Food And Wine Cruise Visits Marseilles, Meets The Neighbors


On the second day of Seabourn’s first-ever Food and Wine Cruise, we stopped in Marseilles, France. Easing into the culinary content specific to this themed sailing, Seabourn is allowing plenty of time to see the ports we will visit too, and rightfully so. These are the places where a whole lot of good food and wine has been a centerpiece of daily life for hundreds of years.

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Docking at La Joliette, some passengers visited the city market with a chef in small groups, no more than would fit in a mini-van. That’s typical of cruise lines that do effective market visits. It’s an up close and personal experience in a bustling part of town where tourism is not the main focus. Our market visit comes up later in the sailing and will probably be a highlight of the cruise.

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Others went on escorted tours or simply walked off the ship for a stroll around town. The fairly new public area by where Seabourn Sojourn was docked draws everyone from couples of all ages out for a walk, kids playing along the waterfront or just local residents gathering at the popular place.

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Sailing through ‘the best of the Riviera’ alone could occupy our time very nicely. Seabourn’s top rated culinary efforts and extensive wine list are quite diverse and presented in a number of unique venues. Add an additional, unique layer of Food and Wine content on top of what they normally do and this could get confusing really fast.

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Seabourn is allowing plenty of time to let cruise travelers who came from far away to get their bearings and sync what they normally do with what has been added for this themed sailing. Frankly, I predict that it will be a thin line which separates Seabourn’s normal award-winning culinary efforts with what promises to be some over-the-top experience fueled by the celebrity chefs we met at sail away.

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Syncing the ultra-luxe norm with the extraordinary added for this sailing looks to be the biggest challenge facing those running the show…but one Seabourn seems solidly up to facing and blowing away. To make that happen, we began with a talk on the Food and Wines of Province, a region of France we recently visited on a Viking River Cruise. Interestingly, the focus of that talk brought basic information about the region’s food and wine needed to appreciate what is yet to come.

 

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Later in the day, cruise travelers on board Seabourn Sojourn gathered at the ship’s top deck Sky Bar for a Pastis Making Demonstration and Tasting event.

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Pastis is an anise-flavored liqueur and aperitif from France that frequently contains nearly 50% alcohol and has been credited for having a psychedelic impact on the works of a number of artists.   At the Sky Bar on Seabourn Sojourn, hallucinations were not part of the experience but those in attendance got quite a show from the bar staff.

As will happen throughout the voyage, the evening’s dinner menu reflects where we visited through the day. Celebrity chef Patrice Olivon’s dinner menu in The Restaurant, Seabourn Sojourn’s main dining venue, reflected highlights of the flavors of the French kitchen.

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Getting ancillary dining options out of the way early, I tried room service for dinner with a quick burger and fries. Regular readers know I love room service and try it often on every sailing. This dining option, on Seabourn Sojourn, could very well set a new standard as witnessed by a cheeseburger I might have thought was barbecued in the hallway; it was just that good. That happened after one of the most brilliant events we have seen, on any cruise ship.

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Called the Neighborhood Block Party, Seabourn invites all guests to break the ice, step outside of their suite into the corridor and meet their ‘neighbors’. At the same time, the ship’s officers, cruise director and entertainment staff wander through the halls, meeting and chatting with guests.

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All the while, waiters along with those we normally see cleaning and servicing our suites offer hors de orderves and champagne, also interacting with guests along the way.

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The evening would continue with a variety of entertainment options including clarinetist virtuoso, conductor and composer Woytek Mrozek, performing an array of music ranging from Gypsy to swing, accompanied by Seabourn Sojourn’s well-versed house band then dancing late into the night. For some.

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For me, it was early to bed in preparation for a number of Food and Wine events the next day when we are scheduled to visit St Tropez. A cooking demonstration in the morning followed by the first of three French Wine Tasting seminars and dinner with the Captain will make a full day of Food and Wine content. That’s next.

But ending my day was this note and gift, typical of the ‘little things’ Seabourn does to exceed the expectations of their guests.

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