With just days to go , we’re highlighting ten favorite Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise features of the over 40 different events unique to this Taste Of The Mediterranean sailing. Looking deep inside one top event each day between now and April 18 embarkation, this list will barely scratch the surface but speaks to the detail Seabourn is putting into the event.
10 Days Out: Greek Themed Sail-Away, Poolside
Doesn’t that just sound luxurious? Sail-Away is one of our favorite parts of any cruise vacation. It’s that special time when the great big cruise ship finally starts moving after months of anticipation have passed since we first made the booking. Caviar Sail-Away is a signature Seabourn event on most sailings (as is Caviar In The Surf) that brings Seabourn Guests on deck to enjoy the moment, get to know one another as well as their new family of crew members.
On our Taste Of The Mediterranean itinerary, sailing from Athens to Monte Carlo we will begin with a Greek Themed Sail-Away, Poolside. On hand will be the culinary team that will be creating the magic in the kitchen, at live demonstrations or simply a casual conversation in a hallway. It’s just that personal of an experience.
Nine Days To Go: Tastings A Big Part Of The Experience
With nine days to go until the Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise, we take a look at one of the most popular included events: tastings. Seabourn wastes no time getting right into the destination immersion with a number of themed tastings, appropriate to the regions of the world we are traveling in.
There is something to be said for trying Greek wines in Greece, an Italian aperitif in Italy and something of that sort all along the way. Perhaps it is the ambience of being there that makes these events so special. Perhaps it is guest sommelier Sebastian, a hit on the first Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise, back for this one.
During the 2015 Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise, we will begin with Ouzo Tasting in Seabourn Sojourn’s Observation Lounge, invited by Guest Sommelier Sebastian to sample some of this famous Greek liqueur. As the Greeks say; Yamas (cheers!)
Those who want to go deeper into tastings can sign up for a 3 part wine tasting event, studying the wines of France and California. Tastings are not limited to wine and aperitifs either. During Olive Oil Tasting, Seabourn Guests will have the opportunity to sample several types of olive oils, olives and Mediterranean tapas.
Eight Days To Go- Looking Forward To Seeing My Seabourn Family
Not specifically one of the Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise features but a huge element of the Seabourn Experience is the crew. It was a part of the first Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise that I did not focus on or talk about in live reports until nearly the end of the sailing because it kind of sneaks up on you. This is a bunch of people charged with being of service as their profession.
The crew on any cruise line or ship is a family of sorts and that makes sense. They train, work, eat and sleep together on a schedule that demands a certain family dynamic just to operate. In case of an emergency, they will need to rely on one another in ways most passengers will never see. That’s just the way it is.
Where Seabourn excels is that passengers too, from the moment they step foot on a Seabourn vessel are also considered part of the family…and that’s not “family” in quotes but family in their hearts. I don’t know if Seabourn ships happen to be sized just right, enabling a magic ratio of crew to passengers that is conducive to a great experience; if Seabourn crew members are just so carefully selected that they stand a better chance of being great or what other factors might come into play. I intend to find out though, on this voyage.
One Week Out: Food, Marvelous Food
I would be a bit remiss if the food element of the Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise did not get a starring role in what I am looking forward to on the 2015 edition, now just 7 days away. Presented a number of ways; through cooking demonstrations, themed dinners and lectures; visits to city markets and Seabourn Sojourn’s expansive culinary operation; the tastings mentioned above and more: there will be food. Marvelous food prepared on a scale more closely associated with a trendy 50-seat restaurant on land than a massive cruise ship.
Focusing so much attention on the many events of the first Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise, specific to that extra layer of excellence, I fell a bit short of showcasing what they do every day, on every sailing. It’s a topic worthy of an entire voyage’s study to fully appreciate and one that will take more of a starring role this time around. I am ready for this too, spending a great amount of time getting ‘in shape’ for the experience.
