Viking Sea-24

For many cruisers, food is a driving force in their vacations: multiple dining venues offer around-the-clock access to satisfy every craving. Lately, cruise ship food and beverage programs are seeing a renewed trend: one that places culinary talent over quantity.

Viking Sea-47

Cruise-loving foodies who might not otherwise have the opportunity to dine at their favorite celebrity chefs’ land-based restaurants are able to enjoy at-sea access.

Culinary cruises are gaining popularity, with more and more cruise lines offering immersive culinary experiences, using local ingredients and techniques, and hosting themed dinners or chef’s tables.

Amphora dessert
[Dessert aboard the Windstar Star Breeze]

Windstar is the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to celebrate, support and elevate the people behind America’s food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability.

Each year, Windstar creates a series of intimate, themed culinary sailings that include a chef-hosted dinner with wine pairing, two cooking demonstrations on board (including recipes to bring home), and a local market tour with the chef. The 2025 sailing season marks their 10th year of partnership, and will feature five acclaimed chefs bringing their regional culinary expertise and signature dishes to sea.

Kicking it up yet another notch are cruise lines that have partnered with a celebrity chef. One of the specialty dining options on Crystal is UMI UMA (which translates to “seahorse” in Japanese), created by legendary master chef Nobuyuki (Nobu) Matsuhisa.

Nobu aficionados will find many of their favorite dishes at UMI UMA — including the famed Nobu-style black co, lobster tacos, and wagyu beef filet — alongside some new offerings.

“I have personally trained every single UMI UMA chef who works onboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, along with my corporate chef team,” he said. “We are very destination-driven, so what’s exciting about having the Nobu team onboard Crystal is their ability to source the freshest possible seafood and ingredients during each port stop.”

Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Holland America Line
[Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Holland America Line]

In December, Holland America Line opened a new specialty venue, Morimoto By Sea, aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam. What led to Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s decision to open his first standalone restaurant at sea? “I’ve always loved traveling and experiencing new cultures and cuisines. Opening a restaurant on a cruise ship allows me to bring my style of Japanese cuisine to guests from all over the world.”

Morimoto by Sea offers a curated menu incorporating local catches from the ports-of-call, made possible by Holland America Line’s global Fresh Fish Program. Morimoto serves as ambassador to this program, one that offers more than 80 varieties of fresh fish sourced locally from across its worldwide network.

According to Morimoto, “This program truly brings the concept of ‘from port to plate in less than 48 hours’ to life, offering guests the freshest fish options. It allows me to be creative, design menus guided by seasonal availability of fish, and educate guests in the process. It’s a great feeling to be a part of something that not only enhances the culinary world but also benefits our planet and the local fishing communities we work with.”

Similarly, Cunard Line recently announced a new partnership with two Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux (formerly of Le Gavroche in London), who will work with the cruise line’s culinary team to create an exclusive gala menu for the Queens Grill restaurant on the line’s new ship Queen Anne (launching this June). He’ll also develop a reimagined menu for Cunard’s fleet-wide pub, the Golden Lion.

Celebrity Cruises
[Celebrity Cruises Le Voyage By Chef Daniel Boulud entrance]

Celebrity Cruises rests its laurels on world-renowned French chef and restauranteur Daniel Boulud (and his many Michelin stars). Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud is the cruise line’s signature restaurant, while Luminae, the private restaurant for passengers staying in exclusive suites, has a selection of Boulud dishes. Foodie clients shouldn’t miss Chef’s Table by Daniel Boulud for a five-course meal designed by the chef, paired with a printed copy of the menu, a photograph of the experience and a copy of his cookbook.

MSC Cruises’ celebrity chef, Niklas Ekstedt — a Michelin-starred Swedish chef, TV personality, and author — runs Chef’s Garden Kitchen on World Europa. This specialty restaurant is set in an at-sea hydroponic garden featuring an immersive experience with panoramic sea views and an open kitchen. The menu’s focus is on Nordic ingredients and techniques with plenty of leafy greens and veggie dishes.

Culinary cruises with Scenic introduce passengers to several acclaimed chefs of Top Chef fame. Tom Goetter — the line’s executive chef, who oversees the culinary program for both Scenic Eclipse Discovery Yachts and the two Emerald Cruises yachts — trained under Thomas Keller’s Napa Valley team and was a finalist in the first season of Top Chef Germany.

Goetter is joined by chefs Dale Mackay (first-season winner of Top Chef Canada) and Gabriel Rodriguez (second-season winner of Top Chef Mexico and the runner-up on Top Chef World All-Stars) on foodie-focused sailings this year.  

Chef Emeril Lagasse, Carnival Pres Christine Duffy
[Chef Emeril Lagasse, Carnival President Christine Duffy]

Fans of James Beard Award winner Emeril Lagasse and Food Network star Guy Fieri can find their at-sea restaurant concepts aboard Carnival Cruise Line ships. Emeril’s Bistro brings bayou flavours and creole cooking aboard, while Guy’s Burger Joint and Guy’s Pig & Anchor smokehouse and brewhouse bring barbecued meats and elevated burgers to hungry passengers.

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