Cruise ships have long been offering passengers a behind the scenes look, through one-off cooking demos, at what goes into cooking at sea.
That one-directional "watch-and-learn" concept blossomed over the years and today's cruise ships offer full-fledged cooking schools with multi-day programs in culinary studios with classically trained chefs teaching travelers everything from how to wield a knife properly to how to make béchamel sauce like a pro.
This new interactive approach is best seen in action at the Oceania Cruises Bon Appétit Culinary Center and as part of Silversea's program in conjunction with famed L'Ecole des Chefs Cooking School by Relais & Chateaux.
If you're a gourmet chef in your own right, you'll want to spend some time in the Bon Appetit Culinary Center from Oceania Cruises aboard Marina or Riviera. The cruise line invested in state-of-the-art culinary studios, where each student works at his or her own cooking station. Courses range from pizza and pasta making to preparing the perfect brunch menu to cooking healthy, Mediterranean-inspired meals. Each course is $69 per passenger.
Italian cruise line, Silversea, offers a completely free cooking program aboard its ships on a variety of itineraries throughout the year. The curriculum was designed in conjunction with Relais & Chateaux's L'Ecole des Chefs. Silversea's Culinary Trainer, Chef David Bilsland, hosts the classes at sea. Group activities include cooking demonstrations and tastings, skill-building workshops, and lunch-and-learns as well as market tours on shore.
If a cooking class isn't quite your thing, consider booking the Chef's Table experience with Princess Cruises. You'll spend the evening interacting with the chef in the galley as you sip champagne, enjoy hors d'oeuvres, and watch a multi-course meal prepared—paired with fine wines—for you and nine dining companions. Chef's Table runs $95 per person and it's a first-come, first-serve reservation system once on board your ship. Demand for a seat at the Chef's Table is high, so book the moment you embark.
Photo credit: On-shore wine excursion courtesy of Silversea Cruises