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Cruises and Cuisine Go Hand In Hand
by Roy Witman © 2008

From weekend workshops to full-service culinary academies, men and women are drawn to cooking lessons. Now you can incorporate your love for cooking with your dreams of high seas adventure because more and more cruise ships are offering cooking-related events onboard.

Originally attributed to small cruise ships that needed an incentive to gain bookings, cooking cruises have grown over the years and are now found aboard large vessels. One of the most recent announcements is from Holland American. Working in conjunction with Food & Wine magazine, Holland America's Culinary Arts Center will offer demonstrations and seminars from world-renowned chefs, wine experts, cookbook authors and more.

A fleet-wide enhancement, the Culinary Arts Center will be retrofit onto all 13 existing ships and will also be incorporated into the upcoming 14th ship due to launch in summer 2008. Each Culinary Arts Center will include theater-style seating, state-of-the-art show kitchen, plasma screens that allow every participant to see, a display counter for easy viewing and space for guests to participate in preparing some of the dishes. Upgrades to all Holland ships will be complete by summer 2006 allowing each ship to include Culinary Arts Center activities during each cruise.

One small cruise company offers tours featuring chefs from the world-famous Le Cordon Bleu. As you cruise the Baltic Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea, you can enjoy studying under talented instructors. Other small ships sail to Greece, Turkey and other worldwide destinations offering cooking classes based on each region visited.

Over 60 top chefs are slated to appear during the next 12-months on Holland American ships including Nick Stellino, chef and host of Nick Stellino's Family Kitchen V; Jacques Torres, chocolatier, pastry chef and cookbook author; Aaron Sanchez, chef and owner of Paladar, New York City; Michelle Bernstein, owner and chef of MB restaurant in Cancun; Neal Gallagher chef of Oceana (and voted Best New Chef of 2003), Charles Dale, founder of Aspen's Renaissance, Range and Rustique restaurants and the list goes on.

Food preparation, wine tasting, cooking classes, seminars, books signings, question and answer sessions and market tours in port are just a few of the activities passengers on various ships can look forward to.

When booking a cooking cruise, look for themes such as grilling, desserts, healthy entrees, Italian, Mexican, etc. In addition, also ask about group discounts. Holland's Culinary Group Program offers special fares for groups of 25 or more, a cabin for a guest chef, two one-hour demonstration sessions, a complementary wine tasting or cocktail party and a color, group photo.

Most cooking cruises allow you to eat what has been prepared so you can literally taste the fruits of your labor. However, samples may not be enough for an entire meal. If the cooking tour you book is aboard a smaller ship rather than a large vessel with onboard restaurants, you might be wise to ask if a meal will be served prior to booking your reservation.

Whether you opt for an intimate-size ship with only a few hundred passengers and a define itinerary or a large vessel capable of sailing the world, cooking cruises are fun, entertaining and exciting for every member of the family. Ask your travel agent for the details on cooking cruises available in the destinations you want to sail.

Read more about the Holland America Cruise Line.
Read more about European Cruises.
Read more about Mediterranean Cruises.