Seatrade Cruise News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Sea Cloud spices up Puerto Rico cruises with noted guest chefs

Acclaimed Puerto Rican chefs will sail aboard Sea Cloud Spirit during its early 2025 cruises featuring San Juan.

Regional dishes, chef-led cooking demonstrations, rum tastings and culinary discussions are in store.

Announced at Seatrade Cruise Global

'Sea Cloud Cruises has focused efforts on growing in North America and developing regional culinary moments, in this case Puerto Rico, complementing our authentic sailing experience,' said Mirell Reyes, president North America, Sea Cloud Cruises. She and Kevin Smith, VP sales North America, announced the series at Seatrade Cruise Global. (Reyes also spoke at the 'Secrets to Attracting Today's Traveler,' moderated by Travel+Leisure's Paul Brady.)

The line's San Juan Guest Chef Series is curated by award-winning food writer Kathleen Squires and husband Ronnie Rodriguez, proprietors of Chef’s Dinner Table in New York.

Cultural immersion

'The partnership between Sea Cloud Cruises and Chef’s Dinner Table enables more people to experience Puerto Rico’s rich culture in an immersive way,' said Leah Chandler, chief marketing officer of Discover Puerto Rico. 'The culinary expertise and creative expressions of Chefs Wilo Benet, Julie Carrión, Francis Guzmán and Mario Pagán will give people a taste of the Live Boricua experience through the flavors of the Island.'


Puerto Rican chefs hosting the Sea Cloud Spirit cruises include, from top left clockwise, Wilo Benet, Julie Carrión, Mario Pagán and Francis Guzmán

The Jan. 4 cruise, from St. Maarten to San Juan, is hosted by Chef Wilo Benet. Subsequent January sailings, all docking at San Juan Cruise Port, will feature Chef Julie Carrión Jan. 10-17, Chef Francis Guzmán, Jan. 17-24 and Chef Mario Pagán. Jan. 24-Feb.1.

Wilo Benet

Benet’s more than 40-year career ibegan as a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. After cooking at the governor’s mansion in San Juan, he opened Pikayo, his flagship restaurant for 28 years, earning recognition and numerous awards worldwide. In 2019, he launched Wilo Eatery & Bar. In addition to several appearances on 'Top Chef Masters', he has served US presidents, Hollywood A-listers and professional athletes.

Benet's cruise will include a special Three Kings Dinner on Jan. 6 and cooking demonstrations of tostones with caviar and coquito from scratch.

Julie Carrión

This San Juan native spent the early years of her culinary career in New York training under 'Top Chef Master' Anita Lo, then worked under Montréal-based Chef Normand Laprisse of Toque, before joining Restaurant Daniel, the year Daniel Boulud won back his fourth star from The New York Times. From there, Carrión managed Yale University Catering Services while serving as executive chef to the university’s president and elite guests, before taking the helm at Chef’s Dinner Table in New York City.

Carrión's cruise will feature an interactive pasteles-making class and a tembleque dessert demo.

Francis Guzmán 

Guzmán embarked on his culinary journey at New York stalwarts Blue Hill and The Modern before opening Vianda, his dream restaurant in Santurce, Puerto Rico, serving constantly-evolving farm-to-table ingredients. Vianda was selected as one of the 20 Best New Restaurants in America by The James Beard Foundation, and Guzmán has been recognized by Food & Wine and The New York Times as one of the chefs leading Puerto Rico’s culinary renaissance.

Guzmán's cruise will feature culinary experiences including ceviche and fritter demonstrations.

Mario Pagán 

Hailed as one of Puerto Rico’s most recognizable and prolific chefs, Pagán is the owner of four restaurants there (Mario Pagán, La Central by Mario Pagán, Raya at the OLV 55 Hotel and Melao). A contestant on 'The Next Iron Chef,' Pagán has been lauded in an array of publications including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Most recently, he opened Chayote in Winter Park, Florida.

Among the treats on Pagán's cruise will be his preparation of a signature dish, pegao with tuna tartare.

New York preview

Sea Cloud Cruises will be hosting a preview of the San Juan Guest Chef Series with a private dinner at Chef’s Dinner Table May 22 in New York. The menu will be designed and prepared by Chef-in-Residence Julie Carrión. The menu and tickets. limited to just 24 diners, can be found here.

FBSea Trend Report assets for social-19
Download today

The 2024 F&B Trends Report

We surveyed cruise lines, manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers of food/beverage to find out where the sector is headed. Report Includes: Market predications for 2024/2025, food and drink trends, technology, training and more!

FBSea Trend Report assets for social-19