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Cruising has always involved indulging in pastries and confections. Now several cruise lines are upping the chocolate ante by partnering with famous pastry chefs and chocolatiers.

The first line with new confection-related news is MSC Cruises, which recently announced that they will partner with the French champion pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury. Maury, who won the title of Best Pastry Chef in France (Meilleur Ouvrier de France 1997) and was the gold-medal winner at the World Pastry Team Championship (2002 and 2004), currently runs two Jean-Philippe Patisseries in partnership with MGM Resorts International and is the culinary mind behind iDessert, a shop in San Diego's Little Italy where patrons use iPads to customize their choices for chef-made desserts. 

Maury will begin his partnership by creating desserts for the MSC Divina, which sails to the Caribbean from PortMiami. Then, beginning next year, his desserts will be featured on the line's other ships, starting with the MSC Meraviglia, the company's first Meraviglia-class vessel. Maury will work with MSC to outfit the MSC Meraviglia with a chocolate atelier with an open kitchen so that guests can watch on-board chocolatiers craft artisanal pastries and confections. He will also design a gourmet ice cream parlor and créperie in the ship's indoor promenade (which will be under the longest LED dome at sea.)

Other lines have already partnered with celebrated pastry chefs. The boutique Oceania Cruises, for instance, is serving decadent new desserts developed with pastry chef Christophe Ménard, a longstanding member of Relais Desserts (an international association that promotes haute patisserie). The lineup of desserts includes a caramelized chocolate banana tart, a rich chocolate cake with molten caramel and vanilla ice cream, and a raspberry tartlet with lemongrass cream. Many of Ménard’s creations will also incorporate fine chocolates from Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, and Venezuela, like his Papuan chocolate volcano with a passion fruit heart and caramel “lava.”

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On Princess Cruises, which works with chocolatier Norman Love, guests can enjoy desserts like chocolate tiramisu with mascarpone cream and espresso gelato, indulge in chocolate pastries at breakfast, savor chocolate bites with their afternoon tea, and nibble on chocolate cookies while watching Movies Under the Stars (on a giant poolside screen). There’s even a whipped chocolate body masque and chocolate massage oil at Lotus Spa, and chocolate-based cocktails—like the “chocolate bacon bourbon bliss”—at Princess’ bars.

Another line, Holland America, incorporates high-end Belgian chocolate in cakes, muffins, custards, sauces, and cookies. And dessert menus feature lavish creations by world-renowned chocolatier Jacques Torres, such as his chocolate coconut napoleon and baked chocolate soup. 

Also in Cruise News

Northwest Wineries Cruises 

Seattle-based Un-Cruise Adventures uncorked more wine-themed sailings on the Columbia and Snake rivers for 2016. The “Ameritage! Four Rivers of Wine & History” cruise includes an onboard wine expert and opportunities to visit nine Oregon and Washington wineries for tastings and tours. Seven departures are offered on the 88-passenger SS Legacy, a replica coastal steamer.

Antarctic Photography Boot Camp

Hurtigruten has just introduced a complimentary photography and digital media program on the Midnatsol: The company is tapping accomplished nature and wildlife photographers from Norway's Stavanger Foto to share their expertise in free workshops on the ship's Antarctica voyages from November 2016 through March 2017. Designed for all ages and abilities, the workshops include lectures on basic still and video photography techniques, tips for handling cameras in extreme weather conditions, an introduction to wildlife photography, and field sessions that will help participants learn how to make the most of Antarctica's spectacular photographic opportunities. On each voyage, a special Hurtigruten television channel will showcase highlights of the day's images from both the professionals and the students.

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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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