7 Culinary Cruise Options For Those Opting Out of Paula Deen Cruise

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FriendsEAT co-founder Blanca Valbuena thought since people may be asking for refunds associated with the Paula Deen cruise, it would be a nice gesture to supply a list of some culinary cruise options.

So below we’ve listed 7 quality culinary cruises. Numbers 2-5 are courtesy of Elissa Richard, Fodor’s Contributor.

1) Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises, a leader in yacht-style cruising, partners with SAVEUR, a leading epicurean brand for culinary travel content, to offer food and wine enthusiasts its first culinary focused voyage exploring the local wine, culture, and regional cuisine of Spain. This eight-day Culinary & Wine Delights of Spain sailing will take place onboard Wind Surf departing from Lisbon, Spain on April 19, 2014, visiting Cádiz, Málaga, Almería, Cartagena, Valencia, Sóller and culminating in Barcelona.

Guests who book by August 31, 2013 can take advantage of an introductory offer of $2,999 per stateroom (based on double occupancy), plus receive a complimentary one-year subscription to SAVEUR magazine.

2) Tauck’s French-Inspired Wine-and-Food Sailings on the Rhône

Tauck’s new “A Taste of France” cruises on the Rhône River showcase the best of the French culinary tradition, with 9-night itineraries—crafted in partnership with culinary tour specialists Churchill & Turen, Ltd.—that incorporate cooking demos, market visits, wine tastings, guest lecturers, and more.

The itineraries kick off with a two-night hotel stay in Paris, with excursions focused on the local food scene (including a tasting at École de Cuisine, Alain Ducasse’s new culinary school; visits to Julia Child’s favorite haunts; and more), followed by a 7-night sailing aboard the 118-passenger MS Swiss Emerald through the vineyard-coated Rhône Valley.

Sample regional specialties in local markets (including Lyon’s legendary Les Halles); taste wine in Beaujolais; take cooking classes at a culinary school operated by a three-star Michelin chef; and more. The themed sailings embark on June 28 and October 20; rates start from $5,390/person (including two nights’ hotel in Paris).

3) Oceania Cruise’s

Epicurean-minded Oceania Cruises ranks tops with foodies, thanks to features like the Riviera and Marina’s Bon Appetit Culinary Center (the hands-on culinary school is promoting various new cooking classes and wine tastings this year), and new “Cuisines of the World” fleet-wide programming, which highlights signature dishes from each port in onboard restaurants.

Plus, guests can now sign up for one of Riviera or Marina’s new “Culinary Discovery Tours,” available in more than two dozen ports worldwide (and soon to be on offer on all Oceania ships).

The tours, led by expert chefs, make stops at local food markets, vineyards, and gourmet shops (like chocolatiers or artisanal cheese makers), and are rounded out with an onboard cooking class inspired by in-port finds; rates for the Culinary Discovery Tours start at a $175 supplement (on top of standard base fares).

Or, sign up for one of two 10-night “Bon Appétit Wine & Food Festival” sailings, helmed by select culinary and wine experts, and featuring cooking classes, market tours, wine tastings, and more.

The themed sailings depart October 14 (from Athens to Rome) on the 1,250-passenger Riviera, and October 22 (from Athens to Istanbul) on the 1,250-passenger Marina; rates start from $2,984/person.

4) Silversea’s Culinary-Themed Sailings and Tours

Silversea is offering a slate of “Relais & Chateaux L’Ecole des Chefs” cooking school voyages this year, headed by Chef David Bilsland, a former instructor at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in London. The supplemental program is offered completely free of charge to fare-paying guests on select themed voyages (10 more are on the roster for 2012). The culinary curriculum is anchored on hands-on cooking instruction, wine pairings, local market tours (followed by onboard cooking classes), and more, all of which is designed to highlight regional flavors reflective of the ship’s itinerary.

L’École des Chefs’ sailings range from 7 to 16 nights and take in itineraries in Europe, the Caribbean, and more; rates start at $2,799 per person. Plus, look for a slew of new food-and-wine shore excursions on the roster on additional Silversea Mediterranean and Northern Europe itineraries the summer, like sunset wine tastings in Croatia or lunch at a two-Michelin-star restaurant in Bordeaux.

5) Norwegian’s New Gourmet Chef’s Table Experience

Norwegian Cruise Line debuted a high-end onboard gourmet “Chef’s Table” experience in March, with one such exclusive dining experience available to discerning guests on each and every Norwegian cruise. Being billed as a nine-course “culinary adventure,” the intimate 12-person, two-and-a-half-hour dinners start with champagne and continue with a menu that features dishes like vodka and jalapeno ravioli and plantain-crusted pan-seared sea bass. Meals are accompanied by fine wines selected by the line’s master sommelier.

The cover charge for the Chef’s Table dining experience is $75 per person, which also includes a galley tour, commemorative photos, and gratuities. Starting sample fares for 7-night Norwegian Cruise Line sailings to Europe and the Caribbean start from $399 per person.

6) Paul Gauguin Cruises

Purchased from Regent cruise lines in 2004, the MS Paul Gaugin is a small ship designed to sail the shallow waters in Tahiti and Polynesia. This ship offers an annual, seven-day culinary education cruise. The chef hosts seminars, cooking classes and fishing trips. The ship is limited to 330 passengers.

7) Holland America

For a bargain cruise with a culinary twist, Holland America offers two cruise ships, the Amsterdam and the Oosterdam, each with a culinary art center on board. The center has a demonstration kitchen that hosts cooking classes at sea, along with tasting events and gourmet presentations. Both ships offer worldwide itineraries, including a May to September season in Alaska or Mexico, winters in Australia, and sailings in the Panama Canal and the Mediterranean.

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Spence Cooper
Inquisitive foodie with a professional investigative background and strong belief in the organic farm to table movement. Author of Bad Seeds: A FriendsEAT Guide to GMO's. Buy Now!
Spence Cooper


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