This time, look forward to seeing more of the daily fare in addition to the food and wine cruise-specific elements that dominated our last series of reports. Not every sailing is a Food And Wine cruise but every one probably could be as Seabourn devotes a great amount of attention to culinary operations and topics not covered last time. Stellar room service, casual dining options, an alternative dining venue and more will get the treatment they so richly deserve.
Six Days Until Sailing- The Destinations
In addition to over 40 events specific to the Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise, Seabourn Sojourn will also visit a variety of interesting ports. Beginning in Piraeus (Athens) Greece we sail first to Monemvasia before a day at sea brings us to Amalfi, Italy. Continuing along the Italian coast, we stop by Rome (Civitavecchia) then go on to Livorno, the gateway to Florence and Pisa. Ending in Monte Carlo we first visit the French port of St Tropez.
Following our own advice, I will actually be flying overnight out of Orlando on Thursday to arrive in Athens on Friday, a day in advance of embarkation. There, I will stay a night at the Sofitel Athens Airport hotel, a very nice property right by the Athens airport. Arriving mid-afternoon there should plenty of time to adjust to the time difference, enjoy a bit of the city and wake refreshed and ready to go on day one.
I like that Seabourn provides a good overview of each place on the itinerary in advance of sailing. Let’s take a look at the background information provided and the expectation set by Seabourn in advance of sailing. We’ll double back after the journey to compare this information with our actual experience.
Above is the entire 7-day itinerary at a glance, below are individual port descriptions:
PIRAEUS (ATHENS), GREECE
Piraeus has been the port for Athens since 482 BC. The busy harbor is filled with ferries and cruise ships making their way to the Greek Islands and other Mediterranean cities. The busy metropolis of Athens and its treasure trove of antiquities lie just a few miles from the port. Even as the reality of the modern city took hold, with its high-rise apartments, crowded sidewalks and bustling traffic, the beauty of the Acropolis, the outstanding museums, charming cafés, sidewalk markets and startling views come together in a cultural mosaic for all to enjoy.
Monemvasia was once on the Peloponnese mainland. Then an earthquake turned it into an island. It is now joined to the mainland by a narrow causeway that limits access, originally for reasons of defense. The tall, flat isle is completely honeycombed with nooks and grottoes, narrow alleys and rock-carved rooms. Clearly it was a formidable redoubt in times of attack, and earned its nickname the Gibraltar of the East. The upper town, long uninhabited, has narrow pathways leading to the Byzantine Aghia Sophia church, and remains of the medieval fortress and walls. In the lower town, look for the bell tower that leads you to Elkomenos Square, with its namesake medieval Elkomenos Christos church and a small museum
The Amalfi coast has been called the greatest meeting of land and sea on earth. Situated in the Campania region between Sorrento and Salerno, Amalfi is one of the main towns, the other being Positano, on the world famous Amalfi Drive – known as the most romantic drive in Italy. The road is gouged from the side of rocky cliffs plunging into the sea. Erosion has contorted the rocks into mythological shapes and hollowed out fairy grottoes where the air is turquoise and the water an icy blue. During the Middle Ages, Amalfi was an independent maritime state with a population of 50,000. The ship compass was invented here in 1302. Approximately 10 miles away from Amalfi is the village of Ravello. An enchanting village with wonderful views and quiet lanes, Ravello boasts romantic gardens that showcase medieval ruins, and afford magnificent views of the entire Bay of Salerno.
CIVITAVECCHIA (ROME), ITALY
Originally built by Emperor Trajan who had a villa here, Civitavecchia has flourished as a major port for Rome since the 13th century. Today it is an important ferry terminal and for many travelers the gateway to the Eternal City, Rome. The Renaissance fortifications that surround the harbor area were begun by Bramante and completed by Michelangelo in 1535.
