Hungry for an epicurean adventure at sea? Satiate your gastronomic cravings with one of these four new culinary cruise experiences, set aboard a slew of luxury ships.
Tauck’s French-Inspired Wine-and-Food Sailings on the Rhône
Tauck’s new "A Taste of France" cruises on the Rhône River showcase the best of the French culinary tradition, with 9-night itineraries—crafted in partnership with culinary tour specialists Churchill & Turen, Ltd.—that incorporate cooking demos, market visits, wine tastings, guest lecturers, and more.
The itineraries kick off with a two-night hotel stay in Paris, with excursions focused on the local food scene (including a tasting at École de Cuisine, Alain Ducasse’s new culinary school; visits to Julia Child’s favorite haunts; and more), followed by a 7-night sailing aboard the 118-passenger MS Swiss Emerald through the vineyard-coated Rhône Valley. Sample regional specialties in local markets (including Lyon’s legendary Les Halles); taste wine in Beaujolais; take cooking classes at a culinary school operated by a three-star Michelin chef; and more. The themed sailings embark on June 28 and October 20; rates start from $5,390/person (including two nights’ hotel in Paris).
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Oceania Cruise’s Food-Focused Itineraries and Onboard Offerings
Epicurean-minded Oceania Cruises ranks tops with foodies, thanks to features like the Riviera and Marina’s Bon Appetit Culinary Center (the hands-on culinary school is promoting various new cooking classes and wine tastings this year), and new "Cuisines of the World" fleet-wide programming, which highlights signature dishes from each port in onboard restaurants. Plus, guests can now sign up for one of Riviera or Marina‘s new "Culinary Discovery Tours," available in more than two dozen ports worldwide (and soon to be on offer on all Oceania ships).
The tours, led by expert chefs, make stops at local food markets, vineyards, and gourmet shops (like chocolatiers or artisanal cheese makers), and are rounded out with an onboard cooking class inspired by in-port finds; rates for the Culinary Discovery Tours start at a $175 supplement (on top of standard base fares). Or, sign up for one of two 10-night "Bon Appétit Wine & Food Festival" sailings, helmed by select culinary and wine experts, and featuring cooking classes, market tours, wine tastings, and more. The themed sailings depart October 14 (from Athens to Rome) on the 1,250-passenger Riviera, and October 22 (from Athens to Istanbul) on the 1,250-passenger Marina; rates start from $2,984/person.
Silversea’s Culinary-Themed Sailings and Tours
Silversea is offering a slate of "Relais & Chateaux L’Ecole des Chefs" cooking school voyages this year, headed by Chef David Bilsland, a former instructor at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in London. The supplemental program is offered completely free of charge to fare-paying guests on select themed voyages (10 more are on the roster for 2012). The culinary curriculum is anchored on hands-on cooking instruction, wine pairings, local market tours (followed by onboard cooking classes), and more, all of which is designed to highlight regional flavors reflective of the ship’s itinerary.
L’École des Chefs’ sailings range from 7 to 16 nights and take in itineraries in Europe, the Caribbean, and more; rates start at $2,799 per person. Plus, look for a slew of new food-and-wine shore excursions on the roster on additional Silversea Mediterranean and Northern Europe itineraries the summer, like sunset wine tastings in Croatia or lunch at a two-Michelin-star restaurant in Bordeaux.
Norwegian’s New Gourmet Chef’s Table Experience
Norwegian Cruise Line debuted a high-end onboard gourmet "Chef’s Table" experience in March, with one such exclusive dining experience available to discerning guests on each and every Norwegian cruise. Being billed as a nine-course "culinary adventure," the intimate 12-person, two-and-a-half-hour dinners start with champagne and continue with a menu that features dishes like vodka and jalapeno ravioli and plantain-crusted pan-seared sea bass. Meals are accompanied by fine wines selected by the line’s master sommelier. The cover charge for the Chef’s Table dining experience is $75 per person, which also includes a galley tour, commemorative photos, and gratuities. Starting sample fares for 7-night Norwegian Cruise Line sailings to Europe and the Caribbean start from $399 per person.
Photo Courtesy: Tauck; Oceania Cruises; Silversea; Norwegian Cruise Line