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Updated 2018 Ports of Call & Ways to Support Recovery Efforts in US Virgin Islands

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Holistic Holiday at Sea Port of Call 2013

There’s just a little over three months to go before February 15–25, 2018, when the 15th Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise sets sail. We are looking forward to a great event! We are sold out, except for a few suites. If you would like to come, but haven’t booked yet, we do have a wait list in case rooms open up! Email your name, phone number, type of room you would like, and the number in your party to info@lorrainetravel.com.

As many of you know, our original itinerary was changed by MSC Cruises due to the damage to several islands caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. With those islands focused on recovery efforts, MSC arranged for us to visit alternative destinations further south and east, in order to ensure a great vacation experience. We’re especially excited about the four ports that we will be visiting for the first time, and also about returning to St. Thomas, one of the favorite ports of past guests.

Since 2004, Holistic Holiday at Sea has been traveling throughout the Caribbean, and we feel deeply about the communities that were affected by the hurricanes. We’d like to update you on what MSC Cruises is doing and Holistic Holiday is planning in this regard.

First, we applaud the MSC Group—including the Mediterranean Shipping Company and MSC Cruises—for their engagement in both short- and long-term relief efforts, including procurement and complimentary shipping of needed goods to support the Caribbean islands most impacted by the hurricanes. These efforts are ongoing and will continue as MSC helps the Caribbean recover as quickly as possible.

Holistic Holiday at Sea president, Sandy Pukel, will be donating some of the proceeds of an onboard raffle to the recovery efforts. There will be lots of great prizes, so this is another way to contribute and hopefully win something, too!

A number of you have asked about what you can do to help. St. Thomas is the only port we will be visiting that was impacted by the hurricanes in September, and recovery efforts are well underway. Stay tuned for more updates on what we can do to help the people who feel like family in the Caribbean.

The Updated Itinerary

The MSC Divina will depart from Miami, Florida, and head to the following ports of call in the southeastern Caribbean:

  • Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI
  • Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis
  • Fort-de-France, Martinique
  • Bridgetown, Barbados
  • Point-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe

You can view the itinerary here.

In 2017, we traveled to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, and the Bahamas. Historically, the cruise has alternated between the Eastern and West Caribbean, but for our next cruise, there will be primarily brand new ports, in part made possible by the extension from seven days to ten. “There is extra time so we will not be pressed to fit everything in,” says Sandy Pukel, HHAS president.

Lectures will take place when we are not at a port so the maximum amount of time can be allotted to exploring these new places. Giving guests many opportunities to see new sights and learn about different points of history is an important part of the cruise’s mission. “Different cultures are always educational and exciting to experience,” says Sandy.

The Ports

Basseterre (Photo courtesy of MSC)

Basseterre (Photo courtesy of MSC)

Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands was founded in 1681 by Danish settlers. What was then a colonial trading post is now a bustling town. The Three Queens Fountain honors three important women who led a successful 1878 labor revolt against the Danish Government: Queen Mary, Queen Agnes, and Queen Josiah. Listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, Charlotte Amalie features charming cobblestone alleyways and 17th century Danish fortifications. The combination of old and new is any history buff’s dream.

Founded in 1627 by the French, Basseterre (French for lower ground) is one of the oldest towns in the Eastern Caribbean. The capital of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Basseterre attracts visitors for its beaches, resorts, and marinas. One of the two centers features a green clock tower and water fountain known as the Piccadilly Circus, or the Circus.

Many visitors to Martinique’s capital city of Fort-de-France check out the Fort St-Louis, after which the city was named. Beach goers will not be disappointed as there are many spots to lounge by the water. Exports of Fort-de-France, Martinique, include rum, bananas, cacao, and pineapples.

Bridgetown, Barbados

Bridgetown (Photo courtesy of MSC)

Formerly the town of Saint Michael, Bridgetown is on the southwest coast of Barbados. Known for its British colonial architecture, Bridgetown has many historic sites, such as Morgan Lewis Windmill (last operating sugar windmill in Barbados), St. John’s Parish Church, National Heroes Square, and the oldest Jewish synagogue in the western hemisphere.

