The Wave Of Cruise Innovations Keep Coming From new dining venues to vintage cocktails
by Vanessa Lee
Chef Thomas Keller with RIck Meadows, President of Seabourn
Seabourn Encore suite decor
Adam D. Tihany, Seabourn Encore's ship designer
MSC Chef Roy Yamaguchi
Having just come off a jam-packed Sea Trade
in Florida, I really can't emphasize enough that 2016 is a pivotal year for
many cruise lines. Especially for luxury, small-ship companies. It's as if the
starter's gate is up and everyone is racing out at the same time -- ready to
run at high speed down the track and pip each other at the winner's post. It’s
a very exciting time in cruising.
Seabourn Encore is coming this December and
as I have always had a soft spot for this superb brand, I am delighted to see
how much care and attention they are applying to their new 600-guest ship. I had
the distinct pleasure of meeting the ship's designer, Adam D. Tihany at the
Seabourn press conference at Sea Trade and was able to learn more about their
plans for the ship.
Familiar spaces from the Odyssey class
ships are being somewhat redesigned. The partnership with acclaimed Chef Thomas
Keller will continue with a new restaurant coming soon on Seabourn Quest in the
small space previously given to Restaurant 2. It will then debut on Encore as
The Grill by Thomas Keller, which, according to Rick Meadows, President of
Seabourn, will be modelled on the American classic Chop House and inspired by
A timeless sense of art and design of this
grand tradition will be complemented by table-side service of many dishes and
by Chef Keller's approach to finding artisan
purveyors who will supply the ships with their superb produce.
What I really love about this new dining
option is that it is simply gorgeous, with al-fresco dining and a very sexy bar
replete with a piano and separated from the restaurant by a glass wall.
As the charming Adam Tihany stated, “this is not just a restaurant on a ship, it is a
portrait of a chef.” And he continued, “You will feel this is about a great culinary
artist who will share with you - everything
is designed with you (the guest) in mind, by an extraordinary host".
Guests will be able to pre-reserve for The
Grill before embarking and will have an opportunity to dine once per cruise. If
space allows and if guests are flexible with day and time, they may well be able to enjoy a second meal
On Seabourn Encore there will be 94 seats
in the restaurant with many tables for two and on the Quest (and the other 2
ships as they dry dock), the restaurant will hold 44 for dinner.
Seabourn is also focusing on very fine
wines for The Grill, chosen by Chef Keller. They have also announced another
new partnership with renowned mixologist Brian van Flandern, who will elevate
the craft of superb cocktail making throughout the fleet. I'll drink to that! Bring on those fab, sexy cocktails of
yesteryear with great ingredients.
Seabourn plans to roll out ‘the art of creating cocktails’ and enhance their complimentary drinks programme
with the finest spirits from across the world. And consistency is promised from
ship to ship and bartender to bartender.
More culinary news came from MSC Cruises. I
attended a demo by the very friendly and delightful Chef Roy Yamaguchi, famed
for his Iron Chef appearances as well as his 30 Roy Restaurants featuring very
tasty Hawaiian-fusion cuisine which he pioneered. Chef Roy brings a wealth of talent and knowledge to his
partnership with MSC and will debut on the MSC Seaside which will be sailing to
our shores in December 2017.
According to Ken Muskat of MSC, "The
design, the menu stock, uniforms, flowers and music are all within Chef's scope
for his onboard restaurant.” And as the engaging Chef himself says, "the
way I cook is global." His involvement in this new dining spot is complete
– from meetings with the ship's architects, the design team, and lucky for us,
the purveyors for Roy’s Restaurants ashore
to ensure that the onboard experience is just right.
Food is definitely a big item on ships
these days as the bar continues to be raised and each brand looks to extend
their culinary "chops" by partnering with famed restaurateurs and
chefs. And your guests are the fortunate recipients of same.