0 comments on “Il Modo Italiano
A Guide to Italian Dining Courses”

Il Modo Italiano
A Guide to Italian Dining Courses

Glancing at a menu in Italy nearly always inspires visions of grand dinners with mouthwatering specialties cascading out of a rustic and homey kitchen: carpaccio di manzo, involtini di melanze alla chiotta, gnocchi al pesto, risotto all’ aragosta, insalatine di campo, osso buco alla Milanese and on it goes. When you travel in Italy, you quickly discover that there is a very specific structure to dining that has been cultivated over the centuries – it’s not simply salad, pasta and check, please. You’ll notice this same elaborate and leisurely mode of dining and savoring is encouraged in our beloved Italian restaurant, Toscana, on board our ships. And why not? The best way to further immerse yourself in Italian culture is to dine as the Italians do. Here’s our chef’s guide to the traditional Italian dining courses that you’re likely to find at ristorantes and trattorias across Italy.



The aperitivo is the sweet introduction to your dining experience. It may be a bit of bubbly like the French aperitif – perhaps prosecco or sparkling wine. This course is also a small savory dish, such as olives, nuts or cheese for diners to enjoy while they peruse the menu. At Toscana, you’ve likely become familiar with the addictive crystalline chunks of aged Parmigiano-Reggiano carved from the large wheel of cheese sitting on the display table. Another Italian touch that appears at your table in Toscana shortly after the cheese is the beloved bread basket. All of the items, from grissini (breadsticks) and crispy flatbread to the small round Parmesan rolls on a skewer and potato focaccia topped with a rosette of onion and tomato, are made from scratch and freshly baked just before service.



Translating literally as “just before the meal” in Italian, this is akin to an appetizer. Typical options often include a charcuterie plate, a cheese plate, bruschetta or crostini and small seafood dishes such as calamari and sautéed jumbo shrimp. More extensive dinner menus might have the antipasti menu items divided into two sections: antipasti freddi (cold options) and antipasti caldi (hot options).



Primi dishes are the first heavier course of a traditional Italian meal and generally do not include meat, though it depends on the restaurant – oftentimes pasta dishes can be the exception. Soup, risotto, gnocchi, tortelloni, fettuccine and lasagna are all traditional. Truffles, seafood, rich cheeses and other fine ingredients often grace these dishes.



This course often features the richer meat, poultry and seafood dishes. Depending upon the Italian region you are visiting, you may see chicken, beef, lamb, pork, fish, shrimp and lobster prepared in a variety of ways. In general, you’ll see many more seafood options in the south and more rustic meat dishes in the north.





These dishes are accompaniments, or side dishes, served alongside the secondi dishes. Typical contorni dishes include different types of vegetables prepared simply, such as sautéed asparagus, mushrooms with garlic or grilled mixed vegetables. They are purposefully served on a different plate than the meat or seafood in order to preserve the distinct flavors of each dish.




Though you can request it arrive prior to your main dish, salads in Italy typically follow the secondi course. These are usually light and fresh to cleanse the palate – for example, an insalata mista: greens with tomatoes, cucumbers and a balsamic dressing.




If you have room, it’s time for dessert. Tiramisù, panna cotta, cannoli and gelato are all classic Italian desserts, but you’ll likely see some regional specialties on the menu as well, such as seadas in Sardinia and sfogliatelle in Naples. In some cases, especially holidays and formal celebrations, there may be a formaggi e frutta course that precedes dessert. Italians also often enjoy a strong espresso following dessert. A final crowning touch is the digestivo, a digestive alcoholic beverage – usually local to the region such as limoncello, amaro or grappa, which encourages digestion.

Ready to dine the Italian way? Buon appetito!

0 comments on “The Art of Traveling Deeply
The Allure of Country – Intensive Voyages”

The Art of Traveling Deeply
The Allure of Country – Intensive Voyages

Imagine a voyage that brings you Italy the way it was meant to be experienced: savored slowly like a multi-course feast in nonna’s trattoria where time seems to stop and every morsel carries with it the sensuous beauty of the local culture, history, art – and timeless way of life. Imagine beginning with the magnificence of Venice and sailing south to explore the green emeralds of Le Marche and Umbria before reaching Puglia, the sun-drenched heel of Italy known for its crowd-free dramatic scenery, olive oil and burrata. You’d sail around to siesta-loving Calabria, soaking up the pure Italian charm and a candid look at la dolce vita, before reaching soulful Sicily, the unforgettable Amalfi Coast, and the famed Italian Riviera.


One Country, One Voyage
With our immersive country-intensive voyages in Italy and Spain, you are invited to explore the Mediterranean in an entirely new way. These carefully crafted journeys are perfect for seasoned travel connoisseurs who are seeking an in-depth, focused itinerary filled with enriching experiences. After visiting a certain region or destination on another cruise, you might be yearning for a more intensive exploration and the chance to connect with the local life more deeply. Spending more time in one country on these voyages enables you to do just that – strike off the beaten path and experience the local culture in entirely new, meaningful and memorable ways.