A city on the island of Grand-Terre in Guadeloupe, Pointe-à-Pitre is a fashion hub with a vibrant marketplace. The smell of aromatic spices will greet you in the marketplace where you can find locally woven fabric and fresh fruits and vegetables. Beautiful French architecture awaits you, such as the Cathédrale de St-Pierre et St-Paul, nicknamed the “Iron Cathedral” because of its iron girders.

Caribbean Hurricane Relief Organizations

US Virgin Islands Recovery

Here you can donate directly to St Thomas and “100% of your donation will benefit those in crisis” (via Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands).

Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that has been operating in the USVI for more than 25 years. It has supported past relief efforts in the region and is working closely with government and community providers to identify priorities and direct resources for immediate needs as well as long-term recovery efforts.

YouCaring 21 US Virgin Island Relief Fund

Former San Antonio Spurs basketball star Tim Duncan, who grew up on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, created the 21 U.S. Virgin Island Relief Fund when Irma hit the island. Now, in the aftermath of Maria, the fundraising goal has been increased to $5 million. Duncan matched the first $1 million in donations. $2,742,158 has been raised so far by 21,538 donors. The goal is $5,000,000.

Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA)

CDEMA is a regional, inter-governmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean. Members include the Virgin Islands, Barbuda and Dominica—all territories devastated by the recent storms. Donations to the CDEMA Hurricane Relief Fund will be used to purchase relief supplies and support early recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Our thoughts are with everyone affected by these hurricanes and we will continue to update you on our efforts to ensure an amazing experience for our guests and support efforts of rehabilitation in the US Virgin Islands and other Caribbean islands.

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

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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!

Want to Win a Vegan Cruise? Here’s How!

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What’s the only thing better than spending ten days sailing to exotic ports in the southeastern Caribbean on Holistic Holiday at Sea’s vegan cruise? Doing it absolutely free. This summer, we are going to make that happen for two lucky people!

Introducing our Summer Sweepstakes, open to all first-time Holistic Holiday at Sea guests! At the close of the sweepstakes—which runs July 10 through August 11—one winner will receive two complimentary cruise tickets for our special 15th anniversary Holistic at Sea Voyage to Wellness, February 15–25, 2018. Whether you’re a seasoned vegan or just becoming curious about plant-based nutrition, this experience is perfect for you.

Yoga for all levels.

It’s a life-changing conference, celebration, and vacation—all rolled into one! More than 150 lectures and workshops will be offered by leading authorities in plant-based living and animal advocacy. Featured presenters include Rip Esselstyn, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Ingrid Newkirk, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Michael Greger, and Gene Baur, among many others. When you’re not attending lectures and participating in fitness activities, make your way to one of the dining rooms where talented chefs prepare gourmet plant-based meals three times a day—or stop by the vegan buffet for a more casual meal.

Exciting ports of call include Martinique; St. Kitts and Nevis; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Freeport, Bahamas. Choose an excursion in advance, or enjoy exploring the islands on your own.

Gene Baur

Aboard the luxurious MSC Divina, you’ll have no trouble finding something that sparks your interest, whether it’s a dip in the hot tub, game in the casino, or a breath of fresh air from the deck to greet the sunrise. Meet like-minded individuals and create memories that will last a lifetime. Enjoy nightly entertainment, socials, and lots of chances to hit the dance floor.

Your first Holistic Holiday at Sea will coincide with our 15th anniversary celebration, which will be full of reasons to celebrate. We recently put out a history of our vegan cruise on our blog that shares some of our fondest memories and facts that show just how far the plant-based movement has come since 2003.

In addition to two tickets, the winner will also receive tickets to free Cooking Boot Camps, yearly membership to Plant Meal Planner by Hannah Janish (“High Carb Hannah”), signed copies of the “No Meat Athlete” Matt Frazier’s books, signed copy of Robert Cheeke’s Shred It!!! and more!

Find out more information and enter the sweepstakes here. We’ll see you soon!

Single? Book a Ride on the Love Boat!

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Robert & Karen aboard the ship.

