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5 Best Food Themed Cruises

Gary Buchanan

Sep 14, 2017

Read time
5 min read

Lobster entree on Crystal Cruises (Photo: Crystal Cruises)

For many people, sea cruises are a long day's journey into dinner, undoubtedly the main event of the day. And when you pick up a brochure for a cruise line or click on their website it's a given there will be plenty of boasting about cuisine.

And it's not just ultra-luxury ships that cook up superlatives when referring to their gastronomy -- most premium cruise lines have a variety of speciality restaurants where dining pleasures are writ large.

One culinary fad that`s been increasingly flaunted by cruise lines is food festivals or designated gourmet cruises where the emphasis is on epicurean delights as much as idyllic destinations. This not only ensures the cuisine goes up a notch or two, it often means you will find yourself sailing with a celebrity chef who will do presentations, lectures and usually sign his latest cook book. On some lines you can even go exploring with the chef in the local markets.

Here we showcase five of the best food-themed cruises this year.

Crystal Cruises

Crystal Wine & Food Festival

Crystal Wine & Food Festival brings together culinary experts from around the world on selected sailings onboard both Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. Renowned chef Hans Neuner will be onboard Crystal Symphony. Having trained at the Adlon Hotel in Berlin, Chef Neuner heads up the kitchen of the Ocean Restaurant at Vila Vita Parc Resort in the Portuguese Algarve where his passion for local produce, combined with a technical precision and a good dose of creativity, has earned him two Michelin stars.

Chef Neuner will join Crystal's own talented culinary team and lead guests through demonstrations of his most famous dishes. On select evenings, guests will also enjoy a specially-created menu by Chef Neuner in the Crystal Dining Room. This cruise visits Ponta Delgada and Praia da Vitoria in the Azores, before heading to Madeira; Santa Cruz de la Palma; Tenerife; Arrecife; Agadir; Casablanca and Lisbon.

When: 13-night round-trip cruise from Lisbon, departing 6 September 2017.

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Hebridean Island Cruises

Flavours of Scotland

The renowned Hebridean Princess is akin to a well-appointed hunting lodge with interiors straight out of Country Living magazine. In the Tiree Lounge, for example, evocative watercolours and polished brass clocks surround an Inglenook fireplace, while varnished teak decks are festooned with hanging baskets brimful with geraniums and petunias. Her Majesty, The Queen chartered Hebridean Princess for her 80th birthday in the summer of 2006, and she enjoyed it so much another charter was arranged in July 2010 to celebrate the 60th birthday of the Princess Royal.

Once a year, this 50-passenger ship embarks on a Flavours of Scotland cruise, which showcases Scotland's natural larder. Chef de Cuisine, Paul Sim, creates the menus which are written daily depending on the availability of fresh produce such as scallops, halibut and salmon; along with Tweed Valley beef and Borders' lamb; as well as island cheeses and seasonal berries. In addition, this cruise features a visit to the Laphroaig Distillery as well as lunches at the acclaimed Three Chimneys Restaurant on Skye, the 3-rosette restaurant at the Torridon Hotel, and the sublime Michelin-starred restaurant at the Isle of Eriska Hotel. The cruise concludes with a Champagne reception at Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull.

When: 7-night round-trip cruise from Oban, departing 25 April 2017.

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Oceania Cruises

Culinary Masterpiece Cruise

Oceania Cruises makes a big play of its cuisine, drawing heavily on France and French-style food.

The culinary management team is almost exclusively French. When the company was founded, celebrated Master Chef Jacques Pépin was appointed Executive Culinary Director. One of America's first celebrity chefs, Monsieur Pépin was personal chef to three French heads of state. As part of the Culinary Masterpieces series of voyages, the Jacques Pépin Cruise will feature signature menus, engaging lectures and culinary demonstrations from the renowned chef.

When: 10-night Regal Routes cruise from Southampton to Copenhagen, departing 2 June 2017.

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P&O Cruises

Food Heroes

P&O Cruises' Food Heroes -- Marco Pierre White, James Martin, Eric Lanlard and Olly Smith -- have raised the bar by bringing their expertise to menus that celebrate the best of British cuisine. Each chef -- and in the case of Smith, wine expert -- creates an exciting array of dishes and selected wines to suit all tastes. Passengers sailing onboard Azura, Britannia and Ventura can enjoy The Epicurean restaurant where seasonal British ingredients are used to give a modern twist to classic dishes.

In October, Food Hero Marco Pierre White will join Azura. The cruise will feature masterclasses, book signings, interviews and exclusive hosted dinners. There will also be the opportunity to join Pierre White on a gastronomic shore excursion.

When: 12-night round-trip cruise from Southampton, departing 8 October 2017.

Cuisine on Silversea (Photo: Silversea)

Silversea Expeditions

Culinary Expeditions

Traditionally, expedition cruises have been a trade-off between onboard comforts and awe-inspiring scenery. Onboard Silversea Expeditions vessels there is no compromise -- luxury sails in tandem with nature's splendour. In true Silversea style, passengers can dine when they want with whom they want, often joining convivial companions at a table hosted by naturalists to discuss the day's expeditions. The culinary emphasis is on sourcing local produce and the small number of passengers allows the Executive Chef and his team to cook to order.

Designed for the adventurous traveller who is also a culinary explorer at heart, Silversea Expeditions has an Atlantic Europe Epicurean Journey onboard the all-suite, 132-guest Silver Explorer, which will be fresh out of a dry dock after a massive three-week refurbishment. Some of Europe`s finest cuisine will be in the spotlight -- from bite-sized pintxos in Bilbao, to fresh oysters in Saint-Malo. There will also be a culinary demonstration programme with market tours, special menus, and cooking classes hosted by Rudi Scholdis -- Silversea Cruises' Culinary Director and David Bilsland -- who oversees the company's link up with Relais & Chateaux.

When: 11-night cruise from Lisbon to Honfleur, departing 20 May 2017.

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Updated September 14, 2017
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