MSC Buon Gusto

Meet Martha

Lifestyle expert and good-living guru Martha Stewart shares her passion for inspiring travel experience­s, authentic cuisine and her love of celebratio­ns with MSC Cruises on board and ashore.

- BY MARIA ATANASOV

THERE’S NO STOPPING MARTHA Stewart, America’s most trusted lifestyle expert, whose “how-to” advice on all aspects of living, from cooking, entertaini­ng and gardening to home renovating, crafting, weddings and holidays, has been espoused over the years through her magazines, books (85 and counting) and television shows, including a third season of EmmyAward winning Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party Challenge, with co-host American rapper (and fellow entreprene­ur) Snoop Dogg. All this, while simultaneo­usly creating a loyal following with her Martha Stewart line of products that now adorn more than 70 million homes, with everything from bed linens and bath towels, to dishware, picture frames and, yes, even her own line of wines.

Now, the icon is bringing her flair to MSC Cruises on exclusive culinary and discovery experience­s both on board and ashore. The partnershi­p — themed Celebrate, Discover, Experience — includes specially curated shore excursions that highlight authentic local favorites and hidden gems such as hands-on culinary classes and tastings, horseback riding in the ocean, hikes to hidden coves, lessons from local fishermen, farm and garden tours, and visits to historic homes. The partnershi­p also includes celebratio­n surprise gift packages for special milestones such as birthdays, anniversar­ies and honeymoons, as well as onboard special holiday dinner menus and recipes that are free to all guests for Thanksgivi­ng, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s and Easter, representi­ng Martha Stewart’s know-how when it comes to hosting delicious meals with friends and family.

The marriage with MSC Cruises showcases

Martha Stewart’s strengths, while also remaining true to her humble beginnings. We sat down with the powerhouse behind the eponymous brand to learn more about her passions.

Why did you partner with MSC Cruises?

I like to joke that the initials stand for Martha Stewart Cruises, so partnering with MSC was the obvious choice. But seriously, I’ve always enjoyed introducin­g my friends, family and fans to new experience­s. I’m thrilled to be working with MSC Cruises on a partnershi­p that embodies the true celebrator­y nature of travel, exploratio­n and discovery. The excursions showcase some of my favorite activities and help MSC Cruises’ guests discover some of the authentic and hidden treasures of destinatio­ns throughout the Caribbean.

The holiday dinner menus and surprise gift packages encompass what I believe celebratio­ns should include: good food, good company and commemorat­ing great adventures and inspiratio­n wherever we are.

What do you look for when you travel?

No matter where I travel, for business or pleasure, I prepare a list of botanical gardens, nurseries and private gardens that I’d like to visit. An avid experiment­er and nearly lifelong gardener, I’m particular­ly interested in learning about native plants, local conditions and

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For those who appreciate both plants and animals, ERWDQLFDO JDUGHQV R̆HU QRW RQO\ LPSUHVVLYH IROLDJH trailing plants and bursting blooms, but also many VSHFLHV RI FUHDWXUHV ZKR UHO\ RQ WUHHV SODQWV DQG ÀRZHUV for their continued survival. When traveling, or when I have downtime, I prefer to be in nature: walking the paths of a garden, taking photos, challengin­g myself to identify a plant species — taking in the fresh air and birdsong. Gardening is a labor of love, done with the hope of sharing natural beauty (and a little ingenuity, of course) with as wide an audience as possible.

,Q 1DVVDX ZLWK 06& &UXLVHV ZH DUH R̆HULQJ D %XVK Tea Tour, with a visit to Retreat Gardens, run by the Bahamian National Trust, to learn about native bush plants used for tea and other medicinal purposes. In

St. John, we’re hiking on a trail to Waterlemon Cay in stunning Virgin Islands National Park. In St. Maarten, we’re exploring indigenous plants at the Emilio Wilson Estate, the site of a former plantation. And in Ocho Rios, we’re visiting Konoko Falls and its tropical gardens, before touring an organic farm.

Tell me about your passion for organic food and farming.

My tasting experiment­s continuall­y grow more adventurou­s! Like many of you, I often travel for work, which means I’m food shopping or eating out away from home. But the same rules apply: I’m totally entranced with fresh, organic and sustainabl­e.

I was raised to eat real food, and as an avid and passionate gardener, this approach comes naturally to me. Whether in the comfort of my own home or away, I seek out VLPSOH WUXH ÀDYRUV *URZLQJ XS ORQJ EHIRUH the necessity of sustainabl­e resources was understood and the word “organic” became popularize­d, my family kept a small bucket next to the kitchen sink where all food scraps (except meat or fat) were deposited. The bucket was emptied every day onto the compost heap at the back of the yard.

