As Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin suggests, the best way to become immersed in a culture is to sample the local cuisine or specialty libations.
In addition to eco-friendly, adventure, historic and scenic, Holland America Line tours delve into the culinary side of several ports of call. Whether it’s learning to prepare a local delicacy or sipping on a custom drink, guests can learn about foods around the world on their cruise. Here are some culinary tours in lesser-known ports — as well as a few popular cities — that focus on the food and drink of the region.
A Cooking Lesson at Villa Trinita
Journey about an hour to the charming village of Mascalucia. You will stop to explore the famous botanic gardens at Villa Trinitá, amid the lava stones of Mt. Etna, where you will find vegetable gardens, fruit trees and a mandarin plantation. When you’ve finished exploring the grounds, the owners of Villa Trinitá will host a cooking demonstration featuring delicious Sicilian cuisine. After the demonstration, enjoy lunch in the villa’s relaxing garden setting. If time permits, you will have a chance to relax at the private swimming pool in the quiet of the Barone Bonajuto estate.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Acadia National Park & Lobster Bake
This tour combines the highlights of the Acadia National Park tour with a true Downeast lobster bake. You will pass through the quaint town of Bar Harbor and drive by opulent summer ‘cottages’ before entering Acadia National Park. A journey along Park Loop Road showcases the spectacular scenery of Maine’s rocky coastline. Continue past Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs and the Jordan Pond House and, weather permitting, you will head to the 1,530-foot summit of Cadillac Mountain — the highest point on North America’s eastern seaboard. Sit down to a true Downeast lobster bake in a beautiful setting along the coast. Enjoy succulent Maine lobster pulled fresh from ocean water and drizzled with butter, with all the trimmings, and a blueberry dessert.
Wellington, New Zealand
Flavors of Wellington
Wellington is a city for food-lovers, and is a wonderful place to experience the urban delights of New Zealand. Stroll at a leisurely pace, sampling delicious food tastes with a friendly local guide on this up-close welcome to lively, walkable Wellington. Taste typical local treats, from home-style baking to regional cheeses, seasonal fruit, chocolate and local coffee. As you pass Wellington’s less-traveled city sights, listen to interesting local stories from your guide.
Mendenhall Glacier, Hatchery & Salmon Bake
Guests travel through Juneau’s picturesque downtown to the mighty Mendenhall Glacier, a moving river of ice with rugged crevasses. Following a visit to the Salmon Hatchery, ti’s time for a traditional Alaskan salmon bake at Salmon Creek. An Alaskan feast, this salmon bake features Alaskan-caught wild salmon grilled over an open alder wood fire. Also enjoy Cheechako baked chicken, Gold Rush potatoes, Chilkoot baked beans, wild-rice pilaf, a variety of fresh salads, corn bread and lemonade, coffee or tea. Guests dine beside Salmon Creek in southeast Alaska’s rain forest and listen to a local musician. After dining, toast marshmallows over a crackling campfire and walk to view the beautiful Salmon Creek waterfall.
Barcelona’s Markets & Cuisine
This excursion beckons those who take an interest in Mediterranean and Catalán cuisine. Depart the pier for the famous promenade of Las Ramblas to visit the La Boqueria and Santa Caterina markets. Browse among the multitude of stalls selling a wide variety of Catalán and Spanish products (such as traditional sausages and cheeses) as well as exotic fruits from all around the world. The original Boqueria building plan dates back to 1217, when the main selling activity was a street market where locals traded meat, vegetables and fruits. Today’s structure was officially inaugurated in 1853. You can still see the original building, with its metal roof, built by Mas Vilà in a Modernist style. Learn about the history and traditions surrounding various Mediterranean ingredients and dishes before proceeding to two different Catalán restaurants, each of which will serve different types of tapas for your enjoyment.
Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland:
Glengoyne Distillery & Loch Lomond Shores
Follow the shadow of the rolling Campsie Fell hills to two of greater Glasgow’s most beautiful and wealthy outlying villages: Bearsden and Milngavie. You will visit the Glengoyne Distillery, where the ‘water of life’ — Scotland’s greatest gift to the world (perhaps second only to the bagpipes) — has been produced since 1833. The distillery itself is perfectly located in a peaceful glen with a rolling waterfall. Inside the Visitor Center, a warm welcome awaits you in the form of smiling staff and a “wee dram” of whisky, which you can sip as you watch an informative audio-visual presentation about the history of production on the site. On a guided tour of the distillery, you will see the barley being delivered, smell the sharp odor emanating from the mash tuns and admire the soaring stills and final shed where the casks are kept during the maturation process. Next, head around the Kilpatrick Hills, passing the shores of Loch Lomond and stopping for a short break at Loch Lomond Shores. Finally, you’ll drive via Dumbarton — once the center of the Kingdom of the Strathclyde Britons and famous for its fortification on Dumbarton Rock — back to Greenock.
Live the Chilean Spirit: Wines & Horses
Experience the very best of the Chilean spirit. First, you’ll drive by coach into the heart of Casablanca Valley. There have been vineyards in Casablanca Valley since 1875, but only since the 1980s has the true potential of the valley been understood. The soils and the conditions are in many ways similar to the Napa and Sonoma Valleys in California. The valley is oriented so that ocean breezes cool the grapes on the vine and result in intensely fruity wines when properly vinified. You will visit one of the wineries located in this valley to learn about the wine making process and taste some of the wines.
Afterwards, drive towards Puro Caballo, where you will be introduced to the huaso (cowboy) traditions of Chile. Learn about the Chilean horse, a pure-breed able to do things that no other horse in the world can do due to its special morphology. Then, while enjoying a glass of wine or a Pisco Sour, witness an equestrian exhibition of the skills of the man-horse “duet” in the national sport — the Chilean rodeo. A delicious lunch awaits you in the restaurant located on site. Returning to Valparaíso, you’ll pass through Viña del Mar, a fashionable seaside resort and sister-city to Valparaíso. Here you will view an extensive and interesting collection of objects from Easter Island and the Chilean mainland, including a fine exhibit of Mapuche silver.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Tea Time: Sri Lanka’s Favorite Beverage
Head out from the pier to the tea plantation at Ingiriya, where a special welcome awaits. You will be presented with a garland made out of tealeaves! Visit the tea plantation and the rubber plantation area for a chance to see firsthand the tea plucking and rubber tapping processes. At a nearby tea factory, where the workers claim the best tea in the world is produced, you will observe the manufacturing process and learn about how tea is graded. Taste a cup of pure Ceylon tea before departing the factory.
Do you enjoy going on a shore excursion that focuses on the cuisine and beverages of a port? What’s been your favorite dish that you got to sample? Tell us in the comments below?