Robert & Karen aboard the ship.

Since Holistic Holiday at Sea first set sail in 2004, we’ve earned the nickname The Love Boat. And with good reason! In addition to discovering or rekindling a love for plant-based nutrition, many guests on our vegan cruise in the Caribbean have also cultivated relationships with each other—lots of them of the romantic variety.

But what is it about our programming, amenities, lectures, and ports of call that go into the recipe for love?

Robert Cheeke and Karen Oxley met on the cruise in 2011 and got engaged last August. We spoke with them about how they met, why the cruise was the perfect environment for their love to grow, and what advice they have for others who may meet on the cruise.

Go to the Welcome Party!

Robert & Karen Holistic Holiday at Sea-2After traveling on a red eye flight from the west coast, Robert was exhausted when he finally boarded the ship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for his first Holistic Holiday at Sea adventure. “I almost didn’t go to the Welcome Party. I was just too tired, running on an hour of sleep, but I like to dance and have a fun time so I decided to go.”

Karen and her best friend Traci were also first-time cruise goers. Traci had heard about the cruise through VegNews and encouraged Karen to go with her. Earlier that day at lunch, while still docked, one of the people at their table pointed across the room and said, “Oh my gosh, that’s Robert Cheeke over there.” Karen turned, but could only see the back of Robert’s head. She hadn’t heard of this person before. Robert was a well-known athlete in the vegan community for his blog and Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness book, so many people were pumped to spot him on the ship.

So when Traci approached the publisher of VegNews at the Welcome Party, Karen turned to Robert (who was standing beside him) and said, “Am I supposed to know who you are?” Robert smiled and replied, “No, you don’t have to know who I am.”

Karen, Robert, and Traci became fast friends—Traci and Robert danced for hours at the welcome party. Karen, who is more of an introvert, loved Robert’s outgoing personality. The next day, after a lecture, Traci and Karen dined on the ship. They bumped into Robert and decided to explore Key West together (although Robert had already spent several hours exploring the town in the morning. He was excited to hang out with these fun ladies!).

Common Interests

Once they met, it was easy for Karen and Robert to find things to do onboard that they both enjoyed. In addition to the boat’s acrobatic shows, the couple also enjoyed attending the Holistic Holiday at Sea Talent Show. It wasn’t long before they developed a core crew of people to hang out with. Robert says that the intimate nature of the cruise lent itself to the building and nurturing of relationships: “We met in a place where 800 friends and colleagues with similar interests were all together.” While the cruise has grown in size since 2011, it’s still very easy to make friends and spend time with them.

Robert and Karen attended lectures by doctors, wellness coaches, and other influencers in the plant-based movement. They connected through a shared love for animals.

Robert became vegan at the age of 15 after growing up on a farm and gaining a respect for all the animals who lived on it. Karen adopted the lifestyle a bit later in life. She shares, “I was never really comfortable with meat, but I thought that was just how it was. We just eat meat. Then I read a book, which kind of touched on all those things. It touched on the animal side, the health side… The thing that resonated the most with me was the animal cruelty and really getting in touch with those feelings I had: I’ve never been comfortable with meat for a reason. I’ve never been comfortable killing animals to eat them for a reason. And now I know we don’t have to. I don’t have to just accept it and eat it anyway. I do have an option and I can say no. And so that was the main thing, but I just thought the health benefits were an added bonus.”

Make Plans

At the time of their first cruise, Karen was living in Seattle and Robert was touring to promote his first book. It just so happened that Robert had plans to visit Seattle for Veg Fest three weeks after the end of the cruise, and Karen was already signed up to volunteer at the event. “From the time we said goodbye at the cruise, we already knew we were going to see each other in a few weeks,” says Robert.

The two kept in touch for the weeks leading up to Veg Fest, and Robert extended his trip by a few days so they could spend quality time together. While this coincidental planning will not happen for everyone, there are ways to stay in touch once the cruise is over.

“What I think is a nice thing to do—if there is some sort of spark on the cruise—is to not wait until the next year’s cruise, but to find a way to meet up. Find some neutral ground, such as a Veg Fest or a vegan festival,” says Robert, who adds that he sees this happening with people he knows who have met on the ship.

