breezer Posted November 12, 2012 #1 Share Posted November 12, 2012 This was my 21st cruise, 16th on NCL, and 5th time on the Pearl, but it was my first cruise as a vegan. I was fairly certain that the buffet wouldn't be a problem for breakfast and lunch. For dinner, however, I was really concerned about what I could eat in the dining rooms and specialty restaurants. I had envisioned eating salads and beans at the buffet all week long. About a week before the cruise, I had read on Cruise Critic that someone with special diet requirements should notify the access desk at least three weeks before the cruise. With only one weet to sailing, I emailed the access desk and really didn't expect an answer or anything else. Well I was wrong. Shortly after I arrived in my cabin I saw the message light flashing on the phone, but thinking it was my friends who said they called my cabin, I just dismissed it. I didn't know anyone else on the ship, so who would be calling me? For dinner the first night we all decided to go to the Summer Palace. Thank goodness for that decision. Had we gone anywhere else I might have had a totally different experience. The waiter went around the table taking dinner orders and when he got to me I explained that I was vegan and and asked if I could talk with the maitre d'. That's when I met my vacation hero, Mr. Junior Taylor. (Yes, I did fill out a vacation hero card for him at the end of the cruise.) He came to my table and said, "Mrs.____, did you get my phone message that I left for you in your cabin?" I told him that I didn't get the message and thought to myself why the heck didn't I check when I saw the flashing light on the phone. Anyway, he helped me decide on something to eat on the first night...a favorite of mine, pasta with garlic and olive oil, and a garden salad with a splash of vinegar and oil. I had fruit for dessert. I left the Summer Palace without connecting with Junior about the next day's dinner. Not to worry, shortly after we left, he tracked me down in the photo gallery to ask me what i would like the next day! We decided on a vegetable stir fry with tofu. I never had tofu before, but was willing to give it a try. The stir fry was very good, but after eating about half of the tofu, I decided tofu wasn't for me, but ate the rest of the stir fry picking around the tofu. With every dinner I had a green salad and fruit for dessert. Every morning Junior could be found in the Garden Cafe. He noticed me seated there the next morning and came over to ask me about that everning's meal. I told him that we were going to Cagney's, and he asked if I knew what I was goint to eat. I said no. It just so happened that the maitre d' for Cagney's was within his sight there at the Garden Cafe and he called her over. Junior introduced me to her and explained to her that I was vegan and going to Cagney's that evening. He asked if there was something there that I could eat. She said, "Yes, of course, we'll take care of you." Upon arriving at Cagney's the maitre d' was there where you check in for your table. She said, "Oh, you're the vegan?" Never saw her again until my family and friends were almost finished with their desserts and she came by and asked if I wanted a fruit plate for dessert. Okay, I didn't want her to hold my hand throughout the meal, but she was pretty much no help at all. At least nothing that was evident to me. Some communication with the chef ahead of time would have been helpful. The waiter just handed me a menu and asked, "What do you want?" I explained again that I was vegan and I see a vegetarian selection on the menu, but there are ingredients in there that I cannot have. The waiter was the go-between with the chef. The chef made me what looked like a vegetable stew. It was good, but there wasn't any protein in the dish. Maybe a few mushrooms or beans could have been thrown in. I didn't think of asking until after I finished eating and realized that I was still hungry. If I had to do it again, I would probably skip Cagney's, but this time I was with people who wanted to go there. Moving on to day four... in the morning I saw Junior in Garden Cafe. I called him over and said that we were going back to Summer Palace that evening. Again he was quick to help me with my meal for that evening. I had fried rice with vegetables; it was excellent. Before we left the dining room that evening, Junior came to our table and was talking with all of us. My husband asked about a dessert that is no longer on the menu. At first Junior just said that it was no longer on the menu, and then he said that he would see what he could do. He asked if we would be in Summer Palace the next evening, but we told him that we were planning on going to La Cucina. He asked if we had reservations and asked me if I knew what I was going to eat. No we hadn't made reservations, and no I didn't have anything planned for my meal. Here's the awesome part, he gets on his phone and calls La Cucina maitre d', makes reservations for us, plans my meal, AND has the dessert that my husband asked about served to all of us in La Cucina!!! What other maitre d' would do that?!! In La Cucina my entree was served about 10 minutes later than the rest of the table, and good thing I like my pasta al dente. It was pretty close to being undercooked. I had spaghetti with tomato sauce and a salad. Doesn't sound too exciting, but it was good. It was a six night cruise and on the last day we saw Junior again in the Garden Cafe. I called him over to give him a tip and to express my appreciation for helping to make it so easy for me to plan my meals. He asked if my meal was planned for that evening, and I told him that we had a certificate to use in LeBistro. Out comes his phone, he spoke with I assume the maitre d' there and my meal was taken care of. I was served grilled vegetables that were layered and topped with a grilled Portobello. The presentation was so gorgeous that I didn't want to cut into it. I just kep saying how pretty it was. It was one of the best meals of the week. Everyday for breakfast I had the same thing that I have at home...Cheerios and banana with almond milk. I brought onto the ship three quarts of almond milk that you buy off the shelf, and kept it chilled in the refrigerator in my cabin. For lunch, I sometimes had a salad with a wide variety of toppings from which to choose. Also liked their veggie burgers with some french fries. I had a really good experience. I wish that every vegan cruising could have a Junior Taylor helping them. He said that he was just doing his duty, but I think that he went way beyond what he needed to do. I am amazed with his personal service and dedication to duty that he displayed. I am still so impressed. He is awesome, simply the best. 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