Turpin, Kalish and other top advisors tell us that the evolution of culinary and wine experiences, both onboard and ashore, is another top trend heading into 2017. From private dining rooms to onboard alternative restaurants, from hands-on cooking experiences to programs with celebrity chefs, here’s a look at some of the latest developments for luxury “foodies” and wine aficionados.
To celebrate the 80th birthday of famed Chef Jacques Pepin, executive culinary director, Oceania Cruises, the line has introduced a “Happy 80th, Jacques Pepin,” culinary class in its onboard Culinary Centers on Marina and Riviera. Cruisers can prepare delicious dishes and practice Pepin’s techniques, as they toast him with a glass of champagne. The line’s annual Jacques Pepin Cruise on Marina sails to northern European ports on June 2, 2017, from London to Copenhagen. Pepin himself will host the epicurean-inspired cruise with signature menus, lectures and culinary demonstrations.
Sea Dream Yacht Club plans new Wine Voyages in the Mediterranean for 2017, with premium tastings from wineries like Chateau Gassier, Tenuta San Guido and Taittinger Champagne. As an exclusive to the Taittinger Voyage, Clovis Taittinger will sail followed by Maison Louis Jadot. At the Winemaker’s Dinner, guests will enjoy a special menu and wines of Philipp Wittman, Marilisa Allegrini and Francesco Mazzei, among others. Ashore, cruisers have such foodie options as learning to make paella and pair it with Cartagena wines.
Foodies with a sense of adventure can check out Silversea Cruises’ new Culinary Expedition Voyages on the all-suite, 132-guest Silver Explorer. An “Atlantic Europe’s Epicurean Journey” departs May 20, 2017 from Lisbon and guests explore ashore in Portugal, Spain, France and Guernsey to taste pintxos in Bilbao, oysters in Saint-Malo and croissants in Bordeaux. Guests can also expect market tours, special menus and cooking classes hosted by Rudi Scholdis and David Bilsland, who oversee Silversea’s L’Ecole des Chefs program. Silversea’s wine ambassador, Lawrence D’Almeida, food and wine expert James Robinson, and cheese specialist Tom Badcock will host onboard enrichment activities.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ newest vessel, Seven Seas Explorer, has been hosting new culinary-inspired shore excursions in the Mediterranean, while Crystal Cruises recently debuted its new interactive online Cruise Guide, which outlines and showcases such experiences as the “Ultimate Vintage Room Dinner.” Seabourn Cruise Line has launched The Grill by Thomas Keller on Seabourn Quest, Azamara Club Cruises’ Aqualina restaurant serves up everything from a forest mushroom risotto to a Venetian seafood platter; while Viking Ocean Cruises’ Chef’s Table offers a multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings and a new Scandinavian Bistro menu in its rotation. Premium lines, too, are focusing on cuisine; in September, Holland America Line introduced its new America’s Test Kitchen program.
Wine aficionados and foodies also typically love river cruising, our experts say. Usually, cruisers sail first along the Rhine or Danube rivers, before spreading out to the Seine, Douro, Rhone/Saone or Bordeaux. Many lines bring on wine speakers, provide wine-focused tours and tastings and design themed cruises. Local wines are also served onboard. “ Ama Waterways has done a particularly good job with wine cruises,” Turpin believes.
So moving into 2017, private, customized arrangements, expanding river cruise options and robust culinary programs are expected to continue to be high on the list of “must-haves” for luxury travelers seeking the very best on the high seas and global rivers.