One highlight of sailing on a small ship is the fact that it can host special events like beach or deck barbeques. Most intimate vessels stage these parties at least once during warm weather cruises. They are legendary on lines like Paul Gauguin Cruises and SeaDream Yacht Club and guests start buzzing about the event almost as soon as they board the ship.
The soirees feature idyllic tropical backdrops, delicious grilled foods displayed artfully, water sports like kayaking and snorkeling, and even beachside massage pavilion. And with a festive atmosphere that encourages guests to mix and mingle, these evenings are almost always a highlight of the cruise. While bad weather can put a damper on things, some cruise ships—like Windstar's trio of masted vessels—have backup locations onboard.
So if you're looking to party in style, these are the top 5 cruise ship BBQs...
Paul Gauguin Cruises at Motu Mahana in French Polynesia
Who doesn't dream of running off to a deserted island in the South Pacific? Paul Gauguin Cruises gives its guests the opportunity to do just that with a visit to its private island, Motu Mahana, located off Taha'a. Once per voyage the m/s Paul Gauguin calls on this tiny islet and hosts a pull-out-all-the-stops barbeque complete with Polynesian music and fun activities like snorkeling and kayaking. Since the PG calls here each week, the facilities are first class including restrooms and plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas. There's plenty of room for PG's 332 guests.
What makes it special? The setting at Motu Mahana is magical. It's one of the most beautiful island paradises in the world. The white sand is powdery soft, the island is dotted with palm trees (watch out for falling coconuts, seriously), the turquoise water is perfect for swimming and snorkeling, and there's no one else on the island except a few carefully selected vendors offering pearls, vanilla beans, and brightly colored pareos.
SeaDream Yacht Club's Champagne and Caviar Splash
The lure of this cruise line is its ability to balance extremely high service standards with a relaxed, fun yachting vibe. The legendary Champagne and Caviar Splash epitomizes what SeaDream is all about. The event takes place on an island (weather permitting) or on the ship's pool deck. When it's hosted at the beach, all 110 guests are ferried to land via the ship's tenders. Go early and watch as the crew valiantly transports everything needed for a gourmet BBQ—from cases of champagne and wine to grills and food to bone china and fine silverware.
What makes it special? SeaDream's Champagne and Caviar Splash offers a unique photo opportunity. First, a waiter waves a SeaDream flag high in the air and beckons everyone to the shoreline. Waiters then serve caviar and champagne from atop a surfboard while standing waist-high in the surf. It's a blast for guests to crowd around as champagne bottles pop and everyone toasts to a fabulous vacation.
Windstar Cruises Beach and Pool Deck BBQ
Windstar Cruises offers guests the unique experience of sailing aboard a masted ship. Its trios of vessels each offer fun BBQ events, whether on a beach in the Caribbean or on deck by the pool in the Mediterranean. Windstar chefs look forward to this event since it's their opportunity to show off a bit. In addition to the amazing spread of grilled entrees, the kitchen decorates the BBQ with carved watermelons and bread baked in an assortment of whimsical shapes. The desserts are especially beautiful and may even include a cake that's a mini replica of the ship. Windstar beach BBQs also stand out because of the array of water sports available to guests. You can take out a kayak or hobby cat, grab snorkel gear, or even go water skiing.
What makes it special? Windstar brings out a spectacular menu that includes roast suckling pig, lobster tails, and crab legs with drawn butter, jumbo shrimp cocktail, marinated grilled lamb chops, and a variety of salads, sides, and luscious desserts.
Silversea Deck Party Aboard Silver Spirit
Silversea caps off many warm weather voyages with a spectacular deck party. While each Silversea ship partakes in this tradition, the line's largest ship—the 540-passenger Silver Spirit—takes the concept to new heights. Several hours before the event, the 9th and 10th decks are prepared for an incredible BBQ with entertainment that ranges from a classical string quartet to singers belting out oldies but goodies. Every chef on board carefully prepares gorgeous presentations that would be right at home at a wedding reception fit for royalty. Guests are wowed by ice sculptures, floral presentations, and intricately carved chocolate designs.
What makes it special? Dining under the stars is always magical and Silversea creates a particularly romantic setting to do so. Tables are laid out with fine linens, silver, and crystal and fairy lights are strung overhead.
Seabourn's Caviar in the Surf
Every Seabourn vessel hosts "Caviar in the Surf" during warm weather cruises. The beachside BBQ often takes place on Prickly Pear Island in Virgin Gorda when in the Caribbean. Seabourn's maritime bar team sets up a surfboard in the surf that's piled high with caviar and loaded with dozens of bottles of champagne. Once everyone had a glass of bubbly, the real fun begins as chefs turn to the grills and cook up a fantastic array of dishes to satisfy any barbecue-goer with classic hamburger-and-hot-dog combos or grilled steaks and lobster tails.
What makes it special? Chefs often purchase ingredients locally—like fresh lobsters—to spice up the beach barbeque. Expect to gorge yourself on regional specialties.
Photo credits: Photos courtesy of Leonard Hospidor.