Bon Cafe in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bon Cafe in Chiang Mai, Thailand

I admit it. I burn much of what I cook. But, the exploding opportunities for culinary travel give me new inspiration to explore new destinations AND become the cook I’ve always envisioned. For instance, I wish that I could learn how to make the delicious breakfast wraps that I found at the Bon Cafe in Chiang Mai, Thailand made.

Short of tracking down the kitchen chef –there are more convenient ways to learn how to cook local fare in the cities and countries you visit. One of the fastest growing opportunities to connect with your inner chef is through culinary cruising.

A number of cruise lines including Crystal and Holland America offer cooking classes on board and even design themed cruises around the culinary experience.

One cruise line, Oceania Cruises is taking the foodie experience to a new level with its Cruising with the Chefs itineraries.

Oceania’s Riviera and Marina ships are the only two ships in the world to offer state-of-the-art culinary centers actually designed in conjunction with Bon Appetit magazine. The Bon Appetit Culinary Centers on board include individual work stations where guests crate their own cuisine under the guidance of world-renowned Master Chefs.

Photo courtesy: Cruising with the Chefs
Photo courtesy: Cruising with the Chefs

Every cruise offers up to 18 culinary classes and some itineraries include classes with visiting chefs. In July 2013, world- renowned chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval will join the Oceania Riviera for a 12-day Mediterranean and Greek Isles luxury cruise. Travelers get first-hand instruction from one of the most revered chefs in the world.

Rodney George, who runs Oceania’s Cruising with the Chefs program, tells me that itineraries are carefully designed for foodies (and foodies at heart, like me). He says some of the richest experience for guests involves selecting local foods while in ports like Barcelona with the chef and then using those ingredients to create dishes that reflect the local culture. It is truly a culinary immersion designed around a hands-on experience with access to Master Chefs.

What to consider when selecting a culinary cruise:

  • Decide the level of foodie experience you want (several classes or a full excursion)
  • Look for itineraries that offer extras for your money (i.e. access to more classes or a cruise with a visiting chef)
  • Take advantage of special offers or incentives from the cruise lines who want to attract to food-minded traveler

Culinary cruising offers the best of both the traveling and foodie worlds.