We’ve got chocolate on the brain and it’s been that way since Holland America Line announced they are set to introduce a Chocolate Surprise parade on every cruise. The thought of waiters parading through the Promenade decks, handing out bite-size chocolatey desserts such as double chocolate cupcakes, chocolate macaroons with Grand Marnier and chocolate cones with lemon curd has got us salivating. Our fellow chocoholics will understand the struggle to satisfy a sweet tooth, so we’re playing the enabler and sharing the top destinations in the world to cure those chocolate cravings.
Belgium takes its chocolate very seriously, earning itself the title of ‘Chocolate Capital of the World’. The cobblestone streets here are lined with chocolate shops, almost 2,000 in fact, from big names like Godiva to the tiny independent producers deliciously clustered together in the sweetly-scented Katelijnestraat district. The best chocolatiers in Bruges produce their handmade chocolates on site and offer tasty free samples with wild abandon. Skip lunch and tuck into a chocolate box of pralines and truffles in every wild and wonderful flavour you can imagine. Dumon is a chocoholic’s paradise; if you’re in Bruges on a winter mini cruise, order the hot chocolate at the Simon Silveplein location. The cup of creamy hot milk is served with a huge chunk of Belgian chocolate that melts slowly into the mix. Bliss!
The French capital may be better known for its bready baked goods and cheeses but there are more than 300 chocolatiers in the city, including Angelina. Coco Chanel and countless members of French royalty have all sampled the wares of this sweet little shop, which has stood in the same spot at the heart of Paris for more than 110 years. Like Dumon, Angelina has become best known for its incredible hot chocolate ‘chaud’, which blends three kinds of African cocoa beans into a top-secret chocolate mix. The result is a thick, indulgently rich hot chocolate of the kind that needs a breather halfway through, but which is too delicious to waste a single drop of. Once you’ve enjoyed the taste sensation and waited a while for it to go down, head around the corner to the Louvre and walk off some of the many hundred calories surrounded by the world’s great artworks.
Rum might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the Caribbean but the island of St Lucia is far more famous for its chocolate. St Lucia’s first cocoa plantation, the Rabot Estate, was established in Soufriere in 1745 and since acquired by Hotel Chocolat’s Angus Thirlwell in 2003, the estate has become the hub of St Lucia’s cocoa industry. Visitors to the gorgeous green island can take part in the Rabot Estate’s ‘Tree-to-Bar Experience’, selecting cocoa pods from the cocoa groves with which to make their very own chocolate bar. The tour follows every stage in the creation of chocolate, from the harvesting of the beans and the grinding of ingredients, right through to the all-important tasting.
Make your bar of single estate chocolate – take part in the Tree to Bar Experience. Unique to the Rabot Estate, and drawing on our expertise as a chocolatier and as a grower, this is an exclusive opportunity for you to discover cocoa like never before. For more information visit www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/boucan/the-experiences.html
It may be land-locked and beyond the reach of cruise ships but we couldn’t see the chocolate capital of the world left off the list. The Swiss consume more chocolate than any other nation in the world and with chocolate producers such as Lindt and Treuscher found here, you can hardly blame them. The Lindt & Sprungli factory in Zurich is a must-see for chocoholics, famously offering more samples than you can shake a stick at. Another must-do for anyone with a sweet tooth is The Chocolate Train, which takes its passengers on a scenic rail journey through the Swedish countryside, before ending at the Cailler-Nestle factory for a tasting tour.
Have we put a chocoholic paradise on your agenda or will you be taking your sweet tooth to the seas with Holland America Line?