Vegan Cruise Turns 15: A Look Back Through the Years!
February 15–25, 2018, Holistic Holiday at Sea will embark on its 15th vegan cruise! Over the years, more than 15,000 cruise goers have come aboard to learn more about plant-based lifestyles in presentations and classes by world-renowned doctors, holistic practitioners, chefs, athletes, and other influential leaders. The cruise organizers are so excited to celebrate this milestone with you as they have many new and fun things planned for this upcoming voyage.
Since 2004, Holistic Holiday at Sea has grown exponentially, with so many wonderful memories made. The plant-based movement has come so very far in recent years. Such an event wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the support of a vibrant and compassionate community.
The Growth of a Movement
Although it was back in 2004, it feels like just yesterday the ship first set sail from Port Everglades with 410 people, traveling across the beautiful Caribbean Sea. The small, but mighty, group visited Key West, Mexico, Jamaica, and the Grand Cayman Islands.
Participants learned from amazing presenters, such as the late Michio Kushi, who was a pioneer in the natural foods movement and an earlier proponent of the idea that one’s diet, environment, and health are connected. After the cruise, Michio said it was a great success: “People who worked to care for the participants were very entertaining. Throughout the period at sea, weather was continuously fine celebrating our dream. People could study, enjoy macrobiotic meals, sing together with Italian music and develop friendships. I hope everyone will join in the future.”
Guests on the cruise started off as strangers and quickly developed friendships and connections (many of the romantic variety!) that continued even after everyone returned home. 2004 was certainly an amazing beginning.
During this last cruise, 1,650 people shared the week with one another! This tremendous growth is due to a variety of factors, including the strength of the vegan movement itself. Sandy Pukel, HHAS president and founder, say it’s always been the cruise’s mission to help people choose lifestyles that will make them happier and healthier. Back then, however, he says it was almost like a secret society of people who followed vegan or macrobiotic lifestyles. But times have changed. “Now it’s okay to shout it from the rooftops,” he adds.
More doctors are also becoming more outspoken about their scientific findings. “In the beginning, we had maybe a hundred doctors (MDs) on the cruise, but only 10 or 20 would say they were doctors because they were going against the accepted culture at the time of being vegan and being an MD and espousing this kind of philosophy and lifestyle. Now we have 150 doctors on there who are proud to say they’re part of it. It has become kind of like a magnet for people to see those doctors who are into alternative health.” Many of these doctors are presenters and participants in the CME program, earning continuing education credits. The CME program itself is a testament to the demand for education around the science of nutrition and wellness.
There are also more families and multi-generational groups on the cruise now than before. Sandy says that many people came in the beginning and “put their toes in the water,” so to speak, to see what it was all about. Those who raised their children with vegan or vegetarian diets are bringing them on the cruise for an educational and cultural experience. Guests of all ages can enjoy delicious food, engaging workshops, and exotic ports of call.
Is it Nutritional or Ethical?
Many people ask if this conference at sea gives a nutritional or an ethical emphasis on veganism. Well, it provides both—and more! Due to an increasing demand, Holistic Holiday at Sea is continuously expanding the focus to include more animal advocacy and environmental presentations and discussion. The mission has always been centered on education and there’s so much under this umbrella.
Last year, new presenters included animal rights activists Jonathan Balcombe, author of What a Fish Knows and Gene Baur, co-founder and president of Farm Sanctuary. Returning again in 2018, they will continue to share their compassion and knowledge, giving voices to so many animals who suffer from factory farming and horrific food industry practices.
Many presenters return again and again. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study and Whole, and Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, have participated nearly every year.
2018 brings many new presenters, including health activist and food writer Rip Esselstyn, registered dietitian and nutritionist Julieanna Hever, and Dr. Ron Weiss, founder of Ethos Health. HHAS is also welcoming Ingrid Newkirk onboard. As president and founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Ingrid has spoken around the world on animals rights issues.
When Learning is Fun
Sandy stands by the idea that “no one minds learning when they’re having a good time.” For the 15th cruise, instead of the usual seven days, the cruise will be extended to ten days, including President’s Day weekend. In addition to participating in onboard adventure (including poolside socials and entertainment), guests will certainly have a good time exploring the ports of call.
While the ship’s route alternates between the Eastern and Western Caribbean every year (guests have been to more than a dozen coastal cities and towns), there are always new spots to see. The 2018 ports of call are primarily brand new to the cruise. The MSC Divina will depart from Miami, Florida, and head to the following ports of call in the southeastern Caribbean: St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda; Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Freeport, Bahamas.
But Who’s Counting?
Nearly 50% of the 2017 guests signed up to attend the cruise in 2018. This means HHAS is doing something right. They crunched the numbers and figured out that they’ve offered 1,738 classes over the last 14 years. They’ve been wide ranging, from yoga, Pilates, meditation, and fitness classes to cooking demonstrations and lectures on topics including plant-based nutrition, cardiovascular health, and integrative medicine. Each year, cruise goers look forward to the always inspiring Recovery Panel.
One year, the kitchen staff (led by the talented Mark Hanna) dished out nearly 38,000 meals in seven days. Kudos to the talented kitchen team! The gourmet meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner are such an essential part of the experience.
Organizers also learned a lot from our experience running the cruise. During one of the first cruises, the ship left from Ft. Lauderdale only to realize that the majority of the produce order for the week didn’t make it onboard! Fortunately, they were able to contact the supplier who would bring them the greens at Key West (our first stop). There was a dock strike in Key West, so they had to be carried on case by case. Fortunately, it all worked out and the rest of the trip was smooth sailing. A good lesson in remembering the importance of going with the flow.
A Bright Future
So many of you have adopted a plant-based diet because you want better health and a more peaceful world. While many guests have returned year after year, HHAS always welcomes aboard new faces! Make memories that will last forever and book today for the best rates and availability.
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