Sunday, October 4, 2009

Seabourn Spirit 2009 Food & Wine Cruise - Split, Croatia: Shopping With the Chef & Chilling Out Seabourn Style

Unfortunately there was a failure of the motherboard for the internet satellite system on board, so posting my blog as it was happening just wasn’t possible. Nonetheless, here it is…and know that it was, in the end, one of the best cruises I have ever taken.


We started our day in Split, Croatia, after a very pleasant breakfast at the Veranda, Shopping With the Chef. Because the interest was so great, Seabourn expanded the number that could go to about 30, which was a bit much, but which also had Seabourn arrange for a guide to give us a short walking tour. After a brief orientation it was off to the fish market.

It was a bit lean in the smallish fish market with clear signs of overfishing taking its toll. It was especially sad to see small soles that haven’t had even a chance to breed being offered for sale. The Chef purchased some sea bass and sardines as there wasn’t much else of interest. (The sardines wound up in the Veranda for lunch the next day and the sea bass became part of the Chef’s Tasting Menu.)

It was then a short walk through the really interesting and pretty walled city to the vegetable and fruit market. Things were much more robust there and it seemed that everyone was selling tiny Italian plums. (Local grapes were delivered to everyone’s suites later in the day.)

We thanked the Seabourn staff as it was time to explore more of Split, a town I would readily come back to. It really just felt like a very friendly place to be and it was just enjoyable. We stopped in a cafĂ© and noticed that the food really wasn’t very exciting, consisting of some pretty standard fare…and pizza was offered everywhere. (I had given, as “pillow gifts”, a book on Croatian cooking, so I knew it was not going to be a world class experience, but rather more one of comfort foods.) We ordered some Croatian beer (I do not recall the brand) and, to be honest, it was awful. The aftertaste stayed with me literally for hours. That pretty much shot any chance at discovering the Croatian wines (and I heard from others on the tour I was originally going to take that the wines really were pretty ordinary).

After a very relaxing day in a beautiful place we headed up to the forward whirlpool – having joked with Jaco, the bar waiter, very early in the day that we would be there at 3:30 p.m. – and at precisely 3:30 p.m. he arrived with glasses and a bottle of champagne. A few of us spent the rest of the afternoon in the forward spa. This was followed by another bottle of champagne and the ever important supervision of the locals fishing (and watching one particularly curious cuttlefish who seemed interested in everything). And then it was time for the sailaway. It was, simply, a Seabourn afternoon.

I received a note when I returned to my suite that the ultra-luxury wine tasting and lunch at the best restaurant in Kotor, Montenegro has been cancelled due to lack of interest and, with virtually no time to arrange anything else, I was kind of stuck. But, alas, I had a plan…and would be very happy if it worked. It was then a wonderful dinner and an evening sitting under the stars enjoying it all with friends…a great Seabourn evening.