Just as cruising has been appreciated for salubrious ocean views and breezes, everyone has kept mum (at best) about the food, historically produced in one large galley with ingredients from the deep freeze. No longer. While the charming notion of chefs bounding ashore every day to shop at local markets is not practical except on the tiniest ships (try a Belmond barge trip in France for that level of procurement), there’s a new culinary day dawning onboard, with food that’s more interesting and healthier than ever.
Several cruise lines have partnered with star chefs. Daniel Boulud, whose empire includes Daniel, is the global culinary ambassador for Celebrity Cruises. He creates dishes for Luminae, a restaurant on each ship exclusive to passengers staying in suites, and this year he opened his first restaurant at sea, Le Voyage, on the line’s newest ship, Celebrity Beyond. Three-Michelin-starred Thomas Keller (of French Laundry and Per Se) has his own restaurant on Seabourn ships, the Grill by Thomas Keller, and a range of comfort dishes for the line’s informal restaurants, the Colonnade and the Patio. Key ingredients are bought from the same handpicked suppliers Keller uses for his other restaurants.
Jacques Pépin, winner of 16 James Beard awards and chef to three French presidents, presides on Oceania Cruises, where he has been the long-standing executive culinary director. He also has his own bistro, Jacques, on Oceania’s larger ships Marina and Riviera.
Both Oceania and Regent Seven Seas offer a wide array of plant-based dishes. (Cunard has had a vegetarian menu for years, but it’s something of a secret—ask the maître d’ to show it to you in the evening and put in your order for tomorrow’s dinner.) Avalon Waterways partners with the Wrenkh brothers, two of Austria’s leading chefs in the sustainable and plant-based food movement.
And then there’s Silversea’s ambitious SALT (“sea and land taste”) program, which takes passengers deep into the culinary traditions of the regions visited by its newest ships, Silver Moon and Silver Dawn. Menus change daily to reflect the day’s port of call; mixologists conjure up locally inspired cocktails; local chefs, food producers, and writers give talks and classes in the SALT Lab; and there are food-inspired excursions—say, to a revered cheesemaker in the hills of Mykonos. And no, nobody, on any of these ships, is going to make you share a table.
Hear ye, Thai-food lovers: Two four-cabin, boutiquey riverboats (polished mahogany and Asian art) from newcomer Loy Pela Voyages run three-day gastronomic safaris along the Chao Phraya River, from Bangkok to Ayutthaya, with dishes by different Michelin-starred Thai chefs.
This story appears in the Summer 2022 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW
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