LIVORNO (FLORENCE/PISA), ITALY
Livorno is the gateway to the region of Tuscany, which as Goethe once observed, looks like Italy should. Fortunately for today’s visitor not much has changed in the two centuries since the German poet was himself a tourist in Toscana. The remarkable wealth of beauty here mellowed to a golden patina by history and tempered by the hand of man, awaits. Everywhere there is history, from the Etruscan stronghold of Fiesole, to the Roman colony of Volterra to the Renaissance splendor of Florence, Pisa, Sienna and San Gimignano. If the landscape evokes a sense of the familiar it is because the great masters have used it as a backdrop for their great works. Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci were archtypal Tuscans and Renaissance men who headed an extensive list of geniuses who lived, worked and created within a single period of time.
ST TROPEZ, FRANCE
On the southern shore of one of the most beautiful bays of the Riviera, the little port of St. Tropez has become one of the best known resorts in Europe, a crossroads where journalists, photographers, writers, artists and celebrities meet. Guy de Maupassant discovered the town, but it was the painters who made it more widely known – Signac, Matisse, Bonnard, Marquet, Camoin – who all stayed for varying amounts of time. The harbor teems with life. Fishing boats, excursion craft and hundreds of yachts share the harbor. On the waterfront are old pink and yellow houses, which have been converted into cafes, cabarets and restaurants, luxury boutiques, galleries and antique shops. A picturesque and cosmopolitan crowd strolls the streets in season.
MONTE CARLO, MONACO
The Principality of Monaco is the epitome of Riviera chic. This tiny enclave of 370 acres surrounds a sheltered harbor that draws yachts from around the world to enjoy the beautiful scenery, mild weather and elegant casino. Glamorous Monte Carlo is one of Monaco’s four quarters, which also include La Condamine, the business district; Monaco-ville, the capital; and Fontvieille, an area built on reclaimed land. Ruled by Prince Albert II, Monaco has a population of over 32,000, of which about 16 percent are citizens, or Monégasques.
Five Days Until The Start Of The Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise
With just five days until sailing we take a look at what happens on a day at sea, which happens to be packed with events. The last Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise featured a Cooking Challenge that paired two celebrity chefs supported by two Seabourn guests against one another. The day also included a Galley Market Lunch that took passengers behind the scenes, wine lectures and more. On the way to Valletta, Malta the day was full of food and wine content and capped off with a Chef’s Dinner, featuring signature dishes prepared by Seabourn Food and Wine Cruise master chefs.
Choosing from a variety of fresh ingredients, sourced from places we had visited on the Seabourn Food and Wine Cruise, Chef’s Olivon and Longo went head to head against the clock.
A panel of judges including the guest winner of the pesto sauce-making contest earlier in the week, Captain Karlo Buer, Seabourn Manager of Restaurants and Bars Luca Dimatteo and Food & Wine Magazine watched carefully as the hour-long competition played out.
All in good fun, Chef Olivon took full advantage of every opportunity to throw Chef Alfio off his game. New to sailing and fighting a bit of motion discomfort, Chef Alfio took Chef Olivon’s repeated reference to his malady in stride, coming out on top with a narrow victory over the Iron Chef winner.
Four Days To Go- I Leave Tomorrow
Tomorrow I fly to Athens, Greece, an overnight flight that brings me in a day before the beginning of the Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise that wil take cruise travelers on an interesting 7-Day Taste Of The Mediterranean itinerary . In advance of sailing we have been doing a lot of preparation, getting ready to experience all Seabourn has to offer, no easy task for a variety of reasons. A sailing on any Seabourn ship brings top culinary events as just part of what they do on each and every voyage. That’s the norm. Adding an additional layer of excellence makes for a stellar event at sea that is difficult if not impossible to reproduce on land. The result is a riot of food, wine and culture, with a particular focus on gourmet cuisine.
On the 7-day sailing , Seabourn guests will be invited to join a star-studded team of culinary experts on a connoisseur’s cruise around the Mediterranean. Featured on this 2015 edition, a bullet point list events that proved wildly popular on the 2014 inaugural sailing.
