I have been on two cruises in my life: a Mediterranean cruise, and an Eastern Caribbean cruise. Let's talk about the Eastern Caribbean cruise today. Like much of our travel adventures, this one was a completely last-minute excursion. It was the fall of 2006, and I needed a vacation. I was working long hours at a job I didn't like, and I was majorly stressed out, burned out, and wiped out. All I wanted to do was get away from work, drink pina coladas, and not think about balance sheets and lines of credit (I was an accountant). What better way to escape than to spend a week on a floating bar? I found a last-minute deal online when I was
Something else happened to me in the fall of 2006. In fact, it happened about 3 weeks before we booked this cruise, and about 6 weeks before we actually took the cruise. I became vegan! So I did what any normal, newbie vegan would do: I booked a week-long cruise on a never-ending buffet barge. Genius!
I checked out Carnival's website and saw that guests with special dietary needs could be accommodated. Still, I wasn't taking any chances. I packed 2 bottles of my favorite salad dressing (Annie's Green Goddess Dressing, holla!) and figured I could live on salad and fresh fruit if need be. Fortunately, Carnival was wonderful and provided me with a vegan entree and dessert for dinner each night. Thanks, Carnival! The food was simple but well prepared: an Israeli couscous dish, pasta, roasted veggies, and tofu were some of the entrees I remember having. I had to fend for myself at breakfast and lunch, but there was always oatmeal and fresh fruit at breakfast, and an abundant salad bar at lunch. I was probably the only cruiser to maintain their weight during the week, ha! :)
Our ship had port calls in Nassau, Bahamas; Charlotte Amelie, St. Thomas; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. We went snorkeling in Nassau, which was a lot of fun (we used a disposable waterproof camera, however, so no pics to show you :) We opted to take a ferry over to St. John during the St. Thomas port of call, however, because I was dying to visit Trunk Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It did not disappoint!
Heres's my hubby taking a dip in the crystalline blue water...
We also went to Orient Beach on St. Maarten...
But mostly, we just enjoyed relaxing on the boat, reading books, listening to music, and acting like big kids...
Because it was a cruise, we ate all of our meals on the ship, so it was a lot of American-style fare. But in honor of my journey through the Caribbean, I wanted to make a Caribbean-style meal for dinner tonight. And for that, I turned to my trusted Appetite for Reduction and Isa's recipe for Caribbean Curried Black-Eyed Peas with Plantains.
Black-eyed peas are cooked together with shallots, red pepper, habanero pepper (I substituted jalapeno 'cuz I'm whimpy), garlic, ginger, bay leaves, curry powder, cinnamon, thyme, salt, agave, lime juice, and coconut milk. While the curry was simmering, I put on a pot of brown rice and steamed some plantains and broccoli.
Since I don't have a vegetable steamer, I improvised by putting my giant colander full of plantains over a big stockpot of boiling water. I put a lid over the plantains and let them steam away. After several minutes of this, I added the broccoli to the water in the stockpot and steamed them both simultaneously. Worked like a charm!
After dinner, I was in the mood for a little dessert, so I grabbed a little package of chocolates that I bought in Costa Rica (which is not Caribbean, obviously...but it's chocolate and passion fruit, which is tropical!) It was the perfect, sweet ending to a delicious meal!
Where will be be going tomorrow? Tune in and see!