Cruise Guide: Seabourn offers small-plate culinary experience

By Michael Coleman

Smaller portioned cuisine options await guests aboard the yacht-like ships of Seabourn, a cruise line big on luxury. 

The company, operators of three elegant vessels – the 208-guest Pride, Spirit and Legend – has also unveiled a series of exotic global itineraries through 2008 punctuated by indulgences that cruise savvy travelers have come to expect from Seabourn.

The line is the first, however, to feature this multi-course, small-plate dining experience at sea but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the concept becomes mainstream especially in the competitive luxury cruise market.

“Seabourn’s guests are very sophisticated diners,” said Seabourn’s president, Deborah Natansohn. “They have experienced the way many of today’s chefs are fusing ideas from Spanish tapas and French menus degustation and Asian multi-course traditions to create diverse, interesting meals, and they expect to find the same sort of inventive cuisine on our ships.” 

Dubbed “Tastings @ 2” – “2” is Seabourn’s casual, alternative onboard dining venue – the line actually expanded its galleys to accommodate two chefs working simultaneously to prepare and plate the dozens of dishes that will make up each meal.

“It’s a culinary symphony,” said menu designer, Anton “Tony” Egger, Seabourn’s corporate executive chef. “Like a complex musical composition of tastes and textures, I am able to mix and match, highlight one dish or serve an assortment of flavors to be tasted together. By serving more than one dish per course, I create a multitude of flavors and sensations in a single meal of five or six courses.”

The dining venue “2”, located atop each vessel in the casual indoor/outdoor Veranda Cafe, accommodates about 50 guests each night, by reservation. Guests can also enjoy the award-winning onboard cuisine designed by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer and served in each ship’s main, open-seating dining venue: The Restaurant.

The small-plate dining option is just one of many onboard perks awaiting guests as part of the line’s Signature Delights program which includes complimentary spirits, wines and French champagne throughout each cruise; free massage moments for guests on deck; therapeutic bathing selections from Molton Brown, and a complimentary shoreside experience on every cruise.

Guests will also enjoy special Seabourn services, among them: Vintage Seabourn, a premium wines pre-purchase package; Seabourn to a Tea, an upgraded menu of rare estate teas; and Seabourn’s Personal Shopper, a program which provides luxury cars and specialized shopping guides in various ports. Additionally, an insider tip program created exclusively for Seabourn from the pages of Conde Nast Traveler magazine features the latest information about attractions, suggested lunch spots, popular bars, unique experiences, shopping tips and more for guests who wish to customize their own port activities through the ships’ onboard concierge.

Nice touches when you consider that the fleet will soon embark on a 15-month, 125-cruise schedule, calling on some 225 ports in 64 countries between January 2007 and April 2008.

New for 2007 are several “Sail & Stay” packages combining cruises with luxurious pre- and post-cruise extensions in Hong Kong, Singapore, Istanbul and Athens. In the first quarter of 2007, look for Spirit to return to China after an extended absence, with a nine-day voyage round trip from Hong Kong including a three-day stay in Shanghai. Legend, meanwhile, will cruise northward from Caldera, Costa Rica to Los Angeles on a pair of 10-day voyages exploring Guatemala and the Mexican Riviera. Pride will repeat her popular circuit of South America featuring a 72-day odyssey that is available in segments from seven to 18 days.

Mediterranean voyages aboard Spirit and Legend in 2007 will feature calls along the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic, such as Split and Zadar in Croatia and Kotor Fjord in Montenegro. Monopoli, in Italy’s southern Puglia region, and the volcanic Aeolian island of Lipari are new port calls in 2007, as is Tarragona in Spain. Also new in 2007 is a European visit to Belle-Ile-en-Mer off the coast of Brittany.

Seabourn Pride’s fall foliage cruises sail 10 days between Gloucester, Massachusetts and Montreal, Quebec, in 2007, and include Summerside, Prince Edward Island, St. Pierre & Miquelon and St. John, New Brunswick.

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