“As the world moves again, travel offers that sense of connection – that absolute joy of discovering cultures so different from your own, of tasting their coffee, their wine; Discovering the most authentic version of their local dish in a small trattoria someone pointed you to – we missed that,” he says.
The most fascinating new feature aboard the Silver Dawn is an impressive state-of-the-art culinary school, SALT Laboratory, with several demo stations. SALT stands for Sea and Land Button.
There is also a SALT concept restaurant and bar, as well as a new range of cultural programs focused on food and wine. (Note that SALT is currently only available on Dawn and Silver Moon.)
On the cruise between Lisbon and Porto, passengers gathered at the laboratory to prepare the popular local staple bacalhau a bras – eggs, potatoes, onions and cod. The SALT shore excursion took us to popular Lisbon Timeout Marketin the historic 1890s Mercado da Ribeira.
After a tour, we got behind the pans in the market’s on-site demonstration kitchen to test our skills at making the humble Portuguese custard tart. It’s surprisingly hard to get it just right.
Combining Northern Hemisphere itineraries is a popular option for Australians as we travel so far to cruise in this part of the world. And when it comes to Europe, food is something all luxury brands push to the fore.
When I board the Emerald Azzura in Dubrovnik, the ship’s chef is already cooking up a local storm, including Adriatic tuna, stuffed cabbage rolls and extra-creamy cheesecake.
“The food brings people back to a ship year after year,” he says, adding, “Even though we’re stuck in the kitchen, we chefs are pretty important.”
Sailing further north, country dishes include the local prosciutto, dried by the Adriatic’s cold Bora wind; succulent lamb with rosemary to graze on and the hard feta cheese from the island of Pag, along with buckets of salty gelato.
French captain Vincent Taillard was so taken with the concept of superyacht cruising that he switched from larger vessels to helm it. “Who wouldn’t want to tell the people in the port that you’re retiring to your superyacht?” he shrugs. “We’re small, we can go where others can’t, and we’re less intrusive in port.”
I’m not sure I should be less pushy though. When our all-white superyacht with polished aluminum trim suddenly emerges from the morning fog in the harbor, the local kids look stunned.
After sailing small and intimate, I will grow big before going home. Celebrity Beyond is the third ship in American Line’s impressive Edge class of ships, easily identifiable by her orange “magic carpets” – a cantilevered platform that moves between decks for a variety of purposes, from tender transfers at sea level to a bar on the 14th deck and gives guests the feeling of floating above the ocean.
The Celebrity Beyond can accommodate over 3200 passengers and thus firmly belongs to the category of large ships. But don’t be fooled. Onboard, you can enjoy the benefits of a large ship with the intimacy of a small ship when you opt for the key card access retreat area, spanning three decks forward midships for a maximum of 500 guests.
With a separate pool, deck and sunbathing area, the Retreat offers some of the most luxurious accommodation at sea, especially for families. It comes in the form of the Edge Villas — two-story townhouses with private outdoor spa pools — as well as the top Iconic Suite and Penthouse Suites. Think of it as the celebrity takeover Cunard’s Traditional Queens Grill Suites.
We depart from Southampton, south west of London; It is one of the most famous shipping ports in the world and this is where the Titanic left for New York in 1912.
Large liners are the ideal choice for longer periods at sea and famous crossings like the Transatlantic as they are more stable in rough conditions.
And on a big ship there is room for choice. Thirty-two dining options are just a short walk from your suite. This includes eight specialty restaurants with menus designed by Michelin-starred chef Cornelius Gallagher and signature dishes from global culinary ambassador Daniel Boulud. There is also the Luminae restaurant for retreat guests.
The captain of Celebrity Beyond is Kate McCue, the first American to command a cruise ship. Celebrity Cruises President and CEO is Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, who in 2012 became the first woman to lead one of the cruise brands owned by parent company Royal Caribbean Group.
“When I ask the crew if it’s important to them that they have a captain, almost all of them say, ‘Yes, the energy on board is different,'” says Nate Berkus, design ambassador for the Celebrity Edge series, who credits Lutoff Perlo and others have joined celebrity ambassadors and executives for the float.
With 335,000 Instagram followers and 3 million on TikTok, McCue is a fitting celebrity captain for the Glamor line.
The author traveled as a guest on Silversea, Emerald Cruises and Celebrity Cruises.
- Emerald Azzurra carries 100 passengers and 64 crew members. The eight-day Croatian Coast & Best of the Adriatic (booking code E02D) starts on July 8th next year. Category A balcony suites are $8630 per person sharing; or $20,260 per person for the Owner’s Suite. emeraldcruises.com.au or 1300 286 110.
- Silver Dawn carries 596 passengers and 411 crew members. Try the 11-day Barcelona to Barcelona voyage, departing on June 27 this year. A Superior Veranda Suite, door-to-door (with flights), starts at $13,700 per guest or $28,700 per guest for the Owner’s Suite. silversea.com or 1300 306 872.
- Celebrity Beyond carries 3260 passengers and 1646 crew members. Seven Nights in the Bahamas, Mexico and Grand Cayman — with departures beginning November 20 this year through next year — starts at US$3,975 per person (US$5,535) for a suite at the retreat; or $14,157 per person for an Edge Villa (which sleeps up to four people). celebritycruises.com or 1800 754 500.