With a number of new builds recently entering the luxury market, along with some significant refurbishments taking place, 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 has now replaced Restaurant 2 on both Seabourn Odyssey and Seabourn Quest, and features a menu and ambience inspired by the classic American chophouse, with a focus on updated versions of iconic dishes together with the theatre of table-side preparation. We are particularly excited about the spacious new indoor/outdoor dining venue on the new ships, starting with Seabourn Encore which launched earlier 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 is quite a treat.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises have added two new restaurants on board Seven Seas Explorer. Pacific Rim celebrates the culinary traditions of Asia, and Chartreuse (which is replacing Signatures across the fleet) features a classic French menu with a modern twist. There is also a Culinary Art Kitchen offering a range of cooking classes, and Gourmet Explorer Tours 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 La Dame, which offers a collaborative menu by top chefs from the Relais & Châteaux team. Other options include Atlantide, for seafood specialities; Kaiseki, 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, and the outstanding Silk Road from famed master chef Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa is one of our favourite restaurants (soon to be reinvented as Umi Uma following a significant refurbishment of the Crystal fleet). 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 Tastes provides a phenomenal, unique and quirky menu of global-inspired dishes all designed to share, creating an informal and buzzy atmosphere.