Last week, as a finale to my 1537km cycle trip across France, I boarded the Scenic Sapphire for an all-vegan river cruise from Avignon in the south to Chalon-sur-Saône, via Lyon, sailing up the Rhône and Saône rivers. You could describe it as an eating fest with a bit of sightseeing thrown in. It was the last voyage of the cruising season (which began in April) and, before we boarded, the entire boat was “veganized” in preparation for 160 guests.
How do you veganize a boat? Get rid of any animal products in the kitchen, dining rooms, lounge, and other public spaces; remove any non-vegan cosmetics in the staterooms and replace them with vegan-friendly products; replace the alcohol with vegan alcohol and, last but not least, put Rapunzel chocolate in each cabin for every guest to drool over. When was the last time you had a bar of dairy-free milk chocolate praline? I can’t even begin to describe the scrumptiousness of this german product.
I am not sure how many of the 160 guests were actually vegan… at least half of them, I think, would call themselves “plant-based.” I would love to know the statistics because a lot of people I spoke to were, in fact, vegetarian but were either very interested (in veganism,) or their cruising partners were vegan.
A few small things that I especially appreciated: the hot drinks dispenser –available 24 hours – was filled up with almond milk and vegan hot chocolate powder; the breakfast buffet where I could eat everything, including a choice of almond milk, soy milk or oat milk; being part of “normal” instead of “weird;” and making wonderful new friends.
The other strange thing about this trip was that neither the staff nor the chef were vegan. I think this was a good thing in some ways because it opened up a whole new world of veganism to 50 people. The fantastic food was different to what I am used to in veggie restaurants. I would call it “veganized gourmet.” Most of the meals were out-of-this-world-delicious and a few were quite unusual. I highly recommend this experience and will go again if I get an opportunity.
A word of advice: if you do go, be prepared to feel like you are having too many meals in a day and make a plan to do lots of exercise in between so you can be hungry enough to enjoy the awesome food.
Our cruise was organised by the inimitable Dirk Bocklage, our passionate and comedic vegan German host. For more info on upcoming river cruises click here. If you think you might want to go on the first fully vegan ocean cruise from London to the Norwegian fjords click here.