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Sea Cloud Cruises launches San Juan Guest Chef Series for 2025

The culinary sailings will feature top Puerto Rican chefs Wilo Benet, Julie Carrión, Francis Guzmán and Mario Pagán.

Sea Cloud Cruises has announced the San Juan Guest Chef Series aboard Sea Cloud Spirit’s January 2025 Puerto Rico sailings. Each of the four itineraries will feature a renowned Puerto Rican chef, selected to showcase the island’s culinary culture.

The series, curated by food writer Kathleen Squires and Ronnie Rodríguez, features chefs Wilo Benet, Julie Carrión, Francis Guzmán and Mario Pagán. 

“Sea Cloud Cruises has focused efforts on growing in North America and developing regional culinary moments, in this case Puerto Rico, complementing our authentic sailing experience,” said Mirell Reyes, president, North America, for Sea Cloud Cruises. “We are honored to partner with the Chef’s Dinner Table’s Kathleen Squires and Ronnie Rodríguez, two passionate advocates of the island and its gifted chefs, creating memorable moments onboard.”

The San Juan Guest Chef Series chefs and Puerto Rico voyages on Sea Cloud Spirit in 2025 are as follows:

Chef Wilo Benet will start the San Juan Guest Chef Series with a journey from Philipsburg, St. Maarten to San Juan from Jan. 4-10. This six-night sailing includes a special Three Kings Dinner on Jan. 6 and interactive cooking demonstrations featuring local specialties like “tostones,” with caviar, and homemade “coquito.” 

The route features stops at Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands and Gustavia on St. Barthelemy, with a traditional sailing through the Sir Francis Drake Channel before arriving in San Juan. 

Benet, who is trained in the Culinary Institute of America, is known for his flagship restaurant for 28 years, Pikayo, and more recently, Wilo Eatery & Bar. His career includes appearances on “Top Chef Masters” and catering for U.S. presidents and celebrities.

Chef Julie Carrión will host the first roundtrip sailing from San Juan, Jan. 10-17, leading hands-on culinary classes on making “pasteles” and “tembleque.” The seven-night voyage includes stops at Virgin Gorda and Norman Island in the BVI, St. John’s in Antigua, and an overnight stay in Gustavia, St. Barthelemy, before returning to San Juan. 

Carrión’s culinary career began in New York and includes mentorships under such chefs as Anita Lo and positions at notable establishments like Restaurant Daniel – the year it won back its fourth star from the New York Times. After managing Yale University Catering Services for a decade, Carrión now leads Chef’s Dinner Table in New York, a private dining venue in New York specializing in high-end culinary events.

Chef Francis Guzmán will host a San Juan roundtrip sailing from Jan. 17-24, offering special culinary demonstrations such as ceviche and fritters. The seven-night trip will dock at Virgin Gorda and Norman Island, stay overnight in Gustavia, St. Barthelemy, and visit St. John’s, Antigua and St. John, USVI, concluding in San Juan. 

Guzmánwho trained at New York’s Blue Hill and The Modern, owns Vianda in Santurce, Puerto Rico. The latter focuses on farm-to-table cuisine and was recognized by The James Beard Foundation as one of the 20 Best New Restaurants in America shortly after its opening. Guzmán has been recognized by multiple publications, including Food & Wine and The New York Times, as an important figure in Puerto Rico’s culinary scene.

Chef Mario Pagán will conclude the series on a sailing from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1 that features a special menu highlight: “pegao” with tuna tartare. The eight-night journey begins in San Juan and sails to Philipsburg, St. Maarten, with stops at St. John, Norman Island and Virgin Gorda, St. John’s, Antigua; Charlestown, Nevis; and Gustavia, St. Barthelemy. 

Recognized as one of Puerto Rico’s most famous chefs, Pagán owns four local restaurants: Mario Pagan, La Central by Mario Pagan, Raya at the OLV 55 Hotel, and Melao. He has competed on The Next Iron Chef and has been featured in numerous publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He recently opened Chayote in Winter Park, Florida.

Sea Cloud Cruises is also hosting a preview dinner in New York at Chef’s Dinner Table, featuring a menu by Chef-in-Residence Julie Carrión. It will feature a menu prepared by Chef-in-Residence Julie Carrión, one of the chefs from the series. 

The event is meant to preview what guests can expect on the cruise ship, which offers luxurious amenities, including private balconies and a spa. 

The series includes an open bar, all meals with selected wines and beers, water sports, port charges, gratuities, and a welcome bottle of champagne. Fares start at $5,995 per person, based on double occupancy.

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