One aspect of cruising dominates passenger feedback when lines ask what elements people most like about their holiday on the high seas.
While entertainment and levels of service (hopefully good) tend to score highly, it’s the food that makes cruisers come back for more.
Most research shows that the wide selection of dining options available on cruise ships is the number one reason why cruise holidays are rated so highly in terms of quality and value for money.
I guess it’s no coincidence that we are inundated with foodie TV programmes of varying quality, from the Great British Menu to the excruciating Come Dine With Me. Besides the big guns like Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey and Nigella Lawson, there’s the jolly Geordie Hairy Bikers and the delectable Rachel Allen.
These wall to wall cookery companions, complete with dedicated food channels, have sprung up to presumably feed the nation’s desire to better itself in the kitchen.
There are spin-off magazines, cookery roadshows and even full-blown exhibitions all designed to tickle our tastebuds.
Food for thought
Cruise companies have not been slow to spot this trend by installing restaurants backed by such culinary luminaries as Marco Pierre White, Gary Rhodes, Aldo Zilli, James Martin and Atul Kochhar.
Such Michelin star standards do come at a price – you have to pay a supplementary charge to dine at the eateries backed by celebrity chefs on cruise ships. But in my experience, the cost is a small price to pay to experience world class cuisine in exemplary surroundings at a price that works out far less than the bill you would face if you were to visit the equivalent restaurants ashore.
Of course, cruising has been synonymous with good food way back to the heyday of the great ocean liners of the 1920s and 1930s.
British food took a post-war tumble before being revived in the 1960s by the likes of Fanny Craddock and then taken to a new level by the venerable Delia Smith whose books line many a kitchen cabinet.
There seems an indelible link between dining and cruising, and you only have to look at the multiple restaurants available on ships to realise that the way to a passenger’s heart (and wallet) is through their stomach.
Luckily, being able to have blow-out when on holiday on board ship can be counteracted by strenuous work-outs in the gym or other forms of exercise, ranging from swimming to jogging, rock climbing, ice skating and even boxing.
Chefs at Sea
If you’ve never been on a cruise but fancy the idea given the many alternative dining options available, I suggest tuning into GMTV all this week.
Now I admit that ITV’s breakfast show isn’t my morning viewing or listening of choice (give me Radio 5 Live any day), but this week it will be worth watching.
The reason being that GMTV will be filming live all week from today on board P&O Cruises’ superliner Ventura for the final of a cookery contest.
The Chefs at Sea competition will see four finalists in a cook off judged by the line’s celebrity chef Marco Pierre White.
Presenter Claire Sweeney will host the programme which is to be aired live from Ventura between 7am and 9am each morning.
The four finalists have been chosen by GMTV viewers and joined the ship on Saturday in Southampton for a week-long cruise to Vigo, Lisbon, La Rochelle and Brest.
Haute cuisine teacher and chef Rosemary Shrager, of TV’s Ladette to Lady and Soapstar Superchef fame, will mentor the contestants and guide them through a series of food tasks on board and on shore.
Passengers will have the chance to get involved as they vote for their two favourites in a theatre ‘cook-off’ mid-cruise.
The two finalists will then go head to head in the final challenge – cooking Marco’s signature dish for him and the ship’s captain.
The winner will receive a Caribbean cruise on Ventura, for themselves and their family, and a private cooking master class with Marco on board.
Great publicity for the cruise line, of course, but also a fantastic platform to show off the attributes of cruising in general to a mainstream audience just as the school holidays start.
My guess is that Chefs at Sea will act a positive spur to bookings and encourage non-believers to think again about discovering why cruise holidays make so much sense for those looking to squeeze the best value possible out of their hard earned holiday budgets.
- The Recession Bites…But Not At Sea With the upheaval of moving house I realised that...
- Sing For Your Supper When did you last pay to go out for...
- Battle of the Bulge I must reluctantly admit to needing to lose a...
- Snow Business Like Cruise Business Living as I do close to the highest spot...
- Booking the cooks for a cruise Home cooking – is something that far too many...