Fine dining at sea: The best luxury cruise lines for foodies

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It's an exciting time in the cruise industry at the moment. Not a day seems to go by without another new announcement. Mainstream cruise lines are working hard to outdo one another with bigger and more innovative ships, whilst the luxury players are vying with each other to offer the best onboard experience, adding more value to their all-inclusive offerings.

With a number of new builds soon to enter the luxury market, and some significant refurbishments due to take place soon, a keen focus of many of the top cruise lines has been their dining options. Each line is upping the ante with enhanced venues, modern menus and collaborations with some of the world's best chefs that go way beyond a run of the mill celebrity chef endorsement.

We think one of the most significant new collaborations is that between Seabourn and Thomas Keller, the culinary genius behind The French Laundry and Per Se. These two US restaurants have each been awarded an impressive 3 Michelin stars.

The Grill by Thomas Keller will debut this month on board Seabourn Quest, replacing Restaurant 2. It will feature a menu and ambiance inspired by the classic American chophouse, with a focus on updated versions of iconic dishes together with the theatre of table-side preparation. That's not the only Keller influence though - guests have already been able to enjoy a range of Keller-developed dishes since the autumn of last year across the fleet. We are particularly excited about the spacious new indoor/outdoor dining venue on the new ships, starting with Seabourn Encore later this year. The Chef's Tasting menu at the French Laundry is currently a bargain at $310 a time, so enjoying Chef Keller's wonderful cuisine on board at no extra cost will be quite a treat.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises have announced two new restaurants on board Seven Seas Explorer. Pacific Rim celebrates the culinary traditions of Asia, and Chartreuse (which will replace Signatures across the fleet) features a classic French menu with a modern twist. There will also be a Culinary Art Kitchen offering a range of cooking classes, and Gourmet Explorer Tours will offer guests the chance to dine in Michelin-starred restaurants ashore.

Silversea have long flaunted their relationship with Relais & Châteaux, and new ship Silver Muse represents a significant evolution of their dining options, with an impressive eight restaurants, including MaDame, which will offer a collaborative menu by top chefs from the Relais & Châteaux team. Other options include Atlantide, for seafood specialities; Kabuki, a Japanese venue where guests can enjoy the drama of teppanyaki in the evening, and sushi, sashimi and other raw Asian-inspired dishes during the day; Indochine, with dishes from India, Thailand and Vietnam; and Silver Note, offering small plate tapas-style dishes complemented by live jazz and blues entertainment.

Of course Crystal Cruises have been offering some of the best dining at sea for some time, with the outstanding Silk Road from famed master chef Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa being one of our favourite restaurants. Here, Nobu-trained chefs prepare an assortment of sushi and sashimi as well as more than two dozen of Nobu's signature appetisers, soups, salads, entrées and desserts. Prego offers fantastic Italian dishes, and on board Crystal Serenity the recently refurbished Tastes provides a phenomenal, unique and quirky menu of global-inspired dishes all designed to share, creating an informal and buzzy atmosphere.

Edwina Lonsdale
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Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and, together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising.

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