And now for something completely different. This past November 8-15 2014 Master Chef had its first cruise. One of those celebrity cruises where you get to spend a week with Graham Elliot and some of the previous winners including Luca and the kid who won Master Chef. It was a cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and stopped at various ports, Puerto Rico, Grand Turk, St. Thomas, etc.
And TamaraTattles.com had a spy on the boat! Our very on XanaDude was on board and has provided us a full report. As it turns out, the pricey cruise was not nearly as much fun as one might think. Read on for his report.
When we booked our cruise, we didn’t know it was also part of the Master Chef Cruise. It actually didn’t affect us at all. The people who signed up for the MC part through their website supposedly had access to more events listed on the website. Looks fun, right? In addition to all the normal stuff we got to do, supposedly the MC cruisers would get to do in-depth cooking demos, food cooking challenges, one on ones, etc.
I’m one of those fairly social creatures – drop me somewhere and I’ll be able to hold conversation well and meet new people. I had no stake in the game at all, and, frankly, wouldn’t have known there was a private group (MC) on board at all except that there were areas of the ship marked off at times for MC events and filming AND the first day on the cruise several people came up and asked for my autograph – I was totally perplexed and had to explain that just because I am an overweight white guy with a beard does not mean I am a celebrity chef.
To put it mildly, EVERYONE that I talked to who was part of the MC cruise wanted a refund.
Events ran late And not just a few minutes, like HOURS late. Which threw everything else off.
To those of us who were at non MC events (wine tasting, art auctions, etc), after the first day we learned that large groups of people would just get up and leave in the middle of them to go to MC events. It became a joke – the wine steward paused at the 45 minute mark and said “Before we pour the next selections, all MC people who wish to go to their scheduled event had best leave now because we are not stopping for you.” Big cheers from crowd 🙂
After the second day, the MC people realized that none of their events were starting on time, so that stopped. Also, since rooms and ship shows are regulated pretty tightly, even if the MC event started late, they still had to END at the prescribed time so the venue area could be used for the next event. Since all the MC events started late, they also only got truncated versions since they had to stop on time. If they had started on time, it wouldn’t have been an issue.
Cooking demos: You’d have thought the MC producers would have realized that cooking demos and hands-on cooking classes would be limited because you can’t have open flame for cooking in most areas of the ship. Nope. What ended up happening was the demos would start and then the teacher would pull out a completed dish – just like on TV. No actually cooking could be done. Just some prep work and then skip to the completed dish.
To placate people, on the second day they started passing out VIP passes to anyone who complained, that allowed people to jump ahead in lines at MC events. By the end of the day, I’d say a good 85% of the MC passengers were now VIPs, which, again, did nothing to solve the problem, as the events still started late and now you had people who were promised VIP treatment but, if everyone is now a VIP, it does nothing to ameliorate the issue.
Graham Elliot was consistently late to every event, even off-shore ones. One group said that at one shore excursion event (which, again, they paid extra for and had limited time), he showed up one hour and 45 minutes late, and, possibly drunk. Since the event was not on board, the people had taken a bus (one hour) to the event site, and were not allowed to eat until he showed up. By the time he arrived, they had ten minutes before they had to get back in the bus and get back to the ship. No apologies from anyone.
The MC Jr. contestant that was aboard seemed like a pretty pleasant kid. His mother, however…oof. Partner and I were in the formal dining room for “An Evening at Le Cirque” She made the kid table hop and introduce himself – he was thoroughly embarrassed. As I saw it happening, I asked our waiter to make sure that we were not interrupted. When the maitre d saw what she was doing, he went over and stopped it. They left after this, with the kid thoroughly embarrassed and his mother muttering.
By the third day, most of the MC people just stopped going to the MC events,which, again, they paid thousands of dollars to be part of.
Everyone I talked to LOVED the Holland America part of the cruise – without fail all said they would love to cruise with HA again (this is our third with them) but would NEVER do anything connected to MC or the company that arranged/oversaw it. HA did a great job. MC did not.
Those of us not connected to MC (I’d say the split was about 70% non MC, 30% MC), had a great time. Every MC person I talked to, and without prodding, were expecting a refund from Life Journeys, the business that organized the MC part.
P.S. There were people who partook who were casual watchers of the show, and then there were hardcore fans. Apparently the hosts and celebrities were playing to the hardcore and alienating the others by throwing in things like “if you had seen episode three of the second season, you’ll know why this is funny” type of bits throughout the cruise. Kind of like if you make a reference to something like “her wig was the shade of Lisa Wu’s first dress in the second season breast cancer awareness party before she changed it for the after party”
One bit of Master Chef tea from me. Joe Bastianich has quit Master Chef to focus on his businesses. That’s a pity. I really like him.
A million thanks to Xanadude for this terrific report! Tamara Tattles really does have spies everywhere!