This year I’m going to witness a culinary cage match at sea. In May I’m sailing on Oceania Cruises new ship the Vista for her christening. Then in August I’ll board Explora I, the first ship from new luxury lifestyle brand Explora Journeys.
In 2013, Oceania Cruises started operations with the intention to change the ocean cruising food and beverage experience. With The Finest Cuisine at Sea as their goal and Jacques Pepin guiding, they effectively set a new benchmark. Until then cruising was defined by midnight buffets and formal dining rooms with average to good food. Oceania successfully changed that. In May, when Giada De Laurentis, Vista’s godmother, breaks the champagne on the bow, the message is clear that Oceania intends to maintain their goal of serving the Finest Cuisine at Sea.
Explora Journeys is the challenger. Explora’s new Head of Culinary is Franck Garanger former Culinary Director, Oceania Cruises. Chef Franck eats plant-based in his home to support his marathon lifestyle and there will always be a plant-based option available on board. But carnivores don’t fret, ingredients offerings include Wagyu beef and a Tuna Tataki that I’m trying first chance.
Explora wants to Create an Ocean State of Mind. For me, that has yet to be defined but they have more restaurant, bar and lounge options than any other ship of their size. There are 3 Steinway pianos on board and that says something about the entertainment. Every suite has an ocean terrace. It’s bold and exciting.
I think the gauntlet (skillet?) has been thrown down and I’m keen to try the results.