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The Tastiest Cruises for Foodies

The Tastiest Cruises for Foodies

Uniworld’s Italy cruises include a pasta-making class in Bologna. (Courtesy: Uniworld)

High-end beers, vegetarian menus, seafood-centric restaurants and locavore cuisine — cruises are no longer a wasteland of low-quality buffets and sugary, tropical drinks. Some ships are focusing on chef-driven programs. Oceania’s midsize ships feature dishes from the legendary Jacques Pépin, like steak frites with garlic butter, while Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway has three seafood-centric spots by New York City chef Geoffrey Zakarian.

Other cruise lines appeal to oenophiles with programs like Tauck River Cruises’ 10-day Rhône River trip featuring a Beaujolais tasting at Château de La Chaize. Still others focus on culinary education. Silversea runs cooking school programs on some of their voyages, along with guided tours of port markets followed by onboard demonstrations using local ingredients. Here are the greatest cruises for food, wine, and beer lovers. 

Uniworld

Uniworld has new itineraries in Italy, including a 13-day trip from Venice to Rome. The wine list features great producers from the Veneto, and there are food-centric activities onshore almost daily, including a pasta-making class in Bologna. From $2,899; uniworld.com

Paul Gauguin cruise

(Courtesy: Paul Gauguin)

Paul Gauguin

With room for just 90 guests, the Tere Moana is more like a yacht than a cruise ship. As on its sister ship, the Tahiti-based Paul Gauguin, the consulting chef is Jean-Pierre Vigato, who has two Michelin stars for his Paris restaurant Apicius. The ship’s small size means it can dock in ports where bigger boats can’t. On the tiny Italian island of Elba, passengers can visit La Chiusa winery; in Croatia, they can tour great limited-production wineries, like Milos and Grgich, near Dubrovnik. From $2,895; pgcruises.com

Related: 8 Cruise-Ship Pools that Make You Say Wow 

Royal Caribbean cruise

A sample of Michael Schwartz’s cruise fare. (Courtesy: Royal Caribbean)

Royal Caribbean

When a ship is hundreds of miles from shore, sticking to the locavore creed isn’t easy. But Miami chef Michael Schwartz has been creating a mostly Florida-sourced menu for Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas since 2011. This spring, Schwartz brought the menu to sister ship Allure of the Seas, the world’s biggest cruise ship. From $799; royalcaribbean.com

Silversea cruise

(Courtesy: Silversea Cruises)

Silversea

With some of its ships maxing out at 100 guests, Silversea’s fleet is able to dock in smaller ports like Ajaccio on the French island of Corsica. The line has just introduced short four- to seven-day European cruises that may appeal to some first-time cruisers. On certain voyages, Silversea runs a cooking school program that incorporates basic knife skills classes, and guided tours of port markets followed by onboard demonstrations using local ingredients. silversea.com 

Related: The Hottest Summer Cruises You Need to Book Right Now

Crystal Cruises

(Courtesy: Crystal Cruises)

Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises’ Connoisseur Beer Program features all kinds of intriguing brews. Crystal’s beverage guru, Toni Neumeister, names a few favorites:

Priciest: Samuel Adams Utopias. “They make only a limited number of bottles a year, and the wholesale cost is over $100. It’s very high in alcohol and intensely flavored.”

Most Refreshing: La Trappe Blond. “This Belgian-style blonde ale is actually made in Holland, and it’s clear, sparkling and refreshing.”

Strongest: Rochefort Trappistes 10. “This dark, complex Belgian beer clocks in at 11.3 percent alcohol—that’s closer to a wine than a beer.”

Rarest: Samichlaus Bier. “Made once every December in Austria and aged for 10 months before bottling, this beer resembles a chocolaty port.”

crystalcruises.com 

American Cruise Lines

(Courtesy: American Cruise Lines)

American Cruise Lines

Powered by a paddle wheel, American Cruise Lines’ Queen of the West travels on the Columbia River through Washington and Oregon. The ship’s sommelier pours regional wines and leads tours of five wineries. From $3,750; americancruiselines.com.

Related: Get Your Groove On This Summer With These Seriously Sweet Music Cruises

Seabourn cruise

(Courtesy: Seabourn)

Seabourn

The luxury line Seabourn recently added Antarctica to its list of destinations, making it possible to explore the southernmost continent while enjoying foodie perks like menus featuring Siberian osetra caviar, cooking classes, and a konditorei (a German-style coffee shop and patisserie). In 2013, Seabourn also expanded its guest-conversation series to include onboard talks with chefs like Miami’s Michelle Bernstein, and Robert Irvine of the Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible. seabourn.com

Tauck River Cruises

(Courtesy: Tauck River Cruises)

Tauck River Cruises

With just 14 suites, the high-end Tauck ships specialize in rarefied experiences: A 10-day Rhône River culinary cruise includes a Beaujolais tasting at Château de La Chaize and a private dinner at Paul Bocuse’s L’Abbaye de Collonges, near Lyon. From $5,290; tauck.com 

Viking Cruises

Courtesy of Viking Cruises

Viking Cruises

A river-bound version of the Grand Tour, Viking’s European Sojourn hits nine countries as it sails from Amsterdam to Bucharest. Activities shift along the way: In Holland, there are genever tastings; in Austria, the chef leads a strudel class. From $6,667; vikingrivercruises.com

AMA Waterways

(Courtesy: AMA Waterways)

AmaWaterways

AmaWaterways’ river cruises—which are limited to a relatively intimate 164 passengers—make daily stops in remote towns like Cai Be, Vietnam, where guests can explore the floating market and learn how to make traditional Vietnamese candies and rice paper. The small ship size allows the company to offer a number of wine-themed cruises through the Danube, Mosel, Douro and Rhine river valleys, featuring tours of local wineries guided by experts like Barry Wiss of Napa’s Trinchero Estates. amawaterways.com

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