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A Holistic Cruise for All Ages: Tips from Parents on Vegan Travel

Posted Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Do you remember your favorite vacation from childhood? It was probably packed with activities, interesting sights and sounds, and new friends. At Holistic Holiday at Sea, we want our annual voyage to appeal to people of all ages, from the curious toddler to the seasoned world traveler. We work hard to create a fun, healthy experience that every member of your family can enjoy.

Kane and Donavon Borchert on HHAS in Jamaica

Parents tell us over and over again that one of the most special aspects of Holistic Holiday at Sea is the fact that all of the activities and amenities cater to all generations. Our vegan cruise is by no means an experience for adults only. Far from it!

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your next Holistic Holiday at Sea experience if you are traveling with young sailors.

Lectures & Workshops Familiarize Children with Healthy Habits

Lee Salvatore has never missed a Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise. In 2004, she attended the very first voyage with only 410 passengers. At the time, she was exploring integrative medicine and had studied with Michio Kushi. She knew that people with serious conditions were getting better when eating more plants and less meat. At the time, Lee was living in Washington, D.C. About four years ago she moved with her family to Weehawken, New Jersey.

With the cruise, she really didn’t know what she was in for. “I thought this could be something interesting,” she says. “It turned out to be much more than I expected.”

Lee was delighted by the whole experience. She says there were so many presenters on that first cruise who were on the leading edge of the plant-based movement. “They brought all these experts from all these different countries and had them speak.”

The Earnest sisters (from L to R: Brooke, Ashley, Arden & Aubrey) on HHAS in 2007

Lee and her husband Jerry Earnest have four daughters (Brooke, Arden, and twins Ashley and Aubrey Earnest). Their first HHAS cruise all together was in 2005. Brooke was age 8, Arden was 5, and Ashley and Aubrey were 4. At the time, the family was following a pescatarian lifestyle, transitioning into plant-based.

“When they were little, I brought them into some of the lectures and they would sit there and color and do drawings,” says Lee. “By being exposed to that over the years, they started adopting the language and they got old enough to understand charts, diagrams, and statistics. So, in the last few years that we all went, they would sit there and pay attention.” She says that they grew up respecting leaders in the movement, such as Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. Sherry Rogers. “Even if at that point in time, the child isn’t eating that way, the information is stored in their heads. As the years went by, they understood the science.”

An Abundance of Culinary Choices

The Earnest sisters (from L to R: Ashley, Brooke, Aubrey & Arden) with Chef Mark Hanna on Holistic Holiday at Sea in 2016

Like Lee’s family in 2005, many folks new to the cruise are just beginning their transition into plant-based. While many are committed to the vegan lifestyle, some are just testing the waters. Lee wants other parents to know that non-vegan food is also available if your child hasn’t gotten used to eating those foods yet. “You can bring your children to the food area and see what they will and won’t eat. You don’t have to be stressed out that if they don’t eat the soup or what’s being offered, you still have all the options available to you.”

Children will often grab a big table and sit together during meal times. At school or friend’s houses, it may be rare that your children are surrounded by plant-based eaters. On the ship, however, your child who is perhaps transitioning to this diet and can see other children eat that way and how delicious it can be! The gourmet food is so tasty that meat-eaters can easily get hooked.

It’s a great chance to make new friendships for kids—and adults, too! “We’re one big family,” says Lee. “It’s almost like somebody handpicked really nice, compassionate, caring people and put them all on the boat. It’s very easy to make lasting friendships.”

Excursions Feed Curiosity

Donavon and Kane Borchert in Puerto Rico on HHAS

Be sure to pack your children bathing suits! While there’s so much to do on the boat, exploring ports of call is a great way to try new things. Lee has frequently done the excursions, which are organized group activities at each stop. Denise Borchert, of California, has two sons, Kane (age 16) and Donavon (12). Her family began going on the cruise in 2011 when the boys were 9 and 5, respectively. Her sons’ favorite aspects of the cruise are the parties, visiting the ports of call, and meeting people and having reunions with friends from years past. They love adventure!

Denise’s advice to parents going on the cruise for the first time is to “include your kids in everything you do (even the lectures on board!), have fun with them in the ports (going on the beach, snorkeling, ziplining, exploring, etc.), and going to all of the social events, and meeting new people.”

The Talent Show Brings People Together

The Earnest sisters playing violin on Holistic Holiday at Sea in 2007

Many cruise goers remember Lee’s daughters from their performances in the Talent Show. In 2005, with violins in hand, the girls played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” for the audience. They also performed for an audience of only children in the kids area. Over the years, Ashley went from violin to viola and Aubrey went from violin to cello, while Brooke and Arden stayed with violin. They are now a complete quartet and attending conservatories for music.

The Talent Show is open to everyone and people are encouraged to bring their instruments (or other talent tools) and sign up!

MSC’s Onboard Childcare Services Offer Peace of Mind

Safety is always our number one priority aboard the ship. The MSC ship has professional and experienced childcare staff to accommodate adults and their children.

Want childcare so you can get an hour-long massage or stroll around the boat? Free baby care and childcare is available while the ship is sailing and during disembarkation for excursions. The Mini Club is reserved for children under three years old to play and mingle. The MSC Cruises Kids’ Club is a free service designed for children between the ages of 3 to 17. Four separate Kids’ Club programs are available, tailored to specific age groups. MSC has partnered with the largest baby brand in Europe, Osservatorio Chicco Baby Research Center, to offer guests free baby essentials, including strollers, backpacks, and high chairs, among other useful items.

MSC Kids’ Club Activities include popular sporting games, arts and crafts, theater, and technology. Onboard space dedicated to the Kids’ Club Program has expanded and kids can now use other areas of the ship, including the disco, theater, and sports courts.

Whether you’re 2 or 92, there’s something for everyone on the MSC Divina. Join us on the 2018 and make family memories that will last a lifetime!

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