Dining at sea is getting better all the time as all kinds of cruise lines, from mainstream to luxury to expedition, introduce new restaurants, partner with celebrated chefs, and begin to focus on sourcing local ingredients. One Carnival Cruise Line vessel, Carnival Magic, just emerged from a refurbishment with a new restaurant that includes a smokehouse. Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que is a casual, open-air (and free) eatery created in partnership with Food Network star Guy Fieri that dishes up barbecue favorites smoked over hickory and cherry wood. The menu features bone-in Championship Pork Butt that has been dry-rubbed and smoked, as well as grilled Blue Ribbon Chicken, Smoked Andouille Sausage, and Sliced Smoked Round of Beef cooked "low and slow." Diners can add sides like mac 'n' cheese or slaw and spice up their dishes with Fieri’s signature sauces—Award-Winning Bourbon Brown Sugar (sweet and sticky), Kansas City (smoky and sweet), Sriracha BBQ (spicy and tangy), and Carolina #6 (tangy and sweet heat). The chef is also the face of the wildly popular Guy's Burger Joint that is already poolside on 11 Carnival ships; each serves more than 1,000 burgers a day.
MSC Cruises is also partnering with a celebrity chef, Roy Yamaguchi of Roy's restaurants. The chef, who pioneered Hawaiian fusion cuisine, is designing a pan-Asian gourmet restaurant for MSC’s new ship, MSC Seaside, which will sail next year. The new spot will offer a range of dishes from Japan, Thailand, Korea, and Malaysia and will have a sushi, sashimi, and raw bar as well as in-table teppanyaki grills where diners can be entertained by the chefs cooking in front of them.
Meanwhile luxury line Seabourn is working with Thomas Keller (of the French Laundry, Per Se, and Bouchon) to create a restaurant that will be added to all its ships. Some venues in Seabourn's fleet already offer some of the chef's recipes, made from ingredients supplied by artisanal purveyors. But this new restaurant, The Grill by Thomas Keller, will be his showcase. Inspired by the classic American chophouse, it will serve classics like lobster thermidor and creamed spinach, and diners can expect tableside preparations of Caesar salad and ice cream sundaes. The restaurants will also be designed by Adam D. Tihany, the interior architect who created the look for Per Se. There's no additional charge for The Grill.
Lastly, the expedition operator Hurtigruten is incorporating the bounty of its home country, Norway, into shipboard menus. Travelers on the line’s year-round Norwegian coastal voyages (known for their views of fjords, mountains, waterfalls, the midnight sun in summer, and the northern lights in winter) can now enjoy ingredients from dozens of local food suppliers. The line’s new "Coastal Kitchen" concept brings seasonal ingredients, often harvested the same day, to their kitchens. Local ingredients include hand-picked cloudberries, sea buckthorn (bright orange berries used in desserts), reindeer, and freshly caught Arctic char, salmon, and trout.
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There’s an App for That
Princess Cruises has introduced an interactive mobile experience, "Places to Sea," to help travelers determine which itinerary is best for them. The app is simple to use (and will be familiar to anyone who’s used certain dating sites). Just swipe right to "like" or left to "pass" through travel-related images of things like "wine tasting," "visiting local markets," "whale watching," and "climbing ancient ruins." The interface then identifies preferences and tells you whether you're an "adventurer," "culturist," "naturalist," "rejuvenator," or "foodie." Then the app will match you with a Princess destination and various itineraries. "Places to Sea" is available for Android and iOS.
Around the World in 180 Days
When it comes to the ultimate voyage—a world cruise—no line offers a more comprehensive itinerary than the upscale operator Oceania Cruises. In fact, the company has announced its fifth consecutive 180-day circumnavigation, in 2018. The 684-passenger Insignia will cast off from Miami on Jan. 3, 2018, and return on July 1, and in that time the ship will call at 87 ports in 40 countries while traversing more than 39,000 nautical miles.
The cruise first charts the Caribbean and South America's Atlantic coast before crossing to Africa. Continuing eastward across the Indian Ocean, Insignia will sail through Asia before heading to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. Heading back to the Americas via Hawaii, the ship will visit Mexico and Central America, then sail through the Panama Canal en route to Miami. Among the destinations are 20 national capitals and 56 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There will be overnight stays in 13 cities, including Yangon, Myanmar; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Cape Town, South Africa. Fares start at $39,999.
Anne Kalosh doesn't count the cruises she’s taken, though there have been hundreds—including five years as a shipboard newspaper editor, sailing the world. She loves the experiences sea travel offers. Her byline has appeared in many major publications, and she's on top of the latest cruise developments as the long-time U.S. editor for Seatrade-Cruise.com and Seatrade Cruise Review.
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