The visual feast that comes to life in the pages of Celebrity Cruises' new lifestyle book, Excite the Senses, has inspired a new series of food-and-wine-themed cruises that will offer guests a unique, behind-the-scenes experience and a rare opportunity to get to know the Celebrity culinary team through intimate demonstrations, tastings and dinners. Developed and hosted by the talent behind the cruise line's award-winning culinary program, Celebrity's "Excite the Senses Culinary Theme Cruises" will kick off on March 24, 2012, on a seven-night sailing headlined by Celebrity's Master Chef and Vice President of Culinary Operations, the James Beard Foundation Award-nominated Jacques Van Staden.
Among the featured cruises include a 12-night Caribbean cruise on the brand-new Celebrity Silhouette – roundtrip from Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New Jersey and hosted by Celebrity Cruises Traveling Pastry Chef Thierry Houlbert. Activities will focus on baking, pastries and sweets. Houlbert discovered a passion for baking on his grandmother's farm. After a dozen years spent baking in Paris, St. Tropez and Monaco, Houlbert joined Celebrity Cruises in 1994, and today is responsible for the fleet's pastry and bakery departments.
"Every Celebrity cruise is a modern luxury vacation, and a large part of that is the culinary experience," said Van Staden. "The culinary-themed activities at the heart of Celebrity's Excite the Senses cruises are designed to appeal to everyone from the novice to the sophisticated oenophile – just like the book itself – and shine a spotlight on all the elements of Celebrity's culinary experience, from outstanding service to innovative menus to cutting-edge trends and more."
Each of the eight cruises scheduled for 2012 will showcase the various culinary disciplines featured in Excite the Senses – "Captivate" (dining), "Accentuate" (wine, spirits, coffee and tea), and "Illuminate" (entertaining). Each voyage will be led by a member of Celebrity's culinary team, along with partners from Celebrity's award-winning wine and spirits program.
The March 24 cruise, which will take place on the stylish, luxurious Celebrity Eclipse, will feature not only Van Staden, but also the other members of Celebrity's culinary team who will later host their own cruises. Special guest "The Liquid Chef" and Master Mixologist Junior Merino also will share his expertise, along with various partners from a variety of wineries. The kickoff cruise will offer guests an extravaganza of special culinary-themed activities including an exclusive cocktail and Qsine pairing dinner hosted by Van Staden and Merino, a "Corporate Star Chefs" cooking demonstration and question-and-answer session with Celebrity's food and beverage team, mixology demonstrations, hands-on cooking classes with chefs in the galley and an Excite the Senses book signing event, and more.
Activities during Excite the Senses Culinary Theme Cruises will range from exclusive dinners in Celebrity's chic specialty restaurants, cooking demonstrations focused on the importance of using locally sourced ingredients, wine tastings, sessions on how to host elegant afternoon teas and unique cocktail parties, ways to enliven holiday traditions with modern twists, tips for creative table settings, and more.