Marisa Alvarsson, better known as Miss Marzipan, has attracted the attention of 120,000 Instagram followers for her healthy yet chic recipes and vibe. The art director, photographer, and stylist has long worked in magazines and social media, which shows in her lively food and lifestyle stories. Born in London, raised mostly in Australia, and currently living in Stockholm with her husband and three children, she entertains readers with her ongoing dining and cooking adventures.
Special diets aren’t new in her family—she’s a vegetarian while her husband is vegan; the family has faced food allergies and intolerances; not to mention other general preferences. So while travel is a particular area of interest for her, it poses certain challenges. Marisa and her family recently sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten, and were pleased to find they had options aplenty for tasting new flavors on and off the ship. She spoke about the experience and some of its notable highlights.
Had you cruised before this trip?
Yes. My experiences with Royal Caribbean go back a little way, as my family are avid cruisers and are Emerald (soon-to-be Diamond) members of The Crown & Anchor Society, the brand’s loyalty program. Our cruise on Harmony was our fifth cruise, but our first outside of Europe, and it was our first experience as a family in the Caribbean.
Was there anything about this trip that surprised you?
Harmony is a lively ship and a destination in itself, but despite the fact that it was bustling with activity, it never, ever felt crowded. There was one night when I found myself alone in a huge jacuzzi, looking out to sea… and could hardly believe I was traveling with 6,000 other guests.
You’re a noted cook and recipe developer—what did you think about dining on the ship?
I could write an essay about this subject, but two words sum up what I think everyone will discover aboard a cruise on Harmony: quality and variety. Some of the best dishes I have ever had—on land or at sea—have been on a Royal Caribbean cruise, including the best pumpkin soup I have had (150 Central Park’s Slow Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with toasted pumpkin seeds) and the best guacamole (Sabor’s table-side guacamole).
The friendliness of the staff is something I’d be remiss not to mention. If you travel with young children, every extra helping hand or encounter that makes your little ones smile is beyond appreciated. And Royal Caribbean staff are exceptional with children. They go above and beyond.
Any standout meals or favorite dishes?
We were incredibly surprised that Chops Grille has a house vegan dish! And it was delicious. The Piña Colada smoothie I had made-to-order at the Vitality Spa was a perfect post-training treat. The desserts at Wonderland were showstoppers, both in taste and theatrical presentation, and one of the most interesting sweet treats I had was the mochi ice cream (pounded sticky rice with an ice-cream filling) from Izumi’s dessert sampler. I loved the risotto at Jamie’s Italian, and everything we sampled at 150 Central Park was outstanding.
Any experiences along the way that were especially meaningful?
My favorite experiences include our daily stateroom family breakfasts. It was always a joy and a perfect way to start the day; we had a ritual of pre-ordering our room service breakfast as a family every evening, asking the children what they would like to have.
The thing that I truly loved most about our cruise on Harmony was being part of such a fun experience myself, all the while knowing that my kids were happy, comfortable, secure, well taken care of and embracing every second of the adventure themselves. The combination of hassle-free comfort, activities/options/experiences for everyone, and the ability to explore new things every day as a family are all things no other mode of travel can offer in the same way.
Did you find that the cruise could accommodate your different dietary needs? If so, how?
When it came to our children, we had staff in the main dining room offer suggestions of things that might be suitable for our baby Oliver, which was very helpful. They were also happy to accommodate the wishes of the older children (swapping French fries for mashed potato and adding extra tomato sauce, for example). When it came to my husband and me, it was nice to not feel apologetic about our preferences or have to explain the difference between vegan and vegetarian. Those we encountered knew their stuff and were happy to help us.
What would you advise would-be cruisers who have special diets about sailing with Royal Caribbean?
Firstly, don’t be worried. Unless your needs are of the extremely serious and rare variety, you will have more options than you know! You can find restaurant information and menus online before you board, if it helps you make decisions about where you’d like to dine. Having food made to order for you can help you avoid specific ingredients, and there are ample a la carte dining options. Let your servers know if you have particular needs. And if in doubt, reach out before you leave on your cruise to make sure your requests can be catered to.
What would you tell your friends who are considering cruising in general?
The big thing is that your cruise experience can be what you want it to be. I went on my first cruise with my husband before kids, my second cruise when I was pregnant and my third cruise was with a baby in tow. I have been on cruises with the whole family (including my parents) and in my experience it is one mode of travel that suits any stage of life and any mood.
Images courtesy of Miss Marzipan.