CHOCS AWAY!

Ten cruises with a choco­late theme, from a co­coa tour in Gu­atemala to a patissier’s mas­ter­class

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

1 CITÉ DU CHOCO­LAT

Set sail on a Bur­gundy and Provence river cruise to learn about Val­rhona choco­late dur­ing a call to Cité du Choco­lat in Tain-l’Her­mitage, near Lyon. The twin epi­curean prongs of choco­late and wine make this town in the Rhône-Alpes a win­ner with vis­i­tors, who can in­dulge in a pick ’n’ mix of deca­dent treats dur­ing the ex­cur­sion from Uni­world’s five-star SS Cather­ine.

From £1,899 per per­son for a seven-night cruise from Lon­don air­ports to Mar­seille be­tween March and Nov 2018 (0800 988 5873; ti­tantravel.co.uk). In­cludes home-to-air­port trans­fer.

2 BOOK­MARK BEL­GIUM

Cham­pagne truf­fles, vi­o­let creams and rasp­berry hearts are among the choco­late treats served with Tay­lors of Har­ro­gate tea and cof­fee in the Book­mark Cafés found across the Fred Olsen Cruise Lines fleet. Choco­late-lovers can in­dulge fur­ther on the line’s flag­ship, Bal­moral, dur­ing a sum­mer cruise to Bel­gium and Hol­land, which fea­tures an overnight call at An­twerp, home to some of Bel­gium’s finest choco­late shops.

From £899 per per­son for a seven-night Di­a­monds, Choco­lates and Canals cruise de­part­ing round trip from Rosyth, north of Ed­in­burgh, on June 30 2018 (0800 0355 242; fredolsen­cruises.com).

3 ON THE BALL

At Cho­co­la­terie de Pierre, in Tallinn, Es­to­nia, Aza­mara Jour­ney’s guests can join a master pas­try chef ’s choco­late work­shop to get an in­sight into the art of truf­fle-mak­ing. The be­spoke tour (£139) also in­cludes a talk on the his­tory of choco­late-mak­ing. The cosy café is tucked away in Tallinn’s old town.

From £3,695 per per­son (cruise only) for a 12-night Baltic and World Cup Voy­age de­part­ing Stock­holm on June 29 2018 (0844 493 4016; aza­ma­r­a­clubcruises.com).

4 CHOCO­LATE MAS­SAGE?

In­dulge in an anti-ox­i­dant choco­late body treat­ment (from £138) in one of Princess Cruises’ Lo­tus spas. Across the fleet, a 24-hour In­ter­na­tional Café serves choco­late spe­cial­i­ties in­clud­ing milk choco­late mousse and choco­late Chan­tilly eclairs, while sweet sen­sa­tions con­tinue in the Vine wine bar where Amer­i­can choco­latier Nor­man Love’s hand-crafted choco­lates can be paired with wine.

From £569 per per­son for a seven-night North­ern Cal­i­for­nia Coast cruise on Ruby Princess de­part­ing on a round trip from Seat­tle on Sept 22 2018 (0843 374 4444; princess.com).

5 STEAM­ING ALONG

Board a steam train in Pic­ton, on New Zealand’s South Is­land, and travel through Marl­bor­ough coun­try to the small town of Blen­heim, where the cel­lar-door style set up at Makana Con­fec­tions al­lows vis­i­tors to watch the brown stuff be­ing hand-crafted into choco­lates, be­fore mov­ing into a tast­ing area. Af­ter tour­ing the bou­tique fac­tory, guests on Celebrity Sol­stice’s Train, Wine and Choco­late tour (£142) can also sam­ple fine wines from the Marl­bor­ough re­gion dur­ing two hosted tast­ings.

From £4,309 per per­son for a 12-night New Zealand Hol­i­day fly-cruise de­part­ing Heathrow on Dec 23, 2018 (0844 493 2043; celebri­ty­cruises.co.uk).