Karen adds, “I think it’s important, too, not to wait too long. If there’s really chemistry and mutual interest, just find a way to make it happen so you guys can spend time together again. Things do fizzle out. All relationships take effort, whether it’s romantic or not. Every relationship takes effort to maintain. I think you have to put forth effort in a budding relationship.”

This goes for friends, too! Robert and Karen love meeting up with the friends they’ve met on the cruise over the years, and with the abundance of vegan events across the country, it’s easier now than ever before.

The Travel Bug

If you’re in attendance on our vegan cruise, then chances are you love to explore new places. It’s always exciting to find a new companion with a common interest in travel. Their 2011 Holistic Holiday at Sea adventure was the first of many. Karen joined Robert and helped him with his book promotions. She wasn’t 100% happy in Seattle, so Robert encouraged her to join him on his tour. They spent three weeks driving around the country together. “We’d just met, but that was part of our immersion together in our relationship,” says Robert.

Attendees on every cruise since then, Karen and Robert love traveling together. After the 2011 cruise, they both moved around a bit before moving in together in LA. After that, Robert and Karen lived in Canada, Oregon, southern California, Colorado, and (now) Arizona. They’ve traveled to Australia, Europe, Mexico, Canada, and every corner of the US. Now that Robert is wrapping up another book, they are excited to see what opportunity awaits.

Find Love Next February!

Our 15th anniversary sailing will take place February 15–25, 2018. While all previous cruises have lasted a week, this next cruise will be extended to ten days! This means more exotic ports of call in the southeastern Caribbean, more lectures, and more opportunities to meet that special someone. Book today!

 

And the Winner of our Cruise Photo Contest is…

We were blown away by all of the amazing photos that everyone took in our first-ever 2017 Holistic Holiday at Sea Photo Contest! From snapshots of crystal blue waters and yoga poses on the ship, to pics of decadent desserts and cruise goers’ favorite entrees, we feel like we’re reliving the experience every time we look at the photos. A big thank-you to everyone who participated!

Congratulations to our winner Hollie Kempton! She’s been awarded $200 in onboard credit on next year’s cruise. We wanted to share three of Hollie’s cool shots with you.

Holistic Holiday at Sea in Tulum, Mexico- Photo by Hollie Kempton

In Tulum, Mexico (outside of the Cozumel port). “The cruise is not only about nourishing your body, but also nourishing your mind. With a view like this one you can’t help but feel at peace and in awe of nature.”

Holistic Holiday at Sea Dr. Michael Gregor- Photo by Hollie Kempton

“Meeting one of my biggest inspirations, the incredible Dr. Greger. I love that he fizzes with energy and passion for improving people’s health through well-researched and easy-to-understand information.”

Holistic Holiday at Sea dessert- Photo by Hollie Kempton

“I believe that eating delicious and health promoting whole plant based foods is the way of the future. Who could say no to this dessert?”

This was Hollie’s first year attending Holistic Holiday at Sea. She is a qualified health and nutrition coach, teacher, and blogger (Powered by Vegies) who wants to inspire and empower people to choose whole plant-based foods to create a healthier body and mind. She hopes to help them gain a greater understanding of how nutrition, movement, and our mindset impact the way we feel. On her website, you’ll find wonderful recipes like her guilt-free chocolate and honeycomb cookies and eggplant rotolo. Her recipes have also been featured on NutritionStudies.org.

As for next year’s cruise, Hollie and her husband have already booked their spots! She says, “It is a long way from home (Australia), but totally worth the journey!” Want to join Hollie and hundreds of others who have already reserved their spots? Book today! Early bird special ends on midnight May 25.

A Mother & Daughter Set Sail on Their First Vegan Cruise

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Lael & Laurel HoneyWhile some guests on the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise come solo, others bring along a companion, such as a friend, partner, or relative. The adventures onboard can offer wonderful bonding experiences. One popular travel duo is mothers with their adult daughters. This year, Laurel and Lael Honey embarked on their first Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise. We caught up with them about their plant-based journeys and wanted to share their story with you!

