Seven of the best cruises for food lovers
With cruise lines upping the ante on foodie experiences, from Michelin-style fine dining to gourmet market tours and locavore cuisine, Heidi Fuller-Love serves up a selection of cruises where food takes centre stage
1. Food ashore
What? From tapas tours in Spain to trips exploring Vietnam’s colourful markets cruise lines are cashing in on the increasing demand for immersive experiences, offering passengers the chance to step ashore and experience a thrilling range of gourmet food tours.
Who? Whether taking a tour of local markets on one of Seabourn’s Shopping with the Chef programme or purchasing the ingredients to make the perfect paella during one of Regent Seven Seas Gourmet Explorer Tours, culinary food excursions offer the perfect way to get to grips with the local food.
Book it: Seabourn’s seven-day Classic Greek Isles & Ephesus cruise from Athens to Istanbul, €5,299, departing September 18.
2. Cooking classes
What? With the dizzying rise of delicious cruise food, learning to make some of those gourmet meals is a great way to keep memories alive after the trip.
Who? From learning how to make coq au vin while sailing the French Riviera, to whipping up moussaka whilst hopping between Greek isles, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas both host cookery lessons matched to their itineraries. Partnering with popular TV show America’s Test Kitchen, Holland America Line also offers thrilling live cooking shows.
Book it: Regent Seven Sea’s 12-night Greece, Croatia and Italy with a Spotlight on Cuisine, from Istanbul to Venice, €7,417, departing August 30.
3. Innovative savours
What? With generic buffets a thing of the past, increasingly sophisticated travellers are keen to titillate their taste buds with new savours on board.
Who? Gourmet forerunner when it comes to expanding guests taste horizons, Silversea’s innovative SALT (Sea And Land Taste) programme aboard Silver Moon and Silver Dawn offers in-depth taste encounters guided by local food experts.
With Britannia’s fine dining restaurant offering classic British dishes combined with molecular gastronomy, P&O is also pushing back taste boundaries, as are Norwegian Cruise Lines via their groundbreaking Food Republic programme.
Book it: Silversea’s 10-day Reyjavík to Reyjavík cruise, €4,950, departing May 30.
4. Michelin-starred dining
What? As fine feeding becomes an important feature of life on the high seas countless top cruise lines are now offering the thrilling opportunity to enjoy Michelin-starred food onboard.
Who? Following the lead of MSC Cruises who’ve partnered with two-Michelin star chef Raymond Blanc, and Ritz-Carlton Yachts’ SEA restaurant where the dining experience is designed by German food maestro Sven Elverfeld, Celebrity recently announced a collaboration with double Michelin-starred chef, Daniel Boulud, who will open his first on-the-sea restaurant Le Voyage on Celebrity Beyond.
Book it: Celebrity’s five-night western Caribbean round trip from Fort Lauderdale, £709, departing November 8.
5. Chef’s table
What? Watching the preparation of your gourmet meal, and then sitting at the chef’s table to enjoy it is the ultimate intimate dining experience.
Who? Carnival and Princess both include a tour of the galley, glass of champagne in hand, followed by a small group multi-course meal with the chef.
Scenic, who only offer this privilege to VIP guests, are proud of their innovative menus using the techniques of molecular gastronomy, whilst Azamara has themed chef’s tables focusing on different regional foods.
Book it: Scenic’s 15-day Japan’s Unseen Treasure cruise from Osaka to Otaru, £12,500, departing June 30, 2023.
6. Wine and beer
What? Boosted by the growing popularity of fine wines and craft beers, cruise lines now serve some of the world’s best tipples on board, or offer trips ashore to visit wine and beer makers in key destinations.
Who? Celebrity Cruises has a beer sommelier onboard, Norwegian Cruise Lines offers American craft beers on tap and P&O Cruises’ Great British Beer menu includes top notch beverages sourced from all over the country.
With Avalon Waterways’ shore excursions on the Douro including a trip to the birthplace of port wine and Sea Dream Yacht Club’s complimentary wine tasting sessions, oenophiles are spoilt for choice, too.
Book it: Ama Waterways seven-night Romantic Danube wine cruise from Vilshofen to Budapest, £723, departing April 4.
7. Vegan and cruelty-free fare
What? With an increasing demand for healthy non-meat menus cruise lines have jumped on the trend, introducing plant-based dishes onboard – and in some cases even opening vegan restaurants.
Who? Leader of the trend for plant-based food, Oceania Cruises is renowned for its vegan offering, which even includes a raw smoothie bar.
Royal Caribbean have also introduced three-course vegan options in dining areas across the fleet, and Disney’s newest cruise ship, Disney Wish – due to take its maiden voyage in June – will offer vegan options in all restaurants.
Book it: Oceania’s seven-day Stockholm to Copenhagen cruise, €1,989, departing August 17.
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