The Travel Detective

Unique & Immersive Cruise Ship Excursions

Image Credit: Stephanie Ervin

Locations in this article:  Budapest, Hungary

What comes to mind when you think about a shore excursion on a cruise ship? Often, you’ll get on a bus, go to a restaurant, and eat. Today’s cruise lines are getting much more detailed, much more immersive, and much more experimental in what they offer to passengers. In this segment from season four of The Travel Detective, travel correspondent Arnie Weissmann explores how cruise lines are getting creative with their shore excursions—and give you a hands-on opportunity to explore the local culture through cuisine.

The Regent Seven Seas Explorer, which sails through Europe, offers passengers the ability to do just that at Da O Vittorio restaurant in the province of Genoa in northern Italy.

It’s organized by the ship’s Executive Chef, Kathryn Kelly. “Our off-the-boat experience we call the gourmet explore tour,” says Kelly. “It’s my belief that when people travel, the best way to get to know a place is to taste the food and the wine and to get to know the people.”

Michael Geske, Vice President of Worldview Travel, weighed in: “Consumers are much more traveled, and so the industry has had to create shore excursions which are true experiences. It seems to be one of the buzzwords today: let’s give everyone an experience of that country and I think we’re doing a great job of that today.”

Some high-end cruise brands, such as Regent Seven Seas, often include these classes for free as part of the overall rate. Visitors appreciate now having the tools to make these dishes in their own kitchen.

Chef Kelly elaborates: “Our passion is about learning, so whether you know nothing or a lot, somewhere in between we’re trying to educate you and enchant you with where you are.”

But it doesn’t stop there. When you get back on the ship, that’s when the real work begins. That’s because some of the culinary classes are held right on the boat. Chef Kelly teaches the group how to make local dishes, including “fish in crazy water,” which includes salmon, cherry tomatoes, olives, extra virgin olive oil, and to top it all off, a little white wine.

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By Arnie Weissmann the Peter Greenberg Worldwide team for