Ilaria Edoardi is a food anthropologist and product development specialist for S.A.L.T. at Silversea Cruises
Travellers are seeking more immersive experiences, according to Cruise Line International Association’s 2023 The State of the Cruise Industry report.
Recognising this demand, Silversea Cruises is continually enhancing its Sea and Land Taste (S.A.L.T.) programme, which first launched in 2021 and enables guests to learn about local food and drink as they travel to different destinations.
“S.A.L.T. emerged as a way of adding a layer of depth to the cruising experience,” says Ilaria Edoardi, a food anthropologist and product development specialist for S.A.L.T. at Silversea Cruises. “The idea arose from food being a key connector between people and places. This programme was a very bold move due to its scale – it is incredibly differentiated but that’s the best way to really showcase authentic food-centric experiences.”
Silversea’s newest ships – Silver Moon, Silver Dawn and Silver Nova – all have three S.A.L.T. venues, and each one offers a different level of food immersion. Edoardi describes the programme as a pyramid with S.A.L.T. Kitchen as its base. The venue serves two locally inspired menus: a Voyager menu reflecting the region the ship is sailing in, and a Terrain menu inspired by that day’s port of call. “This is a venue that most people will experience at least once with different levels of engagement,” she says.
The next layer of the pyramid is S.A.L.T. Bar, which showcases authentic spirits, wines, beers and cocktails from a destination, allowing guests to experience a little more of the local gastronomy. Next is S.A.L.T. Lab, a venue that hosts lectures, workshops and cooking classes to increase guest engagement. And at the top of the pyramid are shore excursions.
“Our shore excursions allow guests to deeply engage with food and experience the process of making the dishes themselves,” says Edoardi. “One of the excursions we host in Italy is with Franco Pepe, an Italian chef who specialises in pizza. First, we go to see his producers and suppliers and get the freshest mozzarella and then he cooks one of the best pizzas you can get right in front of us.”
Other notable restaurant experiences include visiting chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León at their Central restaurant in Lima, Peru, or gathering ingredients from permaculture gardens and enjoying a private dinner at Mirazur, a restaurant with three Michelin stars in Menton, France.
The types of excursions on offer vary depending on the destination. For example, guests can enjoy authentic experiences such as visiting almond groves in Siracusa, Sicily, to collect key ingredients for traditional Sicilian desert biancomangiare, or explore ancient customs and how they have influenced cuisine. One place guests can do this is at the original settlement of the Garifuna people on the island of Roatán in Honduras, Central America.
Some of the excursions include learning from locals.
“In Mykonos, Greece, we go and see a cheese producer who tells guests how he learned the trade from his grandfather and then he takes them into his home for the most rustic experience to learn the art of cheese making,” says Edoardi. “The experience is so amazing and full of flavour and soul – it’s something guests will always remember.”
To build the programme, Silversea has collaborated with multiple chefs, cookbook authors, culinary experts and producers to understand why locals eat the way they do. For example, it works with Nicholas Gill, a co-author of several cookbooks. “Nick has incredible knowledge of all things Latin American and has a very cultural mindset,” says Edoardi. “He delves deep into why, what and people – it’s great. So, we work a lot with him.
“We are also working with chefs who are trying to move away from more traditional food to showcase less well-known dishes and to shine a light on several food revelations.”
With Silversea’s opening of cruises in Asia from the end of 2023, the line has developed new S.A.L.T. experiences that will be available onboard Silver Moon from February 2024.
Silversea will be expanding the S.A.L.T. programme to Asia for the first time in February 2024 when Silver Moon sails from Mumbai, India, to Singapore.
“We are already collaborating with local experts to provide beautiful Asia experiences,” says Edoardi. “In Vietnam, we’re working on contrasting older cooking traditions with modern cuisine. And in Malaysia, we are working with a princess who is teaching us all about the cosmology and symbolism behind food preparation techniques and dining habits. For example, guests will learn why locals eat communally and with one hand.
“Of course, we are also starting to develop our menus for S.A.L.T. Kitchen too, inspired by dishes in China, India, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. I can’t wait for guests to taste and learn about the Asian destinations.”
This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.