Food-focused cruises and celebrity chef sightings are back on the Cruise menu: Travel Weekly

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The global cruise closures during the pandemic have meant the postponement or cancellation of many culinary cruises.

Now that the industry is partially back on track, food-focused cruises are back on the menu, with creative themes and big-name chefs marking their return.

Here are a few lines and departures that will give 2022 an epicurean twist.

From the tundra to the table with cottage cheese

Cruise lines long ago embraced the farm-to-table, local-everything trend, but Quark Expeditions may be the first to offer a tundra-to-table experience.

The program, which will be conducted on seven Arctic voyages this year and next, offers guests on Quark’s newest ship, the Ultramarine, the opportunity to learn about Inuit culture and culinary traditions in Greenland and the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut Experienced.

On these routes, a tasting menu of dishes from these regions is prepared by Inuit chefs who are available throughout the journey to educate guests about the origins of the food and the elements of Inuit cuisine.

A dish prepared for Quark Expeditions’ Tundra-to-Table experience. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Quark Expeditions

The $125-per-person experience is offered at Ultramarine’s main restaurant, Balena; Ingredients include seafood caught in arctic waters, such as char in Nunavut, and free-ranging local game, including musk ox in Greenland.

Guests get four courses of what Quark calls “modern Inuit fusion cuisine.” Menus vary by trip but may include beer-braised musk ox with Greenlandic mashed potatoes, mushroom sauce and berry jam; South Greenland lamb served with potato slices, sweet turnip stew, pickled angelica and game sauce; honey-glazed ptarmigan served with beet puree; and pickled halibut served with lumpfish dip and bread. Dinner will also be about regional table culture.

Star chefs at Windstar

As part of its longstanding partnership as the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation, Windstar Cruises has created an all-female trio of guest chefs for this year’s culinary cruises.

Each chef will host a cruise where they will conduct onboard cooking demonstrations, prepare hosted dinners with wine pairings, and lead market tours to shop for ingredients. The chefs will also provide recipes that will be featured on Windstar menus across the fleet, contributing to a growing selection of James Beard Foundation products to be served on board.

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Chef Jennifer Hill Booker hosted Windstars In the Wake of the Spanish Armadas, which sailed from Aruba to Panama. Photo credit: Courtesy of Windstar Cruises

The series kicked off earlier this month with a trip from Aruba to Panama on the Windsurf. In the Wake of the Spanish Armadas presented Chef Jennifer Hill Booker, author of Field Peas to Foie Gras: Southern Recipes With a French Accent and Dinner Deja Vu: Southern Tonight, French Tomorrow.

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Chef and restaurant owner Tanya Holland will be sailing the West Coast on Windstar’s Star Breeze in May. Photo credit: Courtesy of Windstar Cruises

The West Coast Epicurean Extravaganza cruise from San Diego to Vancouver, scheduled to depart May 10, will bring on board Tanya Holland, executive chef and owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, California. Holland will conduct a 10-day cruise on the Star Breeze to ports such as Portland, Oregon; Seattle; and Santa Barbara, California. Local offerings not to be missed include sourdough bread, salmon and apples.

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Chef and restaurant owner Irene Li will host Windstars Southeast Canadian Explorations in October. Photo credit: Courtesy of Windstar Cruises

Southeast Canadian Explorations sails from Montreal to Boston on October 12th. Boston’s Mei Mei Chinese restaurant owner, Chef Irene Li, will be hosting the 11-day cruise on Star Pride, which will include visits to Gaspe, Quebec; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Bar Harbor, Maine. Local culinary offerings include Kamouraska lamb, lobster and Halifax Donair.

A “top chef” takes the scenic route

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Scenic brings Top Chef alumnus Bryan Voltaggio to southern France on a culinary river cruise. Photo credit: Courtesy of Scenic Cruises

Scenic Luxury Cruises is taking Top Chef graduate Bryan Voltaggio on a culinary river cruise to the south of France this fall. Voltaggio will give a lecture on seasonal and French cuisine and host cooking demonstrations where he will present new recipes. Guests can also meet and dine with the celebrity chef. The 11-day cruise aboard the Scenic Sapphire departs Lyon on October 20th.

‘Biscuit Queen’ sails American Queen

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American Queen Voyages’ new culinary ambassador, Regina Charboneau, will be hosting eight cruises this year. Photo credit: Courtesy of American Queen Voyages

American Queen Voyages’ new culinary ambassador, Chef Regina Charboneau, will be aboard eight cruises in 2022 that will showcase local cuisine through cooking demonstrations and discussions. She will also explore ports with guests and regional cooking friends.

“Every city and port has its own iconic dish, and I look forward to sharing the story of that dish, how it’s impacted the community and more,” Charboneau said of her cruises, adding that the local salmon is featured in Alaska and Nashville Hot Is Chicken is featured. Best known as the “Biscuit Queen of Natchez” for her specialty in making handmade cookies, Charboneau lives in her hometown of Natchez, Miss., where she owns Biscuit & Blues. She is also the author of Mississippi Current Cookbook: A Culinary Journey Down America’s Greatest River and owns two restaurants in San Francisco.

Pepin Family style dining on Oceania

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Jacques Pepin and his daughter Claudine Pepin will be hosting both Oceania Cruises cruises this year. Photo credit: Courtesy of Oceania Cruises

It’s a family affair for Pepin this year on Oceania Cruises’ culinary cruises.

A cruise aboard the Sirena, departing Edinburgh, Scotland, July 23, is being hosted by the ship’s godmother, Claudine Pepin, daughter of Jacques Pepin and co-founder of the Jacques Pepin Foundation.

Jacques Pepin, Oceania’s Executive Culinary Director, will then host his own cruise on the Insignia on September 10th from New York.

Both cruises feature unique menus, lectures and culinary demonstrations.

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