Get a taste for gourmet cruising beyond the captain's table
Sunday 01 April 2012
These days cruise food isn't just about quantity, frequency and how often you're at the captain's table. Now it's also about celebrity – celebrity chefs, to be precise. P&O (0845 678 0014; pocruises.co.uk) was the first UK line to have a high-profile consultant chef when Arcadia was launched in 2005 and Gary Rhodes created the menus for the onboard dinner venue, Arcadian Rhodes. Then Marco Pierre White took over. His fine dining option, The White Room, opened on P&O's Ventura in 2008, and he now has restaurants on all but one of the fleet's seven ships. The Azura is the odd one out, with Atul Kochhar – whose Indian restaurant Benares in Mayfair has a Michelin star – operating a "pan-Asian" restaurant, called Sindhu. Both chefs sail half a dozen times a year, giving cookery demonstrations and hands-on lessons (at around £75 a head).
A rarer sighting at sea will be Nobu Matsuhisa, whose restaurants have delighted taste-buds from Beverly Hills to Park Lane. He will be sailing on a 12-night "Bordeaux and Beyond" itinerary from Dover to Civitavecchia (Rome), aboard Crystal Symphony on 24 May. The fare is from £3,451 per person including drinks, tips and a return flight from Rome (020-7287 9040; crystalcruises.co.uk).
A far-flung opportunity to learn about French haute cuisine is with Jean-Pierre Vigato, chef proprietor of two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Apicius in Paris. He will be aboard the Paul Gauguin (020-7434 0089; pgcruises.com) sailing for seven nights from Tahiti around the Society Islands including Bora Bora on 23 June from £4,140 per person including flights.
For wine lovers, new this year are seven "Immersive Europe Wine Cruises" sailing round trip from Southampton on Celebrity Constellation (0845 4560523; celebritycruises.co.uk) in collaboration with Vinopolis, the London wine venue, with fares from £799 per person.
Chocoholics should indulge their passion on the 20-night cruise from Barbados to Mallorca aboard Thomson Dream (0871 230 2800; thomson.co.uk). Gerry Wilton, owner of Bournemouth's Chocolate Boutique Hotel, will be teaching chocolate making (£30pp). The seven-day sailing on 15 April is from £1,219 per person including flights.
Alternatively, treat yourself to a "Chocolate Paradise Experience" by booking a holiday with Mundy Cruising (020-7399 7670; mundycruising.co.uk) and escorted by Chantal Coady, founder of Rococo Chocolates. Three nights at five-star Cobblers Cove in Barbados are followed by a week of island-hopping in the southern Caribbean aboard Silver Whisper. Departure is on 29 October and the cost, from £2,895 per person includes drinks, tips, onboard credit of $500 per cabin, and flights.
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