Cruise Deals for Federal Employees
retirees and contractors
Cruise Deals for Federal Employees
retirees and contractors
Food has always been an integral part of the cruise experience with many cruisers foregoing budget cruise lines in favor of those offering unique options to wine and dine. Gone are the days of choosing between the buffet and the main dining room each day. Today’s new ships offer multiple options to fit every taste. But some cruise lines have really elevated the dining experience into an art and created onboard food options to compete with the best on-land choices in cities like New York, Paris and Rome. And best of all, many of these are already included in the cost of the cruise.
Consistently voted by travelers and the #1 cruise line for food lovers, Oceania not only boasts amazing decor and unique itineraries, but the most amazing restaurants at sea. Legendary Jacques Pepin has opened its only restaurant at sea on Oceania’s ships. The restaurant, named Jacques, serves authentic French dishes with an airy feel. Choose from escargot, foie gras, goat cheese souffle or the famous cheese trolley. Other options on Oceania include the Asian Red Ginger, Italian Toscana, famous steakhouse Polo Grill or the main Grand Restaurant. But perhaps the most exciting option for food lovers is La Reserve by Wine Spectator. With room for only 24 passengers you can choose from one of three seven-course menus prepared by one of Oceania’s gourmet chefs. And the great news is that all dining options (except La Reserve) are included in your cruise fare.
You don’t need to spend a ton to enjoy gourmet food at sea, and Celebrity is a prime example of that. Though it is a premium line, Celebrity is often priced very competitively compared to the mass market cruise lines, and their focus on food is simply amazing. Even if you eat each of your meals in the main dining room, expect nightly delicacies such as escargot, frog legs, lobster and souffle. For Suite guests, there is Luminae - an intimate gourmet restaurant, and for Aqua-class guests, there is Blue - the bright and airy spa-food restaurant that takes healthy food to a whole new level. A must-visit specialty restaurant on Celebrity is Qsine. Branded as a whimsical Asian-fusion restaurant, there is no easy way to describe it. Menus are presented on an Ipad, Chinese samplers come is a tiny chest of drawers and the dessert menu is shaped like a Rubik’s cube.
In addition to their gourmet food options in the main dining room, Holland America has long partnered with Food & Wine magazine to create the signature Culinary Arts Centers onboard most of its ships. Fitted with a show kitchen and individual cooking stations, they offer many culinary classes throughout each sailing, sometimes featuring celebrity chefs. And recently, Holland America partnered with "America's Test Kitchen," to re-fit some of its Culinary Arts Centers to resemble the America's Test Kitchen TV set where guests can attend live demonstrations, taste tests and classes. In addition, some of their ships feature a Chef’s Table offering a seven-course dinner designed by Master Chef Rudi Sodamin and featuring gourmet options from lobster to caviar to truffles.
While Royal Caribbean is definitely a mass market line, two of their newest ships - Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas - feature an array of celebrity chef spots, in addition to over 20 other dining options. Jamie Oliver has an Italian joint called Jamie’s Italian featuring rustic Italian favorites. Miami-based Michael Schwartz designed Michael’s Genuine Pub, and Devin Alexander (chef for NBC’s The Biggest Loser) created a restaurant offering 500-calorie dishes. And for the ultimate gourmet experience, join up to 14 guests at the Chef’s Table for a five-course wine pairing dinner hosted nightly by an Executive Chef and Sommelier.
A luxury cruise line, featuring unique itineraries in all parts of the world, Crystal is well known for its culinary offerings. Featuring the only at-sea restaurant by Japanese “Iron Chef” Nobu Matsuhisa and an upscale Italian eatery by L.A.’s Piero Selvaggio on each ship, you are guaranteed to spend as much time talking about your food as you are eating it. If you decide to eat in the main dining room, expect regionally inspired dishes based on the itinerary, presented in either a “classic” style or “modern,” molecular gastronomy style. In addition, the 14-seat Vintage Room offers an intimate Chef’s Table experience featuring wine pairings for each course.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ships - the Getaway, Breakaway and the Escape, feature over 20 different dining options, but the best meals onboard can be found at OceanBlue, designed by Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. In addition, Iron Chef Jose Garces opened its first at-sea restaurants on the Norwegian Escape - choose from tapas at Pinchos Tapas Bar or Latin-flavored seafood at Bayamos. And for some South Beach influence, head to Food Republic restaurant curated by the Pubbelly Boys, the influential South Beach culinary team.
One of the best options for river cruising, AMA Waterways features cruises along many of Europe’s largest rivers. Their all-inclusive cruises present delicious food that’s plated beautifully and paired with attentive service. The line’s executive chef, Primus Perchtold, won three gold medals at the European Championship of Culinary Art, which is evident in all of the line’s dining venues. The tours offered on many of their itineraries are specifically designed for anyone interested in food and wine. They include visits to cooking schools, stops at specialty culinary shops, regional wineries, and private cellars. One of the best options for foodies are their wine-themed cruises, like the “Enchanting Rhine”, whose highlights include visits to famous vineyards, expert-led wine tastings, and tours of some of Europe’s best wine-producing towns..