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Oceania’s Still Cookin’ With Kathryn

It has been more than three years since we had the pleasure of meeting Kathryn Kelly. Pleasure, because she is a fascinating woman who doesn’t think she is. Pleasure, because she knows more about cooking than both of us combined…a piece of cake compared to one of us (male), a formidable chore compared to the family chef (female).

At the time, on board the Oceania Riviera where she was conducting classes at the ship’s Culinary Center, she told us that two years earlier she’d agree to this assignment for two months, maximum. She also told us about the most popular shore excursions she was conducting, taking passengers to a market to buy ingredients, to a restaurant to taste local cuisine and back to the ship for a cooking class.

Chef KellyTwo months became two years became five years…because these days the Center’s Executive Chef is still doing what she enjoys, in the bread-basket of cuisine.

Europe.

“On our new tours, guests spend time in the kitchen with local culinary experts and renowned chefs learning about regional ingredients and cooking customs that have influenced European cuisine for centuries," Kelly said in a statement. “Our goal is for guests to walk away with new culinary skills, satisfied taste buds, and a deeper appreciation for the vibrant culinary traditions found in Europe.”

The Culinary Discovery Tours are not in all ports, not on all Oceania ships (also the Marina), and not always with her as the host (i.e., the program is growing). For example, when the Riviera’s in Barcelona there is sometimes a Chef’s Gastronomy Tour and Tapas Lunch. In France, there’s an Aix-en-Provence Market Tour. Greece and Italy are also on the menu.

All have at least the touch of Chef Kelly.

“Guests love it,” she says. “They're on vacation. A lot of them are experienced travelers and they've been to some of these places four or five times, so for them it's 'show me something new.' They see the world through a culinary lens. They go to a market for local produce, a favorite place to eat, come back for cooking class. There's no corollary to that."

Nor is there for a Kathryn Kelly.

In the news…

• Royal Caribbean keeps Majesty of the Seas, which was headed to Pullmantur
• Oceania launches free shore excursion incentive for booking early
• Carnival Vista floats out at Monfalcone Shipyard to prep for May 1 arrival

Today at portsandbows.com: Silver Muse new flagship for Silversea

Carnival Glory
7 nights
September 19, 2015
Miami (return): Half Moon Cay, St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk
Inside: $409
Cost per day: $58
www.carnival.com

Friday File: Memorable Crew Members

The theory is that everyone has a story, or at least a smile, and we've found plenty of both on cruises. These are some of the memorable crew members we have encountered…

CoralThis kitchen worker on the Coral Princess had a whopper of a story — along with a fish big enough to be dinner for passengers on an entire deck of the ship.

Freedom-NaiduHis name is Naidu and did he love to dance, especially when they struck up the band (okay, CD) for the crew in the Carnival Freedom dining room on the final night.

RivieraOn the Oceania Riviera the queen of cooking, Kathryn Kelly, left the corporate world (she started three big companies) behind to conduct classes for chefs-to-be at sea.

Isagani-SaravanIsagani Natividad and Saravan Radhakrishnan, both sommeliers on Celebrity's Millennium, were kind enough to taste a wine we'd brought from home (it's okay, they spit!). 

ExplorerOn Explorer of the Seas, servers Tankica Gogova and Vivek Gonsalves were such a dynamic duo that we requested their section of the same dining room table every night.

Dollerage and friendAfter two weeks on the Norwegian Sun, we'd spent so much time with Dollerage Soares (left) that he suggested fellow waiter Lester Anthony join him for a "family photo"…and guess what: He was right!

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival Vista to Miami

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
November 30, 2015
Jacksonville (return): Nassau, Freeport
Inside: $239
Cost per day: $47
www.carnival.com

Photo Essay: Captains of the Seas

We’ve only met, over the years of cruising, one ship’s captain we didn’t like — and that's likely because he never gave us the chance to like him (“I don’t do interviews”). This is a colony of mostly men who are all personable, often funny, always accommodating and forever fascinating.

These are our top ten, in no particular order — hey, what's wrong with having 10 favourites? — and we've included something about them that we hope you'll find interesting:

1-Capt. Gustavsen-Sky

Captain Roger Gustavsen (Norway), Norwegian Sky 
The first captain to invite us to watch departure from the bridge, he once had his mother there on the Norwegian Dream while negotiating the Kiel Canal: “You know how mothers always like to tell their sons what to do. She wanted to tell me how to drive the ship!”

2-Capt. Manetas-Eclipse

Captain Dimitrios Manetas (Greece), Celebrity Eclipse 
He watched ships come and go from his home in Piraeus, near Athens: “
I knew when I was a teenager, about 15, that I would be on the sea. it always inspired me. I was always curious for the unknown.”

3-Henrik Loy-Explorer

Captain Henrik Loy (Norway), Explorer of the Seas 
​One of the youngest (38) captains anywhere, he met his wife Karina, now a mother of three, when she was a dancer on Liberty of the Seas when they met and he calls it: “A true love boat story. We are really on the same page and we make it work.

4-Frank Juliussen-Epic

Captain Frank Juliussen (Norway), Norwegian Epic 
He had to overcome seasickness and bad days at sea: “
I don't have bad days and I have learned to enjoy this. You meet a lot of nice people. The world is full of nice people, and a lot of them do what they call ‘dirty work’ on cruise ships.”

