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How to Eat McDougall Style on a Cruise

Updated September 7, 2022

Lox-less bagel with mustard instead of cream cheese

By Stacy Cross, 12-Day McDougall Program Support Specialist

Going into this cruise, I was committed to staying as close to my normal McDougall eating as possible for the entire trip. To be honest, I’ve been doing this so long, I didn’t have any doubt that it could be done. One important factor for me is to avoid a perfectionist mindset. In my opinion, it’s not reasonable to expect that I’ll never have foods that contain oil or may not be completely “vegan.” That’s not what I’m trying to do. What I set out to do was to stick as closely to McDougall eating as possible, and I was able to accomplish that goal in these ways: 

1) “Don’t screw up breakfast.” It was so important that I quickly established what options I had that I would be happy with for the breakfasts on the boat. I truly enjoyed my British baked beans and toast with grilled tomatoes and oatmeal every day of the trip. I never even looked at any of the donuts or pastries because I was so satisfied with my food. 

2) I made and ate a huge salad for lunch almost every day. Sometimes, that was enough to fill me up, and sometimes, I grabbed something from the hot options, like steamed and roasted veggies, pasta with sauce or ratatouille and rice. 

3) Royal Caribbean has an entire vegan menu in their dining rooms every evening. Many of their offerings have quite a bit of oil, so you have to be very careful. You can always order baked potatoes, steamed veggies, steamed rice, pasta, tomato sauces, salads, and other basics like that, so you’re never pigeonholed into getting an oily “vegan” dinner entree. We did order several things from the vegan dinner menu that were not full of oil and they were delicious! 

4) This is huge: let your waiter know the first night that you do NOT simply want them to bring you everything on the vegan menu each night. They sometimes do this to make it easier for them and their kitchen staff, and this is not helpful when you’re trying to stick to this way of eating! Let them know that you only want them to bring you what you order and nothing more. 

5) Move your body! We used the stairs almost every time we needed to go to a different floor, and I continued (and even increased) my daily exercise while I was on the cruise. It felt great to come home feeling stronger and fitter than I was when I left for my vacation! 

6) Be intentional about any indulgences. I knew they were bringing us chocolate cake for our anniversary, so I decided ahead of time that I would allow myself to enjoy that. Because of that planned dessert, I was able to say “no” to other desserts offered on every other evening of the cruise. And we fully enjoyed our anniversary cake. 🙂 

7) You may choose to talk to the chefs about your dietary preferences. We did not do this on our cruise, just because we are very experienced with this way of eating and do not worry about whether things are prepared absolutely and perfectly oil-free or vegan. You get to decide how you want to handle your own vacation – nobody else gets to make that choice for you. We have years of vacationing while eating this way under our belts, and this is where we’ve landed on how we eat while we’re away.


Beans and grilled tomato with avocado toast and fruit
Beans and grilled tomatoes with whole wheat toast and oatmeal
Salad bar for lunch
Salad with ratatouille on rice
Grilled avocado with citrus salad topping
Vegetable spaghetti off the vegan dinner menu
Asparagus topped rice over curry sauce
Fruit for dessert