Michelin star dining on the high seas
Cruise liners are increasingly turning to Michelin star chefs to provide customers with fine dining options rivalling the best on land. From culinary delights on board the upcoming Celebrity Edge, to champagne brunches on Disney Dream, Joe Baker lists some of the finest dining options on the open seas
s the cruise market grows, the quality of food on board ships has become as important to some passengers as the exotic locations they can visit and the suites they snooze in between them.
In response to rising expectations, a number of dining trends have emerged on board today’s resort-like cruise ships. Operators such as Oceania and Viking are sustainably sourcing fresh ingredients and meals from local vendors in ports, while others are introducing full-blown culinary schools on board.
However, one of the best ways to elevate cruise cuisine is to slap a celebrity chef’s face on the menu. Though a Michelin Guide representative has yet to grace a cruise ship with pen and notepad in hand, this hasn’t stopped those with ‘constellations’ across their land-based restaurants from bringing a touch of flare to diners on the high seas. The following lines offer some of the finest the industry has to offer.
Recently, the industry has been abuzz about the launch of Celebrity Cruise’s new Edge ship, due to set sail from Florida, US, in December. The flagship for Celebrity’s new Edge Class vessel is expected to feature a host of ‘never-before-seen’ innovations.
The ship will feature 29 distinctive restaurants, cafes, bars and lounges on board, designed to capture foodies’ attention. These will include ‘visionary recipes’ created by Michelin-starred chef and vice president of food and beverage options Cornelius Gallagher.
Perhaps even more impressive than the food is the dining space: Edge’s much-touted Magic Carpet is a cantilevered moving platform that slides up and down the ship’s decks, enabling diners to eat lunch 14 stories above the water.
Image courtesy of Celebrity Cruises
Seabourn Cruise Line
Capping their number of on-board suites at 300, Seabourn’s ships already offer an intimate experience. And in recent years, the company has been attempting to make its dining experience just as exclusive.
Since 2015, Seabourn has collaborated with Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller to create an array of dishes for its Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest vessels. In 2016, Keller and renowned interior designer Adam D. Tihany collaborated on The Grill, a signature restaurant which launched on-board Quest in 2016 and since moved to Seabourn’s remaining ships.
Featuring a gravitas-infused décor consisting of dark wood and leather chairs, The Grill’s menu spans a number of chophouse favourites, including New York strip steak and pan-seared fillet of sole.
Image courtesy of Seabourn Cruises
P&O Cruises has a distinguished pedigree with Michelin-starred chefs. Atul Kochar has created the menu for Indian restaurant Sindhu, which runs a gamut of national delicacies, as well as a bar menu featuring Nashta (the Indian version of tapas).
Marco Pierre White, who was the youngest ever recipient of three stars from Michelin, has been a consultant for P&O over the last decade. His efforts have led to the creation of a number of signature specialty restaurants, including the Café Jardin onboard Oceana, the Café Bordeauz on-board Aurora, and the Ocean Grill on-board Arcadia.
Most recently, Pierre White has been involved the production of new gala menus for P&O’s luxury Black Tie evening, with recipes including beef wellingtons and half split lobsters. This September, P&O announced that the chef would be coming aboard the company’s flagship Britannia cruise ship as part of its cooking school initiative, known as The Cookery Club.
Image courtesy of P&O Cruises
Disney Cruise Line
A Disney Cruise might not seem like a first choice for haute cuisine given the line’s family-driven appeal, but nothing could be further from the truth. The line’s cruise ships offer a rotational dining plan that places passengers in a new venue every evening, but for a meal at signature restaurant Remy, they need to book well in advance.
Named after a character from the Disney film Ratatouille, Remy is another fine dining restaurant serving French-inspired gourmet fare on-board Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Its seasonal menu was produced by Arnaud Lallement, whose previous patronage includes the three-star L’Assiette Champenoise in France, and Scott Hunnel, who heads the Victoria & Albert restaurant at Walt Disney World.
According to Disney, a dinner at Remy consists of multiple courses celebrating ‘freshness, the sea and the earth’. The restaurant’s dining room features an art-nouveau style imbued with rich red, gold and green tones, while a separate marble-floored room allows passengers to eat in the company of more than 900 bottles of wine.
Image: Todd Anderson
Given its success in both European and South American markets, it’s perhaps unsurprising that MSC Cruises chose to partner up with award-winning Spanish chef Ramón Freixa this March. The chef was selected to prepare a selection of tapas and main dishes celebrating Spanish cuisine, as well as design exclusive New Year and Christmas menus.
Freixa joins five other international chefs currently partnered with MSC. Last December, Japanese-American chef Roy Yamaguchi helped create MSC Seaside’s Asian Market Kitchen, which featured a sushi/raw bar, a teppanyaki grill and an Asian-fusion restaurant.
MSC is in the process of creating new culinary geniuses after the launch of its MasterChef at Sea programme, with a new competition opening up for young chefs in October.
Image courtesy of MSC Cruises
Paul Gauguin Cruises
With itineraries spanning Tahiti, French Polynesia and the South Pacific, Paul Gauguin has been a choice for passengers with tastes further afield.
L’Etoile is the main dining hall on board the operator’s sole vessel The Paul Gauguin, and offers a variety of dishes with a Polynesian twist. However, for a real fine dining experience guests can attend the ship’s La Veranda restaurant, featuring a signature menu created by French Michelin-starred chef Jean-Pierre Vigato.
Items from the menu include snails with mascarpone and white truffle oil, grilled wahoo with Thai vegetables, and local pineapple jelly served with Tahitian ice cream.
Image courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises