Avalon Waterways to launch three new tulip-focused river cruises in 2020

Recent announcements from three luxury lines reveal that they are taking "culinary immersion" to dizzying new heights. Along with new menus, workshops and food-focused shore excursions, they are serving up a smorgasbord of foodie phrases that are, in some cases, quite hard to stomach.

Who knew that a "regionally inspired wine list could enable diners to form meaningful connections with local cultures"? Trimming the fat off additives such as "deep-diving" into local cuisine (what an image that one conjures up – plunging head-first into a vat of paddlefish caviar, perhaps), here's a glimpse of what luxury cruisers can expect in coming months.

Oceania Cruises' big culinary news is that it is introducing more than 200 new healthy menu items across its six ships. The emphasis is on plant-based dishes – look out for healthy Power and Poke Bowls and raw, cold-pressed juices and vegan smoothies.

As well as contemporary twists to classic favourites served onboard RSSC's Seven Seas Splendor – due next February – guests will be able to sample dishes from regions the ship is sailing through. These will be offered at the new Destination Corner during lunch at La Veranda.

Silversea's Silver Moon – arriving in August 2020 – will introduce the line's S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) program. S.A.L.T. Kitchen and adjoining bar will focus on food and drinks from destinations visited on the cruises, while S.A.L.T. Lab will expand this concept and offer workshops, tastings and shore tours based on local cuisine.

Of course there's always 24-hour room service, so you can order a sneaky club sandwich if you're drowning in culinary immersion. Bon appetit! 

Discover Dalmatia

Evergreen Cruises & Tours is chartering two new boutique motoryachts and adding an extra eight-day itinerary to its luxury yacht program in Croatia next year. MS Swallow and MS Lastavica cater for a maximum of 36 passengers and features include a rooftop jacuzzi and swim platform. They will sail eight- and 11- day cruises plus 16-day land-cruise combos on the Adriatic coast; fares for the new "Pearls of North Dalmatia" itinerary, between Dubrovnik and Trogir, start from $3370. See www.evergreentours.com.au 

Tulip Time

One of the many attractions of spring in Europe is the sight of tulip-filled gardens and fields in the Netherlands – "a spectacle every world traveller should witness up-close, at least once", says Gai Tyrrell, managing director Australasia of Globus, the company that operates Avalon Waterways. Next year Avalon is offering three new tulip-focused river cruises in Holland and Belgium – two eight-day itineraries and a 15-day itinerary combining the two. Book any 2020 Avalon Waterways Europe river cruise before May 30, 2019 to save up to $6800  a couple.

See www.avalonwaterways.com.au 


Vivid Sydney

Vivid Sydney, the largest and most exciting outdoor lights, music and ideas festival in the Southern Hemisphere, returns next month to illuminate Sydney's buildings, sky and waterways. From May 24 to June 15, Captain Cook Vivid Cruises will operate Harbour cruises that offer the best views in town, ranging from one-hour family-friendly trips to a selection of leisurely dinner cruises. Book early to secure the best deals online with savings of up to 35 per cent. See www.captaincook.com.au  


What will Holland America Line's third Pinnacle-class ship, due to set sail in May 2021, be called? Check this space next week for the answer.


Cruise bible

The 700-page Berlitz Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships is known as the "cruise bible'' among cruisers, crew members and industry experts. Part One provides a wealth of information about life aboard, covering cuisine and dining choices, types of accommodation, spa facilities, entertainment, themed cruising and more. Part Two sees almost 300 vessels rated and reviewed in unbiased detail, from large resort ships to boutique vessels, while the clearly laid-out ratings and scores index makes it easy to compare ships. Now in its 34th year of continuous printing, the Berlitz Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships now comes with a free app and eBook. Its author, Douglas Ward, is considered the world's foremost independent authority on cruising and cruise ships, having spent  more than 6200 days at sea on more than 1100 cruises. Available from good bookshops, RRP $39.99. See insightguides.com


Brooke Twyford, Rozelle, NSW


LAST CRUISE The 18-night Holy Lands cruise on Seabourn Sojourn, from Athens to Dubai. Onboard highlights included insightful lectures, large luxurious cabins and caviar any time you like. Onshore highlights included a private tour of Petra, which was made even more special having read Married to a Bedouin by Marguerite Van Geldermalsen as we meandered down the Suez Canal.

NEXT CRUISE North to Alaska! A 10-night showcase voyage on Azamara Quest in July. The meal plan is wildlife through binoculars for lunch and glaciers for dessert. Pre-booked shore excursions include the Klondike bicycle tour in Skagway, 24 kilometres downhill past soaring mountains (and twists of photo opportunities) and donning an exposure suit in Sitka to scoot along the jagged coastline in a Zodiac to look for tufted puffins.

DREAM SHIP It's hard to go past Crystal's sublime service on Serenity, having experienced a 16-night Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona to Venice a couple of years ago. It's not surprising they often top the world's best large ship list in Travel + Leisure magazine.

DREAM CRUISE My dream escape is an ultra-luxe world cruise across all continents and seasons.

DREAM PORT There's nothing like New York City. I lived overlooking the cruise terminal on the Hudson for seven years and departed from it twice. Goosebumps galore.

BEST CRUISE TIP Don't leave it too late to "sea" the world. Go now, go often, while you can really enjoy it. 


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