Food & Wine at Sea: A Q&A With Dream Vacations Franchisee Peggy Rosenthal

Regent Seven Seas' Beef Tournedos Rossini.
Regent Seven Seas’ beef tournedos rossini dish.

More than 50 percent of CruiseOne’s existing franchise owners have transitioned over to its new travel agency franchise Dream Vacations, which officially launched with a ribbon cutting ceremony in Fort Lauderdale on April 11—a day Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Bruce Roberts officially proclaimed as Dream Vacations Day. Peggy Rosenthal is one of those franchise owners who made the switch to Dream Vacations, which was born out of a desire to, as World Travel Holdings Co-CEO and chairman Brad Tolkin said, “speak to what we are selling, which are travel experiences or experiences with a vacation as the end result.”

While on the topic of culinary travel for our April issue, we thought it would be insightful to get Peggy Rosenthal’s take on the ever popular topic of food and wine at sea.

Paloma Villaverde de Rico (PVR): What are some of the best cruise lines for culinary aficionados?

Peggy Rosenthal (PR): In the ocean cruising space, I think of Oceania and Regent Seven Seas. Celebrity is also a great choice in the premium space, particularly with the restaurant Blu for the Aqua Class passengers. With river cruising, AMA Waterways comes to mind as the line for culinary aficionados, particularly their wine and food-themed cruises.

PVR: How have the culinary offerings on board cruise lines flourished over the last few years?

PR: A focus on healthy eating and offering cuisine specific to passengers with special needs has risen in the past few years. No longer are main dining rooms the only eating venues. There are more choices from casual to elegant across all lines.

PVR: What type of traveler is looking for a culinary fix while at sea or on the river?

PR: Travelers who enjoy dining out on land are certainly going to look for a culinary fix when cruising.

Guests enjoying a wine tasting on AMAwaterways' shore excursion at Sandeman Winery in the Douro Valley.
Guests enjoying a wine tasting on AMAwaterways’ shore excursion at Sandeman Winery in the Douro Valley.

PVR: Do you think some cruisers choose a cruise line based on its culinary offerings?

PR: Culinary offerings come into play in the decision-making process. I don’t think passengers are fixated on cuisine, but it can be the final decision point in an otherwise equal choice.

PVR: How do the culinary offerings differ on the big ships and the river cruise ships?

PR: Big ships, given the number of passengers they serve, present good food that can appeal to the masses. It’s not uncommon to have a beef, chicken and fish offering available every day of the cruise. That appeals to those less-adventurous eaters or those with special dining needs. River cruises seek to present an elegant, albeit casual and comfortable offering of cuisine. River cruises have the ability to locally source ingredients during the cruise, something that is not as easy for ocean cruise lines.

PVR: Do the culinary offerings on the big ships take families into consideration, or is the anchor of the offerings all adult-centric?

PR: Ocean cruise lines present offerings that appeal to all ages. There are kid’s menus, as well as dining parties in the kids’ clubs on some lines. There are, of course, plenty for the adults as well, but the young or young-at-heart are not left out.

PVR: How do you see culinary offerings changing in the next few years and what will push that initiative to get better and better with more diverse offerings?

PR: Special needs, i.e. gluten-free, will continue to drive culinary design, as well as facility design, making sure cross-contamination doesn’t occur. I think flexibility in the time one eats, as well as the venue in which one eats will continue to be an attraction to many, particularly those who have stayed away from cruising for fear of too much structure around dining.

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