Eleven intoxicatingly delicious food and wine theme cruises for 2013 and 2014
I know what you're thinking: "Food and wine" is always the theme of your cruise. Why bother to seek out special wine-themed sailings when on any itinerary you can enjoy a delightful bottle against the backdrop of a glorious sunset? Why book a culinary sailing when you know that you'll dine regally and have the opportunity to savor your favorite line's specialties-signatures like Holland America's luscious bread pudding, Crystal's ethereal, Asian-inspired sea bass or SeaDream's velvety pumpkin soup-on any cruise you choose?
That may be true, but why stop there? Cruising today is giving guests an opportunity to delve deeper into their enjoyment of food and wine with a fun-but-educational focus.
Aboard a Celebrity Pacific Northwest sailing, for example, I and other guests became winemakers, concocting our own personal blend from the same chardonnay fermented in five different ways, hearing about each fermentation process and tasting as we went. In the end, I created a delicious glass of chardonnay that was largely stainless steel fermented and balanced by a touch of American oak. Later that same cruise, another hands-on demonstration proved how the right wine glass-and the wrong one-can dramatically alter the taste and characteristics of wine. It was an eye-opening session that gave birth to a fascination with stemware which, I admit it, has led me to purchase crazy-expensive wine glasses that I tend to treat better than I treat my husband.
In the months ahead, cruise fans may choose from a dazzling menu of food and wine cruises that will allow them to learn cooking techniques from master chef Jacques Pépin and other celebrity chefs, visit the vineyards of their favorite vintage, guzzle some of the world's most celebrated beers, learn how to make chocolates and more.
Cheers…and bon apétit!
The Ultimate Fantasy Wine Cruise
September 11 - 26, 2013 Regent Seven Seas Voyager
Southampton, St. Malo, Bordeaux (overnight), Biarritz, Bilbao, La Coruña, Oporto, Lisbon, Seville, Palma de Mallorca, Provence, Barcelona
Baron Yves de Boisredon, an "authentic" French Baron now living in the U.S., is your host aboard a 14-night luxury sailing. Among the highlights are dinner at the castle home of the Baron's nobility cousins in Bordeaux, lunch with his aristocrat friends in St Jean de Luz, and dinner in the cellars of the renowned José Estevez Winery, complete with a flamenco show and equestrian extravaganza. Fares include a pre-cruise overnight stay at a luxury Southampton hotel, airfare from most U.S. Cities, accommodations, cocktails and more. (Baron Yves de Boisredon will also host a 16-day voyage aboard Seabourn Odyssey from Auckland to Sydney in February 2014). Visit Dancing Moon Travel or call (937) 210-WINE for additional information and fares.
Wine & America's Cup Cruise
September 13 - 23, 2013 Celebrity Solstice
Seattle, San Francisco (overnight), Monterey, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Catalina Island, San Diego, Ensenada
This gets my vote for the most innovative wine cruise out there! For the first time in 17 years, the America's Cup returns to the U.S. With races held in San Francisco Bay during Solstice's two day call there, guests will have ringside seats for this global sporting event while enjoying a cruise with a decided emphasis in superb California wines and wine regions. Fares begin at $2,699 per person, double occupancy. (Celebrity's Millennium offers a 9-day Pacific Coastal wine cruise also departing on September 13th. Millennium sails from Vancouver to Victoria, Nanaimo, Seattle, San Francisco overnight, Monterey and San Diego with fares starting at $599 per person, double occupancy.) Visit celebritycruises.com for additional information.
Jacques Pépin Cruise
September 19 - 29, 2013 Oceania Cruises Riviera
Barcelona to Lisbon
You've seen his cookbooks and his TV shows and now you can cruise with celebrity chef Jacques Pépin! Included in this very special sailing are signature menus, engaging lectures, culinary demonstrations and much more. Fares begin at $4,299 (currently, waitlist only). Visit Oceania Cruises for more information.
Gourmet Cruise with Bob Blumer Riverboat Cruise
October 22-29, 2013 AMA Waterways AmaVida
Douro River (Portugal)
Bob Blumer first came to my attention on Food Network when he cooked a salmon filet to perfection by wrapping it securely in foil and placing it in the dishwasher for one cycle. Now, this star of "The Surreal Gourmet" and "Glutton for Punishment" hosts AMA's first food-themed sailing down the Douro. On board cooking demonstrations, excursions to historic towns, private wine tastings and regionally inspired cuisine are all on the menu during this weeklong sailing. Contact Aamawaterways more information. Fares begin at $2,599. Contact www.glpworldwide.com for additional information.
