Celebrity Cruises, the premium cruise brand known for catering to discerning cruisers’ desire to enjoy stunning venue design, extraordinary service, world-class cuisine and enriching activities while at sea, is taking its Celebrity Life onboard programming to a new level. “Savor,” the popular culinary-and-wine/spirits-focused pillar of Celebrity Life, is expanding to include a line-up of special interest cruises aimed at celebrating Celebrity’s already outstanding onboard culinary experience by inviting guest chefs and other food and wine experts to enhance select sailings. Celebrity’s new “Savor Your Destination” themed cruises kicked off today when Celebrity’s newest ship, Celebrity Eclipse, set sail with Australian chef Benjamin Christie onboard.
“Our guests are always looking for new ways to celebrate their love of great cuisine, which is why an outstanding culinary experience is one of the key aspects of a Celebrity Cruises vacation,” said Jacques Van Staden, Celebrity’s Vice President, Culinary Operations. “By expanding the already robust ‘Savor’ series of our Celebrity Life program to include the ‘Savor Your Destination’ themed cruises, we are not only giving our guests a unique opportunity to interact with exceptionally talented chefs, but also celebrating the fact that, from a culinary perspective, our ships and the restaurants onboard are destinations in themselves.”
During each Savor Your Destination cruise, guests will have the opportunity to attend a meet-and-greet-style cocktail hour where they will be able to interact with the chef and even enjoy side-by-side photo opportunities. Each guest chef will lead a cooking demonstration in the ship’s largest venue, the theatre, where he or she will highlight the techniques, ingredients and flair specific to their individual style. Guest chefs who have published cookbooks may hold book signing events. On every Celebrity Cruises sailing (with the exception of Celebrity Xpedition, the 90-guest mega-yacht that sails year-round in the Galapagos Islands), the Celebrity Life Savor series includes a “Star Chefs” competition in the ship’s theatre.
During the event, guests are selected from the audience, then guided by the ship’s own highest-ranking chefs to compete in a cook-off judged by a panel of spontaneously selected guests. When possible, guest chefs participating in Celebrity’s Savor Your Destination chef-focused cruises will take part in the Star Chefs competition. Most of the events are complimentary; the hands-on cooking class and food-and-wine-pairing dinner will require reservation fees, and space is limited. Guests who attend the class or dinner will receive a special recipe booklet featuring the chef’s own creations.
During Celebrity’s Savor Your Destination cruises, guests will have several opportunities to engage their taste buds and their minds. Guests who wish to elevate their own culinary knowledge can participate in hands-on cooking classes led by the chef in the ship’s main galley. There, under the tutelage of the guest chef, with assistance from Celebrity’s own award-winning culinary operations team, guests can gain invaluable hands-on experience that will help them gain new insight into the joy of cooking, while experiencing the rare opportunity to go behind the scenes into the galley. Each guest chef also will design and present an exclusive food-and-wine-pairing dinner in Murano, Celebrity’s spectacular gourmet specialty restaurant, sharing insights into the inspiration behind the ingredients, the menu, and the specific pairings.
Savor Your Destination kicked off today with Chef Benjamin Christie sailing on Celebrity Eclipse on an 11-night Canary Islands cruise roundtrip out of Southampton, England. Christie is an acclaimed television host, author, online food personality, and unofficial culinary ambassador based in Sydney, Australia.
“We are thrilled that a rising star like Chef Christie is our first official Savor Your Destination chef,” Van Staden said. “He is incredibly innovative and tends to celebrate indigenous Australian ingredients such as yakajirra, or bush tomato, paperbark, and wattleseed in his cooking, and we are delighted to give our guests the experience to expand their culinary imaginations by tasting these unique ingredients.”
Celebrity also has confirmed UK-based chef and author Adam Byatt, head chef at London’s award-winning Trinity in Clapham Old Town, to sail on Celebrity Eclipse on August 21, for the first seven nights of a 14-night Spanish Mediterranean cruise roundtrip out of Southampton. On September 2, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity’s second Solstice-class ship, will serve as the stylish backdrop for Puerto Rican chef and Food Network television personality Daisy Martinez, on a 7-night Western Mediterranean voyage from Barcelona, Spain, to Rome, Italy. On October 31, Zach Bell, Chef de Cuisine at Palm Beach’s Café Boulud and recipient of the 2008 South Florida Rising Star Chef Award, will sail on Celebrity Solstice on a 7-night roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. Sailing a 10-night Caribbean voyage roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale on Celebrity Equinox on November 26 will be Puerto Rican chef and recent “Top Chef Masters” participant Carmen Gonzalez, former sole proprietor of Miami’s Carmen The Restaurant, where she became renowned for innovative modern American cuisine with Puerto Rican influences.
Rounding out Celebrity’s currently confirmed Savor Your Destination offerings on its award-winning Solstice-class ships will be American chef and restaurateur John Currence, a star in the U.S. Southern cuisine arena, on a 7-night Caribbean cruise on Celebrity Solstice on December 5, roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale.
Celebrity also is folding its popular wine cruises along the Pacific Coast into the Celebrity Life Savor Your Destination program. Designed to give guests an opportunity to explore the rich terrain and abundant winemaking in the region, these cruises also feature a number of unique onboard activities geared toward wine appreciation, in addition to those offered as part of the standard Celebrity Life Savor series. The wine cruises feature a visiting winemaker who hosts workshops and dinners aimed at educating guests on how to pair food and wine as well as activities designed to celebrate the love of wine, food, and entertainment, such as “Sabering at Sea,” where guests learn how to saber a champagne or sparkling wine cork from the bottle. In 2010, Celebrity is offering a wine cruise sailing from Vancouver, British Columbia to San Diego, California on September 17. In 2011, Celebrity will offer two wine cruises; the first of these will sail from San Diego to Vancouver on May 3, and the second from Vancouver to San Diego on September 9. All three wine cruises will be 10 nights in length, on Celebrity Millennium.
In the coming weeks and months, Celebrity will announce additional Savor Your Destination events designed to give discerning cruisers the opportunity to expand their culinary horizons while at sea. “The Savor Your Destination cruises are another experience in our robust onboard culinary enrichment program,” Van Staden said. “Our guests love great cuisine, a passion that expands to other gastronomic experiences such as winemaking. As we continue to develop the Celebrity Life Savor Your Destination cruise lineup, we will welcome not only chefs, but also winemakers and food artisans, to share their expertise with our guests.”
Celebrity Life is designed to give discerning cruisers authentic, inspiring experiences focused on their interests. The Savor Series is a collection of programs aimed at expanding guests’ palates and celebrating their good taste. Activities include “The Heartbeat of the Operation,” where guests experience a guided galley tour, meet the ship’s chefs and witness the creation of a signature dessert; “Molecular Mixology from the Liquid Chef,” where libations designed by renowned mixologist Junior Merino are taught in step-by-step basics; “Celebrity’s World Wine Tour and Silent Auction,” which offers a sampling of wines from around the globe and an opportunity for guests to bid on select bottles; and the fascinating “Riedel Comparative Wine Crystal Workshop,” where guests experience firsthand how the right wine glass can completely change the way wine tastes.
In addition to its Savor Series, Celebrity Life also offers a Discover Series aimed at entertaining, educating and expanding guests’ horizons, and a Renew Series created to help recharge and renew guests by focusing on health and wellness. Many Celebrity Life activities are complimentary; some require a fee.