Friday, October 5, 2012

Goldring Travel's 2012 Food & Wine Cruise on the Seabourn Pride - Part VI (A Day at Sea with Special Events...And Then A Most Charming Port )

It was a sea day and, for the most part, a day of rest.  However,  a couple of special events were scheduled as we sailed on the Seabourn Pride to Belle Ile en Mer:  A private galley tour and a private bridge tour.
After my “required” morning soak in the hot tub on the bow, it was time to head to the Bridge for our tour.  A funny thing happened on the way:  Dolphins!  Dolphins were swimming full speed right for the ship.  It was a beautiful sight.

We then had a very nice tour of the bridge.  While she is not a sophisticated as her big sisters, the Seabourn Pride’s bridge works well and the officers were friendly and took a good bit of time answering questions and showing how systems, like the AIS (Advanced Information System) works even pointing out a Celebrity Cruise Lines ship and her next port.

 After a day filled with rest, lectures, spa treatments and fabulous food, it was time for our champagne and caviar galley tour.  Executive Chef Kurt Timmermans was, as always, charming, fun and informative.  (It is amazing how this young chef has attained the level of proficiency not only as a chef, but as leader and administrator running the galley.)

It was quite enlightening to those guests who have never been on one of the small Seabourn yachts seeing how such wonderful food is created in such a small galley (and, honestly, the food on this cruise has been consistently the best food I have ever eaten on a cruise ship and some of the best ever…but that is for another article).
Another lovely evening led to a morning arrival at an island none of us had any knowledge of Belle Ile en Mer. We arrived to sunny skies, warmer temperatures and calm seas. 

We were all up early and met Chef Kurt for a short Shopping with the Chef (since the original one was cancelled and the real one was not until near the end of the cruise).  As no one had been here before nobody really knew what the market would be like.   It was tiny…I mean really tiny.  Like about 8 stalls tiny. But there was a fish monger who none of us will ever forget.  There was a long haired, balding, laughing, French speaking salty dog who made no bones about having a drink or three at 9:00 a.m.  He and Chef Kurt had a “unique” conversation about seafood pairing the quiet and reserved chef with a character.

It was then time to explore the island.  From the sea (as this is a tender port) the island looked OK, but nothing special.  But upon arrival, this little island charmed everyone…and everyone had different experiences.  Some took an impromptu tour of the island discovery spectacular scenery, others climbed to the imposing fort and wandered through its halls.  My wife and I planned a “personal day” and wandered the streets, climbed some back roads up a hill, did some window shopping and also bought some caramel particular to this island.  All the while we were keeping our eye out for “the” place to have lunch.

Our wandering brought us back to the quay where the Hotel Atlantique’s restaurant has a wonderful view of the ocean and the Seabourn Pride.  We were looking for a seafood platter and the hotel’s charming restaurant had a great deal:  a seafood platter, a bottle of wine and two desserts for 78 Euros.  With the view, the charm and the value, we were happy to settle into a small table in the corner of the elevated restaurant with windows open to the fresh air.  The waitress brought over a very nice Muscadet, then the table settings and then an incredible seafood feast consisting of mussels, clams, oysters, welks, snails, langoustines, shrimp, small crabs, and two large crabs of differing species.

 For two hours we sat, ate, chatted and watched the world go by.  As it was an early departure (3:00 p.m.) we begrudgingly finished our lunch and headed back to the Seabourn tender. 

It was a great day and everyone aboard the Seabourn Pride was charmed by this little Beautiful Island in the Sea.