This week I'm on-board Holland America Line's Oosterdam in New Zealand. Carrying 1916 guests, the Vista-class superliner crossed the Pacific from the US in late September before arriving in Sydney and circumnavigating New Zealand.
Aboard for four days, we've had plenty of time to explore many of Oosterdam's attractions: the Culinary Arts Centre for cooking demonstrations; the Greenhouse Spa & Salon for a spot of pampering; and the Crow's Nest lounge, with its sweeping 270-degree views.
Another highlight has been dinner at the reservations-only Pinnacle Grill, a specialty restaurant featuring beef and seafood dishes. It's a lavish culinary experience, which is fast becoming a more popular part of high-seas cruising.
When it emerges from a spell in dry dock this month, Royal Caribbean International's Serenade of the Seas will have four new dining options: the Italian Giovanni's Table, the Izumi sushi restaurant, Rita's Cantina Mexican eatery and the private dining experience, Chef's Table. Not to be outdone, Norwegian Cruise Line introduced an intimate gourmet dining experience this year. Also called Chef's Table, it's a 2½-hour-long, nine-course degustation dinner, beginning with a champagne reception hosted by the ship's executive chef.
However, when it comes to high-seas cuisine, the news isn't all about alternative dining venues. American Cruise Lines is offering food-and-wine-themed cruises on the new Queen of the Mississippi, including seven-night Savories of the South cruises from New Orleans.
Famous for voyages featuring chefs from Relais & Chateaux, and Michelin-starred chefs from across the globe, Silversea Cruises has expanded food and wine themes to its expedition vessel, Silver Explorer. In April, a Flavours of Europe cruise from Lisbon to Portsmouth will explore Portugal, Spain and France.
And, finally, if you're heading to Juneau next season, Alaskan Food Tours can take you on a three-hour culinary adventure through Alaska's capital, with highlights including fresh seafood at a waterfront restaurant and locally made fudge.
- Sydney Morning Herald