With so many well-regarded wine-growing regions around the world, wine tourism seems to be gaining popularity each year. A cruise is a wonderful way to sail to some of the top wine destinations around the world, on river cruises in Germany, France and Portugal or on ocean voyages to Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Croatia, Latin America and the California coast, for examples.
A theme cruise that focuses on wine and food is a fabulous way for wine lovers (oenophiles) to savor the unique flavors of the world, while onboard and ashore. These sailings marry exceptional cuisine and the wines created in the regions to which you are sailing. The best part: The experience is fully immersive, with experts leading the way on tastings and tours.
Here are Cruise Addicts’ top theme cruises to tempt wine aficionados.
The small-ship luxury line offers a series of James Beard Foundation Culinary cruises, sailing itineraries from Rome to Barcelona and Venice to Rome in 2019.
The James Beard Foundation celebrates chefs, writers and restaurateurs who advance the culinary arts, and Windstar’s James Beard theme cruises bring onboard expert chefs and sommeliers to create a foodie’s dream, with chef demos, special beverage pairings, and market tours. You can learn new cooking techniques as you watch demos of chef-designed recipes on every sailing.
Cruisers can taste wine from a storied vineyard, then visit the same vineyard at a port stop on the itinerary. Sommeliers discuss and compare the wines to others in the region during tasting sessions.
Expedition small-ship line UnCruise Adventures features a “Rivers of Wine and Culinary” itinerary on the Columbia and Snake rivers in Washington and Oregon, two states with renowned wineries. These cruises sail round trip from Portland, Oregon, and visits Astoria and Hood River, Oregon, as well as the Willamette Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) and Washington’s Red Mountain AVA, among other destinations.
The cruise experience includes multiple winery visits, dozens of varietals to try, an onboard sommelier and farm-to-table cooking demonstrations and specially curated wine and meal pairings.
The river cruise line hits the French waterways with its “Burgundy and Provence for Wine Lovers” cruises on Avalon Poetry II on the Saone and Rhone Rivers in the heart of France’s wine country. You’ll visit Macon, Lyon, Tournon, Avignon and Arles as a certified Master of Wine helps you wine and dine in style, providing perfect pairings for every delicacy from cheese to chocolate. On shore during excursions, you can explore ancient cellars of wine masters, winemakers and merchants from these regions.
Avalon also offers “Danube Dreams for Wine Lovers” itineraries between Budapest and Deggendorf.
AmaWaterways offers an extensive series of “In Celebration of Wine” cruises with sailings on the great waterways of Europe. These voyages are hosted by wine experts who help to showcase the acclaimed wine regions along the Danube, Douro, Moselle, Rhine, Rhone and Seine rivers.
The program includes lectures and excursions to historic vineyards and wine cellars. Cruisers also will delight in tastings and fine wine pairings with gourmet cuisine, of course.
This luxury line features a series of wine-oriented sailings, including its Food and Wine Trails voyages on Oceania Sirena throughout 2019 visiting Mediterranean destinations like Italy, Portugal, Spain and Morocco.
In 2020, Oceania Riviera is home to the “Passport to the Mediterranean,” a 10-day cruise sailing June 29 to July 9. The theme cruise highlights four wineries from the Dry Creek Valley AVA in Sonoma Wine Country: Comstock Wines, Seghesio Family Vineyards, Sbragia Family Vineyards and Trattore Farms.
The varieties are paired with culinary creations from Executive Culinary Director Jacques Pepin as cruisers enjoy tastings and visit spots like Venice, Montenegro, Croatia and Greece.
The line’s “Voyage du Vin” sails September 6 to 20 on a roundtrip voyage from Southampton, England, on Queen Victoria. The cruise takes you to Vigo, Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona, Spain, Cannes, France, Gibraltar, and La Spezia, Italy, to explore some of the best Old World wine regions. The renowned Cunard Insights program offers an array of expertise on varieties of fine wine. Cruisers also get the opportunity to join the Cunard Wine Academy. Enjoy daily tastings and talks from guest wine experts.
The luxury three-ship line regularly offers cruise itineraries that focus on wine appreciation. Azamara has “Wine and Romance” sailings from Southampton to Lisbon on Azamara Journey (August 27, 2019) and from Barcelona to Southampton on Azamara Quest (May 26, 2020). You also might like the “Wine and Cuisine” itinerary from Southampton to Barcelona on Azamara Quest (September 10, 2020).
The French line offers a series of “Gastronomy at Sea” voyages that aim to help cruisers discover the cultures of the world through food and wine. You can find sailings that reach countries like Chile, Panama, Peru, Turkey, Greece, Portugal and France to enjoy tastings ashore at celebrated wine cellars and chateaus and fine French cuisine and wine pairings onboard.
Crystal Cruises features wine-themed sailings on its luxury river and ocean ships. The line’s “Danube Dreams and Discoveries” wine cruise sets sail on Crystal Ravel on October 6, 2019, with a roundtrip itinerary from Vienna. You also can choose from a series of “Wine and Food Festival” sailings on the ocean ships, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. These journeys give foodies and wine lovers the chance to sail with renowned chefs, such as Nobu, and indulge in fine food and regional varietals from around the world.
Regent Seven Seas
The all-inclusive luxury line’s “Spotlight on Wine” sailings are hosted by wine experts and sommeliers who guide cruisers on a voyage through itineraries in rich wine regions like California or Spain. The program includes hosted dinners, wine tastings, tours and meet-and-greets.
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