Foodies are taking to the seas – and the rivers - as cruise lines focus on the quality of the food and wine, pairing both with the destinations visited and offering an exciting selection of dining venues and culinary experiences. State of the art culinary studios for demonstrations and lessons and affiliations with prestigious cooking schools Relais & Chateaux L'Ecole des Chefs and Le Cordon Bleu Class Culinaire are all on the menu.
Many sailings feature high-profile guest chefs for on-board instruction and in-port guided market visits to select local produce, followed by cooking lessons in specially chosen venues. Wine tutorials and tastings further enhance the overall experience.
Below is a sample of the cruise lines we are pleased to work with:
River cruising is this one of this year’s most sought after travel experiences and six-star Uniworld delivers luxury, stellar service and cuisine that Saveur magazine calls “the best”.
The ships are floating boutique hotels; intimately sized they dock in great capitals and fairytale villages. Exclusive shore excursions (included in the pricing) are crafted to suit different styles and interests. This year over 40 itineraries are offered including, Europe, Russia, Asia and brand-new and exotic, India.
“Uniworld’s river cruises are a study in luxury, offering lavish staterooms furnished with Egyptian cotton linens, cashmere blankets, and L’Occitane amenities; gourmet meals with distinctive wine pairings; and singular touches like a working fireplace onboard. However, for our readers, the “Epicurean Adventure” tours are the biggest selling point. The program, designed for serious gastronomes, provides travelers with an intensive culinary and cultural engagement in the various regions they tour. Trips through China include themed events like dim sum cooking demonstrations and family-hosted meals on shore in the hutongs of Beijing. A cruise down the Mekong leads to a Cambodian dinner in Siem Reap with an Apsara performance, the famous story-telling dance of the Khmer people. Christmas sailings in Europe make numerous stops at the holiday markets in the small towns that dot the Rhine and Danube shores, include drop-ins for pastry making in Austria, and invite travelers to indulge in the fine artistry of the chocolatière in Cologne. If you just want to relax, you’ll be pampered with breakfast as early as you choose. And after you’ve enjoyed a well-deserved snooze, you can revive with a classic tea.”
- Saveur Magazine
Silversea Cruises – These all-suite vessels are intimate, elegant and the epitome of luxury. Silversea lays claim to an affiliation with the prestigious Relais & Chateaux L'Ecole des Chefs and offers a cooking school on selected voyages; its innovative curriculum celebrates the cultural flavor of the ship's itinerary. Additionally, Relais & Chateaux collaborates on a signature menu, La Collection du Monde and directs Le Champagne, an exclusive wine restaurant. They are very proud of their a partnership with Slow Food Promozione (an arm of Slow Food Italy) and that makes dining at its specialty Italian restaurant La Terrazza, well, special. Silversea and Slow Food work jointly at sourcing food products from around the world that meet the standards of Slow Food.
Crystal Cruises – Ever the gourmand cruise line, the ultra-luxurious ships of Crystal Cruises, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, offer a stimulating and indulgent environment. Menus have been specially created by renowned chefs Wolfgang Puck, Piero Selvaggio and Nobu Matsuhisa. Each year, Crystal operates a series of six culinary-themed cruises called Food & Wine Experiences of Discovery that include "Michelin Stars and Iron Chefs" the likes of NYC's Danny Meyer, the indomitable Beau McMillon and the recently knighted Master Chef Anton Mossiman.On board, hands on instruction and culinary shore excursions reflect each itinerary's geographical region. Wine experts and mixologists provide wine tastings, pairing sessions and cocktail-making classes. A changing roster of culinary luminaries include food writer/personality Mark Bittman and Italian cookbook author Michele Scicolone, and enhance the cruising experience with engaging lectures.
Regent Seven Seas – Guests on the luxurious ships of this Six-star level cruise line are delighted to discover Signatures, the only permanent Le Cordon Bleu restaurant on a cruise ship. Its chefs source and incorporate local and seasonal ingredients at every port of call. Delicious options include special food and wine themed sailings.
Oceania– Affordable luxury, a country-club casual atmosphere and an exquisite cuisine are the hallmarks of Oceania's ships. This food-focused cruise line boasts menus crafted by Jacques Pepin, the world-renowned master chef and Oceania's executive culinary director. Distinctive restaurants include the ship Marina's Jacques, an authentic French bistro, the first restaurant to ever bear the name of Chef Pepin. Classic dishes are deconstructed and ingeniously re-created. Coq au vin is beyond imagination and his steak frites pairs prime beef with the crisp sweetness of pommes de terre. An exciting and state-of-the-art culinary studio affiliated with Bon Appetit is equipped with 24 individual cooking stations (one guest per station) and Master Chefs deliver hands-on instruction with a focus on regional cusines.
Windstar – This line of gorgeous, graceful sailing yachts offers a truly special small-ship experience to those seeking a more intimate cruising experience. The ambiance is best described as casually elegant and the service ratio of 1 – 1.5 equates to some nice pampering. Itineraries include marquee ports but also many smaller – of the-circuit ports where the larger ships cannot go. Sophisticated guests find the cuisine to be superb with nice touches like fine cheeses served tableside from a cart. An exciting new affiliation with the food magazine Saveur has resulted in the development of its first culinary-themed voyage. The eight-night Culinary & Wine Delights of Spain will sail on April 19, 2014 from Lisbon, Portugal and include stops in half a dozen Spanish ports including Cádiz, Málaga, Cartagena and Valencia. Included are two on-board dinners focusing on Spanish cuisine with wine pairings, cooking demonstrations and food and wine focused shore excursions. A Saveur chef and a master sommelier will be hosting and noted vintner, Jorge Ordonez will share his expertise.
Holland America – A fleet of 15 elegant mid-size ships, an exciting selection of itineraries and exceptional service have been attracting sophisticated cruisers for well over a century. A new focus on cuisine and the magnificent Culinary Arts Centers, affiliated with Food & Wine® magazine, offer guests a special experience with engaging programs that include hands-on cooking classes and regionally inspired culinary workshops. Sessions for kids and teens are offered as well. Guest chefs will be on board for live demonstrations and wine tasting and mixology are all on the menu. The dining program is not only flexible As You Wish® but fabulous. Choices include the stylish two-tiered main dining room, the signature Pinnacle Grill and Asian and Italian themed restaurants. Guests are treated to a truly special dining experience when the Pinnacle Grill is transformed into an authentic replication of the legendary Le Cirque Restaurant.