Living in the community of North East, just outside of Erie, Pennsylvania, Laurel Honey recalls how far Erie has come in having vegan or vegetarian options. Last September, the city held its first VegFest, where Laurel and Lael learned about the cruise from Derek Tresize and Marcella Torres. They loved the idea of not having to worry about what they were going to eat.

“It’s hard to vacation,” says Laurel. “When my husband and I would take the children anywhere, we packed everything… We were never guaranteed that there would be a grocery store where we could find decent stuff. Just to be able to stay somewhere for a week and not worry about the food was so amazing.” In preparing for the cruise, Laurel was looking forward to attending Christina Pirello’s cooking classes, and Lael was excited about hearing Dr. T. Colin Campbell speak, as she kept up with his research.

It Wasn’t Always Easy

Ever try a soybean donut? According to Laurel Honey, they weren’t the best tasting thing she’s ever made. In her early years of being a vegetarian in the 1970s, Laurel often experimented in the kitchen, grabbing recipes from cookbooks and working through a lot of trial and error. “Soybeans were the staple, the ‘meat’ that we used,” she says. “I tried to make everything out of soybeans. The soybean donuts were not a success.”

At the time, Laurel was attending the University of Oklahoma, in a state with a booming cattle industry, where veganism/vegetarianism was a foreign concept to most people, and there were basically no substitutes in the commercial market. Still, Laurel was inspired by her love for animals to stop eating meat. “I had to make everything. There was nothing wholegrain so you had to make your own noodles. I had to make my own tofu, my own tempeh. I kept reading and reading—anything I could get my hands on. I exposed myself to people who were likeminded. And it just grew from there.”

Good Plant-Based Living

After graduation, Laurel returned to her hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania, where she met her husband Tony McCullum, a master herbalist and Seventh-day Adventist. Laurel converted to this religion. Calling themselves Natural Hygienists, Laurel and Tony ate a completely plant-based diet, emphasizing whole grains and clean foods.

People would laugh and say that Tony and Laurel were “living as country as they could in a city,” but they didn’t mind. They had a little house near Lake Erie, a huge garden, and a wood stove. When they began having children, the family relocated to the country in Waterford.

Lael is the middle of their five children. Now 31, she says her parents always encouraged curiosity. “They educated us on how it’s affecting our bodies, and why we’re choosing to eat in better ways.” By age 6, Lael was completely vegan. “We kept experimenting how to supplement,” says Lael. “It’s pretty much still all I know. I’ve never had a glass of milk or meat or fish. I couldn’t cook those things for you if you asked me to.” Lael remembers packing her own lunch on school field trips. She recalls, “I got teased a little for it, but because they gave us that foundation as to why it was this way, I had confidence in it. No one wants to be teased for anything they do, but I felt confident that I was doing the right thing.”

Healing Ourselves, Healing the World

While Lael grew up with a plant-based lifestyle for health purposes, she soon had other reasons, including how a plant-based diet benefits the environment. She loves watching documentaries such as Cowspiracy and PlantPure Nation.

Laurel and Tony eventually opened a co-op to fit the needs of people who were interested in this healthier lifestyle. “I’m a purist, I don’t mess around,” says Laurel. While they no longer own the co-op today, its launch was critical in helping the community find better food options. Lael’s sister Selah is a vegan cook who partnered with Laurel (an avid baker) to open a vegan bakery. It was in business for 15 years, but closed two years ago when Selah became a full-time mom. (Her child is a third generation vegan!)

Socials & Excursions Foster a Community of New Friends

Lael, who has done a lot of traveling for service work and mission trips, enjoyed exploring the cruise’s ports of call with her mom. Lael hiked up Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica and her mom joined her for a snorkeling adventure over a shipwreck in the Cayman Islands.

“Another thing I love about this cruise is that the social life is amazing,” says Lael. “You get to meet people from all over the world. You get to hear all the different stories on how they became vegan and why. It’s just really interesting. You can’t get a culture like this anywhere else. Especially coming from the town that I come from where I feel like I’m one of the only vegans. I don’t know any other vegans outside of my immediate family. I know they’re there, but I don’t know where they are.”

