For those who love chocolate, it is more than just a nice, sweet treat. It is a passion, and with so many different varieties and flavours, it’s a world that you can easily fall into. Chocolate is made all around the world, using different practices, different cacao beans and different flavours, making it a completely unique experience wherever you travel. In this article, we explore some of the dream cruise destinations for chocoholics.
As the home of Lindt chocolate, Switzerland’s distinctive milky style is known globally. However, the chocolate here is more than just Lindt. It is a point of pride for the country, and perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth. When in Zurich, we suggest wondering the streets looking into the various cafes and chocolatiers to see the masters at work, or even taking a chocolate tour and sampling a range.
Belgium is often regarded as one of the world’s chocolate capitals. Their unique style of creating milky truffles and ornate chocolates has given them a reputation worldwide. Belgium is easy to get to and is a stop on many of our mini cruises. When there, it would be wrong to leave without trying some chocolate but be warned, once you do, you’ll want to pack your suitcase full of it to take home.
We spoke to Addie, a blogger at Addie Abroad, who took a chocolate tour of Brussels whilst holidaying there in 2017. We asked Addie about that experience: “Belgian chocolate is widely regarded as some of the best chocolate in the world, which makes Brussels, Belgium one of the dream cruise destinations for chocoholics. There are artisanal chocolate shops galore all over Brussels, which makes it very easy to spend an entire day sampling chocolate – be sure to try chocolate pralines from Neuhaus Chocolate, the inventor of the praline! Another great way to try Belgian chocolate is drizzled over a delicious Belgian waffle. And finally, to find out all about the history of chocolate in Belgium (and try copious samples), be sure to head to the Museum of Cacao and Chocolate, just off the Grand Place!”
Often regarded as some of the best in the world, Ecuador has been producing cacao for thousands of years. Thanks to its location on the equator, and diverse terrain, the growing conditions are perfect for cacao, and the country grows it in abundance.
Max Gandy, known online as Dame Cacao, is a chocolate enthusiast who has travelled the world learning about the culture of the chocolate – and sampling some along the way. She has spent time working the plantations in Ecuador, learning first-hand what chocolate means to them. We asked her about that experience: “In Ecuador, chocolate isn't just another product, it's a matter of heritage. The native varietal of cacao, called Arriba Nacional, has been an important crop in Ecuador for millennia. In fact, the first evidence of cacao consumption dates back about 7000 years to modern-day Ecuador. So, the culture of chocolate making, and chocolate consumption is now well-established there, but Ecuadorian use of the cacao fruit is certainly not limited to chocolate.”
We asked Max how she would recommend people tried cacao when in Ecuador: “In Ecuador, you can find cacao wine, fruit juice, "raw" cocoa nibs and powder, and even cosmetics and soaps. Across the country are cacao plantations which offer chocolate tours and chocolate making workshops, as well as single estate chocolate bars. Ecuador is one of just a handful of countries working to bring the consumption of their fine chocolate up to the level of fine wine.”
“When cruising into Ecuador, I highly recommend you try a few bars of chocolate made with Ecuadorian cacao from different parts of the country, as this allows you to compare how much the climate and soil affect the flavour of the final chocolate bar. Just don't forget to visit a plantation and ask about trying the baba de cacao (Spanish for "cacao juice")!”
We also spoke to Cristina from Visit Ecuador and South America, who told us why she believes Ecuador has some of the best chocolate in the world: “The country's location on the equator and the diversity in terrain are the reasons for the high quality of the chocolate in Ecuador. Some of the main chocolate brands in the country, as well as the government, participate in international fairs showcasing this unique product to the world.”
“With only 5% of the cacao beans grown worldwide being 'fine aroma' cacao or gourmet beans, it is fascinating to learn that 60% of these gourmet beans are actually grown in Ecuador. This makes Ecuador an excellent source for high-quality cacao that is not only exported worldwide but also provides quality products based on it, such as chocolate bars, cacao nibs, and chocolate liqueur.”
We then asked Cristina how she would recommend someone tried the cacao in Ecuador: “My top recommendation is to enjoy a large cup of hot chocolate while taking in the views from Café Mosaico of downtown Quito, a UNESCO world heritage site.”
“My second recommendation is to get the 72% Cacao chocolate bar with Chilli and Cinnamon from Kallari, a combination of spicy cinnamon with chilli flavour that will delight your taste buds and will have you asking for more. I love Kallari because they offer bars that combine high-quality with a smooth texture, it is certified Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and is committed to preserving the indigenous Kichwa cultural traditions and the conservation of natural resources.”
Similarly, to Ecuador, Peru’s advantageous location on the equator means that chocolate here is also grown in the perfect conditions. Although you may think that a close location and similar position on the equator means that Ecuador and Peru’s chocolate would be similar, you’d be surprised just how much the taste can change over a small space, with every aspect of the environment making a difference to the flavour.
Kristel, a blogger at The Tiny Travelogue who has travelled South America extensively from her base of Costa Rica. We asked her about the chocolate in Peru: “A bit weird, a little fiery, but o so tasty; that’s how I would describe the chocolate with the tiny blasts of chilli in! At the markets and in the many chocolate shops in Lima you can find all kinds of tastes; chocolate with flowers, salt, mint… but my favourite by far is the chocolate with chilli. What a hero who thought of this combination. Go try it out and brace yourself for a feisty treat. Don't forget about the chocolate tea either, another great invention I often spotted in Peru!”
We also spoke to Alina, a blogger at The Happy Kid. Alina travels the world with her husband, Andrei, and son, Eric. Alina and her family travelled to Lima in 2018, and we asked her about the chocolate there: "Peru is famous for its rich culture and history. But it is also well known all around the world for top class chocolate. So, if you are a chocolate lover, Lima should be on your travel list! Peruvian cocoa beans have a distinct flavour and artisanal chocolate shops use indigenous recipes to make unique premium combinations.”
“There are several world-famous chocolatiers all around Peru’s capital, out of which we highly recommend Helena or Roselen. Make sure to taste chocotejas, a delicious treat that you’ll find only in Peru!”
“In Lima, there is also a chocolate museum, where you can try various types of Peruvian chocolate or have a chocolate tea. Here you will find explanations about cocoa history and processing or attend various chocolate workshops. It is a wonderful experience for the whole family!"
Known for their passion for food, France is a country that consistently gets added to lists like this. It’s their dedication to perfection, and the care they take over every single product that makes them the best – their chocolate is no exception. Like Zurich, they tend to favour a milkier recipe but will provide you with intricate, beautiful designs, made with precision. Whilst there, we suggest sampling chocolates from a chocolatier for yourself, or to surprise a loved one with. There is no better gift than a delicious box of chocolates.
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