Last Course: Chef Charlie Palmer and Seabourn Cruise Line Part Ways

November 14, 2011
(6:45 p.m. EST) -- After a 10-year working relationship, Seabourn Cruise Line and celebrity chef Charlie Palmer are parting ways in December.

Palmer's exit from the luxury line ends a much-trumpeted association, and beyond that, seems to be a continuation of the trend of breakups between cruise lines and their celebrity chef partners. Carnival dumped its association with celeb chef Georges Blanc, though it recently welcomed Food Network guru Guy Fieri onboard to oversee a new line of fee-free burger shacks as part of its Fun Ship 2.0 initiative. In addition, Cunard opted away from Todd English for its third ship.

On the other hand, Oceania has been crowing over its relationship with master chef Jacques Pepin, who oversees the dining options on the line's four ships and opened his first namesake restaurant on the new Marina.

The Michelin-starred Palmer is famous for his Progressive American cuisine, showcased at several restaurants including his flagship Aureole in New York City and in four cookbooks. He has helped Seabourn develop recipes and menus that highlight "familiar and fresh ingredients," notes the press release announcing his departure.

Despite the move, Seabourn representative Irene Lui tells Cruise Critic that "culinary innovation and leadership is a brand pillar for Seabourn and we will continue to offer gourmet dining experiences that rival the finest restaurants anywhere." The line's culinary team, which is headed by manager of culinary operations Bjoern Wassmuth, will continue to update menus on a regular basis and use Palmer's existing recipes, at least for now.

What remains to be seen is how this move will affect Seabourn's culinary future. To that end, Lui said the line does "not have any announcements about any new plans regarding our culinary operations."

--by Erica Silverstein, Features Editor