Cruising isn’t just about visiting awe-inspiring destinations – culinary experiences are now becoming more important. Here are six of the best to tickle your tastebuds.
Le Petit Chef
Celebrity Edge, the newest ship in the Celebrity Cruises fleet, is the first of four in the new Edge Class, and launches later this year. While much attention has been focused on its ‘Magic Carpet’ feature – a cantilevered, floating platform jutting out of the side of the ship that can be moved up and down for a whole new cruising experience – one of the most innovative features is Le Petit Chef. Celebrity has worked with technology firms to create an immersive, digital chef – and representation of the meal – that appears on the table top. Guests also have a huge range of dining options, with 29 restaurants, cafés, bars, and lounges to choose from.
The master chef
It’s a bold claim: the finest food at sea. Oceania Cruises has, however, consistently backed up the statement with its on-board offering and themed cruises. Master Chef Jacques Pépin has been the cruise line’s executive culinary director since 2003, and has inspired its award-winning culinary programme. Guests can join the Jacques Pépin Cruise, from Amsterdam to Lisbon, on 17 September 2019, for a 12-day voyage on the Marina. Highlights include specially designed menus, lectures and culinary demonstrations. Prices start at £2,889pp.
On your marks, get set, bake
The Great British Bake Off has been one of the hit TV shows of recent times, even defying pessimistic predictions that it would flop after its much talked-about channel hop and the loss of one of its brightest stars – Mary Berry. Fans will be delighted to hear that the queen of baking has not put down her baking tools. This Christmas she will be on board with Emerald Waterways for a Christmas market cruise. The eight-day Festive Delights of the Danube itinerary, departing Nuremburg 1 December on the Emerald Destiny, includes afternoon tea and an informal Q&A session with Berry, as well as a gala Christmas dinner. Prices start from £1,795, including return travel from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The Nguyen experience
Chef and TV personality Luke Nguyen will be on board for three APT gourmet-themed river cruises in 2019. Nguyen, a Vietnamese-Australian chef, will join guests for cooking demonstrations and a range of immersive food experiences in different destinations. The 16-day Vietnam and Mekong Cruise, sailing the Mekong River to Siem Reap, departs 28 November 2019 from Ho Chi Minh City, with prices from £5,995pp, twin share. New for 2019 is the 18-day Hidden Wonders of Myanmar river cruise, priced from £6,795pp, twin share, while the third and final Nguyen cruise is the 11-day Grand Bordeaux itinerary, from Paris to Bordeaux, departing 26 August 2019 and priced at £5,395pp, twin share.
Dining in collaboration
Windstar Cruises has teamed up with the James Beard Foundation, a non-profit culinary arts organisation, to offer a series of themed cruises that include a hosted dinner with a James Beard Foundation chef and beverage expert, cooking demonstrations, shopping at the local market with the chef, and wine, spirits, or beer tastings. For example, the Islands Surf and Sunset itinerary, round trip to San Juan, sails with chef Jose Mendin, who has a range of restaurants in Miami. The cruise departs 15 December 2018, with prices from $1,499pp.
Silversea has a range of itineraries dedicated to food as part of its culinary enrichment programme. These cruises feature discussions with on-board chefs, and market excursions, as well as demonstrations. Special meals paying homage to a region are also part of the package. An example is the Silver Shadow departure on 26 April 2019 for a 15-day Africa and Indian Ocean voyage from Dubai to Athens. Prices start at £3,780pp with early booking bonus.