6 MEET MR CHOCO­LATE

French-trained master chef and ar­ti­san choco­latier Jac­ques Tor­res, aka Mr Choco­late, sweet­ens life on board Hol­land Amer­ica Line’s fleet with mouth-wa­ter­ing recipes in­clud­ing his le­gendary pump­kin choco­late cake. Jac­ques says: “Choco­late is one of those prod­ucts that make peo­ple happy so for me this is not work, it is a va­ca­tion.”

From £1,399 per per­son for a 12-night Ibe­rian Ad­ven­ture on MS Kon­ings­dam (in­clud­ing flights from Lon­don and se­lected re­gional UK air­ports to Am­s­ter­dam) de­part­ing Sept 16 2018 (0344 338 8605; hol­lan­damer­ica.com).

7 WATCH­ING BRIEF

Only a res­o­lutely non-choco­late lov­ing pas­sen­ger would snub the chance to see Jean-Philippe Maury, the award­win­ning French choco­latier and pas­try chef, at work in his choco­late stu­dio on MSC Mer­av­iglia.

Pas­sen­gers can marvel at the choco­latier’s skills in the open kitchen, along­side a bou­tique, which serves hot choco­late de­lights such as a mint liqueur shot topped with cream. Choco­late rec­om­men­da­tions by Maury also fea­ture in the ship’s gourmet ice cream par­lour and crêperie.

From £729 per­son for a seven­night Mediter­ranean cruise de­part­ing round trip from Mar­seille on Nov 11 2018 (020 3426 3010; msc­cruises.co.uk).

8 SWEET DREAMS

One of the high­lights of Queen Mary 2’s £90mil­lion “re­mas­ter­ing” was the open­ing of Go­diva at the ship’s on-board café, Sir Sa­muel’s. The art deco-in­spired out­let serves a mouth-wa­ter­ing range of Bel­gian choco­lates, patis­serie, choco­late drinks and ice creams de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Philippe Daue, the Go­diva chef-choco­latier.

The Go­diva af­ter­noon tea in­cludes two sig­na­ture cakes and white choco­late key lime scones served with lime mar­malade and clot­ted cream (£13.75 per per­son). To round off the day, an in­di­vid­u­ally wrapped choco­late is placed on each guest’s pil­low every evening.

From £1,508 per per­son for a seven-night west­bound transat­lantic cross­ing de­part­ing Southamp­ton on July 13 2018 (0843 374 2224; cu­nard.co.uk).

9 FOOD OF THE GODS

The indige­nous peo­ple of Cen­tral Amer­ica have been har­vest­ing the fruit of the ca­cao plant for more than 5,000 years. Oceania Cruises is of­fer­ing pas­sen­gers on its 684-pas­sen­ger ship Sirena a shore tour to a ca­cao plan­ta­tion in Santo To­mas, Gu­atemala. Here they learn that “theo­broma” in Latin means “food of the gods”, watch how fruit is pro­cessed for choco­late, and dis­cover how the Aztecs and Maya made a choco­late drink that was re­served for roy­alty.

From £4,109 for a 10-day Caribbean Cel­e­bra­tion cruise de­part­ing round trip from Mi­ami on Dec 17 2018 (0345 505 1920; ocea­ni­acruises.com).

10 ROOM FOR PAVÉ ROYALE?

Master pâtissier Eric Lan­lard’s cre­ations are served dur­ing af­ter­noon tea on board P&O ships Azura, Bri­tan­nia, Ven­tura and Ar­ca­dia, and Pavé Royale is his show-stop­per on the executive chef ’s menu dur­ing cruises of more than 12 nights. It’s a dessert that com­bines light and dark choco­late mousse, lay­ered with hazel­nut dac­quoise meringue and pra­line wafers, coated with a gold mar­bled mir­ror glaze. Guests can meet the “Cake Boy” him­self on Bri­tan­nia when she sails to Nor­way in late sum­mer.

From £729 per per­son for a seven-night Nor­we­gian Fjords cruise de­part­ing Southamp­ton on Sept 2 2018 (03453 555 111; pocruises.com).

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