Before becoming a vegetarian, I had no idea what it would be like to travel with a dietary restriction. Previously, I ate everything, especially when it came to exotic, local delicacies. I’ll admit that I was nervous to see how this massive life change would affect my travels. But, I was also excited to see how it would change the way I ate abroad and what options were out there for vegetarians. I was most looking forward to seeing what traveling with Viking River Cruises as a vegetarian would be like. Even before I boarded the Buri, our ship for the week, I felt positive that Viking would be able to accomodate my needs. But I still packed a few protein bars and peanut butter packets just in case. Little did I know, I wouldn’t need them.
After traveling from Amsterdam to Marseille, my Mom and I arrived on the boat hungry and ready to try out all of the options the boat had to offer. As soon as we made our way to the dining room, my food fears immediately disappeared.
I was impressed by what was offered and the options I had, as I filled up my plate. But, what left the biggest impression was when I went to the soup station. I asked if the broth was vegetable broth, and when I was told no, I figured I just wouldn’t eat the soup. But, the woman serving the soup went to the back for vegetable broth. It was a small gesture, but it was one I appreciated and made me realize how different the service and my experience on Viking would be.
The service didn’t stop there. With each meal on the Buri, Imre, the restaurant manager, would find me in the dining room to go over the menu and my options for the night. If there wasn’t a vegetarian option I wanted, he could offer something else. While this is good information to know, the options were always so good, so I stuck to what was on the menu.
The best part was that there was variety. All of the dishes I had each night were so different from one another and I never got bored of what I was eating. Each dish focused on different flavors and vegetables, and I was eating healthier than sometimes I do at home. Often vegetarian dishes offered lack creativity, but that wasn’t the case on Viking.
Not only was I well-taken care of on the ship, but on each of the excursions I had such positive experiences. I had a few excursions that included lunch and at first, I didn’t even think about my vegetarian diet. That was until the very first day on the first tour when we visited a bull farm. At the farm, I learned we’d be visiting the bulls and then eating bull tartar and the region’s famous bull stew. I was nervous that there would be nothing for me to eat, but I had packed some protein bars just in case, so I didn’t worry.
I headed over to the woman in charge and let her know that I was a vegetarian so that she wouldn’t have to plan a meal for me. Instead, she offered me a salad and ratatouille, and I was beyond grateful for the offering, especially because I was more than fine living off of the rosé and bread on the table. What made it even better was that the salad and ratatouille was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It was so simple, but delicious and filling, exactly what I needed after a long day of touring around.
On each excursion with a meal, I was well taken care of and even offered vegetarian options before I could ask for them. It may seem like a simple gesture, but it meant so much to me, especially because I wasn’t expecting it. Each one of those meals was made with as much care as the non-vegetarian meals, and not once did I feel as if I was missing out.
Because the boat stops at ports and picks up local produce along the way, it makes it easier for the chef to accommodate such dietary restrictions. A friend on the boat had gluten intolerance, and it was interesting for me to see how they handled his situation, as well as mine. They had no problem stopping and getting products that would suit both of our needs, especially as they got to know us. The service was above and beyond what I could have ever expected, which made for a week of enjoyable meals.
In my travels since becoming a vegetarian, traveling with Viking River Cruises as a vegetarian has been the easiest and most enjoyable experience. I may not have the choices I used to before I stopped eating meat and fish, but it’s nice to feel as if I’m being looked after. I haven’t had that experience anywhere else, and I am grateful for the way I was taken care of by Viking.
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I was a guest of Viking River Cruises, but that in no way affected my views. As always, all opinions are mine.