by Vanessa Lee

RSSC_CulinaryCourtesy of Regent Seven Seas

In our journey through life, many memorable times and moments are enhanced by our innate desire to taste, savor and enjoy and that’s certainly a wonderful thing. Celebrations usually come with good cuisine and fine wines or a special Champagne or other libations.  Our desire for food and to sit at a table with family and friends is integral to our lives and perhaps none more so when we travel and enjoy new and marvelous experiences.  It can be at the core of a day’s travel – a wonderful lunch on an outdoor terrace surrounded by water, or mountains and lakes or some bucolic countryside – Tuscany always comes to mind. As we immerse and enjoy new places, people and cultures, it seems that food truly does epitomize much of what we seek.  

Local culinary traditions can quickly become our favorites enabling us to enjoy a veritable explosion of a variety of international dishes. In today’s foodie-centric world, we are also able to enjoy an extensive and wide array of global cuisine, from some of the world’s most talented and highly-regarded chefs.

And the cruising world is keeping up, and is often leading the pack when it comes to the choice and style of food and restaurants that can be found on ships today. There seems to be a never-ending parade of fantastic new dining choices onboard with celebrity chefs often at the helm of these new enterprises.  The bar has been raised, and here for your pleasure, we tell you more about some of the newest and most tantalizing restaurant openings on the high seas with “Specialty Dining” becoming a new catch-phrase for cruise guests.

RSSC_Prime 7Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas - Prime 7

Regent Seven Seas has just launched, “The most luxurious ship in the world” with the arrival of the very glamorous and quite exquisite Seven Seas Explorer which is truly magnificent. On board the Explorer you can dine in some quite stunning alternative restaurants such as their steakhouse, Prime 7, modeled after a Gentleman’s private Club in the heart of London. Not only is the décor enticing but the lengthy menu offers delicious cuisine. And a small cocktail bar at the entrance to the restaurant offers a pre-dinner aperitif in great style.

Also on Regent’s Explorer is a French restaurant named Chartreuse which is equally as fabulous as Prime 7 but which evokes a sense of Art Nouveau and a walk along a rainy cobblestone street in Paris. The food here is utterly fabulous and the surroundings almost more so. 

RSSC_ChartreuseCourtesy of Regent Seven Seas - Chartreuse

Of course there are casual dining spots on this ship, a main restaurant called Compass Rose, a pan-Asian dining room named Pacific Rim and more. Just an example of the choices available to discerning guests who have a strong desire to enhance their dining experiences while at sea.

The newest Holland America ship, the Koningsdam, launched earlier this year to much acclaim has also increased its culinary offerings to exceptional reviews. A guest favorite is the very beautiful and a la carte gem of a restaurant named Sel de Mer. French cuisine with an emphasis on seafood, (their bouillabaisse is unbelievable) this is a dining experience of the highest degree and reservations are a must. Other spots on the ship are perennial favorites such as the Pinnacle Grill and Tamarind. And of course the popular Culinary Arts Center by Food and Wine magazine, where guests are treated to a meal by the chefs who make it and serve it to you right there. They explain their menus, the way they cook and one can take photos and ask questions along the way. There is a choice of two menus on alternative nights and one also receives wine and some canapes as a part of the 3 course dinner – and for a very reasonable sum.

HAL_Sel de MerCourtesy of Holland America Line - Sel de Mer

Holland America has also launched a first on this ship with Blend by Chateau Ste Michelle, a tasting room experiences where guests can blend their own wines from a variety of the winery’s grapes and then bottle it and take it back to your room or to dinner! A great idea and again at a reasonable cost considering one walks away with a bottle blended to one’s own palate.

Many cruise lines are now partnering with celebrity chefs and developing even more distinct cuisine options. Chef Curtis Stone from Australia, has partnered with Princess Cruises and is offering his new way of dining at sea called SHARE. Keeping it simple and cooking with natural ingredients and a menu designed for people to sit together and share  - in every way. Stories, laughter, conversation and of course, great food.

Curtis StoneCourtesy of Princess Cruises - Chef Curtis Stone

Then there’s Michelin award-winning chef, America’s Thomas Keller of Per Se and French Laundry fame in Napa. Chef Keller is partnering with Seabourn and introducing restaurants on all of their ships with The Grill by Thomas Keller debuting on the brand new Seabourn Encore coming in December.

Seabourn_The GrillCourtesy of Seabourn - The Grill by Thomas Keller

MSC Cruises has partnerships with a cadre of well-known and highly regarded chefs  and now for the launch of their new ship the MSC Seaside, to be christened in Miami in December 2017, they have partnered with award-winning chef Roy Yamaguchi. The innovative Japanese-American celebrity chef will  introduce a specialty pan-Asian restaurant on Seaside – a next generation vessel for the cruise line. Chef Yamaguchi is best known perhaps for his Roy’s restaurants in Hawaii offering his unique take on cooking traditions.

MSC_CulinaryCourtesy of MSC Cruises

Innovation, imagination and delectable cuisine abound on an array of gorgeous cruise ships from some of the finest cruise lines in the industry. Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Silversea, Celebrity Cruises, Oceania, Crystal  and many more are all raising that proverbial bar with mouth-watering and  tasty concoctions prepared by masters and served in the most chic and sophisticated surroundings. A foodie’s paradise indeed.  

Originally published in Vacation Magazine Fall/Winter 2016 issue.

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