Interview with Claudine Pépin, Sirena’s Godmother

Now just a few months away, Claudine Pépin’s Signature Sailing is a unique culinary voyage aboard Sirena that features alluring European destinations, cooking demonstrations, exclusive menus, special lectures and much more. Claudine, Sirena’s godmother and celebrated cookbook author, is looking forward to meeting many of you during the cruise and sharing the experience with her husband, Rollie, and their daughter, Shorey. The 12-day Lisbon to Bilbao voyage brings you to the home of the famed port wine industry, Oporto; the charming capital city of Dublin; the sunlit vineyards of renowned Bordeaux and an array of other fascinating European cities. We recently caught up with Claudine to find out what she’s most excited for, her culinary favorites on board and much more.

Claudine Pepin portrait

Which destinations are you most excited to explore during this voyage?

We are all looking forward to this trip so very much! Shorey and I have never been to Wales or Ireland. We are going to try to see as much as we can and have a few excursions already planned.

We can’t wait to visit the Beaumaris Castle in Wales and we’re excited for our St. Emilion Exploration while in Bordeaux – it’s a beautiful medieval village set above vineyards that are known as the heartland of the Merlot grape. I know our Walking Tour & Tapas excursion in La Coruña and A Taste of the Basque Country tour in Biarritz will be memorable too. I’m looking forward to meeting many guests during all of these adventures.

Can you give us a sneak peek of the dishes you’ll be preparing during your cooking demonstration?

We’ll be mixing a bit of summery Spain with France – it will be fun, but more importantly, it will be easy to make at home!

What is your top recommendation at Jacques Bistro for guests?

Definitely go with a few people and share lots of dishes. You’ll find Shorey enjoying escargot; Rollie, the salade niçoise, and I’ll be having the warm leek salad – and that’s just to start!

Now that you have sailed on Sirena a few times, what are you most looking forward to this year?

What I look forward to every time I am on board is seeing happy people. Happy because their stateroom is fantastic, because their meals are wonderful, because the shows are terrific, and they feel relaxed and completely taken care of by Sirena‘s gracious officers, crew and staff. It feels like family.

Join Claudine this July on her memorable culinary sojourn!

Oceania Cruises Blog

Book your dream luxury cruise at

Travelling Soon? Take These Great Tips With You! 2

cruise ship
Image by hbvk

Travelling Soon? Take These Great Tips With You!

Taking a cruise is a great way to see many different places when you travel. Cruises offer many activities and things to do while on the ship, while offering you the opportunity to explore different locations each time you arrive at a port. This article will give you some tips for making the most of your cruise.

Kids need something to do during down time at the hotel. Kids will always have more energy than you and time in the hotel can create cabin fever very quickly. Bring a bag that has toys, books or any other activities that can keep your children occupied and having fun while you relax.

When packing for a baby or a toddler, think about what things you could possibly pick up when you get there. Diapers and wipes take up a lot of space, especially if you will be gone for a week or more. This will leave you more room, and you will need less time to pack.

Research and prepare for any communications costs that you might have, in regards to computing while traveling. Knowing where you will have access to Wi-Fi and what equipment you will need to connect at your various destinations, will make your journey easier and avoid on the fly purchases when you need to communicate.

Children are not always the best travelers. If you will keep them busy, they will be much happier while traveling by car or plane. Pack a bag of activities for your child to do while traveling. Pick things that they like to do, things that they do not commonly get. Get them a new coloring book or a new book to read.

You can save time in the security line by purchasing a Clear Security Pass. Many large airports, and a few smaller one, are offering this high-tech pass to pre-screened travelers. The initial cost can save a traveler hours spent in security lines and the stress associated with the normal screening process.

Learn the tipping culture for whatever countries you plan to visit. In some cultures, tipping is automatic, while in others, it does not exist. There are still a few cultures in which tipping is considered a great insult, so mind your manners by checking the customs. You do not want to insult your server.

Use noise-cancelling headphones. Because of all the engine and background noise on an airplane, you have to crank the volume on your headphones up dangerously high just to hear the music. Invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, which cancel out the background noise and let you clearly hear your music at a reasonable volume. Even if you don’t listen to music, they are great for just reducing the noise.

As was stated in the beginning of this article, a great way to explore many different locations while you travel is to go on a cruise. Cruise ships offer plenty to do on-board, with the option of exploring off the ship when you dock. Apply the tips from this article to make the most of your next cruise.


Find your dream cruise at

Calling All Bakers! America’s Test Kitchen Reveals Its Top Four Cake Decorating Tips

Through our partnership with America’s Test Kitchen, Holland America Line guests are able to attend live onboard cooking shows and hands-on workshops. In the state-of-the-art onboard culinary facility guests learn foolproof techniques and user-friendly recipes for making delectable dishes with confidence.

One of the hands-on workshops offered is Cake Decorating, and our America’s Test Kitchen host shared these helpful tips so you can make beautifully decorated cakes at home.


1. Don’t refrigerate the frosting. If it’s chocolate frosting, it will dull the chocolate, and if it’s butter cream, it will make the frosting too hard to pipe out of your pastry bag.

2. Don’t overfill your pastry bag. It makes it difficult to work with.


3. When using a pastry bag to apply frosting, use just one hand to put pressure on the top. Squeezing with two hands can cause air pockets to develop or the frosting will come out of the top instead of the tip.


