Chef Spotlight: Farid Oudir

Today, we’re back with our series highlighting the many talented and innovative chefs on the Oceania Cruises culinary team. We recently caught up with Executive Chef Farid Oudir to learn about his early beginnings in the culinary world, his favorite dish and more.

Was there a specific moment early on in which you knew you wanted to become a chef?
I was raised in a family that food was central to the home. My father is Algerian and my mother is French, so, we always cooked combining both cultures.  Also, having an older brother who was a chef influenced me as I was always in the kitchen observing the preparation, tasting the ingredients and cooking the food. When I became an apprentice that was when I knew I had found my passion to become a chef.

 

Chef Farid Oudir

 

What is your favorite dish?
We have so many delicious recipes on board, however, what I love the most is to go ashore to the open-air markets and create a dish reflecting a specific port of call during the voyage. When I am not working, traditional couscous will always be a favorite – my heritage is Arabic, and my father always prepared this for Sunday lunch. This is one of my fondest childhood memories.

What region is the best culinary destination in your opinion?
Even though I am French I am always open to new cultures and tastes. France has amazing culinary history and culture, but I also admire the restaurants, markets and variety that are available across Southern California. From Los Angeles to San Diego you can experience nearly every cuisine on the planet.

What do you love about being a chef for Oceania Cruises?
I am most impressed by the quality of the ingredients that we use on board – as well as the high standards for the presentation of every dish, and the different types of food from cultures and countries around the world. The guests really become family because we have such a high rate of past guests. And then of course, we have a great camaraderie amongst the crew.

About Executive Chef Farid Oudir
Hailing from Le Mans in Western France, Chef Oudir started cooking as a teenager and by age 17 was working in a French restaurant in Germany. After spending time in England, he returned to his native France where he gained skills as a renowned specialist in the art of making fresh foie gras. After bringing his considerable talents to restaurants in France and Luxembourg, the sea beckoned where Chef Oudir worked on several ships before returning shoreside to raise his newborn son. But the allure of the world’s oceans drew him back to sea in 2007, when he joined Oceania Cruises where he continues to delight guests with his culinary artistry. When not at sea, he visits his family in Southern California and spends time with his son Oscar in the village of Cordemais in the French countryside of Brittany.


Oceania Cruises Blog

Oceania Marina 12
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29 July 2016; At Sea.

Today we have a day at sea, to get to Iceland and doing so we cross two time zones. So last night we went an hour forward and tonight we will do it again. No doubt the Beverage Manager is not a happy camper as hours forward are not good for the Bar Revenue. (And we get two more between Iceland and Aalesund Norway) This area benefits from the confusion of what it is exactly to be called. The area along the East coast of Greenland is called the Irminger Sea and the area closer to Iceland is called the Denmark Strait. And then the whole larger area is called the North Atlantic Ocean.

The weather has also changed and today it was a dull day with the wind and swell increasing in the afternoon. Whatever the weather here is, it is different to the west side of Greenland. This is mainly caused by the Gulfstream. Although the Gulf Stream predominantly flows at lower latitude across to Europe, and then goes under England along the coast of the lowlands; a smaller branch turns northwards and brings warmer water to the area we are now sailing in. For the time of year this means normally less fog as wind and water do not vary much in temperature. It would need a very cold northerly wind to accomplish something.

A minor branch of the Gulf Stream doubles back to under Iceland.

A minor branch of the Gulf Stream doubles back to under Iceland.

In the winter time the Gulf Stream does have a negative result, and it does that in conjunction with the Jet stream. The Gulf Stream generates about every three days a new storm off Cape Hatteras. It comes up right under the coast there from Florida and then goes across. While the Jet Stream propels these depressions across, their force is being nurtured by the warmth of the Gulf Stream.  Now whether Europe gets a storm or not, depends on where the Gulf Stream is going. If there is a High Pressure ridge over the Azores, the Jetstream tends to bend to the North towards Iceland and then they get the storm.  If this is not the case, then the storm goes straight across and makes a landfall either at Ireland or at the south west area of England.

