Back in February 2016, award-winning London-based chocolatier, Paul A Young, hosted a four-night Amsterdam and Bruges mini cruise aboard P&O Cruises' Ventura.
It's been a while but he's once again heading back out to sea, this time aboard P&O Cruises' flagship vessel, Britannia.
What makes Britannia different?
Named by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II back in 2015, Britannia has been hard at work ever since, taking many happy passengers to far flung destinations around the world. With a capacity over 3,500 passengers, this is a giant floating resort packed with everything you need to have a great time.
There's over 10 dining venues on the ship, plus eight bars, seven entertainment venues, four pools, a spa, gym, and sports facilities. And while there's always something going on, there's also always somewhere to relax and enjoy the sheer serenity of being out at sea. Nothing else compares to it.
Britannia also has a few cards up its sleeve, such as Britain's largest floating art collection of more than 8,000 pieces on display. And for us foodies, the Cookery Club is a real highlight. This state-of-the-art kitchen allows passengers to learn skills from a variety of chefs, and this is where Paul A Young will host his chocolate masterclass.
Other foodie highlights include The Market Café where you'll find treats devised by pâtissier and celebrity chef Eric Lanlard. He's also masterminded a gourmet afternoon tea experience in The Epicurean restaurant, which should not be missed (neither should dinner at the same venue, which I highly recommend from experience). Wine guru Olly Smith also has his wine bar and eatery The Glass House on the ship, while celebrity chef Atul Kochhar oversees menus in innovative Indian restaurant, Sindhu.
Make no mistake, great food and drink is placed front and centre on Britannia. It's a floating foodie's paradise.
Where does Britannia sail?
This cruise - codenamed voyage B909 - sails round-trip from Southampton, so there are no flights to worry about, and no hotel stays (unless you fancy extending your holiday with a break in Southampton before or after your cruise).
So pack your bags with whatever you need and head to the port to join the ship on Sunday 7th April 2019. You'll have a few days at sea to explore the ship and make full use of its facilities.
Then, on Thursday 11th April, you'll get to explore the beautiful island of Madeira. Known as 'Garden Island', it really is a very pretty place. Take the cable car for a great view over the port, and if you're brave, ride the toboggan back down the steep hill.
Next on the cards on Friday is a stop at La Palma, the first of the Canary Islands on this itinerary. Enjoy a meander around the pretty town or book an excursion to see the island by boat or buggy.
Tenerife is the destination on Saturday, and you'll definitely want to visit Mount Teide National Park. If you'd prefer a lazy day then there are plenty of homely cafés that fit the bill perfectly.
Gran Canaria will fill up your Sunday, and you may wish to head for Playa del Ingles, one of the liveliest and best-loved beaches in the Canaries. Alternatively, visit Palmitos Nature Park which is set in a canyon inland from Maspalomas.
Lanzarote is the final stop in the Canaries on Monday, and its volcanic red, black, and white sand beaches are a magnet for sun-worshippers and Instagrammers alike. In terms of sightseeing, head to Timanfaya National Park to witness the amazing lunar landscapes formed as a result of volcanic activity.
A day at sea follows, and you'll need it to recover from a few intensive days. Enjoy it before heading to the final port of call of Lisbon on Wednesday. Visit Belem Tower and marvel at the beautiful Monument to the Discoveries. Thanks to its dominance in the skyline, the 25 de Abril Bridge has even become an attraction in its own right.
Saturday 20th April isn't a date you'll be looking forward to as it is the inevitable return back to Southampton. Sad but true.
What will Paul A Young be doing onboard?
Paul A Young is taking part in what P&O Cruises terms their "Friends of the Cookery Club" programme. He's expected to be on board Britannia for the first part of the cruise from Southampton on 7th April through to Madeira on 11th April.
During his time aboard, he will be hosting interactive chocolate masterclasses in the Marco Pierre White Cookery Club. At this ticketed event, he will walk participants through making their very own fresh, hand-made fine chocolates. Expect a fun and informative session perfect for all chocoholics regardless of ability.
"It's not every day that you rub shoulders with one of the world's leading chocolatiers while enjoying the holiday of a lifetime and I’m sure that our guests will enjoy every moment. Holidays are made of memories such as these."
- Paul Ludlow, P&O Cruises president
If you can, secure tickets for his hosted dinners where he devises a unique three-course dinner at the Chef's Table. This intimate dinner will let you experience chocolate in a whole new way. If, like me, you missed out on Paul's bespoke tasting menu at Frog by Adam Handling exclusively for Chocolate Week, you will definitely not want to overlook this opportunity.
Besides all this, Paul will host a Q&A session (be sure to ask him what prompted him to create his Marmite Truffle) and of course he'll be on hand to sign his books. I can highly recommend his award-winning book, Adventures with Chocolate° (review to follow soon).
This cruise also happens to be a Strictly Come Dancing themed cruise, meaning you can watch the dancing action from the audience or even take part during your cruise.
At the time of writing, the 13-night cruise B909 on Britannia to the Canary Islands and Portugal sailing round-trip from Southampton on 7th April 2019 started from £949 per person, based on two sharing an inside cabin. There was also an offer to receive up to £235 per person back in onboard credit.
For more information, prices, offers, and to book your place on this trip, visit the P&O Cruises website.
How far would you go to meet or learn from your favourite chocolatier in person? Answers in the comments below.