SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE: In Livorno, Oceania Cruise passengers can check out the market, right
MARKET TIME IN THE MED
The essence of Europe is beautifully showcased on this voyage with Oceania Cruises (0345 505 1920/oceaniacruises. com) which accentuates the cuisine and culture of each destination with special excursions. At Livorno, passengers visit the city’s market before delving deep into the Tuscan countryside for a cooking demonstration and lunch at the former country home of the famous Medici family.
Corsica injects a Gallic infusion with mountain-bike adventures and village tours, while from Monte Carlo there’s a trip to the seafront market of Nice, with lunch in the medieval village of Eze. In Valencia foodie fans can shop like a local at the fabulous city market, accompanied by the ship’s Culinary Centre chef, to buy ingredients for a private cookery demonstration in the art of paella.
Oceania is known as the “foodie cruise line” thanks to its selection of superb onboard restaurants, Riviera boasts a mouth-watering choice of venues, including six gourmet restaurants and its Culinary Centre cookery school. There’s even an artist loft for those who want to swap their palettes for paintbrushes and learn the latest artistic techniques, while the sumptuous Canyon Ranch spa promises plentiful pampering.
Ten nights from £3,549 for a balcony cabin (two sharing) full-board. Price includes flights from the UK to Rome, soft drinks, wifi and a choice of free shore excursions, drinks with lunch and dinner or a $300pp credit. Departs Civitavecchia, September 24, 2018.
RUM & SALSA IN THE CARIBBEAN
This West Indies voyage with Viking Cruises (0800 298 9700/ vikingcruises.co.uk) promises plenty of Caribbean spice as it sails through islands infused with local flavours. In Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, guests can indulge in the two main passions of cooking and dancing with a salsa lesson before learning how to prepare local speciality mofongo.
Tortola boasts the British Virgin Islands’ last remaining rum distillery, while Dominica offers the chance to learn about the medicinal properties of local herbs and sample its national dish callaloo. Passengers can even whip up a three-course Gallic culinary treat during a cookery class on the Dutch/French isle of St Maarten/ St Martin and with this being the Caribbean, there’s no shortage of rum to wash it all down.
Foodie fans will dine well on Viking Sea with its selection of venues that range from the exclusive Chef’s Table to the high-class Italian fare of Manfredi’s. Afternoon tea is a dainty treat served to the accompaniment of a string quartet in the Wintergarden.
Decor throughout this ship is light and airy, reflecting Viking’s Scandinavian roots and the sumptuous spa even possesses a snow room with real flakes. Ten nights from £2,640 (two sharing) full board. Price includes selected shore excursions, wifi, drinks with meals. Flights extra. Departs San Juan, February 27, 2019.
VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY: Meet star of Great British Bake Off Mary Berry, left, on a Danube Cruise with E
MARY BERRY ON THE DANUBE
Brush up your baking skills with queen of cakes Mary Berry on a Danube cruise with Emerald Waterways (0808 271 7608/ emeraldwaterways.co.uk). This voyage from Nuremberg to Budapest is sprinkled with festive cheer as it coincides with the continental Christmas markets season. The sweet smell of gluhwein and cinnamon hangs heavy in the air around yuletide stalls lining the narrow, cobbled streets of Regensburg and Passau.
In Vienna, Mary joins passengers for afternoon tea and recounts tales from her career and time on the BBC’s popular Great British Bake Off in an informal Q&A session. Following a morning exploring historic Bratislava, Mary will host an exclusive book signing when guests receive a complimentary copy of her latest publication.
This is followed by a special gala Christmas dinner on board, featuring dishes Mary has specially chosen herself. One of the most striking features on Emerald Destiny, the newest Star-Ship to join Emerald’s fleet, is the indoor swimming pool where bathers enjoy picture-perfect views. That’s not all as at night time the pool converts into a cinema as the floor rises up and the water drains away underneath.
The Horizon bar and lounge is the social hub on board, with its panoramic windows giving a perfect outlook on to the river. Seven nights from £1,795 (two sharing) full-board. Price includes drinks with meals, wifi, gratuities, transfers and flights from various UK airports to Munich. Departs Nuremberg, December 1, 2018.
WINE-TASTING IN THE LOIRE
Relish the flavours of France on this mouth-watering cruise with Titan Travel (0800 988 5873/ titantravel.co.uk) along the picturesque Loire River. Soak up the grandeur and majesty of France’s longest river, lined with ornate grand chateaux and medieval castles, while sampling the delicacies this regions renowned for.
In the famous wine region of Sancerre, guests can team a tasting of local tipples with speciality cheeses at a family-run goat farm, while Pouilly-Fumé fans will be in seventh heaven on a vineyard and tasting trip to Pouillysur-Loire where this familiar favourite is produced. The Romanesque buildings of historic La Charité-sur-Loire are the highlight of this stop.
The sun deck of the MS Deborah gives an ideal view of the Loire’s most spectacular sights and there’s even a hot tub to relax in. With just 11 cabins the ambience on this small barge is cosy and intimate.
Six nights from £2,134 (two sharing) mostly full board. Price includes return fl ights from Heathrow to Paris, transfers, drinks and door-to-door chauffeur service. Departs Briare, September 27, 2018.
French fairytale: Usse Castle is a classic example of the Loire Valley’s chateaux
BON APPETIT IN THE BALTIC
Nordic specialities and Russian vodka are some of the hallmarks of this voyage that visits a clutch of Scandinavian capitals and the Russian city of St Petersburg with Celebrity Cruises (0800 441 4054/ celebritycruises.co.uk).
Tantalise your taste buds among Copenhagen’s artisan food stalls, hunt down Stockholm’s classic cinnamon and cardamom buns or book lunch at one of the many new restaurants. St Petersburg is the jewel in the crown with its clutch of national treasures, led by the legendary Hermitage Museum, and guests can join a tour with the ship’s chef to source ingredients at a local market before sampling a variety of Russian vodkas paired with local delicacies at a city restaurant.
Later, back onboard, the same passengers will enjoy an intimate chef-hosted dinner savouring the flavours and ingredients from the morning’s shopping. Enjoy a picnic on the grass lawn of Celebrity Silhouette or tuck into tasty steaks at the adjacent al fresco Lawn Club Grill – one of several speciality restaurants.
There’s an air of sophistication on this ship with its swish Martini Bar and the slick circus-style shows staged in the onboard theatre. 14 nights from £1,509 (two sharing) full-board. Departs Southampton, May 19, 2019.
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