Monday, March 7, 2011

Holistic Holiday at Sea

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly
What: Taste of Health's 8th annual Holistic Holiday at Sea
Where: Key West, Fla.; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Georgetown, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico
When: Feb. 27–March 6, 2011
Why: VegNews is a sponsor!

The Scoop: For the eighth consecutive year Sandy Pukel and John Belleme (collectively, the "Taste of Health" guys) organized a late-winter cruise that combines elements of macrobiotic conference, tropical adventure, and liquid relaxation into a week-long sail around the Caribbean. After seven years on board a Costa cruise liner, the men jumped ship to a relatively new entry into the world of high-end cruising, MSC. Our home for the week, seen below, is a two-year-old little boat christened the Poesia ("poetry" for those who don't speak Italiano). Poetry it was.

The mighty ship that could: The MSC Poesia

Departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida last Sunday, we stopped in Key West, Fla.; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman Islands; and the Mexican island paradise that is Cozumel. Each stop offered numerous excursions, or free time for those who prefer to swim, sunbath, or explore on their own.

Back on board I attended lectures, shared meals, or interviewed such vegan and macro luminaries as T. Colin and Tom Campbell, co-authors of The China Study; Vegan's founder Robert Cheeke; Qi Gong instructor Marcus Gary; Post Punk Kitchen's Isa Chandra Moskowitz; cancer survivor, VN columnist, and TV host Christina Pirello; and four-time NBA champion John Salley, whose smile and charm captivated all around him.

The food, expertly prepared by 35-year vegan chef Mark Hanna, author of Greens & Grains on the Deep Blue Sea, consists of a full breakfast, five-course lunch, and another five courses for dinner (plus a gluten-free option from a recipe provided by Isa). The cruise began in 2005 as a strictly macrobiotic adventure, and has evolved since into a "modern vegan" menu that still offers ample macro dishes. Something for everyone.

Colorful Kale Salad with Ginger Dressing... yum

When not eating or excursioning, exercise classes, lectures, and late-night gatherings—which included three ice cream socials, a Daiya cheese pizza party, and a cookies and "milk" night—take up the day. Translation: If you are coming on the cruise to relax, you might have a little problem with so much stimulation buzzing all around.

A few of my many highlights:

In Key West I climbed aboard a catamaran and went snorkeling in the open ocean...

Yes, the water really is that color!

Went river tubing with Robert Cheeke in Jamaica on his 31st birthday...

The one and only Robert Cheeke

Made many new friends including the wonderful Karpel Family.

All "decked" out: Vegan life is better!

To see more photos from the holiday, stop by the photo album on VegNews Facebook page.

This was my second year on the cruise. I admit I had been skeptical of the industry, and I'm not sure I'll ever go on a non-educational cruise (I'd never been on one prior). The Holistic Holiday at Sea is a health conference that takes place on a floating hotel, which the organizers have perfected by creating an immensely enjoyable and memorable experience. VegNews is a proud supporter of the event, and I suspect our partnership will continue for many years to come. After all, the Holistic Holiday at Sea is #28 on the just-released Vegan Bucket List!


Melissa said...

It was a pleasure hanging out with Joe on this fantasic cruise! I recommend it for anyone looking for an educational vacay. Vegan Life is Better T-shirts, our little project to promote veganism...get your own at

The Blissful Chef said...

Awww my favorite family is so cute!! I'm so bummed I missed hanging with everyone this year! See you next time!

Skip Stein said...

We were there too! Magical experience full of grand cuisine and informative and inspiring information. We met SO many wonderful people and I hope we will stay in touch.

Skip & Nancy Stein
Whole Foods 4 Healthy Living

jbarber213 said...

Hello there,

I have read many negatives about the crew on the MSC Poesia. From your experience it doesn't sound that way at all. This is my first cruise, so very interested in great and kind service.

Thank yo so much!