Once copious amount of food, booze and cocktails would be enough to entice a newbie to take a holiday on a cruise ship.
Today, lines are going out of their way to sign up celebrity chefs, television stars and famous singers to front their specialty restaurants and cabaret shows.
Here’s a Who’s Who of cruise celebs
The talk show host, television star and one of America’s richest self-made women is also a godmother of a cruise ship.What hasn’t she done? Holland America’s 2650-passenger Nieuw Statendam anointed Oprah as the official godmother. HAL has introduced a series of programs inspired by O, The Oprah Magazine, featuring a range of uplifting, complimentary activities like meditation to energise and inspire guests. There is also an Oprah Reading Room for lovers of her famous book club.
Jon Bon Jovi
Rock star Jon Bon Jovi on a cruise ship? He’s as far from the crooning piano man most lines employ, but Norwegian Cruise Line grabbed him to be its headline act for its Runaway to Paradise voyage from Barcelona to Palma, Mallorca on the Norwegian Pearl in August. He will perform a hip-swinging concert backed by an 11-piece band on the pool deck which promises to be a knock-out acoustic show. The line which has no formal dress code, will suit Bon Jovi to a tee. After all, he swears by his old, faithful trainers and will wear the same lucky Reebok sneakers onstage on the high seas as he has done for 15 years on land.
Acclaimed Vietnamese Australian celebrity chef and TV personality, Luke Nguyen first learnt how to cook “pho” at his parents’ tiny eatery in Sydney at the tender age of 10. He now owns Red Lantern in Sydney and Fat Noodle in Brisbane. He is also the face of river cruising company APT and hosts many of the line’s foodie voyages on the mighty Mekong in Vietnam. He will also be on board the line’s Grand Bordeaux itinerary from Paris to Bordeaux in August. Gain an insight into the art of French-Vietnamese cuisine from the master himself with an interactive cooking lesson. Savour a decadent meal cooked by Nguyen at La Terrasse Rouge Restaurant while admiring the gorgeous scenery of the surrounding vineyards at Saint Emilion.
From the Afghan refugee camps of the 1980s to the panic-stricken streets of Ground Zero in New York, American photojournalist McCurry has captured iconic images. His famous photograph of the Afghan Girl, a refugee with piercing green eyes, made the cover of the National Geographic magazine. Two years ago, McCurry was appointed by luxury line Silversea to shoot pictures on various adventurous cruises from the masked tribal performers in Papua New Guinea to a fruit seller in Quito, Ecuador. He has also been briefed by Silversea to shoot pictures of the Svalbard icebergs and Galapagos Islands.
Keller is the only American celebrity chef to be awarded simultaneous three star Michelin rankings for two restaurants – the French Laundry and Per Se. Appointed by luxury line Seabourn, he opened his first specialty restaurant The Grill by Thomas Keller on board Seabourn Quest in 2016. Guests dining at The Grill are treated to table-side preparations of Caesar salad, favourites like lobster thermidor, Dover sole meuniere, rib-eye steak and thick cut prime New York strip steak. Fusing American and French cuisine, The Grill is also onboard Seabourn Encore, Sojourn and Ovation.
Mangan is the first Australian celebrity chef to bring his restaurant Salt Grill on board P&O ships. Using the freshest and finest Aussie ingredients, Mangan’s signature dishes include crab omelette, enoki mushroom salad with miso broth and the famous liquorice parfait with lime syrup. That’s why Mangan has been invited to cook for former US president Bill Clinton, Tom Cruise and at the wedding of Danish Crown Prince Fredrick and Princess Mary. Salt Grill is on Pacific Dawn, Eden, Aria and Jewel.
Best started out as an electrician in the gold mines of WA before starting his culinary career at the age of 25. His passion for French food was kindled when he worked as an apprentice at Macleay Street Bistro in 1990 before he started developing modern Australian cuisine blending European techniques with Asian flavours. In 2016, he opened Bistro by Mark Best on Genting Dream, a luxury ship sailing out of Singapore. There’s also a Seafood Grill by Mark Best on World Dream and the newly refurbished Explorer Dream.
The Australian celebrity chef and TV personality is nicknamed The Quiet Terminator following his performance on The Celebrity Apprentice 3. In America, Stone is known for his restaurants – not for his supermarket endorsement deals in Australia where he is the face of Coles Supermarket chain. His tiny Beverley Hills restaurant Maude has been awarded his first Michelin star this year. Stone is also behind Hollywood’s sparkling butchery and meat-focused restaurant Gwen. In 2015, Princess Cruises partnered with Melbourne-born Stone to launch a new specialty restaurant Share by Curtis Stone on Emerald and Ruby Princess. Share restaurant opened on Sun Princess a year later. On ships where there is no Share restaurant, Stone has crafted a special menu which is served in the main dining room.
Adam D Tihany
Adam Tihany is widely regarded as one of the world’s pre-eminent interior designers. Based in New York, he has designed hotels and restaurants fusing his Italian style with Las Vegas flamboyance. Tihany was the creative vision behind the luxury interiors of Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation. He has also designed the interiors for The Grill by celebrity chef Thomas Keller on Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest. Recently, he has been appointed to create the interiors for the line’s two new ultra-luxury expedition ships due to be launched in 2021 and 2022.
Vote in this year’s special Readers’ Choice Awards
No doubt 2020 will go down in cruise history as the year of the pandemic – a once in a generation event. And this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards will reflect it.