Culinary Themed Cruises – a world away from buffets and bowling

I recognize that the recent events on several cruise liners have given cruise ships a “bad wrap.” The idea of being “stuck on a boat” for days without sufficient food and water would feel more like survival camp rather than a vacation. As someone who recently took a cruise, I can honestly say that not all cruise liners are the same. I never thought that I would enjoy a cruise, but I must confess, it was one of the best travel experiences that I have ever had…and I have traveled quite a lot.  The convenience of cruising, along with the flexibility of having days on shore was exactly the mix of adventure and relaxation that myself and my family needed. I thought that this post written by one our writers, Austin Gambino would provide you with another perspective on cruising.  For those of you who think of cruises as big ships with buffets and bowling-think again.  I hope you enjoy this post provided to us by Austin and his new perspective on cruise vacations.

Culinary Cruises

Culinary themed cruises are an emerging cruise vacation option for travelers who want to visit multiple locations without a “backpack”. They give passengers the opportunity to enjoy a destination in a more personal style and can be focused on a number of different culinary themes. Many of the top cruise lines have realized the popularity of these wine and food themed cruises, subsequently making numerous options available, from boutique river cruises to larger ocean sailing vessels.


If you consider yourself an epicurean enthusiast, wine and food themed cruises include some very special and unique activities, custom designed for you and your fellow foodies. These itineraries are designed to delve deep into the culinary culture of the destination you are visiting.

Excursions and events offered during these cruises include:

  • Special wine and food pairing events,
  • On board or onshore culinary demonstrations and tastings,
  • Excursions to private vineyards and award-winning wineries.
  • Renowned chefs preparing special dishes for exclusive menus,
  • An inside look at cooking techniques,
  • Special insight to culinary secrets.

We got a first-hand account from Rosalind Smith, a wine-lover who had the opportunity to cruise the U.S. Pacific Coast on Celebrity Cruises’ ‘Excite the Senses’ wine and food themed cruise, and told us all about her experience. Rosalind’s cruise embarked from Vancouver and sailed south down the coast, visiting ports in Californian wine country, as well as some stops in Canada.

Rosalind said she particularly enjoyed a pastry cooking class on board, because she learned to make waffles, and one of her favorites: marzipan. This class was taught by the cooking adviser, corporate chef, and the ship’s pastry chef. Her special class concluded with a dessert wine pairing to go with the recently cooked and supremely delicious marzipan! In Monterey, California, Rosalind was delighted by small ‘boutique-style town’ of Carmel. She said the natural beauty was stunning, and the fact that this walk-able town had a rich artistic history.

While in each port, including San Francisco, San Diego, and Vancouver, Rosalind had a great time, she was especially charmed by Victoria.  She was surprised to learn the popularity of iced wine in Canada, as well as iced wine tea, both of which are a regional treat. Rosalind loved learning about local wine industry in Victoria. In addition, she even had time to explore incredible “Butchart Gardens”, which are a National Historic Site of Canada featuring ‘50 acres of floral bliss’, and implores anyone cruising to Canada to visit them!


While Rosalind experienced the Pacific U.S. and Canadian coasts, these wine and food themed cruises are available in a myriad of destinations. Each one offers a different atmosphere and unique culinary style. For 2013, there are some incredible culinary or wine themed cruises in the Mediterranean, which can be incredibly special, not to mention tasty. Some of the most popular food and wine cruises through the Italian and French Riviera are showcased by unique experiences like a private wine-paired dinner party in Tuscany, a visit to some “under-the-radar” wine bars in Florence, or an overnight stay in Marseille with a private lunch. With some of the finest wine in the world, and of course, the succulent local fare, European food and wine cruises are an unforgettable experience.

Which destination do you think would be the ultimate food and wine cruise voyage? Let us know.


Austin Gambino works on the marketing team at The Cruise Web. The Cruise Web is a travel agency that specializes in cruising. The expert cruise consultants focus on providing travelers with the best value for their time and money in finding and booking a cruise vacation!”

Photo Credit:

Cruise Ship Photo at Danube in Budapest provided Peace Correspondent – Flickr


Vinnie recently joined the team at Wine and Food Travel as Editor in Chief. We are very excited to have her culinary experience and artistic background to draw from here at WAFT. Vinnie brings a wealth of experience in the culinary arts, professional writing and marketing. Her passion, expertise and her willingness to share her learnings with readers is a welcome contribution to the WAFT team. Vinnie also maintains a food blog where she shares many of her recipes, food experiences and adventures,

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