At the start of 2007, Holland America Line (HAL) launched an advertising
campaign designed to provoke target consumers into thinking about which cruise
line would best suit their ideal holiday. This multimillion-dollar magazine
campaign first appeared in the January issue of Vanity Fair,
which arrived in homes during the first week of December 2006.

“Our new campaign takes an emotional approach to capture the attention of
cruisers, with vibrant, stunning visuals,” said Richard D Meadows, executive
vice president of marketing, sales and guest programmes. “These are supported
by our signature brand messages. We are not changing our brand; we are changing
how we communicate our brand to reach the youthful mindset of the baby boomers.
Our goal is to reach emerging consumers and rattle their perceptions about what
they think our brand is and show them that we are multi-layered and offer the
experiences they seek in a premium style.”

“Cruises with a culinary twist may be found heading to Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe and the Mediterranean.”


HAL’s Signature of Excellence concept was created to set up new
standards of good taste and service. As part of this initiative the company has
recently completed a $225m upgrade programme, and all the line’s
staterooms are now outfitted with a number of luxury items, such as plush
Euro-top Mariner’s Dream beds, deluxe waffle/terry cloth robes, new
pillows and flat-screen TVs.

The investment programme also included the provision of a range of cultural
enrichment programmes encompassing the ever-increasing popularity of cookery.
Like most aspects of cruising, this latest trend has been adapted to suit the
tastes of today’s cruisers. “Many of our guests have mentioned that
they’d like to know more about the culinary arts,” says Meadows.

With a culinary arts programme, passengers can sample fine dining and learn
how to recreate meals. Meadows points to HAL’s well-received Culinary
Arts Center programme, presented by Food & Wine magazine, where
culinary demonstrations and cooking classes are held on every cruise, featuring celebrated chefs.
Cruises with a culinary twist may be found heading to Alaska, the Caribbean,
Europe and the Mediterranean.

Cooking demonstrations and classes are held during days at sea and sometimes
while the ship is in port to provide an alternative for those who choose not to
go ashore. As a fleet-wide enhancement, the Culinary Arts Center is being
retrofitted on all 13 existing ships and will also be incorporated into the
upcoming 14th ship, due to launch in the summer of 2008.

Each Culinary Arts Center includes theatre-style seating, a state-of-the-art
show kitchen, plasma screens that allow every participant to see the
demonstration, a display counter for easy viewing and space for guests to
participate in preparing some of the dishes. Upgrades to all existing HAL ships
were completed in the summer of 2006, allowing each ship to include Culinary
Arts Center activities during each cruise.

Over 60 top chefs are scheduled to appear or have appeared on HAL ships,
including Nick Stellino, chef and host of Nick Stellino’s Family Kitchen
V; Jacques Torres, chocolatier, pastry chef and cookbook author; Aaron Sanchez,
chef and owner of Paladar in New York; Michelle Bernstein, owner and chef of MB
restaurant in Cancun; Neal Gallagher, chef of Oceana in New York (and voted
Best New Chef of 2003); and Charles Dale, founder of Aspen’s Renaissance,
Range and Rustique restaurants.


Beyond food service, most cruise lines have turned their attention to
cooking demonstrations and instruction as part of their overall enrichment
offerings. Across the industry, programmes vary in content. Some cooking
seminars are modest in scope, involving only a moderate amount of
participation, while others are more extensive, offering classroom-style
instruction that is 100% hands on.

Some presentations are free, while other culinary activities incur an
additional cost, depending on the cruise line. When applicable, fees generally range from $32
to $51 per person and are charged to a stateroom account. There are also lines
that charge upwards of $382 for a full instructional curriculum.

Culinary programmes can be complemented by wine appreciation with tastings,
seminars and other educational offerings, and some lines have gone so far as to
create their own brands of private label wines. Programming may be part of the
overall line-up of ongoing enrichment, or be held as a special event, such as a
festival or theme cruise on selected departures. Some of the culinary
enrichment programmes available across the industry are as follows.

“Most cruise lines have turned their attention to cooking demonstrations and instruction as part of their overall enrichment offerings.”

Celebrity Cruises has, for the past two years, hosted Savour the Caribbean
sailings on board the Fort Lauderdalebased Millennium. A cadre of 16 master
chefs joins these specially designated sailings, and all recipes and
demonstrations are designed to incorporate the Caribbean’s culinary
influences and cooking traditions. Celebrity also focuses on wine education,
with enrichment seminars, wine-tasting events and its own brand of
private-label wines, the Cellarmaster Selection.

Crystal Cruises is also presenting its 9th annual Crystal Wine & Food
Festival, which in 2007 is featured on 15 sailings to Alaska, the Mexican
Riviera, Europe, New England/Canada, Asia and the South Pacific. In addition,
the line’s Creative Learning Institute, found on board all three Crystal
ships, partners with the Society of Wine Educators for seminars on wine tasting
and pairing.

Crystal has also created its own proprietary wine label, known as Wines.
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 has a dedicated space for culinary arts.
Among its ten restaurants is a unique facility known as the Chef’s
Galley. For about $45, each guest can watch their meals being prepared.

HAL’s culinary arts programme is one of the most ambitious at sea. It
consists of three components: free demonstrations, classes (for a fee) and
special quarterly theme cruises. Several times during each cruise, one-hour
demonstrations are presented covering topics such as appetisers, main courses
or desserts. A more in-depth experience is available to those who sign up for
private interactive sessions at about $50 per person. These classes last for
two-and-a-half hours and are conducted in groups of 16.

Princess/P&O Cruises includes culinary studies in its [email protected]
programme of on-board enrichment. Classes are on the lighter side; the
curriculum may include complimentary cooking shows in a portable demonstration
kitchen, featuring recipes drawn from the line’s own cookbook, or lessons
in the fine art of fruit-and vegetable carving. Martini mixing focuses on the
latest trends, while winetasting seminars may be scheduled at a cost of about
$10 to $32 per person.

Silversea Cruises’ Viking Cooking School at Sea made its debut in mid-2005, with passengers invited to use professional-calibre Viking Corporation
cooking equipment. Beyond shipboard instruction, the school ventures ashore
into local marketplaces in search of fruit and vegetables, as well as herbs and
spices prevalent in that region’s cuisine. The line also offers a series
of culinary arts-themed cruises, presented in cooperation with Relais &
Chateaux, and has further plans in the works for a series of wine cruises.