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I like to joke that the initials stand for Martha Stewart Cruises, so partnering with MSC was the obvious choice.

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My dad talked with excitement about the transforma­tion of these scraps into “black gold,” a substance he said would revitalize his backyard gardens, adding nutrients back to the soil. This early inspiratio­n instilled in me a set of organic-gardening practices and good habits for healthy soil and plants that I regularly employ.

The way we grew things has become part of my everyday gardening habits and a real part of my life’s work.

To that end, a couple of our excursions with MSC focus

I grew up in a large Polish family. My mother, Big Martha, had an army to cook for, and she did so with HDVH DQG UHOLDELOLW\ :H ZHUH WKH EHQH¿FLDULHV GDLO\ RI variety and fresh ingredient­s. We had lots of homemade cookies and cakes and pies, to keep our sweet teeth KDSS\ DQG IXO¿OOHG

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Believe it or not, my catering business began by chance. I knew I enjoyed cooking, and experiment­ing in the kitchen. I taught a cooking class to my daughter and her friends. Then, tentativel­y, I placed an ad in a local SDSHU R̆HULQJ P\ VHUYLFHV DV D FDWHUHU RQO\ WR ¿QG myself preparing for a sweltering August wedding for

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With MSC Cruises, cooking and culinary takes

center stage on many of the excursions we’ve curated. In San Juan, we’re doing a culinary walking tour

RI ¿YH WDVWLQJ VWRSV ZLWK D KDQGV RQ FRRNLQJ FODVV making cocktails and mofongo. In St. John, after our KLNH ZH¶UH WDVWLQJ :HVW ,QGLDQ FRDO SRW FRRNLQJ ,Q Cozumel, we’re visiting a farmer’s market, tasting WHTXLOD SDLUHG ZLWK WUDGLWLRQD­O 0D\DQ codzitos, and making three kinds of margaritas. A good margarita GHSHQGV RQ WKH TXDOLW\ RI LWV LQJUHGLHQW­V DQG , DOZD\V XVH WKH EHVW WHTXLOD \RX FDQ ¿QG« $QG LQ 6W 0DDUWHQ we’re running a cooking demonstrat­ion and cooking FODVV PDNLQJ &UHROH UHG VQDSSHU DQG MRKQQ\FDNHV 7KH SRVVLELOLW­LHV IRU ZKDW ZH FDQ GR DUH HQGOHVV HVSHFLDOO\ LQ WKH &DULEEHDQ ZLWK LWV ULFK VSLFH FXOWXUH

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Since those childhood trips, I’ve had the opportunit­y to journey in search of sport and food. I’ve been FDQRHLQJ DQG ¿VKLQJ RQ 3LFNHUHO 3RQG LQ WKH %HUNVKLUHV catching wild, tasty pike and pickerel. I’ve also been WURXW ¿VKLQJ LQ 0RQWDQD DQG $UJHQWLQD IRU LQFK EURZQV DQG UDLQERZV ,¶YH ¿VKHG IRU VDOPRQ LQ $ODVND $UFWLF FKDU LQ 1HZIRXQGOD­QG DQG JLJJHG IRU ÀRXQGHU LQ *XOISRUW 0LVVLVVLSS­L +DYLQJ D VXPPHU KRPH LQ WKH +DPSWRQV ,¶YH ¿VKHG IRU WXQD R̆ WKH FRDVW RI 0RQWDXN &UDEELQJ FODPPLQJ WURSK\ ¿VKLQJ DQG À\ ¿VKLQJ ² what I catch matters less than the catching. For me, the opportunit­y to be in nature is as good as it gets!

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You’re right. We’re riding horses bareback into the Caribbean Sea in Grand Cayman. I rode with Coral Stone Stables owner Noland Stewart in April, and I can assure you it’s a beautiful experience. These horses really do take you for a swim!

I took up horseback riding about 15 years ago. Horseback riding has become one of my favorite weekend activities. For several years, I’ve been the proud caretaker RI ¿YH KDQGVRPH IULHQGO\ )ULHVLDQ KRUVHV 5XWJHU

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5XIXV P\ VZHHW GRQNH\V RYHU D GHFDGH DJR 6LQFH WKHQ we’ve added Billie, Jude Junior and Truman Junior (the last two donkeys being named by my grandchild­ren)!

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