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We Gave Away a Free Cruise—Here’s What the Winner Had to Say!

Lauren Yakiwchuk & Justin Ceksters

Lauren Yakiwchuk & Justin Ceksters

Last year, we held our Summer Sweepstakes and gave one lucky first-time guest two tickets to our 2018 Holistic Holiday at Sea 10-night Caribbean cruise. The randomly selected name belonged to Lauren Yakiwchuk, a lifelong vegetarian and longtime vegan who lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada (just outside of Toronto). A frequent traveler and video editor in the television industry, Lauren runs a travel blog called Justin Plus Lauren, which chronicles her travels around the world (both with and without her boyfriend Justin Ceksters).

We happily sent Lauren and Justin on their first HHAS plant-based cruise on February 15–25, 2018. Afterwards, Lauren featured her amazing experience on her blog (check it out here). We recently checked in with Lauren to get some of her highlights and what she enjoyed most about her Caribbean adventure. Keep reading to see what Lauren loved best!

Excursions with Vegan Options

Lauren in Guadeloupe.

Lauren in Guadeloupe. (Photo by Lauren Yakiwchuk)

Each year, we select ports of call that include a mix of favorite past stops as well as new ones. (In 2019, we are going to a whole new continent for us—South America!) This year, we ventured to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI; Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Bridgetown, Barbados; and Point-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Lauren has been on several cruises in the past (ten to be exact!), but this was her first entirely vegan cruise. She says that aspect really made a difference when planning what to do off the ship. She shares, “I’ve booked many cruise excursions and tend to always avoid the ones that involve a prepared lunch, as I’m generally unsure that there will be a vegan option. However, this wasn’t something I had to worry about on the Holistic Holiday sailing. There were vegan excursions offered that mirrored other tours, but offered vegan meals and snacks.”

Cockleshell Bay in St. Kitts. (Photo by Lauren Yakiwchuk)

Lauren and Justin did a combination of booking tours and exploring on their own. Lauren is quite the explorer: “I love nature, animals, and both urban and outdoor adventures. I aim to show that it’s possible to travel in a way that’s both eco-friendly and responsible towards wildlife. I adore long walks, hiking, biking, snorkeling, kayaking, and I’m always up for new challenges.”

From checking out the beach in St. Kitts to snorkeling in Martinique, there was no shortage of activities! “I really loved visiting the all-inclusive resort in Guadeloupe,” says Lauren. “We relaxed by a beautiful beach and had a full vegan buffet for lunch. I’ve never seen anything like it!”

Delicious Plant-Based Meals

(Photo by Lauren Yakiwchuk)

With both buffet and sit-down options for mealtime, our guests have plenty of healthy and tasty dishes to choose from. “Not only was it wonderful to eat vegan food on a cruise ship without having to worry about its availability, but the meals were delicious,” says Lauren. “From the offerings at the plant-based buffet to the five course dining room meals, I loved the taste and originality of each dish. Some of my favorites included a veggie lasagna, a bean burger with rosemary potatoes, and the seitan stroganoff.”

Oil-free and gluten-free options are always available at every meal. Big tables mean that you’ll sit next to someone new and make a new friend by the time dessert rolls around! Socials on select nights mean more chances to feed your sweet tooth!

“It was also awesome to have a sweet treat at the end of each meal. My favorite was the chocolate orange cake. We also loved the parties featuring vegan treats almost every night on the ship, like vegan ice cream sundaes and vegan nachos. Yum!”

Learning from the Experts

Dozens of leaders in the plant-based movement, together, on one boat—how often does that happen?! Well, at least once a year!

Our lineup is always full of intelligent, compassionate, and charismatic presenters. Many of the lectures and workshops include Q&As with attendees so you can get your burning questions answered on the spot. There’s a bookstore onboard so you can take home their works to share with your friends and family.

“It was wonderful to have so many like-minded people in one place, learning from one another and sharing so many goals,” says Lauren. “It was a dream come true to hear some of my plant-based idols speak in person (Gene Baur, James Aspey, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and Dr. Michael Greger).”

Justin and Lauren were also treated to a screening of the film The Game Changers, hosted by one of the executive producers Rip Esselstyn. It was informative, inspiring, and entertaining. “Produced by James Cameron and featuring athletes like Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s a documentary showcasing athletes performing at their best on a plant-based diet, dispelling any myths that you need meat to be strong,” adds Lauren.

Included in their sweepstakes package were personal training sessions from Dani Taylor and Giacomo Marchese of PlantBuilt. “We were inspired to continue working out every day on the cruise ship and as much as possible at home. This cruise has motivated us to live even healthier lifestyles than before.”

Be on the Lookout for Your Chance to Win!


Martinique (Photo by Lauren Yakiwchuk)

As spring is warming up, it’ll be summer before we know it! Keep an eye on our Facebook page for our Summer Sweepstakes announcement for our next Holistic Holiday at Sea adventure, March 3–14, 2019. First-time cruisers can enter to win and if you’ve already attended, you can snag two tickets for the best price now through April 27. Sailing on the elegant MSC Divina for 11 nights, we will depart from Miami, Florida, and adventure to Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Cartagena, Colombia; Cristobal, Panama; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel, Mexico. You can view the full itinerary here. Book your spot today and get the best rates!