NEW YORK -- With an ethereal pas de deux and spectacular
haute cuisine, Celebrity Cruises introduced new culinary and cultural
partnerships to an audience of travel advisors and media here Wednesday night, with
two master ballet performances followed by a sumptuous three-course meal.
And in announcing alliances with chef Daniel Boulud and the
American Ballet Theatre, the cruise line put a spotlight on its fleetwide
offerings following a period of intense focus on the Celebrity Edge.
Before heading to Boulud's Michelin 2-star restaurant Daniel
for a post-performance meal, the chef told the crowd that he sailed with
Celebrity and found its kitchen staffs to be "incredible" -- even at
the buffet. "I was so blown away by the selection. It was like a street
market. I had lamb curry made by a chef from India, and he said the recipe was
one he grew up with. There's a lot of soul in the food already."
French born and trained, Boulud owns restaurants in nine
cities. From 1986 to 1992, he was the critically acclaimed executive chef at
New York's Le Cirque.
Celebrity's associate vice president of entertainment
Rebecca Thomson-Foley said that one of the biggest structural challenges in
bringing ballet to sea is that ballet requires a "sprung floor" (one
that absorbs shocks). However, the floor would be damaged by the ship's other
entertainment offerings. The solution? A custom-floor will be flown with the
company to whichever ship is hosting performances (the launch schedule includes
all ships but Edge). The shows will feature pas de deuxs exclusively, she said.
The more classical of New York's two leading ballet troupes,
ABT was founded in 1939 and has an annual eight-week season at the Metropolitan
Opera House in Lincoln Center. Among its principal dancers is Misty Copeland,
who appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 2015. Copeland gained acclaim in 2015 when she became the first
African-American in the company's history to be promoted to principal dancer.
Performers from the American Ballet Theatre perform the pas de deux from Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" at Wednesday's Celebrity Cruises event. Photo Credit: Arnie Weissmann
Celebrity said Boulud, 63, will become its global culinary
ambassador. It outlined a multi-point menu of onboard Boulud activities.
Every ship in the fleet will host a Chef's Table by Daniel
Boulud twice each voyage. It will begin with Daniel Boulud Signature champagne
and canapes, followed by a private galley tour. Guests then enjoy a five-course
dinner with wine pairings and receive a cookbook to commemorate the experience.
Boulud will create a fleetwide three-course menu for the
Luminea restaurant reserved for suite guests.
Twice a year, Boulud-trained chefs will host onboard cooking
demonstrations, attend VIP guest receptions and prepare lunch or dinner with a
Celebrity Cruises chef.
In addition, there will be two training programs in Boulud
kitchens, one for up-and-coming Celebrity chefs and another for newly promoted
The Boulud partnership will supplement the line's current
culinary affiliation with Fine Cooking magazine and the PBS show "Moveable
Feast," which has branded Signature Sailings with chefs like Michele
Bernstein and Bryan Voltaggio.
Celebrity was one of the first cruise lines to engage an
outside chef in a prominent role when it partnered with Michel Roux. The
partnership ran from 1990 to 2007.
The ABT partnership brings Celebrity a link to one of the
premier institutions of the New York cultural world. ABT's past stars include
Mikhail Baryshnikov, who served as artistic director from 1980 to 1989, and
prima ballerina Gelsey Kirkland.
Celebrity said ABT will do 12 "guest entertainer
performances" onboard in 2019 and an additional six performances in 2020.
There will also be "guest appearances" on Celebrity Summit on March
23 and Celebrity Equinox on May 25.
The partnership will bring seminars, ballet barre classes
and children's classes on select sailings.
In addition, ABT performance access will be available as
shore excursions at ports of call where ABT is appearing.