I was surprised and delighted to find America’s Test Kitchen on the Rotterdam. During the week I was on my cruise, I participated in a pastry workshop and attended two demonstrations.
In the following post Fleet manager Barbara Mills-Schuchardt shares about America’s Test Kitchen and its popularity. We met her on the Rotterdam, while she was installing a new host; Chef Odette Oliver from South Africa. Oliver, a gifted chef, left a position as head chef at Cape Point Nature Preserve to join this unique group of Test Kitchen chefs at sea.
For more than 25 years Cooks Illustrated magazine has been a culinary cornerstone for its subscribers.
This successful business model provides its readers with unbiased reviews of culinary equipment, ingredients and fool-proof recipes that have been tasted to be the best. America’s Test Kitchen and Cooks Country are the delicious offspring of this culinary publishing powerhouse.
America’s Test Kitchen is the most watched instructional cooking show on television. This iconic cooking show along with its sister show Cooks Country delivers the science of good cooking to avid fans all over the United States.
Holland America Line, a decidedly different cruise line, has been making waves for more than 145 years with its elegant medium-sized ships, scrumptious food and incredible itineraries. In 2016, looking to re-imagine its on-board entertainment, Holland America Line and America’s Test Kitchen whipped up a brand new culinary adventure at sea. Take a cruise on any of Holland America Line’s 15 ships and you can enjoy a live America’s Test Kitchen cooking show on board. The shows are engaging, informative, and just plain fun. The hosts of these shows are talented chefs from all over the globe, trained at the Test Kitchen, and on board, to bring you an array of delicious recipes that will inform your cooking with the science of why a recipe works. There are several shows: 20 in all have the look and feel of a live America’s Test Kitchen broadcast production.
You can take a deep dive into chocolate, learn to create perfect buttermilk biscuits with pimento cheese spread, prepare perfectly poached salmon or take home a recipe for the best black bean burger you have ever tucked into a brioche bun.
The shows have been standing-room only and guests are willing to sit on the floor to just to get of whiff of this terrific program. The shows open with an intro that takes you inside the Test Kitchen and then segues into an interstitial video hosted by the talent in Boston explaining the science inside the recipes. At the close of each show, guests get a glimpse of a website created just for them which includes all the recipe for all the shows, links to cookbooks, equipment and additional recipes. Episodes of Cooks Country and America’s Test Kitchen also are available for viewing from your stateroom. But the real culinary collateral for the guests are the complimentary magazines and glossy over sized recipe cards featuring decidedly organic photos of these amazing recipes. The cards sail out of the Test Kitchen to be packed away for friends and family and the next great party at home.
A cadre of 20 chefs overseen by Fleet manager Barbara Mills-Schuchardt expertly deliver the voice of this tasty brand. Mills- Schuchardt, a classically trained chef, has been a culinary instructor for more than 25 years. She cooked up a career that included artisan bread baking at King Arthur flour, cheese making in Vermont, lead instructor for several cooking schools and owner of her cooking school, television show and cooks store. She is uniquely qualified to provide support and brand integrity to the chefs on-board.
The relationship between Holland America Line and America’s Test Kitchen is so intuitive, that three of Holland America Lines’ ships call Black Falcon terminal in Boston their home port. The ships dock in the shadow of the Test Kitchen, located at 21 Dry Dock avenue. I can only describe this relationship as a perfect culinary paring taking the science of good cooking to avid home cooks world-wide. What a well-seasoned culinary adventure.
In addition to excellent service, Holland America is known for its cruise destinations. Rotterdam Canadian Cruise destinations offer guests the opportunity to visit several ports during a seven day cruise. Beginning in Boston, and before ending in Montreal, guests get to explore five destinations. After disembarking in Montreal, guests purchasing an excursion through the Rotterdam, can enjoy touring Montreal before heading home.
You can purchase excursions, for each of the destinations, at the time you book your cruise, or on-board. The EXC Tours Desk on Deck 4 is open throughout the cruise. The EXC Tours Team can help you choose an excursion that is a match for your interests.