Celebrity Chef Geoffrey Zakarian Cruise
November 3-10 and December 1-8, 2013 Norwegian Breakaway
Round trip New York to Port Canaveral, Grand Stirrup Cay, and Nassau
This Food Network star and Iron Chef created Norwegian Cruise Line's very first seafood restaurant aboard Norwegian Breakaway and now he headlines two voyages aboard that recently-launched vessel. Expect meet-and-greet sessions and cooking demonstrations and, at an extra charge, guests may enjoy a special tasting menu personally created and presented by the chef. Fares begin at $649 in November and $599 in December, both per person, double occupancy. Visit Norwegian Cruise Line for more information.
Wine, Food and Microbrews
November 5-19, 2014 Crystal Serenity
NY to Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, Turks & Caicos, Curacao, Aruba and Miami
It's only fitting that a cruise line with a Connoisseur Beer Menu that includes Samuel Adam's Utopia, a brew that is made with yeast found in champagne and carries a jaw-dropping $300 price tag-would announce a microbrew-themed sailing. This is the sailing that's bound to quench the thirst of any beer aficionado who'd like to sample Utopia, as well as other rarities like England's Thornbridge Bracia, Scotland's Ola Dubh 12, Samichlaus from Austria and Rochefort Trappistes 10 from Belgium, while enjoying lectures by beer experts, tastings and innovative cuisine pairing dinners. Fares begin at $4,660. Visit Crystal Cruises for more information.
Paula Deen Cruise
January 18-24, 2014 Celebrity Reflection
Round Trip Miami to Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Maarten
July 19-26 Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas
Round Trip New York to Haiti, Jamaica, Cozumel
Despite the stormy seas that surround the disgraced Food Network star, Paula Deen and family take to the sea twice next year. These are full-ship charters and both Celebrity and Royal Caribbean have stressed that no formal business partnership exists between them and Deen and, in fact, the sailing is organized by an outside organization. Fares begin at $1,748 per person, double occupancy for the January sailing and $2,214 per person, double occupancy for the July sailing. For more information, contact www.alicetravel.com or call 800-22902542.
Culinary & Wine Delights of Spain
April 19 - 27, 2014 Windstar Cruises Wind Surf
Lisbon to Barcelona
Olé! In partnership with Saveur Magazine, Windsurf celebrates the cuisine and wines of Spain with an 8-day voyage that sails the country's south coast. Included in passage are two on board Spanish-themed wine dinners; a selection of complimentary Spanish wines featured daily on the ship; cooking demonstrations of local regional cuisine with a Saveur guest chef, your choice of two complimentary local vineyard and culinary excursions and two on-board wine lectures given by renowned winemaker José Ordonez. Fares begin at $2,999 per person, double occupancy. Visit http://www.windstarcruises.com/culinary-wine-delights.aspx for more information.
Chocolate Connoisseur's Cruise
April 28 - May 5, 2014 AMA Waterways AmaCerto
Passau, Linz, Melk, Vienna (overnight), Bratislava, Budapest
A chocolate-themed "Romantic Danube" itinerary onboard the AmaCerto, featuring expert host Norman Love of Norman Love Confections, maker of artisanal, handcrafted gourmet chocolates. Scheduled highlights include special Norman Love Confections desserts, chocolate mini-buffet extravaganza, culinary delights - Bites & Sights "Sachertorte & Schlumberger Cellar Tour," educational seminars on chocolate, three private chocolate-making demonstrations and decadent chocolate tastings. Fares begin at $3,099 per person, double occupancy. For more information contact www.amawaterways.com
Beer River Cruise
October 13-21, 2014 Avalon Waterways Artistry II
From Vienna to Munich
Beer lover? Avalon Waterways may have just the thing with its Beer River Cruise, a delightful 7-day discovery of the famous beers of Austria and Germany. Expect a food and beer pairing dinner with special courses and beers chosen by an expert, fascinating onboard lectures, visits to Kuchlbauer World of Beer in Abensberg and the German Hop Museum in Wolnzach with tasting, and visits and tastings at a number of historic breweries along the way.
Fares begin at $2,739 per person, double occupancy. Visit http://www.avalonwaterways.com/
for more information.
European Waterways Wine Appreciation Cruises
Multiple dates, vessels and itineraries
If you find even small ships or traditional riverboats too overwhelming, consider a wine-themed luxury hotel barge cruise. With vessels that accommodate between 4 to 20 passengers, European Waterways' wine appreciation cruises are intimate, all-inclusive sailings that include gourmet meals with wine, all shore excursions, open bar and bicycles for the use of guest and more. Find a group of friends, charter the vessel and you may even be able to design your own schedule and sailing through regions like Burgundy. Rates vary but begin at approximately $4,500 per person. For wine cruises, an additional supplement that ranges from $3,000 - $5,000 per charter is included to cover a comprehensive and customizable wine itinerary, an upgrade of all wines served on board to include more Premier and Grand Cru varieties and the services of a professional wine guide. Contact www.gobarging.com for additional information.
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