10 Top Cruise Lines for Food Lovers Slideshow
April 26, 2013
10. A-ROSA Cruises
This year, the popular German-based line unveils three sleek ships devoted to the U.S. market for the very first time. Sailings are all-inclusive (really, that’s not just a marketing ploy), so the cost includes all meals, a convivial bar that’s open day and night, culinary excursions, and gratuities. During the seven-night "Toast to Provence & Burgundy" itinerary aboard the Stella, you’ll sample regional wines as you make your way from Lyon to the Côte d’Or, Arles, and Avignon. Standout Dishes: Vegetable baklava; sea bass with champagne sauce and spring onion; and raspberry-garnished lemon tart.
9. Celebrity Cruises
You may recognize Celebrity ships from Top Chef, as contestants prepped food in the Infinity’s galley, and the Constellation hosted the first Top Chef charter in April, where guests could interact with past winners, contestants, and judges. Celebrity was also the first line to cook dinner at the James Beard House in New York City, and to debut land-based pop-up restaurants, one in New York and another in San Francisco. Book a sail on one of five Solstice-class ships for a two-story wine cellar designed by Adam Tihany, of Per Se and Le Cirque fame. Next up for the company? By the end of this year, Celebrity will roll out 60 healthy, SPE-certified dishes on the menus of their main restaurants and AquaSpa Cafés. Standout Dishes: Beef carpaccio layered with Dijon aioli; California-raised quail stuffed with black truffles; and vegetable paella, with Israeli couscous and cilantro aioli crostini.
8. Crystal Cruises
Acclaimed Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa has restaurants on two of Crystal’s ships, the Serenity and Symphony. Bothoffer food- and wine-themed sailings, with cooking lessons, cocktail-mixing classes, and wine tastings. Get schooled on the wines of Bordeaux or how to make sushi at the onboard Creative Learning Institute. Fun fact: You’ll never see a repeat menu, whether you’re sailing for five days or 25. Standout Dishes: Salmon tartare with Sevruga caviar; spring rolls filled with lobster and shiitake mushrooms; and hot soba noodles with stir-fried vegetables.
7. Cunard Line
Mediterranean fare prepared by celebrity chef Todd English of the Olives restaurants can be found on two of the line’s three ships, the Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2. British afternoon tea is also served (think finger sandwiches, clotted cream, and fresh scones). But the vibe isn’t overly proper, thanks to the recently debuted Art Deco-inspired Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar on the Queen Victoria. Standout Dishes: Rack of lamb with crispy Merguez samosa and za’atar parsnips; eggplant ravioli garnished with saffron; and seasonal sorbet on a minted mango salad.
6. Holland America
David Burke, Marcus Samuelsson, Jacques Torres, Charlie Trotter, and several other high-profile chefs serve on the cruise line’s Culinary Council, to help determine the overall direction of the food programming, implement sustainable seafood policies, and provide recipes. One of the line’s recent initiatives involves rolling out an optional vegetarian-only menu in the main dining rooms of all 15 ships in the fleet. Aboard the ms Rotterdam, the Taste of De Librije menu features dishes from Michelin-starred chef Jonnie Boer’s De Librije restaurant in the Netherlands. Standout Dishes: Torched langoustine with green bean coulis; beef tenderloin with bulgur wheat and smoked olive oil foam; and "deconstructed" apple pie, topped with vanilla gelato and Chantilly-style cream.
5. Oceania Cruises
Master chef and PBS cooking-show host Jacques Pépin serves as the executive culinary director for Oceania Cruises. The Marina houses his first namesake restaurant at sea, and the Riviera will roll out a new 85-dish menu this year. On both ships, you can dine at La Reserve by Wine Spectator (wine pairings are chosen by the magazine’s editors); take a cooking lesson at the 24-station Bon Appétit Culinary Centers; and choose among food- and wine-themed sailings, including the Jacques Pépin Voyage from Barcelona to Lisbon (Sept. 19) and any number of sailings from its recently launched collection of Culinary Discovery Tours, which might include a cooking demo in Provence. Standout Dishes: Magret duck fillet with raspberry vinegar and beef tournedos topped with seared foie gras.
4. Regent Seven Seas
In honor of its 20th anniversary last year, Regent Seven Seas debuted the dinner-only Sette Mari at La Verandaon the Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner, and Seven Seas Voyager. Under the direction of Italian-born chefs, the menus will showcase classic Mediterranean fare such as cioppino(seafood stew) with lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels, and more, in a broth made of garlic, white wine, and parsley. Standout Dishes: Mushroom risotto; potato gnocchi with pesto; and chicken cacciatore.
3. Silversea Cruises
Just as you’d hope, the menu at The Restaurant, the main dining room aboard every Silversea ship, changes depending on where you’re sailing. Roasted Chilean sea bass, for example, is served en route to Chilean fjords, while Indian chicken korma is the thing to order on your way to Mumbai. The same local and seasonal mindedness reigns on board all ships but two (Silver Explorer and Galapagos) at Le Champagne, the only Relais & Châteaux restaurant at sea. Wine lovers will especially appreciate the line’s 12 new Wine Series sailings, which offer pairings with meals, tastings, and lectures led by winery experts, and wine-focused excursions. Standout Dishes: Fillet of Highland venison; beef filet mignon with foie gras-poached potatoes; and polenta with portobello mushrooms.
2. Yachts of Seabourn
James Beard Award-winning Michelle Bernstein and Food Network Restaurant Impossible host Robert Irvine are just two of the food world luminaries who will be joining Seabourn departures this year. Regional specialties, an open bar (though premium spirits are extra), and a glimpse into the open kitchens of the Odyssey, Sojourn, and Quest during dinner round out the experience. Expect shore excursions to shop alongside the chef at local markets and caviar-and-champagne nights — Seabourn just announced a partnership with the Colorado-based Black River Caviar, which specializes in sustainable ossetra sturgeon. Standout Dishes: Ossetra malossol caviar with potato-shallot cake (of course); broiled Maine lobster tail with lemon risotto; and crème brûlée.
1. Windstar Cruises
You’re always invited on the chef’s on-land market tour to pick out the vegetables and cheese that wind up as part of your lunch a few hours later. Or, take part in the chef’s one-hour cooking class where you’ll make seafood staples like crabcakes. But our favorite activity is the simplest: Dine on your choice of fish — sea bass, dorade, swordfish, or marlin — at Candles, under the sails. If the wind picks up, a waiter will bring you a blanket. Tip: Reservations are recommended. Standout Dishes: All of the fish are fresh, and come with your choice of sides (fingerling potatoes with rosemary; marinated tofu, squash, and peppers; creamed white cabbage and bacon).