As for the plant-based movement becoming more mainstream, most people have heard of veganism now. “They may have a cousin who is vegan.” says Laurel. Lael adds, “And they don’t instantly start telling tofu jokes. That’s kind of over with.”

Vacation With Us!

Next year marks the 15h anniversary of Holistic Holiday at Sea. Click here to learn more about the 10-day voyage, from February 15–25, 2018. Book by May 25 for the early bird rate!

Cruise Photo Contest 2017!

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Holistic Holiday at Sea Photo Contest!Attention all 2017 Holistic Holiday at Sea goers! Do you like taking photos of your travels? Are you on Facebook or Instagram? Do you want to win $200 in onboard credits for next year’s cruise? Then, keep reading!

Our cruise photo contest is new this year. Use the hashtag #vegancruise whenever you post your pictures on social media, and one person will win $200 onboard credit for the 2018 cruise. The photo contest ends on April 30, 2017.

Watching a sunset from the ship’s deck? Snap a pic. Want to share the view from Dunn’s River Falls near Ochos Rios, Jamaica? Take a photo (just don’t get your phone or camera wet!). Ready to dig into a beautifully plated, chef-prepared vegan meal? Take a moment to photograph the scene before you devour your food. Having a spectacular time at one of the evening parties? Capture the fun. We welcome creativity and a variety of shots.

The winner will be randomly selected at the end of April, but you have to use the hashtag #vegancruise in order to enter. Even if you have a private Instagram account or non-public Facebook account, you can still play along!

Entry Directions for Guests with Private Social Media Accounts

For those with private Facebook accounts, share your best photos on your profile using #vegancruise, and then share them or direct message them to us at Holistic Holiday at Sea – Vegan Cruise. For private Instagram accounts, share your best photos on your profile with #vegancruise and then direct message them to us @hhas_vegan_cruise.

Got questions? Message us on Facebook.

Thank you and have fun taking pictures. We’re excited to see them!

Remember to Pack These 5 Things for the Cruise!

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Holistic Holiday at SeaSailing March 11–18, the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise is less than a month away! Are you ready for warm breezes, vegan cuisine, and the chance to move, expand your mind, and get inspired? It’s time to start thinking about what to bring! While 200 pounds of personal luggage may seem like a lot (it’s the max for guests to bring aboard the ship), it’s important to plan wisely so you’ll have everything you need.

1. Comfortable Shoes

Whether you’re a serious athlete or a professional beach bum, bringing a couple different options for footwear is important. Certified personal trainer and masters triathlete Larry Krug advises folks to bring a good pair of walking shoes and running shoes. Flip flops are fine for lounging, but they’re discouraged for off-boat excursions where sturdier shoes are more appropriate. Of course, when it comes to yoga and Pilates, barefoot is always in fashion.

2. Fitness Gear

As you read in our recent blog post, fitness classes are one of the favorite, most anticipated aspects of the cruise. Derek Tresize, a vegan WNBF Pro Bodybuilder, will teach several courses, including “Total Body Conditioning” and “Prehab and Rehab: Exercises to Support Pain-Free, Long-Term Fitness,” where participation is encouraged (although guests are also welcome to watch).Holistic Holiday at Sea Yoga

He says, “The trip includes a very large and diverse group of people from all over the world. That means there will be people from all different fitness levels and age groups on board, and everyone should have the opportunity to improve their health and maximize the benefit of their trip by participating in the fitness offerings.”

If you choose to take Pilates or yoga classes, instructor Bianka Steinfeldt recommends bringing your own mat. “We provide towels, but not a mat. The floor is hard, so to get a better experience, a mat is helpful.”

Robert Cheeke, a bodybuilding champion, suggests that guests stay hydrated by bringing their own water bottle or cup of water from the café (in case it’s not provided for that particular class). He says, “The weather and the nature of the cardiovascular type of workout typically leads to thirst and sweating, so be prepared.” He suggests athletic clothing for the Caribbean weather, such as tank tops, shorts, and athletic socks. “Whatever your fitness interest, you will find something fun to do on board,” he adds.