5-Capt. Amitrano

Captain Fabio Amitrano (Italy), Coral Princess  A seaman for more than four decades since he left Ischia, a resort island with hot springs: “All the ladies come there to look younger. It must work, because they keep coming back!” 

6-Capt. Viacama-Ecstasy

Captain Andrea Viacava (Italy), Carnival Ecstasy 
A character with an easy laugh and a sense of humor: "
When I am stressed, I go down in the galley and cook a meal. I cook something every day. Gnocci, risotto with pumpkin…sometimes I cook for 40 persons.”

7-Capt. Dahlgren-Navigator

Captain Patrik Dahlgren (Sweden), Navigator of the Seas 
He’s still not 40, he’s now Royal Caribbean’s Vice-President of Marine Operations for Quantum of the Seas Technology, after serving for years as the youngest captain anywhere on the ocean: “I started when I was 12.”

8-Capt. Manzi-Coral

Captain Luca Manzi (Italy), Oceania Riviera 
When he visits his roots in Italy: “I still have to explain what I do for a living. My friends ask what I do — ‘Sailing?' In Italian, it's the word used to surf the Internet, so now I say I do nothing for a living."

9-Capt. Vorren-Epic

Captain Trygve Vorren (Norway), Norwegian Epic 
Not long before he died suddenly, he shared thoughts on the size of ships: “What will catch people’s attention will be the future. Look at the last 20 years…we developed technology we never imagined. What did we do, not in cruising but in life, before the Internet?”

10-Capt. Tore-Allure

Captain Tore Grimstad (Norway), Allure of the Seas 
Now sharing the captain’s chair on the Allure with close friend Johnny Faevelen, he was once on an American-Russian-Norwegian ship with the capability of launching rockets, near the equator: “I was captain, not a rocket scientist!"

Today at portsandbows.com: Reflecting on the cruise news of 2014

Carnival Glory
7 nights
January 24, 2015
Miami (return): Half Moon CaySan JuanSt. Thomas
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $42
www.carnival.com

 

Cruise Ships And Entertainment

Almost every cruise ship has entertainment. Here are some of our favorite entertainers over the years…

Allure-ChicagoThe signature production on Allure of the Seas reminded us what a terrific musical Chicago is — guess that's why it's been around for almost 40 years!

Riviera-FlamencoNot actually "on" the Oceania Riviera, this Flamenco dancer turned everyone's head at the then-new ship's christening ceremony on the Barcelona waterfront.

Navigator-Unexpecteds The Unexpected Boys, from an organization of tribute acts (The Four Seasons), on Navigator of the Seas

Unexpected Boys…and off-stage, where they have real names (left to right): Nick Celona, Aaron Young, Doug Carpenter and Scott Pearson.

Crown- Tony Tillman, named Princess Entertainer-of-the-Year on the Crown Princess, was inspired by the late Sammy Davis Jr. and has made a career playing him.

Blue Man Until seeing Blue Man Group on the Norwegian Epic, we might have considered this one scary act…but what a funny, entertaining show.

Glory Dayz-1A talented group from Rhode Island, Glory Dayz seemed headed for a bright future in cruising after spending a week auditioning on Explorer of the Seas.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

MSC Divina
7 nights
March 7, 2015
Miami (return): St. MaartenSan JuanBahamas
Inside: $349
Cost per day: $49
www.msccruisesusa.com

Sharpening Culinary Skills At Oceania

It’s more than two years since we experienced cooking at sea (and we lived to write about it) and, at the time, Oceania’s Director of Culinary Enrichment speculated what her upscale cruise line was doing would continue to grow.

Chef KellyKathryn Kelly also said that she believed in five years only Oceania would be teaching customers like this, because it was too expensive to create the Culinary Centers on the Riviera and the Marina.

What’s happened?

Two years ago, shore excursions under the title of Culinary Discovery Tours were conducted mostly in Europe. In a nutshell, you shopped at local markets, ate at local restaurants and cooked the ingredients you bought as part of a culinary class.

Today, while the tours are still mostly (15) in Europe, the concept has been expanded to Australia and New Zealand (2), South America (2) and, later this year, the Caribbean (3). Today, the tours have evolved so that you may wind up at a biodynamic farm in Tortola where organic produce was planted according to the lunar calendar…or cooking pizza in a Tuscan oven…or picking herbs to go with lunch on a New Zealand hillside.

It’s all about time in the kitchen, because that’s where you learn to cook. The kitchen could be on the shore excursions, or back in the ship’s Culinary Center. That’s where Chef Kelly — as she is widely known — will teach up to 24 people at a time how to…well, cook.

“Guests love it,” she said. “They’re on vacation. They learn to relax. When we’re at sea, there are two classes a day. In ports, we take guests to market. There are so many fabulous markets.”

Maybe the people at Norwegian Cruise Line love it, too. Oceania’s ships will soon be owned by Norwegian, and you know what they say about reaching somebody’s heart through the stomach…

Today at portsandbows.com: “3 for Free”  Princess promotion

Celebrity Constellation
11 nights
October 25, 2014
Istanbul, Ephesus, Haifa, Jerusalem, Valletta, Messina, Naples, Rome
Inside $599
Cost per day: $54
www.celebritycruises.com

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