way by tour bus back to the ship, we were tired and overwhelmed by the day. As an American, it was hard to wrap my head around the extent of the history that we were up close and personal with those past few days.

The final stop on our cruise before heading back to Barcelona was near Toulon, France. The port is called La Seyne-Sur-Mer. There were several excursions the cruise offered for the day and the one we chose together as a group was to Cassis. One of our friends had told us about the Calanques and being the nature lover we all are, we wanted to see them up close.

We are on the Little Tourist Train making our way to the seaside village of Cassis. Holding up the local traffic in the process. This is our 11! πŸ₯°

 

The marina in Cassis, France, a small fishing village.

 

We made this picture into a printed canvas and it hangs in our kitchen/dining area. Manifesting our return!

 

On the beach of Cassis, France you can see HoΜ‚tel Les Roches Blanches (the White Rock Hotel), where Winston Churchill once stayed.

Since we were with an excursion group of about 30 people and not on our own, we had limited time to explore and even less time to enjoy a full meal. Fortunately for this tourist and chef πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ, there was an outdoor farmers market in the town center, and we found aΒ  boulangerie (bakery) for croissants and baguettes. I was in my happy place.

It’s just all so vibrant, fresh, local and inexpensive!

 

Real Food!!

 

Fresh hummus spreads and dips. We got the Artichoke garlic one and we ate it at a cafe later.

 

Olives galore!

I bought some fruits and veggies to enjoy on the ship since we didn’t have a proper lunch and my bounty cost €6. A bag full of olives, a pint of artichoke spread (we devoured), and a huge bag of vegan crostini cost only €7.

These figs were the most beautiful figs on the inside and the most delicious I have ever had. And that price, 6 for € .50! In FL. we buy them for about $4.99 for 6 or 7 figs (from California)!

Before you tell me vegans don’t eat figs, we do and that’s how I keep veganism real. I didn’t force the wasp inside, they chose to lay their eggs there! (Another post entirely!). 🀣😁

Dried fruit assortments.

It doesn’t get more French than eating baguettes and croissants strolling down the cobblestone streets on the Riviera.

Happy place!

 

 

We all fell in love with Cassis!

I could talk about Cassis forever, and I have dozens of more pictures that remind us of that wonderful experience. Even though it was cloudy and rainy that one day, it was absolutely picture-perfect and the best way to end our European cruise adventure.

Back aboard the ship, I sat on the balcony looking over to Provence and devoured my delicious bounty of fresh food.

It just doesn’t get better than this!

 

 

You know how I love my Avos. These were huge!

 

Goodbye Provence! Goodbye France!

Our next stop would be our last. Back to Barcelona where the journey began. Waking up to the sunrise was the perfect end to a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with good friends.

The sunrise from the balcony of room 8054 on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas.

 

Gorgeous!

Our flight back to Atlanta the next morning was right on time, and even though there were long lines and chaos at the airport while we were getting our tickets, we were sitting in our front row (Economy Basic) seats, ready to take off in no time. Within moments of being in the air, the flight attendants came over to confirm we were the “vegans”. And, they stuck stickers on our headrests to remind everyone. πŸ˜‚

We had two meals during the long flight to Atlanta.

Gnocchi with marinara atop wilted spinach was not bad. The salad did not have dressing and was a bit bland. I did not eat the cantaloupe.

 

The second meal was a veggie with peppers and onions and 4 pieces of honeydew. (Yes, that’s honeydew).

About 2 hours after eating the last “meal”, the burrito, I had very bad stomach cramps. Not the best way to end our travels, but, you know I like to keep it real so I am just gonna say the meals on this flight were also questionable in quality.

The flight back to Tampa was pretty smooth despite the intense storms all around us.

Beautiful and mesmerizing!

 

The edge of Pinellas County! Home sweet home!

This trip was in one word, outstanding! It would not have been the same had we not gone with friends, and we are so glad we brought Mia to share in the family adventure.

Although there were so many more restaurants I had researched that we did not get to try it gives us a reason to visit these places for longer next time. The food we did sample throughout these 3 countries and 5 cities along the Mediterranean, provided vibrant, simple, yet exciting food, that will forever be captured in my photo albums, in my memory bank, and on my palate.

For those wondering about my Royal Caribbean, on-board, foodie experience, you will find that blog posted in the coming weeks. Let’s just say I had some utterly jaw-dropping meals…meaning, our jaws dropped as we laughed and laughed at what fine vegan dining meant to Royal Caribbean. (To be continued…)

For now, thank you for reliving the journey with me while I kept veganism real in the Mediterranean. I hope you found some useful information should your foodie path take you there one day.

jlm πŸ‘©β€πŸ³πŸŽπŸ₯¦πŸ₯•

 


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Meet Jennifer

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I'm Chef Jennifer! A trained and certified personal vegan chef, offering delicious and nutritious animal-free food through personalized, weekly meal-prep services. I also love advocating for the plant-based lifestyle. Changing lives, saving animals and veganizing the planet with REAL food, one plate at a time.🍎πŸ₯¦πŸ₯•

Learn about me, why I started VIR and why I believe food is medicine...for real!


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