Most winter storms go the Iceland way. Maybe another reason they do not have much in the ways of trees there. During the winter it blows here quite often (about every three days). If a storm makes it to densely populated Europe then there are fun and games. Especially if the storm arrives in combination with a Spring Tide. Then the water is already high to start with and then an extra push by a strong storm: and along the coastlines of England, Scotland and the Netherlands the alarm bells go off.  In Holland we had a very bad one in 1953 when the (weak) dykes broke through. As a result the Dutch really went to war and now the enormous Dykes and Water Barriers protect the areas where there are no dunes. A lot of tourists now come to see what has been done there and the “Delta Werken” are a standard part of a tourist tour through Holland.

But even in my little English Home town, tucked away in the east corner of England, we had fun and games fairly recently . In 2013 there was a spring tide, the wind was at the right (or wrong angle) and the sea barriers and Beach huts took a severe battering.  And that was away from the full force of this Spring Tide storm. I cannot post any photos of  this as otherwise I run into copyright issues with the English newspapers.

We did not have any bad weather today and the excitement on the bridge was limited to a ship we passed at 10 am. on our portside and which we could not identify. All ships over 300 tons are required to have an AIS on and then it takes one click on the Radar and we know who it is. They did not, naughty boys, and thus the guessing started. First idea was a fish processing plant as the ship was white and sitting just outside the 200 mile zone off the Greenland Coast and thus local fishing rules would not apply. We did not see a net but there was something hanging from the stern. The funnel colors were, yellow, blue grey and those colors I have seen on both USA and Russian companies. So we thought maybe it was a scientific vessel.

The Zeus cable layer for the US navy. I wonder if the US Navy is branaching oout in the TeleCom business.

The Zeus cable layer for the US navy. I wonder if the US Navy is branching out in the TeleCom business.

My guess was the US Sealift Command as that would explain the no AIS signal as military vessels are not required to use an AIS. So I turned to my friend Google and he knew the answer. It was the USNS Zeus (T-ARC-7) a cable laying vessel of the US navy.  As you can see never a dull moment at sea.

Tomorrow morning we should be at the pilot station at 07.00 hrs. and docked about an hour later. We are staying two days as there is too much to see and enjoy in Iceland to cover in one day.

Weather for tomorrow, Sunny with temperatures of 67oF/ 17oC and a bit of a breezy day. For Sunday rain is expected so hopefully nobody will leave it to the 2nd day to go ashore.

Holland America Blog

Mount Rainier behind Holland America line
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Royal Romance on the High Seas

Written by Collette and Scott Stohler, Roamaroo

“Cruising is for old people,” they said. “The food on cruise ships is terrible,” they thought. “I don’t want just a few hours in a port…I want to see it like a local,” they remarked. Well ladies and gentlemen, step right up because there’s a cruise company making waves in the way we now hit the high seas.

Italy-cruiseWe’re Collette and Scott and we are not your average 20 and 30-something couple. We’ve traveled to over 60 countries, taking trains, planes, and automobiles around the World to get to our destinations. While traveling in any capacity is exciting, it wasn’t until we were able to travel by yacht that we found the true treasure of travel.

Sit back and Relax

Traveling through Europe can be a blessing on a curse. While the destinations are wondrous, the transportation to and from can leave a lot to be desired. Also, with so many great cities to visit, it’s difficult choosing which ones to see and how to get there.  The complicated train routes, rude hotel managers, and foreign street signs can quickly turn a dream vacation into a nightmare.  The great thing about Windstar is not only did they take us to all of the best locations, we only had to unpack once!  Once we boarded the Windstar Star Breeze yacht, we were treated like a VIP.  Each morning was a new experience as we woke up to views of the Italian Riviera, French Riviera, and the Grand Prix of Monaco. Each morning we jumped out of bed like kids on Christmas morning to see the views from our room.  No normal hotel can deliver ocean views like that. The entire experience was truly 180 degrees from ordinary.

