It’s often been said that some of the best food is served at sea and certainly, in today’s age of affordable cruising, you can enjoy some of the finest cuisine around as a standard part of your on-board experience. Now, you may be forgiven for associating world-renowned celebrity chefs, signature dishes and highly respected culinary awards with only the luxury lines. However, the truth is, good food is a big deal for all the major cruise lines, so much so that a growing number of them are offering food-themed cruises, where the regional dishes of each destination you visit form your daily menu and culinary whizzes offer daily demos and signature dishes on-board.
Probably the most high-profile line when it comes to celebrity food is P&O Cruises, whose on-going association with fiery TV super chef Marco Pierre White ensures that , even if the man himself isn’t present, passengers can still sample his dishes, as there are a number of his restaurants on-board a number of the line’s vessels. Mr White takes 40 days a year out of his hectic schedule to cruise with the line and this year is no exception. On top of his regular appearances, the gastronomic maestro will host a 28-night Caribbean food and wine-themed cruise in November, on-board the line’s Adonia. Other celebrity chefs who’ve hosted culinary cruises for the line include Atul Kochhlar and wine connoisseur Olly Smith, who accompanied guests ashore to explore a wealth of markets, breweries and vineyards, hosted dinners and answered cruisers’ questions.
Television’s most recognisable wine expert, Oz Clarke will be sharing his knowledge with passengers travelling with Celebrity Cruises on a 12-night cruise exploring France, Spain and Portugal’s celebrated vineyards in October – naturally, at the time of the annual grape harvest. There are three packages to choose from during the cruise, so as well as witnessing the harvest for yourself, you can expect to enjoy such experiences as special events, where you’ll be accompanied by Oz and also Tom Forrest from London’s Vinopolis, wine masterclasses , cheese and wine pairings and vineyard tours.
Also knowing that good wine is the perfect accompaniment to good food, Fred Olsen has enlisted the help of TV’s Jilly Goolden to introduce its passengers to the wonders of the pressed grape for its Wine Regions of Bordeaux and Rioja cruise in October. Goolden’s amassed a wealth of knowledge during her 20 years as host of Food and Drink and will share it with passengers during the cruise, as she delivers talks on the wines from the regions they’ll visit. It goes without saying that there will be a chance for passengers to sample the fine vintages for themselves, of course.
NCL’s recently-launched Norwegian Breakaway is also getting in on the edible action. With a ship-wide theme celebrating The Big Apple itself, it’s only natural that the line should invite a chef with some culinary standing in New York, so that’s why US Food Network’s Geoffrey Zakarian will be on-board. Owner of the city’s Lambs Club and The National, Zakarian will host meet-and-greets and demos on selected sailings and has put his name to two of the ship’s restaurants – Ocean Blue and the Raw Bar.
Princess Cruises is obviously a line which believes in involving the passenger when it comes to on-board cuisine, offering cruisers the opportunity to eat at the chef’s table. Just the thing for cruising foodies, this doesn’t just mean you’ll dine with the ship’s chef at the end of the day. You’ll take a tour of the ship’s galley to find out exactly how everything is prepared and meet the executive chef as he talks you through the bespoke menu and answers your questions. After enjoying your exclusive meal, you’ll be able to discuss it further with your chef when he joins you just in time for dessert.
By Simon Brotherton