Dinner at Château Haut-Bailly in Bordeaux, France may be the most gourmet highlight. The fabled winery sits above a lush, expansive vineyard in the heart of the Graves and Pessac-Léognan region. Guests enjoy a tour, wine tasting and four-course gourmet dinner (paired with fine wine) served with style at this Grand Cru class winery.
Rivaling that Bordeaux highlight is the Médoc & Château Cordeillan-Bages luncheon. First, visit legendary Château Lynch-Bages to learn about winemaking techniques. After sampling two vintages, head next-door for an elegant three-course luncheon at Château Cordeillan-Bages, a boutique hotel that has earned two Michelin stars (three is the highest) for its stellar cuisine. Michelin two-star restaurants are difficult to score reservations for; this excursion is a great way in the door and to receive VIP treatment.
In Odessa, Russia, take a cooking class at Dacha restaurant, tucked inside a resplendent 19th century mansion on famed Frantsuzsky Boulevard. This illustrious home was once a summer residence for Odessa's nobility. The cooking class is hands-on, and yes, you will sit down and gobble up the sumptuous repast you prepare – with a glass (or two) of Ukranian vodka, naturally. Luckily, someone else will drive back to the ship.
I'm all for chocolate tastings – anywhere in the world – and on a Silversea visit to Dubrovnik, Croatia, you can take an Old Town walking tour just for chocolate lovers. After soaking up the scenery, the cobbled streets and medieval architecture, you visit Dubravka restaurant for a blowout chocolate tasting. Consider the walk a workout (I would), to feel free to indulge in delicious dark and white chocolate sweets, flavored with fruit, nuts and Mediterranean herbs.
In Bodrum, Turkey, sign up for the cooking class at the popular Denizce seafood restaurant. This is a hands-on class; you will learn how to prepare the chef's family recipes using his techniques and Turkish ingredients. It's a cool thing to do and gives you lots of bragging rights for the next cocktail party back home. For more information on these culinary shore excursions and more, visit silversea.com.)