Amalfi-cruise

Treated like Royalty

While the destinations were unparalleled, it was the experiences aboard Star Breeze that made this cruise stand out from the rest. From the private cruising to colorful Cinque Terre towns to hobnobbing with the glitterati in St. Tropez to the ultimate VIP Mediterranean experience of attending the Grand Prix of Monaco, the experiences aboard the Windstar Star Breeze were unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.
The best experience was when we arrived to the Grand Prix of Monaco where Windstar made every passenger feel like royalty. As we disembarked the yacht onto the shores of Monaco, we were greeted with a regal red carpet to sashay down to our private coach.  The paparazzi stared at us wondering who we were. It was a feeling we could get used to.

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After our red carpet entrance, we were transferred to an intimate and elegant champagne dinner overlooking the famed Casino de Monte-Carlo. This is THE hottest spot in Monte Carlo during the Grand Prix weekend!  Everyone heads to the casino the night before the race to see and be seen.  We were treated to a gourmet dinner at one of the most exclusive restaurants and destinations in the entire world. This was not a generic cruise where we were herded like cattle. But then again, this was not most cruises. This was Windstar Cruises.

Here are five reasons why cruising on Windstar Cruises is cool for the young crowd:

1.     You visit posh destinations by private yacht in a cost-effective way: Long gone are the days of overnight trains, sweaty buses, and summer traffic jams along the Italian coastline. With Windstar, you can access exclusive ports by private yacht.

2.     Watersports: Windstar yachts feel like your own personal yacht.  If you don’t feel like going onto land, head down to the watersports deck for some fun in the sun. Choose from wakeboarding, waterskiing, swimming, trampolining, and stand up paddleboarding.watersports-cruise

3.     Overnights in ports to experience nightlife: When we travel, we like to experience destinations day and night. When you’re on a normal cruise, you’re only in a port for a few hours and then you’re onto the next port. With Windstar, we were able to take advantage of the nightlife in St. Tropez and Monte Carlo, some of the most exotic nightlife destinations in the world.

4.     Experiences: While we’ve traveled all over the world, we have never been privy to an experience like the Grand Prix of Monaco. Windstar gave us VIP tickets and VIP access to the most exclusive racing event in the entire world.

5.     Feel like royalty: When visiting exclusive destinations, all too often, we’re made to feel like we don’t belong. Most cruise companies and tour companies herd their patrons like cattle into tourist traps. When we arrived to celebrity destinations like St. Tropez and Portofino, we disembarked by yacht, just like the glitterati. Windstar’s private functions and high-end experiences made us feel like kings and queens.

Italy-cruiseWe had the most incredibly romantic and adventurous trip on the Windstar Star Breeze. We cannot wait to go back on another Windstar cruise. We’re currently dreaming of a Baltic Delights cruise, an exotic cruise through Tahiti or a beautiful Caribbean cruise. What Windstar cruise are you dreaming of? Comment below!

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Windstar Cruises – A Luxury Cruise Blog

Parrot, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
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RESEARCHING A CRUISE

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Image by The Brit_2

Cruising makes for a great vacation, no doubt about it. Cost is reasonable and relaxation is guaranteed, but how do you decide which cruise vacation is best for you? There are hundreds of choices and many decisions to make before you can settle back with your pina colada and watch the ocean glide past.

This article will provide a broad overview of cruising, then you can go online, order printed resources and/or call your travel agent to learn more. I’ll suggest some of the best Internet resources and websites below.

Cruise Line Destinations

Your destination has got to be your biggest decision, right? Here are the usual cruise vacation destinations in a nutshell:

Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii really is a paradise, but it’s difficult to see much of it if you go there and stay at a resort. Cruising is the best way to see Hawaii. The Caribbean. Most first-cruisers go here. It’s close, plus it has a touch of the exotic and tropical. I just got back from a cruise of the western Caribbean myself. The weather was wonderful and beaches great. A negative was that some of the islands, like Dominique, were a big disappointment — not very clean, basically nothing much to see or do, very tacky. San Juan PR, however, is a terrific place to make a port of call. The Mediterranean. Frankly I know little of this first-hand. Please send me some tips on this cruise via the discussion group. I plan to visit here this October (the Aegean). From guidebooks and conversations I gather that it’s extremely beautiful, clean, historical, educational and a great experience. Mexican Riviera. This is the Caribbean for people living on the west coast. Archaelogically interesting, friendly people and great climate. Alaska. For those of us who read Jack London as kids, this one’s a must. Native American cultures, glaciers, mountains, maybe whales. However expect cool temperatures, even in summer.

