Sweet Cruising

 

Chocolate and Coffee Bar on Costa ships
Costa features a Chocolate and Coffee Bar on 10 of its ships.

 

Cruising and chocolate make a sweet pairing. Clients relax in style on a pampering cruise, and as a tasty bonus, may indulge their chocolate cravings. 

Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner, AmaWaterways, says the river line plans for a new chocolate-themed “Romantic Danube.” Slated for April 28, 2014, the themed voyage will be a partnership between AmaWaterways and famed chocolatier Norman Love, who is known for his handcrafted chocolate candies. While details were still being finalized at press time, “it is definitely a ‘go,’ and we will include visits to some great places along the Danube famous for chocolate,” says Karst. 

If clients desire a more leisurely barging vacation, the six-passenger, newly renovated Elisabeth offers a six-night “Chocolate and Wine” voyage through France’s Burgundy Canal between March 30 and October 25, 2013. Chocolate desserts will be served onboard, and chocolate and wine tastings will be offered. There will also be lunch in the village of Flavigny, where the movie Chocolat was filmed. Full-boat charters range from $23,800 to $25,800. Included are chauffeured transfers to and from Paris, meals with wine, open bar, excursions, and chocolate-and-wine programs. Visit www.bargelady.com.

Themed voyages aside, many cruise lines routinely create chocolate-focused activities or dining options for cruisers. On 10 ships of Costa Cruises, clients can head for the Coffee and Chocolate Bar, which lays out chocolate sweets, pralines and drinks by Italian master chocolatier Andrea Slitti. With the bar’s chocolate-and-liqueur selection, guests may order their favorite liquor mixed with chocolate. At a chocolate fountain, guests are encouraged to dip fruits into chocolate. Sacher, Black Forest cake, tiramisu and four flavors of praline are also served.

Royal Caribbean International has a “Chocolate Breakfast” menu on many ships. Depending on the cruise length, the line offers this breakfast—featuring chocolate waffles and chocolate pancakes—on one or two mornings. Celebrity Cruises offers marzipan molding and decorating classes on the line’s Excite the Senses culinary theme cruises in 2013. 

Created once on every cruise of five days or longer, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Chocoholic Buffet is a treasure trove of “flowing” chocolate fountains, fondue, mousse cakes and even sugar-free options. Other treats include chocolate-dipped fruits, marshmallows, pastries and pound cakes. 

Crystal Cruises creates a lovely “Chocolate Tea Time” in the Palm Court. Guests choose teas and sandwiches, then indulge in a selection of treats, including brownies, chocolate ganache cake, chocolate creme brulee and more. 

The first pastry shop at sea, Horizon Court Pastry, will debut on Princess Cruises’ new Royal Princess, which launches in June 2013. While not dedicated to all-chocolate fare, it will definitely have plenty of tasty treats for chocoholics. Passengers may also watch Princess’ pastry chefs in action as they demonstrate their skills in chocolate work and cake decorating.

Even small touches delight chocoholics at sea. Seabourn Cruise Line has debuted “Hot Chocolate on a Stick” on three ships; it features a decadent treat on a stick that then can be stirred into hot chocolate. Silversea Cruises provides suite guests with melt-in-your-mouth Pierre Marcolini chocolates from Brussels. Carnival Cruise Lines’ signature dessert is the “Warm Chocolate Melting Cake,” a complimentary treat for passengers. 

Not all chocolate experiences are for tasting. Onboard spa treatments, such as the 80-minute Euphoria Pedicure with a chocolate truffle option on Oceania Cruises, give guests a taste of chocolate without the calories. If clients are looking for a totally unique chocolate experience, they might pop into Le Vian on Celebrity Infinity, which boasts a fine jewelry selection of chocolate diamonds, created by the house of Le Vian. 

 For chocolate lovers, many shore options delve into the history of cacao, including how it’s harvested and how tasty chocolate concoctions are created. Holland America Line is offering a 22-day Panama Canal voyage on Zuiderdam from Fort Lauderdale to Vancouver, BC, on April 19, 2013, which makes a call at Puerto Chiapas, along Mexico’s southern Pacific coast. The “Izapa Ruins & Chocolate Discovery” tour includes exploration of the Mayan ruins and a journey to Tuxtla Chico, where cruisers can see how cocoa beans are transformed into chocolate during a demonstration in the town’s plaza; cost is $99.95 per person.

During its Caribbean season, Windstar Cruises offers a 4.5-hour “Rum and Chocolate” tour in St. George’s, Grenada. Participants learn about the 18th-century rum-making techniques at the River Antoine Estate, then continue on to Belmont Plantation to learn about the nuances of bringing in the cocoa crop. An estate shop sells chocolate made onsite. This tour is $125 per person.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Carnival offers a chance for clients to go ashore in Limon, Costa Rica, on a “Caribbean Cacao” tour, priced at $60 per person. After a motorcoach ride to the Cacao Trail property, clients delve into the history of the Afro-Caribbean settlers, learn and participate in the chocolate-making process and then sample chocolate treats. 

Windstar’s port calls in Tallinn, Estonia, include a “Concierge Collection-Truffle Making Workshop” tour. Guests on this 2.5-hour outing are whisked to the Rotermann Quarter, where the Kalev Chocolate Factory has opened its newest shop. Participants make delicious truffle fillings covered in chocolate. Cost is $145 per person.

A half-day “Sweet Stockholm” excursion is offered by Royal Caribbean International on Vision of the Seas’ seven-night “Scandinavia and Russia” voyages on June 30 and July 7, 14 and 21, and a 10-night “Ultimate Scandinavia and Russia” sailing on July 28. Cruisers visit Chokladfabriken, which means “The Chocolate Factory,” to see the making of everything from chocolate and muffins to petits fours. They also sample the treats and enjoy a city tour. This experience is priced at $139 per person.

If clients have a sweet tooth or just enjoy the aroma of cocoa, cruise lines certainly know how to appeal to those chocoholic cravings.