Wine-tasting trips are the toast of the cruise industry. But wait, why is Alaska part of that?
If your bucket list includes learning more about wine, and tasting buckets of it, you’ll get a chance on a wine-themed cruise.
The trips, increasingly popular in the cruise industry, often visit the world’s best-known wine regions, such as Bordeaux and the Loire Valley in France and Italy’s Tuscany. Participants may attend educational sessions and tastings on board, then take excursions to vineyards during port stops.
But some of the destinations may be a surprise. For instance, a wine cruise in Alaska or the Caribbean may seem counterintuitive. You may not be able to watch the process taking place on land, but there are plenty of chances on board to educate your palate and spend time with a glass of your favorite wine.
“Alaskan wine cruises are hugely popular with cruisers,” said K-K Afre of Expedia Cruise Ship Centers in North Bay, Calif.
“We can be looking at glaciers calving while sipping great wines. People love it. It gives them an additional reason to cruise.”
Afre, whose agency organizes wine appreciation cruises (www.winecruisegroup.com), said many passengers are first-time cruisers who “want more than a vacation; they’re looking for an elevated experience.”
“Often they’re foodies, in addition to being interested in wines.”
Paul Wagner, a Napa Valley College wine instructor, loves the ambience the group’s cruises offer.
“It’s a great way to meet people and learn about wine,” said Wagner, who has led several of the cruises.
Many wine cruises are on smaller ships, including river boats in Europe. AmaWaterways, for instance, is offering themed cruises in 2017 that showcase wine regions along Europe’s Danube, Douro, Mosel, Rhine, Rhone and Seine rivers.
The line’s 13-day Taste of Bordeaux cruise, for instance, is offered eight times in 2017, with prices starting at $2,149 per person, double occupancy.
Large ships also offer wine education classes and sponsor special wine-themed cruises. Holland America Line‘s fleet, for instance, has wine-tasting classes aboard all its ships.
Holland America is sponsoring a holiday cruise next month that will feature Leslie Sbrocco, a nationally known wine expert and James Beard award winner.
The seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise sets sail Dec. 2. Rates begin at $999 per person, double occupancy.
Celebrity Cruises isn’t new to wine-themed cruises, either. It has sponsored more than 100 such trips in the past five years, and it has nearly two dozen on the schedule for the next 15 months, including cruises to Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia.
The itineraries, limited to 120 participants each, include a welcome reception, two one-hour seminars and wine-pairing lunches.
Among the upcoming cruises organized by the Wine Cruise Group:
•Wine Cruise to Alaska, seven nights aboard the Regent Seven Seas Mariner with Sbragia Family Vineyards, from Seward, Alaska, to Vancouver, Canada, May 31. Rates from $5,498 a person, double occupancy. Includes free airfare from a Regent Gateway city, plus wine seminars, tastings and dinners.
•Mediterranean Wine Cruise, seven nights aboard the Oceania Riviera from Barcelona, Spain, to Lisbon, Portugal, with B.R. Cohn and Balletto Vineyards, June 28. Rates from $4,198 per person, double occupancy. Cruise includes free airfare, gratuities, three shore excursions, $300 onboard credit, plus welcome party, four wine dinners and four tastings.
•Tahiti Wine Cruise, 11 nights aboard the Paul Gauguin through the islands of French Polynesia with Beaulieu Vineyard, July 15. Rates from $5,915 per person, double occupancy. Includes free airfare, three tastings, a winemaker dinner and a welcome party.
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