We are unseasoned at cruising, so consider these comments with that perspective. Our previous cruise experience was limited to a 50-passenger trip though the Greek isles on the Sea Cloud -- a wholly different experience than that offered by a "traditional ocean liner." But we had been looking for the right opportunity to dip our toes in the water of large passenger ship cruising, and the Top Chef theme cruise -- only 4 nights 5 days on a highly regarded "luxury" line-- seemed an attractive introductory experience from which we might forecast our cruising future.
Sadly our experience was very mixed.
First, the Top Chef themed activities were simply wonderful. Cooking demonstrations, Quickfire "competitions," Q and A's with 10 years of fan favorites and winning "chef-testants," and Tom Collichio playing lead guitar and singing Creedence at the poolside stage-- we could not have enjoyed the themed events more. Bravo to Bravo and Top Chef for a well-planned and well-executed experience. And it bears saying that the Top Chef chefs and staff were all about the ship, interacting with the passengers, spending real time and making real connections. Every single Top Chef person -- and most notably Gail Simmons and Hubert Keller-- was as cordial, gracious, and engaging as one could imagine. A class act by a classy group in every respect.