What do you get if you cross a cruise ship with a celebrity chef? A sophisticated, fine dining experience on board one of the most popular and luxurious superliners in Britain.

The Oriana Rhodes is the latest in a string of successful restaurants for gastronomic genius Gary Rhodes. With London, Dublin and Grenada already under his belt, the new 96-seater 'at-sea' eating establishment is a collaboration between the multi-Michelin star award winner and P&O Cruises.

One of the main features of their multi-million pound re-fit of Southampton based ocean liner Oriana, the new Oriana Rhodes restaurant brings something exclusive and a little extra special to Oriana's onboard mealtimes.

As the world's fastest growing leisure industry, with expansion averaging about 10 per cent per annum and some 11 million people boarding vessels each year, it's hardly surprising the cruise industry are continually trying to refine and reinvent the customer experience - with cruise cuisine high on their agenda. A first class restaurant and an association with an award winning chef, author and television personality oozes culinary chic. But what persuaded Gary to take his brand of gastronomic delights from dry land to the captains table? Georgina Crawshaw accepted an invite to dine with Gary in the Oriana Rhodes restaurant when the superliner recently docked in Southampton.

Cruising at an average speed of 27.5 knots (just under 32 miles per hour), Gary Rhodes has brought a whole new meaning to the term fast food.

Located in the Curzon Room, Oriana, Rhodes' décor is elegant and sophisticated and the menus replicate those of highly successful Arcadian Rhodes - Gary's first restaurant at sea on board P&O Cruises' newest superliner, Arcadia.

Tucking in to a delicious lobster and mango Caesar salad starter, followed by pan-fried seabass with blackberry shallots, I polished off a warm chocolate fondant with white chocolate mousse and quizzed Gary about his off shore exploits.

What inspired you to collaborate with P&O Cruises? "To be honest I'd never been on a cruise ship except the QE2 to do demonstrations. But from the very first talks I had with P&O I was asked if I wanted to go over to Venice and have a look at Arcadia being built. So I went over there and there was just this huge shell of metal and it was so exciting, I'd never seen anything like it; it was amazing. It was then I thought - I want to be a part of this - and seeing the ship in its rawness really sold it to me in a big way."

What are you trying to achieve with the Oriana Rhodes experience? "It's all about the occasion. When you come on to a cruise ship you're not just staying in a hotel - there's so much more to it than that. This is a luxury, a new experience and I want to follow that feeling through to the food. There's a variety of restaurants on board this ship but I wanted to give our customers something special - the richness of the food, the pre-starter, the pre-dessert - it's all the little extras this restaurant can offer. And not only that but nowhere else on board will you find these plates, this cutlery, this glassware. Absolutely everything has been specifically chosen for here and only here - even the napkins have been specially made with the Oriana Rhodes logo."

Is cooking on board different to working in a restaurant? "Not at all. Whether I'm in the galley, or a kitchen in London, there's a stove, there's fridges, there's food - you could be anywhere. Although I must admit on my first trip on Arcadia, as soon as the ship wobbled, I was staggering about everywhere! But that wasn't my most embarrassing experience on board. I was about to do a cooking demonstration on Arcadia. It was a full house, about 500-600 people, and I realised I needed to see the doctor. They quickly rushed me downstairs and a lovely lady gave me a nausea injection. She told me to get myself ready so I dropped my trousers and I was just starting to pull my boxers down and she said Gary - I'm putting it in your arm!' - it was so embarrassing!"

How does it feel sitting down to eat with us today? "Obviously it's a little uncomfortable because you're more concerned about what's happening in the kitchen than what's happening out here - but then as the plates are emptied I think, phew! It's very rare that I'll ever eat in one of my own restaurants - it's just not the done thing really. But I do enjoy going out to eat. We are very much a foody family and my wife, my two sons and I book into a restaurant as a rule every Saturday night. I really do believe the greatest social point in the world is the table."

So what's next for the chef, restaurateur, celebrity and author? "I don't know. I've been cooking for over 30 years now and I hope I'm cooking for the next 30 years. If I still love cooking then as much as I do now then I'll have had a very happy life."