Picking a Cruise Line

As you’ll find out quickly, every cruise line has a unique personality. The goal is to match yours with its. Here are some thumbnail impressions, but you’ll want to research this more on your own.

– Holland America. This line is geared toward seniors. Sedate, comfortable. Everything moves at a slow steady pace on a Holland America ship at sea. Good place to do some serious reading.

– Royal Caribbean. Hotels at sea in the best sense. Tons of activities for everybody. Moderate cost. Their huge Freedom of the Seas is the world’s biggest boat. If you book this one expect lots of munchkins (i.e., kids). The ship even has a “rock climbing wall” to divert some of the kids’ energies. This is not Holland America.

– Celebrity Cruises. A good choice for most people. Big, beautiful modern megaships. Attracts mainstream passengers. Cost is about average.

– Royal Caribbean. Hotels at sea in the best sense. Tons of activities for everybody. Moderate cost. Their huge Freedom of the Seas is the world’s biggest boat. If you book this one expect lots of munchkins (i.e., kids). The ship even has a “rock climbing wall” to divert some of the kids’ energies. This is not Holland America.

– Princess. Another British line, and I’ve taken a cruise on their Diamond. This one’s very unstuffy, very well-run and efficient. The ships are beautiful, the dining excellent. Yet moderate cost.

– Carnival. Love Boat unleashed. This line is geared toward the pool party crowd. Discos close at 4 AM.

– Crystal. I myself can’t afford Crystal, I admit it, but if you can I can tell you the experts rave about its great facilities and service. Luxury class, high cost.

– Norwegian. Very good entertainment, very social-oriented, open-seated dining, casual. A good choice for a shorter cruise, 3 or 4 days.

So How Much?

The cost may surprise you. Cruises are famously low-cost vacations. But be careful, you can end up spending a lot more than you planned if you take several tours, gamble, go shopping, etc. All those sorts of things are extra.

If you take a one-week cruise in the Caribbean or Mexican Rivera and go double occupancy, the cost will be around $ 900 for an inside cabin, or up to several times that for a suite with a balcony. You can take a 3-night cruise for just a few hundred dollars.

For those prices you get your meals, accomadations, entertainment, activities, onboard facilities (e.g., pools, exercise equipment), and transport to ports of call.

Note that you don’t get travel to/from the ship, shore excursions (which can be expensive), bar drinks (usually), gambling losses, tips (though some lines add these unobtrusively onto your bill without asking you) and special services, like massages and educational courses (pottery-making, watercolors, etc.).

Plus all ships offer you innumerable opportunities to spend money onboard on merchandise and baubles.

So, as said, if you’re careful and budget your cruise vacation ahead of time, the cost is likely to be modest compared with, say, staying at a resort. But if you are enticed by the “extras,” the cruise can turn out to be quite expensive.

A Few More Cruising Tips

Smoking is almost always prohibited except in bars and some lounges and on deck or in your cabin.

Best rates. Believe it or not, your travel agent is likely to be your best source for good rates. This can be an online or off-line agent, of course. Note, however, you should not pay the rates most lines advertise in their brochures (with the exception of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity); these brochure rates are much higher than actual prices. Norwalk virus. I once caught it and it is terrible for two days (you can’t even sit up in bed) but then quickly resolves. However I caught it not on a cruise ship but at a hotel in Las Vegas. It does happen occasionally on cruises. The best defense is to wash you hands very frequently — dozens of times a day. Wheelchair accessibility. Holland America is a leader in wheelchair accessibility. For information on this for a given line, call their Special Services Department.

