Ocean Village Announces Final James Martin Cruises

April 30, 2010
(5 p.m. EDT) -- It's back to land-based ventures for chef James Martin, the first celebrity TV chef to be associated with a British cruise line. His Bistro restaurant has been onboard Ocean Village since 2003, but the line's one remaining ship will transfer to the fleet of P&O Australia in November this year -- and then it's goodbye to the brand. Ocean Village has just announced Martin's final few appearances onboard, so fans will have the chance to say goodbye to him and his restaurant in person.

On three Mediterranean cruises this summer, as well as the "Fond Farewell" voyage in November, Martin will sail onboard Ocean Village, mingling with passengers and performing cookery demonstrations. If you want to meet the man, not to mention tuck into one last white chocolate and whisky croissant pudding at Bistro, pick one of these sailings: July 13 (14 nights), July 20 (seven nights) or the 14-night version of the July 20 departure, which combines two cruises. All these voyages are in the Western Mediterranean, visiting the French and Italian Rivieras. Prices start at £759 per person for the seven-night, July 20 fly-cruise.

Martin will also accompany Ocean Village on part of its final repositioning voyage to Australia, joining in the Indian port of Cochin on November 7 and staying on board until November 11, when the ship is in Langkawi, Malaysia.

It's likely to be an emotional event. The send-off for Ocean Village 2, which left the fleet for P&O Australia last October, was a three-week party as the ship sailed from its base in Crete to dry dock in Singapore, with tribute acts, performances from 1980's disco diva Jaki Graham and the line's signature circus show on deck, as well as plenty of cookery demos from Martin. (The entertainment lineup for Ocean Village's final voyage is being kept under wraps for now, but we'll keep you posted as announcements are made.)

November's cruise will be emotional, not just because it's the end of the Ocean Village era -- many would say the line revolutionised cruising with its dress-down style, contemporary entertainment and casual dining -- but because no other line has stepped into the void with a similar offering, which leaves Ocean Village fans high and dry.

For anyone interested in making the leap from Ocean Village to P&O Australia, know that Pacific Pearl -- Ocean Village's future alias when it changes hands -- won't be without its own celebrity chef-run restaurant. Bistro will be replaced with The Salt Grill, under the auspices of leading Australian chef and restaurateur Luke Mangan.

--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor

Image appears courtesy of Ocean Village.