If you've ever attended a food festival and left feeling underwhelmed — even a little hungry — there's a new event in the works that promises to go beyond the average food and drink experience.
There's just one twist: It's at sea.
The food-focused cruise, Chefs Making Waves, is designed to offer more than exceptional food and drink. It's meant to offer guests an immersive gastronomic experience — one that could have you making pasta like a pro alongside Scott Conant, baking like a boss alongside Anne Burrell, or enjoying a beachside barbecue with Marc Murphy.
Said by its creators to be the first of its kind, the culinary cruise launches from PortMiami next year. The all-inclusive itinerary will give attendees a unique opportunity to be wined and dined by some of the country's top celebrity chefs, TV personalities, and authors via a series of walk-around tastings, cooking demonstrations, curated dinners, late-night parties, brunches, lunches, and mixology experiences.
Sixthman, which began producing shipboard festivals when it debuted its annual rock music-themed festival, The Rock Boat, in 2001, is behind the event. To produce its new culinary-themed cruise, Sixthman teamed up with a21, the event production company behind South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and EBG, an e-commerce company that specializes in entertainment and travel.
For Sixthman vice president Jeff Cuellar, the Chefs Making Waves expedition is considered a "bucket list" festival that has been years in the making.
"This has been top of our list for adding as a curated experience, one that we've been wanting to make happen for a long time — but we needed to figure out how to do it right with this type of venue," Cuellar tells New Times. "Our goal is to bring passionate communities together and, essentially, take them on vacation. Rather than music, this time, the idea is to offer an immersive culinary experience unlike anything they've ever experienced before. It's a unique way to approach a festival, especially when it comes to food. It's intimate, and there's the opportunity to do so much more in terms of bespoke experiences."
To date, confirmed chefs include familiar Miami names like Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster Overtown) and Alex Meyer (Boia De) alongside a roster of award-winning Food Network chefs, TV personalities, cookbook authors, food activists, and restaurateurs like Michael Symon, Robert Irvine, Aarón Sánchez, and Andrew Zimmern.
The onboard talent will be there to do more than cook. Events include morning yoga and pickleball followed by bloody mary bingo and a late-night, '70s-themed dessert disco. Guests can also look forward to chef collaborations every night in the dining room, followed by post-dinner events, including interactive culinary games, food-inspired movie screenings, and mixology classes.
The maiden voyage departs from the Port of Miami aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines' Norwegian Pearl, a 965-foot vessel with just over 1,000 cabins. Cruise dates are Monday, March 25, through Friday, March 29, 2024, with stops in Nassau and Norwegian's private island, Great Stirrup Cay.
The purchase of a stateroom for Chefs Making Waves includes event programming (excluding select premium experiences) and a complimentary premium beverage package that includes top-shelf cocktails, spirits, beer, champagne, and wine by the glass, unlimited soft drinks, juices, bottled water, Starbucks coffee, specialty drinks, and energy drinks. Guests will have access to the ocean liner’s onboard amenities, including a concierge service, world-class spa, casino, nightlife, and several bars and lounges.
Cuellar encourages anyone interested in being among the first to experience Chefs Making Waves to act quickly. Registration opened in late May and the ship — which can accommodate as many as 3,000 passengers — is at 80 percent capacity.
"Miami is becoming a great culinary destination, with a growing dining scene and a lot of passionate foodies," says Cuellar. "We have a built-in audience that doesn't even need to take a flight to experience what we hope will become one of the most exciting food events in the world."