There are restaurants that consistently rank at the top of every nearly every critic’s list. The highest among them comes from Thomas Keller -- chef and mastermind behind New York City’s Per Se, where the multi-course tasting menu starts at $310, and the San Francisco-area French Laundry, where the prix fixe is $295. Reservations at these top tables open a month in advance and, more to the point, sell out as soon the line opens.
Have a hard time getting your name into the books? Try heading for the high seas. Thomas has signed a contract with Seabourn Cruise Line to first bring his menu dishes to the line’s various restaurants before the end of 2015 -- and then to introduce his namesake restaurant onboard Seabourn Quest in the spring of 2016. Booking this restaurant onboard the cruise ship could be easier than getting a table at Per Se, and meals are included in the fare. (Previous Seabourn Quest sailings have started at $2,999 for seven nights.)
Keller isn’t the first chef to lend his name to a cruise ship restaurant. Book a cabin on one of the following vessels to get a front row table to award-winning, celebrity chef restaurants.Crystal Cruises: Nobu
Carnival Cruise Lines: Guy Fieri
This Food Network star is known for introducing America to the best diners, drive-ins, and dives that they’d been overlooking. His name has become synonymous with restaurants specializing in burgers, wings, and -- of course -- "donkey sauce." So it’s no surprise that when the Dive King partnered with Carnival Cruise Lines, he opened a poolside burger joint. The lunch-only menu is included with guests’ reservations, meaning anyone can load up on hand-cut fries and burgers slathered in that famous sauce. With enough advance planning, a cruise can be booked for as low as $279 for five nights. (That's the equivalent of 15 bacon mac n cheeseburgers from Fieri’s Times Square burger joint.)
Celebrity Cruises: Top Chef
If just one dining experience isn’t enough to satisfy a cruise guest, they can book one of Celebrity Cruises' themed Top Chef at Sea journeys. On these seven-night cruises through the Eastern Caribbean, Celebrity Reflection hosts six former Top Chef contestants who participate in TV-inspired quick-fire challenges, chef-led onshore excursions, and more -- allowing guests to see the chefs' abilities in action rather than via prepared menu. Some sponsored events are complimentary, while hands-on and one-on-one classes are at additional fees. Fares start from $649, and while the upcoming November 14 departure is already sold out, a few more to-be-announced sailings are planned through June 2016.