Bravo Partners With Celebrity Cruises for 'Top Chef' Branded Vacations (Exclusive)

8:00 AM PST 02/04/2014 by Michael O'Connell
The 2013 "Top Chef" cruise

The new licensing deal for "Top Chef at Sea," on the heels of an inaugural charter cruise in 2013, launches 10 ships with experiences and menus inspired by the show.

Top Chef is already having quite a year. The Bravo series, which airs its 11th-season finale Wednesday, has earned a renewal, nabbed a fourth spinoff order and now inked another big licensing deal all within the span of a month. The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Bravo is partnering with Celebrity Cruises to offer fans of the show custom Top Chef-branded vacations.

Dubbed "Top Chef at Sea," the new initiative comes on the heels of last year's "Top Chef: The Cruise" -- a charter trip put on by producers Magical Elves and Bravo. Like the maiden voyage, the Celebrity package aims to put fans on luxury liners with former contestants. The new cruises mark Bravo's first licensing partnership with the cruise industry.

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In addition to 10 Celebrity ships offering Top Chef-themed food and events, four ships, departing July 27, Aug. 15, Sept. 19 and Nov. 15 of this year, will include competing chefs from the 8-year-old franchise. Destinations include Bermuda, Alaska, Europe and the Caribbean. All 10 participating ships will feature Quickfire Challenges done in the style of the show and Top Chef-inspired menus.

"Top Chef viewers are constantly asking for their chance to get a taste of the show first-hand," said Jamie Cutburth, senior vp partnerships, Bravo & Oxygen Media. "With their commitment to and excellence in providing top-tier gastronomic experiences, the partnership with Celebrity Cruises is a delicious way for us to satisfy this request for Bravo's loyal and passionate fan base."

Bravo and Oxygen Media president Frances Berwick spoke with THR about the first cruise, and the series' many marketing tie-ins, in October. "We always hesitate because we get a lot of interest in using Top Chef, and our only anxiety is around quality control," said Berwick, who has also put the Top Chef name on a line of Healthy Choice frozen meals. "We're not necessarily experts, but we know what tastes good and what fits with the brand."

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This is not the first experiential endeavor for Bravo and Top Chef. The show has also been parlayed into a tour and a pop-up restaurant in New York City.

"Embodying passion for creativity and culinary excellence, Top Chef perfectly complements our already exceptional culinary lineup and innovative dining that guests enjoy while vacationing with us," added Celebrity vp marketing Lisa Kauffman. "We are thrilled to offer new, diverse experiences in the coming year that invite vacationers to engage in their favorite entertainment and culinary options exclusively on board Celebrity."

Top Chef returns to Bravo for a 12th season in the fall, with spinoff Top Chef Extreme (working title) on deck for the summer.
 

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