By Mike Coleman
Just when you thought gastronomic opportunities could not possibly get any better on the high seas, cruise lines go back to the drawing board and roll out more intriguing options.
Â Take, for instance, what’s happening at Crystal Cruises, Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises.
Some of the hottest names in food – Michelin stars, iron chefs and master sommeliers – are gearing up for Crystal’s annual wine and food festival. Meanwhile, at Princess, an intimate Chef’s Table will soon debut fleetwide, and if you’re looking to brush up on the fine points of cocktail connoisseurship, Grey Goose vodka has teamed with Celebrity to offer an onboard spirits ambassador.
Now in its 11th year, Crystal continues to attract some of the most celebrated names in cuisine and wine to its festival as they take to sea hosting cooking demonstrations, wine tastings and gala dinners spotlighting the signature cuisine of each chef.
Exceptional wine educators like Master Sommelier Fred Dame, acclaimed Napa Valley winemakers Beau and Heidi Barrett and Piedmont, Italy winemaker Gaia Gaja, partner with wizards of cuisine, including Andre Rochat of Andre’s and Alize both in Las Vegas, and Heinz Winkler, whose Relais & ChÃƒÂ¢teaux – Residenz Heinz Winkler in Bavaria, Germany has been awarded three Michelin stars.
The festival will be featured on voyages of 10 to 14 days aboard the ultra-luxurious Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, exploring Western Europe May 1 and Aug. 9, the Mediterranean May 25 and Oct. 6, Africa and the Red Sea May 17, New England Oct. 24, and the Panama Canal Nov. 4.
Aboard Emerald Princess, culinary fans can also rejoice. They will be welcomed into the inner sanctum of the ship’s galley by the executive chef for pre-dinner cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a specially prepared multi-course tasting in the dining room.
The group will enjoy French champagne with appetizers and the multi-course menu will be specially created at the chef’s choice and will not be offered anywhere else on the ship. The Chef’s Table experience can be reserved by up to 10 passengers on select nights at a cost of $75 per person.
Spearheading the Grey Goose/Celebrity partnership, meanwhile, is brand ambassador Trevor Burnett. He will board eight different Celebrity ships through July and call on dozens of ports in Alaska, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Europe and Russia.
Burnett will conduct seminars on “mixing the perfect martini” and he’ll assist guests of legal drinking age to create their own innovative martini cocktails. Burnett will also provide drink recipes, train ship bartenders and food and beverage staff in the art of cocktail making. In addition to encouraging a convivial atmosphere at the bars and lounges, look for Burnett to pour Midnight Martinis under the stars.