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In-Depth For a True Sense of Place
When you have 10 days in Italy and only Italy, you can see the best of Sicily and Venice, but you will also have time to wander among the medieval beauty of lesser-known Orvieto and perhaps strike up a conversation with some local artisans. Other boutique ports such as castle-dotted Crotone and beach-blessed Elba are also easily within reach, painting a more colorful and holistic portrait of Italy.


shutterstock_603917135During a voyage sailing along the sunny eastern coast of Spain, you’ll have time to visit the UNESCO-protected Alcázar in Seville and dine on seaside paella in Valencia, but there will be plenty of opportunities to delve more deeply into the nuances and local secrets that make the Spanish lifestyle so charming. Explore unspoiled hideaways like the whitewashed village of Ronda, Cabo de Gata-Nijar, a stunning and vast nature reserve near Almeria and the UNESCO-protected oasis of date palms in enchanting Elche.

In 2019, enjoy a different, deeper kind of travel on one of these country-intensive voyages. Whichever you choose, you’ll experience travel discoveries and genuine encounters that truly capture the spirit of the destination.

Inspiring Italy | Venice to Monte Carlo

10 days aboard Sirena | August 6, 2019 and September 2, 2019

Spanish Silhouettes | Barcelona to Barcelona

10 days aboard RivieraJune 6, 2019

Wines & Artistry | Barcelona to London

10 days aboard Nautica | June 23, 2020

Fjords of Norway | Oslo to London

12 days aboard Marina | July 16, 2020

Italy & The Ionian | Venice to Monte Carlo

10 days aboard Riviera | August 12, 2020



0 comments on “Behind The Scenes: Re-Inspiration”

Behind The Scenes: Re-Inspiration

Thierry Tholon, General Manager 


We are now twelve days into Insignia’s massive re-inspiration and have now turned the corner from demolition and re-construction to full re-inspiration work. It’s been a long twelve days thus far but we are all energized and exhilarated now that we see the “new” Insignia coming to life.

One Final Portrait on the Grand Staircase

What does it take to get this done?

  • A lot of coordination
  • Close to 2,000 contractors
  • Dozens of dumpsters
  • A 2,650 bed cruise ship from Italy
  • Tremendous patience
  • 400 of the best crew at sea

Ready to Leave Miami, Florida

IMG_4503Before the ship had even finished her “final” voyage, we embarked an advance team to start prepping the ship for the immense task ahead of us. Veranda furniture was taken off in Port Canaveral and when we arrived in Miami, there were pallets of materials, dumpsters and even a crane waiting for us. By the time the final guests had disembarked, we were already loading equipment and at 3 pm, we sailed for the Bahamas. By midnight, we had the ship out of the water – “high and dry” as they say.

High and Dry in Freeport

The first ½ of the time in Freeport has been spent demolishing 342 staterooms and suites, installing more than 1,000 new sliding glass doors and windows, all new bathrooms and stripping down the public spaces.

Work Continues 24 Hours Per Day, for 18 days



Re-Construction of the Grand Staircase


A New Penthouse is Ready to be Built

Pent House

So I know you’ve been wondering why we needed a 2,650 bed cruise ship from Italy and that’s a very good question. As the entire ship is stripped down, including much of the engineering spaces and the galleys, we need a place for all the crew and contractors to live, sleep, and be fed.

That’s Our Home-Away-From-Home Over My Shoulder.

“Now that we are so far through the race, we can start sprinting towards the finish line. I can’t wait to show off the finished ship in Miami in a little more than a week and I know she will be stunning. Now, I must get back to work!”

Thierry Tholon







0 comments on “A Distinctly Different Caribbean –
White Sand Beaches and Beyond”

A Distinctly Different Caribbean –
White Sand Beaches and Beyond

As winter chills and blizzards start to sweep across the land, thoughts naturally turn to thoughts of balmy breezes laced with bougainvillea, swaying palms and the warm caress of the tropical sun. After all, who wouldn’t want a week or two enjoying the azure blue waters and emerald green isles of the Caribbean? But what if you want a winter escape that delivers something more? Something different? We’ve got the perfect anecdote to cure both your winter blues and your beach boredom with our distinctly different Caribbean; a Caribbean full of active adventures, exploration, and tropical thrill rides. Here are just a few of our favorite tours to pique your inner adventure-seeker.