4. Especially for chocolate frosting, use corn syrup instead of sugar and butter. Corn syrup gives the frosting a nice glossy sheen and makes it more spreadable.

A word on corn syrup: Corn syrup gets a bad rap because people are afraid of hydrogenated fats and high-fructose corn syrup, which are bad for you. But the kind of corn syrup used in baking is the same stuff your mother and grandmother had in their pantry. It’s used in all kinds of baking as a sweetener and for its other properties, and it is no worse for your health than sugar.

Holland America Blog

Find your next cruise at

Highly-Awarded Chef Graeme Cockburn Joins Windstar Cruises

Windstar is proud to announceChef Graeme Cockburn the appointment of Graeme Cockburn as Corporate Executive Chef overseeing menu and recipe development; culinary talent retention, recruitment and training; culinary partnerships, standards and procedures, and innovations for the six-ship cruise line. Recently named Official Cruise Line of the James Beard Foundation, the leading line in small ship cruises places a distinct emphasis on an elevated culinary experience on board and ashore.

“We are energized by welcoming aboard Graeme to round out our team of experienced and inspired culinary professionals. Graeme’s breadth of experience and caliber of cuisine will enhance our cruise guests’ experience exponentially to rival the best land restaurants, hotels and resorts,” remarked Peter Tobler, Director of Hotel Operations.

Chef Cockburn is responsible for elevating the guest dining experience by developing destination-centric recipes and menu cycles that celebrate the authentic cuisine of the regions where the boutique line sails. Serving up to 148, 212 or 310 guests each cruise, the intimate size of Windstar’s small ships allows the new Corporate Executive Chef to source local ingredients, re-master and expand the popular “Shop with the Chef Local Market Tours,” developing new programs and culinary experiences to further immerse guests in the greater cultural community.

Chef Graeme Cockburn plating some foodCockburn has enjoyed an illustrious career established early on as an innovator affiliated with the crème de la crème of cuisine, including formative training at world-famous The Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland, the Royal Scotsman train, London’s exclusive Boodles private club, and the Pompadour Restaurant Edinburgh which was named top restaurant of Scotland during Cockburn’s tenure. The celebrated chef trained with Michelin-awarded chefs including; Michel Roux, London; Michel Guerard, South of France; and at the Hotel De Crillon, Paris.

Windstar was recently named the “Official Cruise Line of the James Beard Foundation,” and as such, Cockburn also will be responsible for developing the onboard “Culinary Demonstrations Powered by the James Beard Foundation.” Recipes developed for that program will harness the talents and work of James Beard Foundation guest chefs who sail with Windstar as part of the James Beard Foundation Culinary Cruise Collection, a series of sailings hosted by well-known chefs from around North America.Chef Graeme Cockburn looking at salad bar

Cockburn answered the allure of travel when recruited by the venerable Cunard line to introduce the Queen Mary II. Cockburn went on to establish a name synonymous with success in the cruise industry also working in various culinary capacities for Princess Cruises, and Seabourn developing and re-imagining comprehensive culinary operations, Cockburn has partnered with esteemed chefs such as Charlie Palmer, Daniel Boulud, Todd English and Curtis Stone to introduce new cuisine concepts at sea, and has prepared cuisine for audiences live and on television and radio.

Cockburn trained with the prestigious British Transport Hotels (BTH) Group and signed his apprenticeship within the group and attended courses at the Executive Management Leadership Program UCLA Anderson School of Management. He holds a degree in culinary management, and won the following:

·       Gold Medal Hot Kitchen – Hot Chef Competition, Glasgow, Scotland

·       Gold Medal Hot Kitchen – Hotel Olympia Competition, London, United Kingdom

·       Young Chef of the Year United Kingdom

Cockburn also won medals and acknowledgments for Cold Larder work within the clubs of London, was invited to cook at Buckingham Palace for the Queen of England at a state honors event, and was invited to perform as guest chef for a charity event for the Culinary School of Alaska in Anchorage.

A native of Scotland, Cockburn will work aboard Windstar’s three sailing ships and three all-suite yachts deployed to destinations around the globe; and will work at times at Windstar’s Seattle headquarters.

For additional information on Windstar’s fleet of six small ships and private yacht-style cruising, contact a travel professional or Windstar Cruises by phone at 877-958-7718, or visit

The post Highly-Awarded Chef Graeme Cockburn Joins Windstar Cruises appeared first on Windstar Cruises – A Luxury Cruise Blog.

Windstar Cruises – A Luxury Cruise Blog

Wind Star
windstar cruises
Image by size4riggerboots

Find your next luxury cruise at

28 March 2017; The blog is still in Dry dock.

Dear Readers,

My apologies but from a “few days” of the blog being down, it has now gone to more than a week.

The Holland America Line Community Blog site/layout was supposed to  migrate to a new location. All was to be accomplished in a few days but it seems that there is a hiccup somewhere.  Because of this migration I was asked to refrain from making my daily posts. When it has been migrated, then life is supposed to continue as normal.

Cyberspace is beyond my understanding so I just have to wait until the computer gurus have seen the light, or whatever they have to see, to make the migration successful.

I have just transferred from the Zuiderdam to the Westerdam and the plan is to facilitate a school class here for six new navigators. The ship is scheduled to be in Fort Lauderdale on the 30th. of March and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the blog issues will have been resolved by then.

Best regards

Capt. Albert

Watching approx. 18,000 guests & Crew going ashore in Grand Cayman.




Holland America Blog

Find your dream cruise at