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"Cruise Impressions" Column

Cruise Impressions (10/07): Fun-Tastical Diversion

Original Run Date - October 2007

Culinary Arts shot goes here.   Photo of ice rink goes here.

Learning from a skilled chef at a Culinary Arts demonstration on Holland America Line (above left) or skating on the high seas with Royal Caribbean International (above right) are just two of the many fun things cruise guests may do at sea.*

Five Fun-tastical Features: 

Cruising delivers much more than Bingo, Art Auctions and Pool Action

By Anne Kalosh

Photo of keyboard class goes here.While you’re on a cruise, why not plunge into something new or offbeat that you may not have the time to pursue in your regular, work-a-day life?

Today’s ships offer a cornucopia of activities that range from intellectual to purely recreational.

For example, you might study a foreign language or take Yamaha keyboard lessons on Crystal Cruises (www.crystalcruises.com). A keyboard class is shown at right.*

You might learn to tango on Costa Cruise Lines (www.costacruises.com). Or, on many lines you might expand your appreciation for wine during tasting sessions with a professional sommelier.   

With so many diverse options available to guests at sea, it's tough to choose what to do next. Following are our "Five Fun Things to Do on a Cruise."

1. Throw a Strike

Photo of Bowling on NCL goes here.Even if you think you’re not into bowling, try it at sea for the sheer novelty – and challenge. And you can always blame those gutter balls on the motion of the ship!

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl offers four bowling lanes (see photo at right*) in the sophisticated, Goth-inspired Bliss Ultra Lounge and Night Club.

Games cost $5 per person including shoe rental. Each lane accommodates two to six players. It’s entertaining for couples, families and groups, and it’s a way to make new friends.

Photo of Bliss goes here.Plus, in Bliss (shown at left*), you'll discover plenty to hold your attention beyond the bowling lanes.

The lounge is decked out in crushed velvet with canopy beds, cushions and armchairs.

A bar and a dance floor await. Flat screen monitors display a constant stream of music videos.

The Norwegian Pearl sails five- and nine-day Caribbean voyages from Miami this winter. For more information, visit www.ncl.com.

2. Indulge Your Foodie Fantasies.

Chef’s demonstrations have been offered on cruise ships for decades. But now several lines are taking the experience to a new level for today’s knowledgeable “foodies.”

Photo of chef goes here.The entire Holland America Line fleet is equipped with Culinary Arts Centers that resemble the kitchens used on television cooking shows. See photo at right.*

These theater-style venues have large cooking display counters and overhead plasma screens for close-up views.

Demonstrations and classes are offered on every sailing by the line’s own chefs or noted guest chefs, cookbook authors and wine experts in conjunction with Food & Wine magazine.

Photo of Child at Culinary Arts Center.For example, joining the Zuiderdam’s Nov. 17 eastern Caribbean cruise from Port Everglades (Greater Fort Lauderdale) is Seis Kamimura, executive chef of BOKA in Seattle’s Hotel 1000.

The cooking demonstrations are free. The hour and a half classes cost $29.

Even kids, tweens and teens get a chance to roll up their sleeves in the Culinary Arts Centers during free, 45-minute sessions geared to different ages. At left a young girl tries her hand at a cooking task.*

Children under 8 might make ice cream sandwiches. Older kids might bake pretzels or pull saltwater taffy. Visit www.hollandamerica.com

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is known for its partnership with the famous Parisian culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu, and two Regent ships feature a Le Cordon Bleu menu in the Signatures specialty restaurant.

Photo of Le Cordon Bleu Cooking Class goes here.During certain voyages, passengers -- for an extra fee -- may book a “Le Cordon Bleu Circle of Interest.”

That's basically a "cruise within a cruise" featuring specialized demonstrations and intensive workshops in classic French cooking led by a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef. One workshop is shown at right.*

This culinary program must be booked in advance.

Le Cordon Bleu workshops are not open to other guests onboard the sailing who are not participating in a Circle of Interest program. For example, on Seven Seas Mariner’s April 7 Caribbean cruise from Fort Lauderdale, the Le Cordon Bleu group will join their instructor for an excursion to a French bakery in St. Bart’s.

Participants will also meet for a cocktail party, a dinner and graduation ceremony. They'll also receive their own chef’s hat, apron and cookbook. The cost for this “Circle of Interest” is $450. Visit www.theregentexperience.com.