ATV Adventure in St. Barts

Allure of the Islands | Riviera | 12 Days| February 5th, 2019

Sunny Charms | Riviera | 10 Day | February 24th, 2019


St. Barts is of course, renowned for being a tony and chic hideaway for the jet-set crowd, although largely stereotyped as a genteel island. Return travelers will tell you however, that St. Barts offers a plethora of opportunities for active pursuits. One of these is our ATV Adventure which explores the hillsides and mountains of the island and even takes you to the remote, and fabled, Salines – the island’s famous salt ponds. Your off-road adventure will also take you to the quaint village of St. Jean which features breathtaking vistas of the shimmering Caribbean Sea below. This tour is a little gritty, a lot of exhilaration and as you accelerate down dirt paths and charge up hillsides, you’ll find yourself shouting “woo hoo!”

Tree Top Canopy Adventure in St. Lucia

Allure of the Islands | Riviera|12 Day Voyage | February 5th, 2019

Sunny Charms | Riviera | 10 Day Voyage | February 24th, 2019


This is yet another exhilarating tropical adventure in St. Lucia. Venturing into the verdant rainforests, you will arrive at the Errard Estate where you’ll zip and zoom among and through the tree tops. Of course, the team at Errard will first ensure that you are safely harnessed and outfitted with safety helmet and gloves. Then the real fun begins as you navigate a thrilling nine-platform zip line course. From the moment you take the proverbial leap off the first platform until you finish after the ninth, you’ll marvel at the breathtaking views and relish the rush of adrenaline, all of it creating an unforgettable day with amazing experiences.

Deep Sea Fishing in Roatan

Mayan Rythms | Riviera | 10 Day Voyage | March 6th, 2019


You don’t need to be Captain Ahab to enjoy the exhilaration of deep-sea fishing. Even if the only tuna you’ve ever “caught” is an ahi salad with wasabi vinaigrette, you’ve got to give this one a try. Your professional captain is your trusty guide and he’ll brief you on what’s been running lately, whether it be Kingfish or Blue Marlin. Blue marlins are among the world’s largest and most recognizable fish. Cobalt blue on top and silvery-white below, they grow up to 14 feet in length and weigh an average of 200 to 400 pounds. They are extremely fast swimmers and use their long, spear-like upper jaw to slash through schools of fish, wounding them so they can easily be consumed. If you catch one of these strikingly beautiful billfish, be prepared for a tremendous fight, as blue marlins are powerful and have a reputation for tenacity that borders on the legendary. If the captain opts to go after kingfish, you’ll have a fight of a different sort on your hands. Kingfish, also known as King Mackerel, are aggressive, hard-hitting and built for speed. They typically feed by sight in the daytime, attacking their prey from underneath, prodigiously leaping out of the water on the follow through, and then returning to the water headfirst like a diver. Hook one and it will be an unforgettable experience.

These are but a few of the more spirited and adventurous tours you can experience in the Caribbean and virtually every destination we visit offers something to awaken your inner thrill-seeker.

0 comments on “Thanksgiving Recipe: Tuscan-Style Turkey Porchetta”

Thanksgiving Recipe: Tuscan-Style Turkey Porchetta

By Executive Chef Kathryn Kelly

This recipe is one that was inspired from the many meals I’ve enjoyed in the heart of Tuscany. I love this recipe for Thanksgiving or a special harvest dish during autumn. When I serve this on a bed of polenta with a glass of Chianti, I transport myself back to a little farmhouse in Chiusa where I first experimented with this dish.

I prefer to leave the skin on the turkey breast, as it enhances the flavor immensely, but you can certainly prepare it without the skin if you wish. You may want to add a touch of butter or pecorino cheese to the prepared polenta for additional flavor. Originally a chicken recipe that I adapted for Thanksgiving, you can certainly choose to prepare it with chicken breasts – either way, I can promise you the evidence of your efforts won’t last very long. My guests always rave about this dish! 

 Serves 4


½ cup grated celeriac
½ cup grated parsnip
¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons dried cranberries, softened in hot water
1 tablespoon finely chopped sage
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon truffle oil

4 boneless, skinless turkey breasts
8 slices prosciutto

Sage Butter
3 tablespoons butter
8 sage leaves


Mix the Stuffing
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Prepare the Turkey
Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C. Place each turkey breast, one at a time, in a large zip-lock bag and gently pound to a thickness of ½ inch.

On a work surface lined with parchment paper, lay out the prosciutto in 4 stacks of 2 pieces each. Place a turkey breast on top of each prosciutto stack, making sure the ends of the breasts are within the ends of the prosciutto. Place one-fourth of the stuffing on each breast. Roll the turkey and prosciutto tightly around the stuffing. Place the rolled turkey, seam side down, in a baking pan. Bake until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 162°F/72°C.

Infuse the Butter
In a small sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sage and infuse the butter for about 5 minutes. Remove the sage and reserve for garnish.

To Serve
Drizzle with sage butter and garnish with sage leaves. Try pairing this turkey with creamy polenta with cranberries, and enjoy!