Silversea Cruises expanded its culinary instruction program this year to 10 sailings across its five-ship fleet. In partnership with Relais & Chateaux, the line offers the l'Ecole des Chefs interactive cooking school on a complimentary basis for any interested passenger.
"Travelers today not only want to relax on vacation, they also want to be enriched," said Rudi Scholdis, Silversea's director of culinary development. "Our Culinary Arts voyages are a perfect combination for travelers to do something they enjoy, eat, while at the same time take home a new skill.
"The programs are extremely popular, and interest seems to increase every year," he added. Hence, this year's expanded offerings, up from eight sailings last year.
The program offers a curriculum hosted by Silversea culinary trainer David Bilsland. Educated in classic French cooking, Bilsland is a former chef instructor at Le Cordon Bleu London.
The curriculum for each cruise is designed to highlight the cultural flavor of the ship's itinerary.
On some voyages, the program includes a "Market to Plate" experience that provides passengers with an escorted tour of a local market during a port call. The outing is followed by a cooking class featuring the local goods.
"We try to incorporate the local foods we purchase or the local or regional cuisine of the ports we're visiting," Scholdis said.
Passengers do not have to sign up in advance. "They simply show up at the designated time and place," he said.
The program includes specialized workshops covering a range of topics, from basic knife skills and kitchen terminology to sauces and baking.
There are cooking demonstrations with wine pairings and interactive question-and-answer sessions as well as cooking competitions between Bilsland and the ship's own culinary team. The classes also provide participants with "Take it Home" recipes.
The culinary program is offered on Silversea cruises across the globe, including World Cruise segments.
On the Mediterranean segment, for example, passengers can sail aboard the Silver Spirit from Athens on May 3 aboard a 16-day cruise to Southampton, with port calls in Sicily, Italy, Monaco, Spain, Portugal and the Island of Guernsey. Fares start at $10,358 per person, double.