Inside TikTok's 'The Ultimate World Cruise': What Are People Eating?

A nine-month-long Royal Caribbean world cruise has officially turned into a TikTok sensation. The global expedition, nicknamed the Ultimate World Cruise, departed from Miami on December 10, 2023, and has just reached Antarctica. It has firmly captured the attention of social media, with many users obsessed with the MTV-style cabin tour videos from influencers on board and the idea of drama breaking out between passengers. But another aspect of being onboard a ship for months on end has caught people’s attention: Just what does everyone eat?

Most cruise menus are meat-heavy, but things are changing in the industry, with more liners than ever offering more plant-based options. So if there are vegans on the Ultimate World Cruise right now (we’re keeping a close eye on TikTok for posts!), what exactly are they eating? We’ve got some insight below.

What is the Ultimate World Cruise?

The Ultimate World Cruise is a whistle-stop tour of 87 destinations on the Royal Caribbean ship the Serenade of the Seas. The first leg of the tour, which the ship is in the middle of currently, focuses on North and South America, as well as Antarctica. After this is complete, Serenade of the Seas will head to the Pacific, where passengers can take in the sights of countries like Japan, New Zealand, and China. The third and final section of the trip will see the ship head around the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The Serenade of the Seas isn’t unique. World cruising has been popular for some time, and most companies, including Princess Cruises, P&O, and Fred Olson, offer global itineraries. But this is the first world cruise to really capture the attention of TikTok, there’s no doubt. In fact, #ultimateworldcruise now has more than 300 million views.

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What can vegans eat on the Ultimate World Cruise?

Cruise ships are often loaded with meat, cheese, and fish options, which dominate menus throughout the restaurants and buffets onboard.

But vegans do have choices, although it is still substantially less than the meat-eaters do. One TikTok account @DinnerThenDessert, which is run by a meat-eating passenger on board the ship, is guiding viewers through some of the food options.

One video post from night 33 of the cruise showed a menu with four vegan choices: Avocado and Melon Salad, Herb-Crusted Stuffed Portobello Mushroom, Peanut-Caramel Bar, and Seasonal Fruit Medley. 

The abundance of meat and dairy menu items, however, included lavish options like escargot, slow-roasted prime rib, and royal cheesecake. “Prime rib, steak and more. It’s becoming painfully obvious the vegans are getting punked and the meat eaters are living rich,” the account captioned the post.

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Cruise ships embrace more vegan options

While the vegan options on Serenade of the Seas do seem to be substantially outnumbered by their meat and dairy counterparts, it is still easier than ever to eat vegan food on cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean updated its plant-based menu back in 2019, so now passengers on its ships can choose from options like vegan spaghetti bolognese and toffee cheesecake.

“At Royal Caribbean, we’re always looking at how to raise the bar of our dining offerings and we do it with one specific purpose: delivering great vacations for our guests,” Linken D’Souza, Vice President of Food & Beverage, Royal Caribbean International, told VegNews at the time.

“As the number of people and families adopting a vegan lifestyle continues to grow, we wanted to formalize our vegan offerings in a dedicated menu (available upon request in the Main Dining Room) where guests can explore options and choose their dish—it’s all part of the dining experience,” she continued. “It’s important to us to meet vacationers’ dietary choices.”

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Last year, Carnival Cruise Line also announced it was launching new vegan menus on all of its ships. “Plant-based food options are a rising preference on our ships just as they are on land, and so the new dishes we’re introducing are a direct response to that shift,” Richard Morse, Carnival Cruise Line’s Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage, said in a statement in September.

So, if you fancy a world cruise, you can rest assured that if you’re hoping for vegan options, you won’t go hungry. But there is one catch: you do need a spare $50,000 or so to get on board.

For more on vegan vacations, read: