A Little Word on Cruise Control [Royal Caribbean]

As some of you heard announced on the Little Word Bites FB Page, last weeek I was on a cruise.  Unfortunately, floating around in the middle of the Caribbean means little to no cell service, and thus, little or no way to show you all the amazing things I was devouring.

When I graduated from college, my parents asked me what I wanted.  I said the only thing I could think to ask for was a final family vacation – it had been years since we’d been away together and, who couldn’t use a little Caribbean sun after the spring we had? Overall, it’s been a tough year for my family, and I thought we all deserved hakuna matata and relaxation.

So last week, we boarded a boat, and set off on our Caribbean adventure.

I could tell you all about doing yoga on the helipad of the ship watching the sun rise over the Caribbean –

Day 2 of a three part yoga series that took place on the helipad of the cruise ship. Perhaps the most unique (and, in this photo, a little awkward) vinyasa I've ever done.

Day 2 of a three part yoga series that took place on the helipad of the cruise ship. Perhaps the most unique (and, in this photo, a little awkward) vinyasa I’ve ever done.

And I could tell you about taking dinghies out into the ocean at St. Martin, or Barry the baracuda we saw snorkeling in St. Thomas, or how fantastic the full production of Chicago we saw on our first night aboard the ship was.

But in traditional Little Word Bites fashion, I want to turn to the food. Because eating is a huge part of cruising, and vacations in general, and as a health-nut, vegetarian, part-time vegan, I had a few very interesting experiences trying to maintain my veggie, nutritious lifestyle.

For those of you who have cruised before, you may be familiar with the concept of the floating 24-hour buffet, or midnight chocolate bar, or formal dining room, or endless french fries and ice cream. On many ships, the food on your water-bound hotel is complimentary, save for a few specialty restaurants for the true food afficianado.

On our ship, however, Allure of the Seas, we ran into a few unexpected problems.

To accomodate the more than 6,000 guests and employees, the ship had a vast array of specialty restaurants. But unless you wanted to pay for a plate of grilled asparagus with corn salsa at Rita’s Cantina, or tapas from Vintages Wine Bar like grilled mushrooms or herbed feta-stuffed peppers, there were many times throughout the ship when our options seemed limited to burgers and nachos or battered fish fry.

Despite the extra cost, one early dinner was spent at Rita's, where we enjoyed house-made quacamole, salsa, and unique vegetarian plates including this spiced asparagus.

Despite the extra cost, one early dinner was spent at Rita’s, where we enjoyed house-made quacamole, salsa, and unique vegetarian plates including this spiced asparagus.

While the concept of the buffet seems contrary to a controlled, healthy lifestyle, my parents and I found solace in the Solarium Bistro. Before this spot turned into an all-meat Brazilian Barbeque specialty restaurant for dinner, it was the place for fresh cut grapefruit, guava, mango and melon breakfasts, and elaborate, vegetarian and gluten-free salad and soup bar lunches (think CYOB gazpacho and miso soups  – YUM).

Sure, there’s no reason to eat two full plate-fulls of anything if you’re already beyond stuffed. But if you’re going back for seconds, it’s best to double up on fresh fruits and vegetables. At the Solarium, we enjoyed spiced rutabega with arugula and a salad of shaved carrot with golden raisins and walnuts.

A unique selection of fresh vegetarian salads was available every day for lunch at the Solarium, making it easy to fill our plates with healthy, good choices.

A unique selection of fresh vegetarian salads was available every day for lunch at the Solarium, making it easy to fill our plates with healthy, good choices.

In addition to choosing green, fresh dishes over the deep-fried brown options, my parents and I took the stairs. Everywhere. We climbed fifteen flights for hard-boiled eggs and roasted tomatoes for breakfast every morning at the Windjammer, before descending six to the gym. We had cocktails at the Viking Crown Lounge on the seventeenth floor, and fourteenth, fifth, and fourth.

Like our active stair-climing experience, which helped us balance out the frequent beverage breaks and extra helpings at meals, our Caribbean cruise was a reminder about the importance of balance.

My friend Ethan recently told me, in a conversation about healthy lifestyles, how important it is to find a place of acceptance. If you make good, healthy choices 99 percent of the time, then on those celebratory occasions when you order a fancy cocktail, or those vacations where the buffet is endless and the bars are open all night long, it’s okay and healthy to indulge in the less-healthy choice. If you are a healthy, happy person, you deserve to treat yourself. Go back for seconds, order the flatbread, or enjoy a second round of drinks. Otherwise, what’s the point of working so hard all the time?

Cooking whole mushrooms and broccolini on a salted hot rock made for a delicious, interactive meal on the ship. Paired with the tempura-fried vegetable appetizer, this meal was a spot-on example of balance. Healthy, satisfying, well-earned, and delicious. Cruise control at its best.

Cooking whole mushrooms and broccolini on a salted hot rock made for a delicious, interactive meal on the ship. Paired with the tempura-fried vegetable appetizer, this meal was a spot-on example of balance. Healthy, satisfying, well-earned, and delicious. Cruise control at its best.

Just because you can eat endless french fries and ice cream, doesn’t mean you should. But that doesnt’ mean you should only eat endless plates of undressed romaine lettuce for every meal of the day, either. When my parents and I ate light, healthy breakfasts and vegetable-based meals for lunch, we appreciated our dessert, our second-servings, and our elaborate, multi-course dinners all the more. Because when you work hard and make mostly healthy choices, it’s easier – and more enjoyable – to say yes to the indulgence.

Cruising is all about the practice of control. But it’s also about saying Hey! I’m on vacation! And I’m going to go back for another serving, try something new, and eat a deep-fried vegetable. Because it’s not something I do every day, and hell, I walked up fifteen flights to get it.

My friends, it’s late, and time to go. But this post marks the full-fledged return of Little Word Bites. And, what’s more, the first official bite from my new home in Brooklyn. I’ve had an amazing four years eating my way through Boston and now, I’ll start devouring the Big Apple.

It’s good to be back, everyone. And until next time, remember that every little bite you take to get where you are, and to what you bite next, is worth it.

Melanie

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