Expedition Cruise Cuisine: Rations Most Exquisite

Nibble the finest caviar, then tuck into 24K gold-flecked consommé, fresh lobster in pea puree, and a towering Grand Marnier soufflé. What makes this repast so extraordinary is where it’s served — not on a cruise ship, but rather, on an expedition vessel. These days, adventure-bound cruisers hardly rough it at the dinner table. Instead, such ships now rival ocean liners for sophisticated cuisine, with chefs preparing elaborate meals that Shackleton and other explorers could never have envisioned. Even if polar bears, the African coastline, or other bucket-list sights lure outside, on board, it’s the gastronomic triumphs that deliver the awe.

Silver is Golden

Galapagos-bound foodies eagerly anticipate the launch of luxury ship Silver Origin; in this Ecuadorean region where Origin sails, stellar seafood abounds. This all-suite, butlers-aplenty vessel emphasizes traditional Ecuadorian cooking, imagined with the best ingredients. (The less-adventurous can feast on filet mignon and other more familiar fancy foods, too.) After a morning marveling at blue-footed boobies and red Sally Lightfoot crabs, recharge with a refreshing Ecuadorian ceviche at lunch. Typically, the chef makes a different version daily.

Ceviche stars raw seafood, such as crab, octopus, or squid, “cooked” in acidic citrus juice with onions, and artfully seasoned to taste slightly sweet, tangy, and spicy at once. (Make sure to sprinkle plantain chips or fresh-popped popcorn atop for a satisfying crunch.) At dinner, murmurs of approval over local lobster — acclaimed worldwide for its succulence — fill the restaurant. Note the exotic sides; wonder at the rice, perhaps seasoned with earthy, peppery, and irresistible achiote. Above all, tropical fruit reigns supreme; the juiciness of Galapagos papayas cannot be overstated.   

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Janice Wald Henderson is a Los Angeles–based food and travel journalist who writes regularly for Brides magazine and online for Epicurious and Gourmet Live. She is also the culinary editor for CruiseMates, the author of two cookbooks, and has appeared in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Cooking Light, German Vogue, and both the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times syndicates.