One of the great pleasures of travel is the opportunity to sample local food and drink. While you may find language barriers along the way, an appreciation for good food is a universal language and can be a fantastic way to immerse yourself in local cultures.
It is fascinating to learn how landscape and climate affect local cuisine — picture fresh seafood from Alaska’s cool waters or the pleasant balance of spice and coconut in the Cambodian heat.
Holland America Line recognizes the joy of great food. The Culinary Council works year round to create memorable menus, the Culinary Arts Center sends guests home with newly acquired skills and On Location programming brings local flavors onboard. Shoreside, guests will find a fabulous variety of shore excursions to introduce them to local flavors to sip and savor around the world.
Imagine you are taking a Grand World Voyage, here are some fabulous culinary stops along the way. The itinerary is hypothetical and a bit impossible, but the tours are real!
First stop: the Caribbean! In Puerto Rico explore the History & Cuisine of San Juan on Foot. Puerto Rican food is among the most flavorful in the world because the cuisine has been influenced by Spain, Africa and the Taíno Natives. Explore the city and discover the magic of the cocina criolla (Creole Kitchen). Head to the Mofongo & Mojito culinary demo and dining experience — a beautiful local restaurant with a unique colonial atmosphere. This is the ideal place to appreciate Latin flavors. The staff welcomes you with delicious Puerto Rican hors d’oeuvres, and the renowned chef will demonstrate how to create the famous mofongo — a must-try for first-time visitors wanting to claim they have sampled the local fare.
Sail on to Mexico for Salsa & Salsa. At a glorious beachfront hotel a short distance from Cabo San Lucas, you can learn to make three traditional margaritas and a variety of Mexican salsas with salsa-dancing chef instructors. After all that cooking and dancing, guests have the rest of the afternoon to relax on the beach before heading back to the ship.
Sail into the Southern Hemisphere for a Porteno Home Hosted Dinner when you call at Buenos Aires, Argentina. Interact with friendly Argentines and allow yourself to be pampered in a hospitable and relaxed environment. You’ll get a taste of real Argentine home cooking, and may make life-long friends!
“A great opportunity to get past the souvenir sellers and tourist haunts. Our hosts looked forward to the event as much as we did. We really got to meet a young family, have a fine meal, and see what life was really like … We would do this again in a heartbeat!” – Georgia Observer
Next up: Fairbanks for the Alaska Salmon Bake & Palace Theatre Revue. Here you’ll enter Pioneer Park through an old mining tunnel to find a feast of fire-cooked salmon, cod from the Bering Sea and slow-roasted Prime Rib. After you enjoy a hearty Alaskan dinner learn about Fairbanks’ history and folkflore at the Palace Theatre.
“The food was GREAT!!! The salmon was tender and moist. On the night we went they were also having all you can eat crab legs. BONUS!! And when they say all you can eat they mean it. My husband had the beef and said it was great also…The show was so funny. I laughed the whole way through, and several days later.” – Guest Shar
Head to Hilo, Hawaii, for A Taste of Vanilla. The Hawaiian Vanilla Company takes you on a journey through the tropical countryside of the Hamkua Coast – a spectacular showcase of the diverse ecosystems that the big island has to offer. Learn how vanilla is grown and enjoy lunch and a fabulous culinary demonstration by the Reddekopp family.
Across the Pacific you can stop for sushi and sake at the Morning Market & Mt Hadkodate Ropeway at Hokkaido, Japan, or check out Culinary Cambodia where you’ll take a tuk tuk to the Lemongrass Restaurant for sparkling white and a multi-course tasting menu featuring delights like chilled sea lobster on tomato salad with sweet basil dressing or crabmeat coconut soup in lemongrass and spicy coconut broth. Chef will send you home with the recipes to impress your friends.
While you’re in that part of the world, head Down Under to Australia and sample some excellent wine. During a call at Melbourne, the Wildlife & Wineries tour introduces you to cuddly creatures and several renowned wineries. During a visit to the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary, you’ll have free time to wander through the Australian bushland. The zookeepers will tell you about the platypus, parrots, kangaroos, wombats and the koala.
The tour continues on to the Yarra Valley wine district, where the varieties grown include Shiraz, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Visit a local winery for a tasting and enjoy lunch in its scenic restaurant. Rochford Winery prides itself on the production of premium-quality wines that express the true character of their vineyard sites. Dominique Portet is a beautiful Mediterranean-style property, a romantic location that provides the ideal setting for sipping wine, dining and touring the winery.
“I thoroughly enjoyed this excursion – it really is a “2 for 1″ – in terms of getting to experience two different trips at one price. The trip to the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary was informative and you were able to see many native animals like koala bears & kangaroos fairly close up. The trip to the Yarra Valley was great – the wineries beautfiul and the lunch served at the Rochford Winery was excellent – first class all the way.” — Guest Gayle
South Africa is known for unique and impressive wines. For an unforgettable stop check out the Ostrich Farm & Wine Tasting tour. There you can sip wine and take a photo on top of an ostrich with the famous Table Top Mountain as a backdrop.
When you cruise through Europe you can find a wine tour at nearly every port. The old world regions produce the finest wines in the world.
Bordeaux, France, is known for producing some of the best wines, and you can visit the famous Quai des Chartrons, cradle of the Bordeaux wine industry, on the Medoc Vineyards tour. The Médoc wine road, located between the Gironde Estuary and the Landes Forest, provides magnificent views of vine-covered gravelly rises as far as the eye can see. You will have the opportunity to take photos of some of the most famous châteaux of the area — including Margaux and Pichon Longueville. The region’s world-famous châteaux produce wines that are nothing short of divine — Moulis, Listrac, Saint Julien, Saint Estèphe, Pauillac, Médoc and Haut Médoc, as well as Margaux, with the celebrated château of the same name. You will visit the cellars of a famous château, where you will learn about the techniques of wine making and enjoy a wine tasting.
Sail on over to Greece and take part in the Ancient Nemea & Wine Tasting tour in Navplion. The Nemean Games were held here from 573 BC, or earlier, at the sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea. The temple stands on the site of an even more ancient temple, of which only a foundation wall is still visible. The Palivos Winery, located close to the archaeological site, is your next stop. Take advantage of this opportunity to explore one of Greece’s most famous wine-making regions.
But if beer is what you’re looking for, look no futher than Ireland! A Taste of Dublin: The Guinness Experience takes you through the capital city steeped in ancient history and youthful energy. Wind through the streets of Dublin and see the Old Parliament House, Trinity College founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, and Merrion Square.
Then one of the most iconic beers in the world takes center stage. As you make your way through the Storehouse museum, you’ll discover what goes into making the ‘black stuff’ — the ingredients, the process, the passion. The tour ends in Gravity, the sky bar where you will be treated to a pint of Guinness. Don’t miss shopping for souvenirs in the extensive Guinness merchandise store before returning to the pier.
Many guests will be pleased to hear that Holland America Line recently changed the onboard wine policy. Now passengers can bring one bottle of wine onboard that will not be subject to a corkage fee if consumed in the stateroom. Additional bottles can be brought onboard at embarkation and during the cruise, and will be subject to a corkage fee if consumed onboard. Guests who purchase wine ashore can choose to have these bottles stored and returned on the last evening of the voyage at no charge. For full policy details, click HERE.
Wherever you may cruise, Holland America Line encourages you to see, sip and savor the culture and history of the region. Where would you most like to dine? Let us know in the comments below!