Interested in saving some money? Book slightly offseason (in the so-called “shoulder” periods, right before or after the high seasons). Here are shoulder seasons for popular destinations —

Alaska – April, May, September

Caribbean – September, early December, April-June

Mediterranean – April, May, September, October

Last word: Don’t jump too quickly to make a reservation. Spend some time on the Web before booking. Explore the websites of the cruise lines that interest you (most have outstanding sites, featuring virtual tours of all their ships). Visit some online cruise evaluation/information sites like, cruisecritic.com, or frommers.com. Then you’ll be in a much more informed position for making your choice. Remember, once you’re on the ship, there’s no way off!

Joseph Ryan is Director of Washington Research Associates, Inc., Washington DC. The firm’s website, Web Search Guides provides helpful 10-minute tutorials on topics of current interest, such as people searching, asset-searching, online shopping, student financing, and many others.

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10 Reasons Seven Seas Explorer Exudes Luxury

Seven Seas Explorer® set sail on her extraordinary inaugural voyage this week. Guests are sailing from Monte Carlo to Venice for 14 spectacular nights, relishing the opulence and extravagance aboard our newest ship. From unwinding on the $ 150,000 Savoir No. 1 bed in the Regent Suite to dining on specially designed Versace plates, here’s why Seven Seas Explorer is the world’s most luxurious ship ever built.

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552 . . .the number of crew members catering to the needs of only 750-guests on Seven Seas Explorer. With an exceptionally low 1.36 guest-to-crew ratio, guests will receive an exceptionally high level of personalize service during their cruise vacation.

158. . .the number of large, exquisitely designed crystal chandeliers found throughout the various restaurants, lounges and other public spaces on Seven Seas Explorer. Couple that with the 97 crystal chandeliers found inside the larger suites and another 218 in the corridors, it’s clear the lighting onboard is also the most luxurious at sea.

45,876-square feet . . .that’s the amount of marble found throughout the ship, with more than half of it being Carrera marble from Italy. The marble is used throughout the ship, including the marble- and stone-detailed bathrooms in each of Seven Seas Explorer’s 375 guest suites. That’s nearly an acre of marble, or the size of a typical American football field.

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51,909-square feet. . .the total amount of balcony space found on the all-balcony Seven Seas Explorer. This equates to an average of 138-square feet per suite, the largest in the cruise industry.

$ 150,000 . . .the amount spent to set-up the luxurious Savoir No. 1 bed found in the Master Bedroom of the Regent Suite. The mattress alone retails for $ 90,000.

4,443–square feet . . .the size of the ship’s largest and most opulent accommodation, the Regent Suite. It features two elegant bedrooms; a sprawling living room with a custom-made Steinway Arabesque piano designed by Dakota Jackson; a private spa retreat with personal sauna, steam room and treatment area; and am exclusive vista garden with floor-to-ceiling views of the ocean.

Unlimited . . .the number of complimentary spa treatments guests who book the Regent Suite will receive in the comfort of their own personal in-suite spa retreat.

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400. . .the number of specially designed Versace place settings found at the Compass Rose restaurant. The line’s signature dining room, Compass Rose offers an eclectic array of European-inspired Continental cuisine in an elegant, upscale restaurant setting.

2,148 . . .bottles of champagne ordered for Seven Seas Explorer’s maiden voyage. That goes along with the 5,712 bottles of red and white wine that are ready to be enjoyed. With Regent Seven Seas Cruises most inclusive luxury experience, alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, champagne and premium spirits are complimentary.

2,000lbs. . . . the amount of lobster guests enjoy at the gourmet restaurants on Seven Seas Explorer during a typical 14-night cruise. Lobster dishes can be found in all three specialty restaurants, the open-seating Compass Rose and at the more casual eatery, La Veranda.

View Seven Seas Explorer inaugural season voyages.


Luxury Goes Exploring™

Regent Seven Seas Voyager
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