The Lap of Luxury:
Discovering Savory Food
& Fine Wines At Sea
Above and at right, you'll see the intimate atmosphere and culinary excellence that are trademarks of a voyage on Regent Seven Seas Cruises.*
By guest author Gregory McCluney
Not so long ago, “foodies” -- defined as food, wine, cooking, dining and spirits enthusiasts -- avoided cruise vacations, often to the chagrin of their friends and spouses who loved the idea of a holiday at sea.
These foodies demanded that their travel include a gourmet experience, certainly more than a record-size midnight buffet and a themed French night. Some even described cruising as a “float and bloat” vacation to be avoided.
Well foodies take note. The luxury lines listened.
They now offer food and wine events to impress even the most discriminating gourmet traveler.
Yes, bountiful food is still available almost 24/7. But, quality reigns these days on the luxury lines.
For example, guests even cozy up to an authentic sushi bar (shown above*) within the trendy Nobu restaurant on Crystal Cruises' Crystal Serenity.
Here's a sampling of what’s new in luxury line cruising from southern ports with a food and wine twist:
Fit for a Queen... and King too!
Well known for its trans-Atlantic voyages, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is set to cruise the eastern Caribbean for 10 days embarking on Nov. 9, 2008 from Port Everglades (Greater Fort Lauderdale).
The grand-dame QM2 offers 10 restaurants, including the traditional, three-level Britannia dining room that serves 2,600 guests.
In April 2007, the QM2 introduced the Britannia Club option, featuring single-seating dining, deluxe balcony staterooms and special in-room amenities.
Brittania Club guests have their own private dining room with small tables, enhanced wine list, and special tableside preparations in a private salon.
Or guests may choose to dine in celebrity chef Todd English’s signature restaurant featuring Mediterranean cuisine.
This intimate, contemporary dining venue is shown at right.*
For wine afisconados, the QM2 offers the largest wine collection at sea, with more than 30,000 bottles.
Call 800-7-CUNARD or visit www.cunard.com.
Onboard with Champagne and Bond... James Bond
Silversea Cruises has a strong food and beverage focus on every sailing so when this line rolls out something special, hold on to your knife and fork.
The Oct. 26, 2008 sailing of the Silver Shadow from Port Everglades to the western Caribbean will feature Justin Llewelyn, the son of Desmond Llewelyn who made 17 Bond films as the character “Q."
The younger Llewelyn has made his own name in the wine and spirts world as the worldwide ambassador for Champagne Taittinger.
Onboard, he will host informative champagne and martini tastings (shaken not stirred for Bond enthusiasts).
Llewelyn will also give passengers insight into the original Bond scripts.
Every Silversea sailing, though, includes hosted tastings with food pairings, culinary demonstrations, and the chance to host small private dinners with rare wines paired with unique personal menus.
In the photo at right, guests enjoy wine tasting.*
More than 10,000 bottles await the wine lover, including selections from Sassicia, Italy; Chateau La Tour, France; and Silver Oak, Napa Valley.
For more information, contact Silversea at 800-722-9955 or www.silversea.com.
Seabourn Cruise Line positions itself as the “Yachts of Seabourn” because of its ships' intimate size — accommodating approximately 200 guests. The line offers a few sailings from Port Everglades over the winter season.
You may have seen ads for Seabourn's Caviar in the Surf program. You simply ride the warm Caribbean waves as a waiter wades out to meet you with caviar and champagne on a silver tray.
Back on board, you’ll be treated to dinner when and where you wish, with cuisine from the legendary celebrity chef Charlie Palmer.
After dinner, enjoy the wine of your choice and dancing under the stars.
There’s also a reserve wine list for that special occasion.
Contact Seabourn at 800-929-9391 or www.seabourn.com.
Circles of Interest Feature French Cooking
Regent Seven Seas Cruises has rolled out its latest Circles of Interest enrichment programs in partnership with the famed culinary institution Le Cordon Bleu of Paris. Geared toward the epicurean traveler, this program highlights the art of French cooking. One example of a savory dish is shown below right.*
The Le Cordon Bleu program is designed for just 16 guests and the fee for the program -- $450 on one cruise we priced -- is in addition to the cruise fare.
What do guests receive? Included are visits at select ports for local culinary highlights and market visits; demonstrations by guest celebrity chefs; hands-on workshops; and a celebratory dinner in Signatures restaurant upon completion of the program.
Guests have several Circles of Interest options from southern U.S. ports, including the April 8, 2008 voyage of Seven Seas Mariner. It sails roundtrip from Port Everglades to the eastern Caribbean.
Contact Regent Seven Seas at 877-505-5370 or visit www.regentexperience.com.
Worldwide Wine & Food Festival
Crystal Cruises features a worldwide Wine & Food Festival onboard its fleet throughout the year. Departing from Miami on Nov. 4, 2008, the Crystal Symphony visits the eastern Caribbean for 10 days and transits the Panama Canal.
Several special onboard events will include upscale wine tastings, cooking demos and themed dinners.
For a real Crystal experience, book The Vintage Room for a cooked-to-order menu chosen by you and the chef. Plus, you'll savor wines from a special reserve wine list.
The wine director will also present each wine and food pairing with commentary.
At left, a sommelier readies to serve guests a selection of fine wines in the Vintage Room.*
But you can only invite 12 friends, as this is fine dining at its best. Cost runs anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than one thousand dollars.
Contact Crystal at 800-799-4625 or www.crystalcruises.com.
Regardless of the specific luxury line you choose, a food and wine cruise is just the ticket for upscale travelers who may initially think, from a culinary point of view, that cruising isn’t for them.
A week at sea on one of these pampering, luxury cruises will undoubtedly change the mind of the most jaded food and wine groupie.
Gregory D. McCluney is a freelance writer based in Atlanta. Greg specializes in the world of food, wine, travel and the outdoors. He writes regularly for numerous publications and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association, Society of American Travel Writers and Society of Wine Educators.
*Photos above are owned, copyrighted and used courtesy of Cunard Line, Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises. All rights reserved. Do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.