Back for 2015:
- Cooking demonstration and guest menu by our celebrity chefs
- Extended Shopping with the Chefs outings ashore
- Optional tours of esteemed local wineries
- Daily tastings of local food and wine on board
- Special themed meals featuring local ingredients
- Festive deck events and gala luncheons with local entertainment
- Wine Appreciation Lectures and Tastings by Seabourn’s Guest Sommelier
New this time, two superstar celebrity chefs join the 2015 Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise, again tapping the rich culinary heritage of France and Italy.
Italian Chef Guiseppe Argentino is Executive Chef at the Grotta Giusti Natural Spa Resort not far from Florence, Pisa and Lucca and brings a rich background in healthy yet delicious fare. The Grotta Giusti Natural Spa Resort is set in a private park within a nineteenth century villa. There, guests enjoy luxurious appointments normally reserved for royalty along with wellness treatments in a unique and natural environment.
In cooking classes, Grotta Giusti’s chef Argentino explains how all the ingredients are chosen with particular attention to calories. A natural fit for the Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise, chef Argentino wasrecently awarded the prestigious Collegium Cocorum by the Italian Chefs Federation.
French Chef Jean-Claude Cavalera is Chef Instructor at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts with locations in Austin and Boulder. Chef Cavalera learned his trade at the Plaza Hotel in Nice and London’s Savoy Hotel and was formerly executive chef at the Ritz Carlton in Boston. “From passion to professional, I finally live my dream to teach cooking!” says chef Cavalera, tagged as ” one of the great culinary talents,” because “His attention to detail and flavor is incredible.”
Tagged “The Peoples Chef’ by OutFront magazine, Chef Cavalera was described to be “a breath of fresh air in the stodgy world of egos and picture-perfect plates.” Of particular interest for Seabourn guests who may be returning for a second sailing of the Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise, Chef Cavalera’s, “humility renders the man absolutely approachable.”
Sachs is an award-winning food, travel, and lifestyle journalist. His influence on the world of good things comes from dues paid at Tasting Table, Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, Details, GQ: just about every magazine that has graced our coffee table over the years.
Sachs brings to the Seabourn Food & Wine Cruise an uber-qualified perspective. If the moon and the stars align just right, Sachs could very well be the catalyst that sends this event through the stratosphere. All the ingredients are there: highly-skilled celebrity chefs, ultra-luxury cruise line than knows no boundaries, world-class sommeliers, well-traveled Seabourn guests, an itinerary that takes all of the above to the source of many good things.
Three Days Until We Sail
At three days before the beginning of the Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise, we are reminded of sailing away on Seabourn Sojourn on the first rendition of this lovely, themed event at sea.
White-gloved waiters bring an assortment of delicacies and champagne flows freely on Seabourn ships at sail away and pretty much any event at any time of the day.
Packed and ready to go, I fly Delta to Athens three days in advance of sailing. That’s a travel day to get there, an overnight at the port of embarkation then boarding for the first day on Seabourn Sojourn. It’s an exciting event coming your way as we take a bit deeper look at some elements of the Seabourn experience that we barely scratched the surface on last time.
Check Back Tomorrow For More
Counting down the days until the Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise, we’ll be back tomorrow with another stellar event.
Hungry for more right now? A good place to start would be to review our posts from the first Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise. Let’s review:
- Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise Sails Away
- Food and Wine Cruise Visits Marseilles, Meets The Neighbors
- Seabourn Food And Wine Cruise Builds On A Solid Foundation
- Food and Wine Cruise Bakes A Luxurious Cake
- Thoughtful Surprises A Big Part Of The Seabourn Experience
- Looking Deeper, We Find Gold On Seabourn
- A Day At Sea Brings Bonus Food And Wine Events
- 44 Hits Of The Seabourn Food and Wine Cruise
- The Seabourn Family
- Favorite Views From My Seabourn Balcony