Shop in the Holistic Holiday Sea lifestyle store, accessible through the online shop, and find shirts, hats, and even aprons with special designs just for HHAS fans.  

3. Layers & Sun Protection

While you may be traveling from a cold climate, keep in mind that the Caribbean will be warm and sunny. As the ship is air conditioned, a sweater or light jacket is recommended. Yoga teacher Angelica Kushi says, “Bring layers, it can start off chilly on the deck in the morning, or we may have to go inside due to rain.”Holistic Holiday at Sea

The sun will be strong, so be sure to take measures to protect your skin. Angelica says, “Pack sunscreen for sure! But make sure it’s a good brand! I’m currently using Thinksport, I’m not affiliated with them at all! I just think the ingredients are great! Check out ewg.org to find one that is best for you and for the environment.”

4. The Essentials

While it’s good to remember items that will make your voyage more enjoyable, it’s super important to be able to get on the ship. Remember essential items such as your passport! Other important info and FAQs can be found on our website.

5. Your Talent for the Talent Show!

The annual Holistic Holiday at Sea talent show is a chance for attendees to strut their stuff. Bring along your props or instruments and sign up with Blair Karsch during the cruise, or leave your contact information at the registration desk. Due to the high demand, acts will be limited, so sign up early.

Plan Your Schedule

Larry recommends that guests plan their schedule ahead of time, so they can get the most out of the experience. “Go over the lectures a week or ten days before the cruise,” he says. “Check off lectures and activities that you’d like to do, so you don’t have to make this decision the night before you come on the ship. Understanding programming for first-timers is the real key for making this experience as beneficial as possible.” There are many private consultations available as well. You can view the full program here. See you on board!

Special Offer for First-Time Guests Booking in January

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Holistic Holiday at Sea CaribbeanIf you’re considering a first-time experience on the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise March 11–18, 2017, then definitely consider booking your spot today! This year’s cruise programming includes an engaging lineup of presenters, special events, classes, and amazing plant-based food. With dancing and fitness classes, it’s a party-meets-conference-meets-retreat on the beautiful Caribbean Sea.

To make the deal sweeter, we are running a special January promotion for first-time cruise goers. If you reserve your spot in January, we will give you $100 onboard credit that can be used for private treatments, consultations, or bookstore items.* Use the code “January Special” when asked how you learned about the cruise to claim this offer.

If you still need convincing to book right now, we have a ton to share. Did you know that the fun isn’t limited to onboard adventures? Excursions in exotic ports of call include Ochos Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico; and Nassau, Bahamas. There are more than 60 pre-arranged excursions that include snorkeling, horseback riding, ziplining, and sightseeing, among other activities.

Six excursions include a vegan lunch. Attendees for these excursions with lunch are required to reserve their spots by January 25. (The 7-Mile Beach Break at Tiki Beach with vegan lunch on Tuesday, March 14, is already sold out.) If you’d like to read a first-hand perspective, check out this blog post with vegan athlete and bodybuilder Robert Cheeke sharing some excursion highlights.

We hope to see you onboard the MSC Divina this March! Please contact us with any questions. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

*Offer only valid for first-time guests (adults only) registering for the cruise in the month of January, 2017. Cannot be combined with other onboard credits. This offer can only be applied during cruise registration. Credit can only be used for items sold onboard by Holistic Holiday at Sea.

Pre-book Your Excursions Today!

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Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise day excursion to Jamaica (Photo by Robert Cheeke)

Jamaica (Photo by Robert Cheeke)

As a passenger of the 2017 Holistic Holiday at Sea voyage, March 11–18, you will find ample opportunities for relaxation, fitness, education, and entertainment aboard the ship. Did you know that there are also dozens of activities off the boat? Beginning and ending in Miami, the cruise stops at four exotic ports of call: Ochos Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico; and Nassau, Bahamas. From cultural tours to sports-oriented activities, more than 60 pre-arranged excursions—from Monday, March 13, to Friday, March 18, (with the exception of Thursday)—are available for older and younger guests with a range of tastes.

