A cruise is the chance to sample a huge range of gastronomic delights including dishes created by Michelin-starred and celeb chefs, and these cruise lines are the culinary crème de la crème
The fabulous cuisine on board Oceania Cruises is one of the reasons for its customers’ loyalty. Dining features open seating with flexible timing, and Executive Culinary Director and Master Chef Jacques Pépin (celebrating his 80th birthday this year with two hosted Mediterranean sailings) boldly claims that his cuisine is the finest at sea. All dining, including authentic Italian fare at Toscana’s, contemporary steakhouse dining at Polo Grill and elegant Continental cuisine in the Grand Dining Room is included in the cruise price.
Exceptions are the gourmet wine and food pairing evenings in La Reserve (from $96 per person) where diners can expect spectacular dishes such as the signature seared Kobe beef sous vide, served with deliciously rich Valrhona chocolate sauce; and hosted private dinners in the elegant setting of Privée on board Marina and Riviera. Food fanatics are well catered for with exceptional excursions including culinary discovery tours featuring cooking classes, market tours and exclusive vineyard visits.
This year, Oceania announced the creation of some spectacular new desserts by Master Pastry Chef Christophe Menard using global ingredients and the world’s finest chocolates, including a decadent Tanzanian chocolate cake with molten caramel; a yuzu and Venezuelan chocolate mousse with hazelnut croquant; and exclusively for the Tuscan Steak restaurant on new ship Sirena, chocolate cake with molten pistachio and Griotte cherries.
Princess Cruises won Best for Food at the Cruise International Awards 2015 and offers more than 10 different dining options on board, including two speciality restaurants: upscale Italian dining at Sabatini’s, plus premium steak and seafood at the Crown Grill ($25 cover charge). Princess have also recently announced a brand new partnership with celebrity chef Curtis Stone (below), allowing guests on Emerald, Ruby and Sun Princess to experience Stone’s first restaurant at sea, SHARE ($39 cover charge), offering a range of sharing dishes designed exclusively by Stone. Highlights include butter-roasted lobster with caramelised endive and endive foam and twice-cooked duck served with fennel, bacon jus and Parmesan crumb.
The new Salty Dog Gastropub ($19 cover charge) set within the Wheelhouse Bar on board Emerald, Crown and Ruby Princess offers classic pub dishes with a gourmet twist in collaboration with chef and innovator Ernesto Uchimura. Plates include a decadent lobster mac & cheese, tasty salt roasted heirloom beets, and the ridiculously indulgent signature dish, the ‘Ernesto’ burger from chef Uchimura, boasting a succulent rib eye and short rib beef patty layered up with grilled pork belly, caramelised kimchi, beer-battered jalapeño, charred onion aioli and cave-aged Gruyère cheese.
Royal Caribbean’s super ships offer a wide range of culinary offerings, including celebrity partnerships in the shape of Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver on board Quantum and Oasis class ships, and Cornelius Gallagher’s wonderful, whimsical Wonderland – don’t miss the baby vegetables in the garden, complete with edible soil and pebbles, which almost looks too pretty to eat.
Travis Kamiyama’s delightful Asian fusion restaurant Izumi offers an authentic Japanese à la carte menu with signature dishes like the salmon lovers roll (salmon sashimi and avocado on top of a crab asparagus roll) and sweet and delicate snow crab California (snow crab, avocado and cucumber wrapped in soy paper) debuted just on Oasis of the Seas, but has now rolled out across the fleet.
James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz has created an intimate six-course ‘farm to ship’ tasting menu at 150 Central Park, using specially selected ingredients, many sourced locally from small South Florida farms, with wine pairings chosen by sommelier Eric Larkee. Wine lovers are well catered for on board, with hosted wine tastings and a wide selection of wines by the glass in Vintages wine bar.
Royal Caribbean offers guests the chance to experience a pasta-making workshop in Tuscany (around $200), which includes a tour of a pasta factory and wine tasting; tapas tasting tours in Malaga (around $85); and Russian cooking and vodka tasting in St Petersburg (from $90).
As befits its status as one of the most luxurious cruise ships in the world, dining on board the sublime EUROPA 2 reflects the ethos of ‘relaxed luxury’. The ship offers no less than seven high-end restaurants, all with no fixed meal times or table allocations, all included in the cruise price. In main dining restaurant Weltmere, delicate courses interspersed with palate-cleansing Champagne sorbet are served by white-gloved staff, and in French restaurant Tarragon, a simple request for cheese and biscuits results in what can only be described as performance art, as the most beautiful platter is created in front of you.
Also on board is elegant Italian Serenissima, and Elements, serving Asian-inspired cuisine, plus sushi restaurant Sakura (don’t miss the Asian salmon shot – subtly spiced marinated salmon, served with a refreshing mango salad, coconut and lime foam, pomegranate and chilli chutney and teriyaki sauce). The cellars hold over 13,000 bottles of wine, plus another 2,000 bottles of Champagne, and it’s worth paying extra to experience a wine tasting with the knowledgeable sommelier.
Also on board is the rather impressive Miele Culinary School, fitted, as you would expect, with every conceivable state-of-the-art gadget, where guests can take cookery classes then relax, chat and dine upon their creations.
With a plethora of celebrity chef ‘food heroes’ on board, P&O Cruises offers everything from Atul Kochhar’s stunning Sindhu restaurant (from $40 for two, on board Azura, Oriana, Arcadia, Britannia and Ventura) where you’ll find modern Indian cuisine with a British twist, to sommelier Olly Smith’s relaxed wine bar The Glass House (Britannia, Ventura, Aurora and Azura). It serves creative small plates such as our favourite warm quail and Cumberland sausage Scotch eggs with a horseradish and mustard mayo, a perfect complement to Smith’s own choice of fine wines (from around $7).
Master pâtissier Eric Lanlard’s sumptuous afternoon tea features delights such as delicate pastries, light, fresh scones, macarons and pretty pistachio and strawberry tarts (plus a glass of fizz if you’re in the mood) in the elegant setting of The Epicurean restaurant (from $20). The ‘godfather of modern cooking’, chef Marco Pierre White sprinkles his culinary magic across The White Room on board Ventura, Cafe Jardin on Oceana, and Cafe Bordeaux on board Aurora, as well as lending his expertise to creating menus on gala nights in the main restaurants on every ship, producing sublime dishes such as New England split lobster with truffle creamed potatoes.
Would-be Marcos on Britannia can sign up to the cookery school, headed up by Nino MacMahon, and if you’re lucky enough to be sailing with one of the ‘food heroes’, take part in a masterclass ($130 for two hours), or hosted dinner (from $200). Special kids-only cookery classes are offered free of charge.
Click to read Top 10 Cruises For Foodies Part 2.
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