Signature Travel reports that its inaugural Food Network at Sea aboard the Celebrity Solstice is a success with agents and travelers. The cruise that departed Ft. Lauderdale on August 22, was the first branded voyage of the new travel partnership between Signature Travel Network and Food Network. Signature says the Food Network at Sea sailing marks the first of these exclusive culinary land and sea travel itineraries available to travelers with a passion for food and travel.
The seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise sailed roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale to San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Aboard the ship, Food Network guests enjoyed exclusive access to mingle with Food Network chefs: Iron Chef Cat Cora of Iron Chef America and Chef Aaron Sanchez of Chefs vs. City.
Nancy Engler, Food Network guest, stated, “I watch the Food Network all the time; I have for years. Ordinarily we wouldn't cruise the Caribbean, but we booked the cruise because of the Food Network event. We feel we've already gotten our money's worth on the first full day of the cruise!" Guest Sandra Steinberg added, "I think everybody should do the Food Network cruise. This is the most wonderful, experience; every day gets better and better. Everything about this was very well thought out. It's just absolutely VIP treatment all the way.”
On Sunday, participants gathered for a Bon Voyage Party where guests enjoyed a welcome reception featuring Food Network Kitchen recipes prepared under the direction of Food Network Executive chef Rob Bleifer. Guests also met and took photos with Food Network stars Aaron Sanchez and Cat Cora on the red carpet.
During the cruise, participants joined intimate interactive cooking demonstrations cooking up delicious appetizers such as dumplings & potstickers taught by Food Network Kitchens staff who were onboard.
Food Network at Sea guests enjoyed other By Invitation Only amenities such as a food and wine pairing dine around, a VIP champagne galley tour hosted by Celebrity’s executive chef who provided tastings of fresh hot gourmet sandwich rolls and chocolate dipped strawberries as guests toured the galley, as well as two separate interactive cooking demonstrations by Iron Chef Cat Cora and Chef Sanchez where the audience tasted the food and engaged with the chefs as they cooked.
After receiving personally autographed Cat Cora cook books and taking individual pictures with the Iron Chef, guests Lukeisha and McNeil Paul, from New York City, remarked, "It's really great to be able to get so intimate with the chefs. We're huge fans of the Food Network, and this is a great chance to see them in person every day."
The Pauls say they learned a lot on the cruise, and participated in the crostini and truffles cooking class. "We were competing against each other for presentation," Lukeisha said. Who won? "I think we both did a great job," she answered diplomatically.
Wednesday evening, while Celebrity Solstice was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Food Network guests were invited to a festive Food Network BBQ at the Lawn Club - the first such private event ever held on the Celebrity Solstice Lawn - which featured a live band, multiple grilling stations and Caribbean themed cocktails.
“The trip has been an overwhelming success,” said Michael von Wittenau, Signature’s Vice President of Strategic Business Development. “In true affinity style, these like-minded guests have all become fast friends and are just having a blast together. Each guest has been able to actively engage with a brand they love - Food Network. “
“Every private event features culinary creations from Food Network Kitchens and has been prepared onboard under the personal direction of Rob Bleifer, Executive Chef at Food Network. What is unique about our program is that Signature guests are active participants, not spectators like other culinary programs on cruise ships. From rolling up their sleeves while learning the secrets of making perfect chocolate truffles to those who competed on stage in a ‘pressure cooker’ competition which was judged by Iron Chef Cat Cora and Aaron Sanchez, these are experiences you just can not get anywhere else.”
Signature says plans are underway to offer a range of additional exclusive Food Network programs in 2011. This includes other trips with Food Network stars and trips tied to specific Food Network culinary trends or topics. The program is being developed in concert with Signature Travel Network and can be booked through Signature member agencies.