Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about new ways to experience destinations. The pandemic has taught us that we should take nothing for granted, and I, for one, am re-evaluating my choices in terms of the quality of the experience while I’m on vacation.
For those of you who know me well, you know I love helping my clients experience the best of a destination through its food, wine, and culture. Nowadays, I’m always looking for ways to enhance this experience. That doesn’t change when I go on a cruise. Not one bit. Mass market cruises suit certain situations for certain people. Still, I’m always looking for a more personalized and luxurious stateroom and elevated culinary experience onboard (I’m a foodie, after all). It takes an exceptional cruise line that is also focused on these goals to deliver. This means fewer passengers on board, a higher crew-to-guest ratio, and dining options that rival Michelin Starred restaurants worldwide.
At Premiere Luxury Travel, we believe that the magic of traveling is connecting where you visit the food and wine experience of the destination. Almost nothing is more life-changing than walking through a local Italian food market with a talented chef, bringing those fresh ingredients back to the kitchen, and creating an authentic Italian dish – I can taste the pesto now! Now picture this happening in Greece, France, or Spain, as well. Where can you experience this type of heaven in multiple countries on the same vacation?
Luckily, this describes Oceania Cruises to a “T!” Not only do they have an unforgettable onboard experience, but the way they allow guests to experience the destinations is unique in ways befitting its tagline, “Your World. Your Way.”
I love Oceania because of its small-ship luxury, exquisitely crafted cuisine, & curated travel experiences, making an Oceania cruise so unique and special. Your floating luxury hotel takes you through some of the most iconic culinary destinations in the world, and you only have to unpack once!
Serious foodies will love Oceania’s Marina and Riviera ships! The Culinary Center with cooking classes that allow budding chefs (i.e., passengers), with the help of a master chef, to create their own delectable recipes ranging from homemade pizzas to Sicilian-inspired pasta dishes. Plus, each ship offers top-notch dining spots, including a dining room with French-inspired dishes created by acclaimed chef Jacques Pépin and an Asian-influenced bistro, Red Ginger. Aboard the Marina and Riviera ships, guests can experience La Reserve, a food-and-wine-pairing restaurant in partnership with Wine Spectator. Culinary Discovery Tours take the experience off the boat, inviting passengers to source ingredients at markets and dine at local restaurants. Guests can sip fine vintages at a wine tasting and experience artist-in-residence workshops on Marina, Riviera, and Insignia world cruises.
The exclusive Culinary Discovery Tours on board Marina and Riviera offer insider secrets of authentic regional cuisine during your day ashore, ranging from a cooking demonstration at a Venetian master chef’s private villa or an off-the-beaten-path experience on a French Polynesian island.
During a Culinary Discovery Tour, you will shop for local ingredients on shore and bring them back to use in a cooking class. Where else can you try those gorgeous lemons, tomatoes, and herbs that you found at the local market? These culinary tours started when guests in the cooking classes would ask the chef where she was going in port. When she said “to the market,” and they said “can we come with you?” – an idea was born! Now they have over 50 of these culinary tours to choose from!
You don’t have to have a sophisticated palate to enjoy this type of cruise. Some of the exceptional experiences they offer (according to Oceania’s website) are:
The Dom Pérignon Experience a six-course gastronomic indulgence worthy of a gourmand’s bucket list. The evening is so exceptional, it is offered only once per voyage. First, indulge in three of Moët & Chandon’s most acclaimed vintages. The Dom Pérignon Experience is a six-course tasting menu, shared with no more than 24 enthusiasts in La Reserve. Each of the three Champagne vintages is effortlessly paired with two courses specifically crafted to bring out the nuances of the grapes and the ratio of the blend, playing off every aspect from subtle, effervescent nose to lively, satisfying finish.
Michelin Chef Reine Sammut & Aix Market
Immerse yourself in the cuisine of Provence in this chef-centered tour designed for food and wine enthusiasts. Travel to a colorful market in Aix-en-Provence with your chef, where you will discover unique and seasonal products as locals do their daily shopping. Then travel to the cookery school of Reine Sammut, one of the few Michelin starred female chefs in France. Enjoy a cooking demonstration with Chef Sammut and lunch at the charming Auberge La Fenière before returning to the ship for a special tasting of local specialties, including the unforgettable Provence rosé.
Foraging Tour & Greek Cooking Class
Join your Culinary Center chef for a walking and foraging tour through the charming town of Argostoli. Stop by the local produce market and purchase fresh tomatoes to make the traditional Dakos of Greece – a conventional shepherds’ dish. Grated tomatoes are placed on barley rusks and topped with feta cheese and extra virgin olive oil. Visit local bakeries to purchase breads and confections, and enjoy a sampling of Greek mezze at a seaside taverna that you will later replicate back on board at The Culinary Center.
To understand why I’m so passionate about culinary travel, watch this inspiring video. Chef Kathryn Kelly nailed it when she said, “You can teach Greek cooking at a cooking school anywhere on land, but when you’re in Greece, it’s magic, because you’re there!”
To say these cruises are popular is an understatement! One itinerary that caught my eye is the London to Lisbon in October 2022 stops in Bordeaux, San Sebastian, Bilbao, and Lisbon. With such an incredible itinerary, it’s no wonder the entire ship is sold out, and there is a waitlist! In addition, Oceania’s 180-night Around the World cruise in 2023 is so popular, it sold out in just one day!
To experience one of these exceptional voyages and authentic luxury culinary experiences for yourself, reach out to us when you’re ready! But plan far ahead, because they DO sell out! Contact Premiere Luxury Travel today to plan YOUR next luxury culinary adventure!
Our bespoke itineraries are uniquely designed to completely immerse you in your destination, with delightfully unexpected surprises along the way.
We have a special passion for all things culinary—and we would love to introduce you to your destination’s distinct (and delicious!) food and wine traditions through one-of-a-kind culinary experiences. The best part? You won’t have to do a thing except relax, recharge, and create memories that last a lifetime!
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