7 Lines That Serve Authentic Local Cuisine

by Fran Golden

7 Lines That Serve Authentic Local Cuisine

by Fran Golden

While cruising, the best way to taste local cuisine is usually to get off the ship, throw caution to the wind, and follow locals to an off-the-beaten-track restaurant not listed in every guidebook. While that's definitely the most authentic option, some cruise lines are bringing those local favorites and ingredients on board to round out the experience. Check out these seven lines serving up authentic local cuisine.

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Middle Eastern lamb kefta dinner on Windstar / Windstar Cruises
Serving Indonesian soto ayam on Windstar
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1. Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises brings ingredients straight from port markets onto the ships. The ships' chefs do the shopping themselves, and passengers are welcome to tag along — and even add their two cents on purchases. On special culinary theme cruises, chefs chosen by the James Beard Foundation also do cooking demonstrations on board. Some of the line's complimentary private events incorporate local food as well — a Moroccan meal served in a desert tent outside of Agadir, for example.

Windstar Cruises brings ingredients straight from port markets onto the ships. The ships' chefs do the shopping themselves, and passengers are welcome to tag along — and even add their two cents on purchases. On special culinary theme cruises, chefs chosen by the James Beard Foundation also do cooking demonstrations on board. Some of the line's complimentary private events incorporate local food as well — a Moroccan meal served in a desert tent outside of Agadir, for example.

Chefs on Avalon Siem Reap
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2. Avalon Waterways

River cruise line Avalon Waterways has local chefs on board to prepare dishes from the regions its ships visit, specifically on its more exotic itineraries. On Avalon Myanmar, for instance, the Burmese head chef teaches passengers how to make a traditional tea leaf salad — something you'd probably never be able to replicate at home given the ingredients involved. The chef will also pump up the heat in dishes such as Shan noodles if you want to get the full local experience.

River cruise line Avalon Waterways has local chefs on board to prepare dishes from the regions its ships visit, specifically on its more exotic itineraries. On Avalon Myanmar, for instance, the Burmese head chef teaches passengers how to make a traditional tea leaf salad — something you'd probably never be able to replicate at home given the ingredients involved. The chef will also pump up the heat in dishes such as Shan noodles if you want to get the full local experience.

Tahitian lobster with vanilla sauce on Paul Gauguin
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3. Paul Gauguin Cruises

Paul Gauguin only cruises in French Polynesia and brings many of the area's most famous flavors on board. Those include all of the fresh tropical fruit and poisson cru (raw fish mixed with lime and coconut milk) you can eat. At night, the casual, alfresco Le Grill (one of the ship's three restaurants) is dedicated to the cuisine of the islands (try the fresh-caught local seafood with Tahitian vanilla sauce). Most cruises also include a beach barbecue highlighting local eats, such as roasted pig.

Paul Gauguin only cruises in French Polynesia and brings many of the area's most famous flavors on board. Those include all of the fresh tropical fruit and poisson cru (raw fish mixed with lime and coconut milk) you can eat. At night, the casual, alfresco Le Grill (one of the ship's three restaurants) is dedicated to the cuisine of the islands (try the fresh-caught local seafood with Tahitian vanilla sauce). Most cruises also include a beach barbecue highlighting local eats, such as roasted pig.

Bering Sea crab legs on Princess
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4. Princess Cruises

On Princess Cruises ships doing Alaska itineraries, you'll find dishes from local eateries, such as crab cakes from Tracy's King Crab Shack in Juneau. The main dining rooms also hold an Alaskan seafood theme night, and chefs are trained by local chefs in using ingredients such as king crab and king salmon.

On Princess Cruises ships doing Alaska itineraries, you'll find dishes from local eateries, such as crab cakes from Tracy's King Crab Shack in Juneau. The main dining rooms also hold an Alaskan seafood theme night, and chefs are trained by local chefs in using ingredients such as king crab and king salmon.

Phyllo dough on a bed of lentils on Crystal Serenity
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5. Crystal Cruises

Regional tastes are the focus on luxury line Crystal Cruises' Crystal Wine & Food Festival sailings. On a Southeast Asia cruise, for instance, you might find a chef who's an expert in Balinese cuisine. In addition to cooking demonstrations and lectures, you can expect the chef to helm an authentically flavored meal (such as spicy Indonesian dishes) one evening in the dining room.

Regional tastes are the focus on luxury line Crystal Cruises' Crystal Wine & Food Festival sailings. On a Southeast Asia cruise, for instance, you might find a chef who's an expert in Balinese cuisine. In addition to cooking demonstrations and lectures, you can expect the chef to helm an authentically flavored meal (such as spicy Indonesian dishes) one evening in the dining room.

Iberian seafood and rice on Viking Ocean
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6. Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking Ocean Cruises ships have a lot of Scandinavian influences, but that doesn't mean you'll be limited to eating smoked salmon and brown bread your entire cruise. You'll find a sampling of regional specialties on dining room menus and at the buffet, such as a Venetian risotto in Venice or a Turkish meze selection while cruising in the Eastern Mediterranean. Some shore excursions also include local tastes and market visits.

Viking Ocean Cruises ships have a lot of Scandinavian influences, but that doesn't mean you'll be limited to eating smoked salmon and brown bread your entire cruise. You'll find a sampling of regional specialties on dining room menus and at the buffet, such as a Venetian risotto in Venice or a Turkish meze selection while cruising in the Eastern Mediterranean. Some shore excursions also include local tastes and market visits.

Chicken curry
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7. Carnival Cruise Line

Check out the American Table menus on Carnival Cruise Line ships for "Port of Call" dishes. There are typically three options inspired by that day's port that incorporate both the local flavors and the ingredients. In St. Thomas, for example, you might find a cold mango salad and a spicy chicken curry served with sweet and sour mango chutney.

Check out the American Table menus on Carnival Cruise Line ships for "Port of Call" dishes. There are typically three options inspired by that day's port that incorporate both the local flavors and the ingredients. In St. Thomas, for example, you might find a cold mango salad and a spicy chicken curry served with sweet and sour mango chutney.

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