Explore Ochos Rios & Dunn’s River Falls

Six excursions include vegan lunch options. One such activity takes place on Monday, March 13, in Jamaica. The “Ochos Rios & Dunn’s River Falls” is a favorite among returning guests. After a scenic drive, you’ll reach the falls, a recreational area and park that has an interesting history. Originally named “Las Chorreras” by the Spaniards (which translates to the waterfalls or the springs), the Falls are near the site of a battle by the same name that decided ownership of the island in 1657. It was fought between the English and Spanish Expeditionary Force from Cuba and the English proved victorious. In 1972, the land was ultimately acquired by the Jamaican government. Over the years, the name “Ocho Rios” replaced “Las Chorreras.” It translates to eight rivers, although there are only four rivers nearby. (And each one flows into the Caribbean Sea.)

Excursions Offer Opportunities to Socialize

Robert Cheeke is an award-winning author, two-time bodybuilding champion, vegan athlete, and touring public speaker. He runs Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness. In his first year, he dreamed of becoming a presenter the following year and his wish soon came true. This cruise will be his sixth as a presenter. The cruise and its excursions have been hugely influential in his life. (He also met his now fiancée the first year!)

“As the schedule would have it, four of the past six cruises have also landed on my March 2nd birthday,” says Robert. “That usually meant friends taking me out on excursions to participate in the fun and adventure to be had beyond the cruise ship itself. That’s really part of the whole experience—taking part in some of the onshore options for exploration. For example, I have kayaked and floated down a river in an inner tube in Jamaica, have snorkeled with the stingrays in Grand Cayman, and on a past cruise, before my time with Holistic Holiday at Sea, I climbed the famous Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.”

Robert describes his experience at the Falls. “After hiking through a lush environment you meet the nearly 200-foot tall Dunn’s River Falls and have the opportunity to climb directly on rocks while water descends all around you. You’ll likely hold hands with a neighbor to make a human chain for some added safety during the somewhat challenging climb and you will be impressed by the views and the scenic environment.” As an alternative to the climb, there are also safe spots from which you can watch the others ascend the falls. There’s also a beautiful tropical forest to explore with ferns, bamboo, ginger lilies, orchids, palms, and breadfruit trees. Following a buffet lunch by the sea, guests can take a sightseeing drive around Ocho Rios.

Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Robert also swam with stingrays and snorkeled in the open sea. On Tuesday, March 14, in George Town, guests can meet these friendly fish on “Cayman Beach Break & Stingray City Combo with Vegan Lunch.” The first part of this tour includes a trip to Stingray City on a fully-equipped snorkel boat, boarded from the Cayman Islands Yacht Club. There guests can feed and play with stingrays—a magical moment! Afterwards, guests return to the Yacht Club and are driven to the Seven Mile Beach, a beautiful stretch of seemingly endless sand.

“Though it was a bit intimidating to be so close to stingrays and actually touch them, it was also exhilarating and a memorable experience,” says Robert. “After sailing out to sea and putting an anchor down, snorkeling in the open sea, away from the beach, was also intimidating, but exciting.’

Whatever You Decide to do—Have Fun!

A full menu of excursions awaits you. “Regardless of what adventure you set out on, enjoy everything the vegan cruise has to offer, from the gourmet meals to the social events, from the lectures and classes to Broadway-style theater shows. There is much to enjoy from early morning until late at night. I will be leading daily fitness classes and giving lectures about plant-based health and fitness, calling upon my experiences from more than 20 years as a plant-based athlete. I look forward to seeing you on board the Holistic Holiday at Sea vegan cruise in March”

Be sure to check the available excursions out here and pre-book any “must do” activities. Here’s a tip on booking: Pre-booking online is strongly recommended, although onboard booking is also available if that is not possible for you (select your top choices and try to book the first day of the cruise). Many excursions will sell out quickly through onboard booking, and pre-booking saves you the hassle of waiting in line. Please note that the six excursions with a vegan lunch must be pre-booked with no onboard booking available. 

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