Rotterdam Canadian Cruise Destinations And Excursions
Bar Harbor, Maine is a quaint coastal town surrounded by the beautiful Acadia National Park. The town streets boast everything from snack stops to full service restaurants. Lobster is the fish of the day. The ice cream shops are a great place to get dessert, or just a snack. A number of clothing boutiques offer a variety of shopping options.
Boat tours explore the waters and islands that surround Bar Harbor. Guests that take these tours get to see the lighthouses, which seem to be everywhere. Additionally, each season brings the opportunity to see different wildlife, such as whales. Guests can hike, bike or take a horse-and-carriage ride to explore Acadia’s lakes and striking coastline.
If you opt to see Bar Harbor on your own, be sure to take advantage the of the free Island Explorer buses. They take guests to Acadia’s major sites and to other nearby destinations.
Note: Bar Harbor is a Tender Port. This port is not accessible to large cruise ships. Since the Rotterdam is a large ship, it drops anchor a distance from the port. Rotterdam guests board small ships, called tenders, from the cruise ship to get into the port.
Guests who have mobility issues may have problems getting on and off the ship while tendering because of the steepness of the gangways and steps. This is especially true when trying to do so during low or high tide. The Rotterdam is retrofitted with a tender lift system. It enables guests using wheelchairs to roll directly on and off the tenders while staying in their wheelchairs. However, wind and swells or extreme tide levels may prevent using the ship’s tender lift equipment.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
There is so much to see in the port of Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia! It offers history museums, along with music, excellent food and nautical experiences. The Harbor Walk is a mixture of shops and restaurants. You can catch a tour of the harbor on a tugboat, or a land and sea vehicle. You can walk to the center of Halifax or take public transportation.
Excursions arranged through the Rotterdam include guided tours of Halifax. A favorite of many is Peggy’s Cove, a fishing village a bus ride away from downtown Halifax.
Before you return to the Rotterdam, check out the local crafts on display in the terminal. The kilts, sweaters, hats and jewelry are beautiful.
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Sydney, on Cape Breton Island, is accessible by causeway to the rest of Nova Scotia. Rotterdam guests can begin exploring Sydney in the the harbor by visiting the shops where local crafts are sold. You can see the world’s largest fiddle towering beside the port’s cruise pavilion. Sydney boasts of historic homes and houses of worship dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
A favorite EXC excursion, a visit to Eskasoni, is a multicultural tour that reflects the two different and distinct cultures of Cape Breton.
Prince Edward Island
The smallest province in Canada, Prince Edward Island, is charming. It is an easy walk from the harbor to Charlottetown, the capital of Prince Edward Island. There are Victorian houses to admire and parks waiting to be explored. Be sure to visit the shop that is all about the classic children’s best seller, Anne of Green Gables. It was written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, a native of Prince Edward Island.
Rotterdam EXC Tours features a theater production, Anne & Gilbert, in Charlottetown. It is a musical based on the lead characters from the book, Anne of Green Gables.
There is more to see in this beautiful, historic city than can be seen in the several hours we were in port. I chose to spent my time in the historic district of Quebec. Here, you can walk the streets as they looked centuries ago. Boutiques and restaurants are housed in buildings that reflect the architecture of that time.
Excursions include coach tours of Quebec City and a trip to the shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre and Montmorency Falls.
When the Rotterdam docked in Montreal, guests that purchased an excursion boarded buses for a tour of the City. Since I was getting back to NYC on Amtrak, I asked my cab driver to give me a half hour tour of Montreal. I got to see quite a bit of the downtown area before heading to the train terminal. I purchased an assortment of freshly prepared french foods to have on the train. The ride home, although long, was through beautiful farmland, small towns, and villages in upstate New York.
I enjoyed the various entertainments and activities offered on the Rotterdam. I was delighted to find that America’s Test Kitchen was offering cooking demonstrations and hands-on workshops. I was able to attend 2 cooking demonstrations and participate in a pastry workshop.
On 11/14, the 3rd post of this 3 part series, will focus on America’s Test Kitchen aboard the Rotterdam.
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