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Paella, sherry and tapas - best food and drink both on and off-board with Fred. Olsen

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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Cruise holidays are often associated with feasting on delicious food onboard - and with good reason - but with the right shore excursion you can continue this gourmet exploration off the ship, too.

Cruise shore excursions take travellers to some incredible hotspots during ports of call and can be a unique chance to enjoy, quite literally, a taste of local life.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines offers a range of hand-crafted itineraries and tours centred around local delicacies which are perfect for foodies.

Their dedicated journey planners carefully design special trips, sometimes planned around culinary highlights so guests can discover - and eat! - the speciality dishes and local delicacies of a given region.

The 'Experience the traditions of Spain and Portugal' itinerary aboard Balmoral is an excellent example of this and hits multiple cities in Spain famous for their culinary offerings.

In Valencia, you can find out all about the history of paella. The region has been Spain's most important rice-producing area for over a millennium.

On your Valencia History of Paella excursion, explore the rice fields of the Albufera National Park and enjoy a demonstration by a local chef using the traditional methods and recipes. Perfect for picking up tips to impress guests at your next dinner party! Flamenco dresses optional.

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The region is also famous for oranges. The citrus-growing plains around Valencia stretch to the aptly named Costa de Azahar (orange blossom coast) and produce many tons of fruit every year, especially oranges. Your five a day have never tasted so zesty and fresh.

Next up is a stop in Cartagena, famous for Licor 43, said to be the world's number one Spanish liqueur. It's a bright yellow, vanilla-flavoured drink invented in 1946 by the Zamora family, with a secret recipe passed down through the generations.

- READ MORE: Discover Spain, Northern Lights & Canaries with Fred. Olsen -

The name derives from the 43 ingredients used in its creation, including citrus fruit juices, spices and herbs.

On the excursion History of Licor 43, you can learn about, wait for it, the history of this unique liqueur and how it's made. It's distilled in Cartagena and produced at a rate of up to 5,000 bottles per hour!

Treat yourself to a sip of Licor 43 in Cartagena with Fred. Olsen. Credit: Shutterstock

You won't be short of delicious food onboard your Fred. Olsen cruise ship, either. Balmoral features the Spey Restaurant which boasts fabulous rear view views and serves up a five-course a la carte menu in the evening, as well as breakfast and lunch.

- READ MORE: Check out Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ record-breaking cruise -

Local ingredients are purchased for these meals at each port and guests can attend daily cooking demonstrations to learn how to make the dishes at home. Those dinner guests will be clamouring to be invited back!

Jerez is Andalusia’s fifth-largest city and is most famous for sherry. Credit: Shutterstock

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Sticking with the Spanish theme, Fred. Olsen cruises to the Canary Islands have some very tasty local dishes available onboard.

In Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, expect Ropa Vieja (shredded beef and vegetables) and Crema Catalana which is very similar to crème brûlée.

When cruising to the Tenerife city of Santa Cruz you can enjoy Churros, Patatas Bravas, Paella de Marisco and San Sebastian Champinones rellenos (stuffed garlic mushrooms).

There's also empanada atun (a traditional pie filled with tinned tuna, onions, peppers, olives and hard-boiled eggs in a tomato sauce) and puchero canario (a traditional Canarian stew made from pumpkin, cabbage, sweet potatoes, pork and beef).

- READ MORE: Spain, France, Norway and Canada cruises with Fred. Olsen -

When sailing to Portugal's capital Lisbon, cruisers can tuck into pasteis de nata (a Portuguese egg custard tart) and chicken piri piri - which Nando's fans will know well - think grilled and charred whole chicken pieces covered in a chilli-based paste or sauce.

Then, while cruising the Portuguese island of Madeira, in Funchal, Fred. Olsen serves up bolinos de presunto y queso (ham and cheese fritters), bunelos de bacalao (codfish fritters) and bolos de coco (coconut cakes).

It's not just Mediterranean cruises with Fred. Olsen that come with local dishes, though. Anyone sailing to Amsterdam can have bitterbollen (Dutch meatballs) and smoked herring cakes, while in Rotterdam, there's boerenkoolatmppot (mashed potato with spinach and sausage) pannenkoeken (pancakes) and boterkoek (Dutch butter cake). Yum.

Colours & Tastes is a speciality dining restaurant aboard new ships Bolette and Borealis. Credit: Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Nevertheless, Fred. Olsen is big on cuisine no matter where you are in the world. Expect freshly made rolls, sourdough, focaccia, muffins, croutons and seasonal breads such as hot cross buns, Christmas breads and more.

At the patisserie, savour handmade brioche, croissants, cakes for afternoon tea and doughnuts.

- READ MORE: Inside Fred Olsen cruise ship Bolette, from cabins to dining -

Fred. Olsen guests can also make the most of the fantastic speciality restaurant offering- whichever ship you are on.

Vasco and Colours & Tastes are the speciality dining restaurants aboard new ships Bolette and Borealis.

Goan eatery Vasco serves up delicious seafood, curry and grilled meat dishes with a modern twist. Plus, all are cooked fresh to authentic recipes crafted by Goan chefs.

Meanwhile, Colours & Tastes offers Modern Asian Fusion dining; enjoy grilled meats, dim sum and sushi, as well as classic Chinese and Thai favourites.

Over on cruise ships Braemar and Balmoral, there's The Grill where guests can feast on the finest cooked-to-order steaks and more while admiring gorgeous ocean views.

- READ MORE: Guide to Fred. Olsen's smaller ships and hand-crafted itineraries -

And the proof is in the pudding, almost 90 percent of guests rate the food onboard as “good” or “excellent.”

So yes, don't worry, there's no going hungry on a Fred. Olsen cruise. Maybe pack some clothing with elasticated waistbands just in case...

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