Photo of Viking Range cooking demonstration goes here.Silversea Cruises recently rolled out an onboard Viking Cooking School. 

In partnership with the Viking Range Corp., each ship features a culinary theater (see photo at left*) equipped with the latest Viking appliances and a large rear projection screen.

The curriculum is relevant to the itinerary with a focus on regional specialties. Activities include cooking demonstrations with wine pairings and Q&A sessions, a “Lunch and Learn” event for small groups and an escorted tour of a local market followed by a cooking class.

Viking instructors are accomplished chefs or culinary experts. When Viking personnel are not on board, Silversea’s culinary theaters serve as venues for the international guest chefs of Relais & Chateaux to show off their talents during special Culinary Arts cruises. On all other voyages, Silversea’s own chefs host cooking demonstrations.

In any case, there is no charge for the sessions.

Among the Viking Cooking School dates set for 2008 is a Panama Canal cruise from Port Everglades to the Port of Los Angeles on Silver Shadow. The 15-day voyage sails on May 16. Visit www.silversea.com.

3. Glide Like Michelle Kwan

Whether you want to glide across the ice or just watch the rink action, you’ll have the chance on a number of Royal Caribbean International ships sailing from southern U.S. ports.

Photo of Skating Rink goes here.Group lessons are offered free, with skate rental available.

Participants can choose two styles of skates: figure skates or ice hockey skates.

Lavish shows by professional skaters (see photo at left*) are also presented, usually twice per one-week cruise.

Ice rinks are available on Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas, sailing weekly from Miami; on Mariner of the Seas, sailing weekly from Port Canaveral; on Navigator of the Seas, offering four- and five-night cruises from Port Everglades in the winter; and on Voyager of the Seas, cruising weekly from Galveston, TX, in the winter. Visit www.royalcaribbean.com.

4. Explore Your Ship on an Art Tour

Cruise lines often invest millions of dollars in decorating their ships with art and antiques. At least two companies now offer self-guided art tours on board.

On Holland America Line vessels, passengers can check out iPods free of charge which contain the approximately 40-minute tours.

Photo of dolphin artwork goes here.Photo images are displayed on the screen to help passengers locate each piece.

Walking directions and interviews with the artists are included in the narration by well-known radio hosts Paul Lasley and Elizabeth Harryman.

While walking along, you will encounter Susanna Holt’s lifelike bronze animal sculptures, which grace the pool areas of every ship. See photo above.*

In the stairwells, you'll peruse Stephen Card’s paintings of classic Holland America vessels.

On the Westerdam, for example, which sails to the eastern Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale this winter, the artworks range from a huge silver-overlaid wood palace doorway from India to a collection of 5,000-year-old pre-Columbian carved limestone figures from Ecuador.

The podcasts may also can be downloaded, free, from iTunes, and from www.hollandamerica.com.

Celebrity Cruises provides audio tour devices of the sort used by the Louvre. Tours are  written by an art historian.

Each Celebrity ship’s collection features modern and contemporary 20th century works by such artists as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Pablo Picasso, in a variety of media. Visit www.celebritycruises.com.

The tours are available on several Celebrity ships sailing from southern U.S. ports this winter, including Constellation, Millennium and Summit from Port Everglades. Visit www.celebrity.com.

5. Mix the Tunes

If you're always yearned to be a DJ, now’s your chance to pick up tips from the experts. Aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas, Scratch DJ 101 classes are offered in conjunction with New York’s Scratch DJ Academy.

Photo of Disk Jockey apparatus goes here.The line offers classes for both adults and kids. The kids' DJ Class is conducted in Fuel, the teen nightclub, as part of the daily Adventure Ocean youth programming.

A four-session course culminates with a graduation performance of music mixing for family and friends. Visit www.royalcaribbean.com

So whether it’s getting up to your elbows in dough alongside a Le Cordon Bleu chef, honing your music mixing skills or brushing up on 20th century art masterpieces, don’t miss the chance to sample some new experiences on your next cruise.

Anne Kalosh is a Miami-based journalist who has been covering the cruise industry for national and international publications for 25 years. She is the U.S. editor for Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Insider. Kalosh got hooked on cruising when, fresh out of college, she signed on with Royal Viking Line as a shipboard newspaper editor sailing the world.

*Photos of Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Royal Caribbean International are owned, copyrighted and used with permission of those lines. One ice skating shot is owned by SouthernCruising.com™. All rights reserved. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you

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