Small luxury cruise ship operator Windstar Cruises has always been noted for their boutique travel experience. Deliberately cultivating a private yacht experience for a more reasonable general public cost, a maximum of 310 guests are allowed on each voyage, while a diverse array of destinations are offered, calling at 150 ports, across 50 nations. In 2016, Windstar Cruises has reinvigorated their target market through their exclusive James Beard Foundation partnership, whose annual James Beard Awards is the foodie equivalent of winning an Academy Award.
"It has been an absolute pleasure to partner with the venerable James Beard Foundation to offer the 2016 Collection of Culinary Cruises to our guests," said Windstar Cruises President John Delaney. "The Foundation's mission is to champion America's diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. Windstar shares that mission on an international stage, celebrating food in each port we visit around the world. By bringing on board fresh, local ingredients and striving for culinary excellence at sea, we hope we bring our guests closer to the world one bite at a time."
In 2016 three of the 310 person Windstar Cruises yachts traveled from Southern Spain to Morocco, as well as two journeys from Spain to France, with three distinguished James Beard Foundation Chefs onboard each cruise to shepherd guests through a true locavore experience: carefully curating the diverse array of local wines and elevated cuisine. Each yacht is kitted with a staff of 210, thus allowing for the exceptional personal service Windstar Cruises is noted for. Additionally, with 122 deluxe ocean view staterooms, 31 deluxe ocean view suites, two deluxe ocean view bridge suites, six decks and fully updated bathrooms, the yacht has the feel of a floating luxury hotel with endless views.
For the initial journey from Southern Spain through Lisbon, then onward to Barcelona, as well as docking in Tangier, Morocco before sailing into stops at Málaga, Almeria, Cartagena, Ibiza, and Tarragona, three-time James Beard Foundation Award winner Chef Michel Nischan traveled with guests throughout the eight-day experience. In addition to leading the guests on an onshore culinary outing, Chef Nischan also lead two cooking demonstrations, creating a nightly dish.
"Not only was there a James Beard guest chef on board but every day there were opportunities to sample local cuisine both on and off the ship. One day we took an Asturian cider tour where we drank local Sidra and gorged on Spanish croquettes, tortilla española, and an array of cheeses. Another day we visited a French oyster farm off the coast of the Atlantic. After hearing from an 83-year-old oyster farmer that the key to longevity is eating 12 oysters a day, we each took turns sampling his renowned mollusks." Sarah Fennel, millennial traveler and new Windstar Cruiser.
The other two journeys for 2016 (June and August) took guests through Spain and France, with Chef Maria Hines, Owner and Executive Chef of Seattle Tilth, and winner of 2009 James Beard Foundation Award’s “Best Chef Northwest” leading guests in June. And Chefs Matt and Kate Jennings, Owners and Chefs of Townsman, and four-time James Beard Foundation Award nominees for “Best Chef: Northeast” leading guests in August.
Dates and partnerships have not been announced for 2017 yet but additional details will be forthcoming on the Windstar Cruises/James Beard Foundation website.