You like wine – you like travel – you like the right mix of relaxation and activities = you will like a wine tasting river cruise. The number of wine river cruises mostly in Europe is expanding fast. In this blog, I will focus on European river cruises, which offer the combination of enjoying these tasty regional products with experiencing the actual environment and interacting with people living there. Other options for wine cruises are international ocean cruises with dedicated wine programs, which we will review in a subsequent blog (just an appetizer, the most exciting cruises to me are either with SilverSea or French cruise line specialist Ponant – but we will come back to this topic in a later post).
The most developed and probably best program is with AmaWaterways having a variety of cruises where you can enjoy fantastic wines from that country (or countries) during the night and then visit vineyards and other regional locations during the day. The most popular river cruises are around Bordeaux and Provence in France as well as the Rhine and Danube rivers with a focus on German and Austrian wines. As a highlight, select wine cruises are hosted by a wine expert who brings hand-selected wines on board that will be served during meals and tastings. The wine host is often associated with a specific vineyard (often from the US and usually not from the region visited). This approach is very beneficial since it offers both experiences with more US-oriented wines brought by the wine host while the regional wines are featured onboard and onshore. Because of the dedication by AmaWaterways for the wine cause, we selected them for a dedicated Taste Of Bordeaux cruise in July 2020.
Our Taste of Bordeaux wine cruise (done in collaboration with the Wycombe Vineyard in Furlong, PA) on board of the AmaDolce will start on July 9, 2020 for 7 nights from Bordeaux and will visit world known Saint-Émilion, Bourg with the option for various excursions (all included in the price) before stopping in Pauillac for a Medoc Grand Cru Classe wine tasting. We will visit Cadillac and have a Sauternes wine tasting. The return will be to Bordeaux with various excursion options. The dedicated wine host for this cruise is Frederik Frank from the Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars. Wine tastings on board and onshore are included in the price of the cruise, which also has the typical AMA Waterways amenities like complementary Wifi, fine dining elevated by Chaine des Rotisseurs chefs, and importantly small group excursions making this cruise a highlight of the year. We do have options for pre- or post-cruise extensions in Bilbao or San Sebastian (Spain) or the Loire valley and romantic Paris. Prices start at less than $4000 (all prices are based on availability), which given all the included amenities are a great deal.
But AmaWaterways is not the only wine specialist in Europe. Avalon Waterways, another well known river cruise line, also has dedicated wine appreciation cruises. A certified Master of Wine may travel with you and will hold lectures and wine tastings together with food and wine pairings. It certainly sounds delicious to me, and I would invite you to explore this option more. Avalon focusses mostly on two regions one in France visiting Burgundy & Provence – great regions for red wine and the other on the Danube with stops in Hungary, Austria, and Germany giving you more of an insight into delicious white wines. The cruise price starts at $3500 but does not include special excursions or pre-paid gratuities, which are included with AmaWaterways. Avalon does not offer dedicated Bordeaux cruises, which is why we chose to conduct our cruise with AmaWaterways. Nonetheless, if the Avalon destinations are more of interest to you – let’s speak,
Viking River Cruises is a European river cruise power house; however, while they offer a variety of cruises on relevant rivers, including around Bordeaux, they are not as dedicated to the wine tasting experience as the two other cruise lines. The Chateaux, Rivers & Wine cruise is probably better suited if your focus is more on the destination and the wine takes more of a backseat. Cruise prices are in a similar range starting at around $3000 and can go up to more than $9000 in the spacious Explorer Suite. Shore exclusions and some alcohol with meals (i.e., wine) is included in the price. A special treat with Viking is Portugal’s River of Gold cruise, a 10-day tour that starts in Lisbon and then goes via land to Porto where you will board the ship and sail up the Douro River. If you are interested in this tour, please let us know soon as it selling out quickly. While prices start just shy of $4000 for non-balcony cabins, availability for Veranda cabins is limited and starts at $5300 (July 19, 2020 cruise).
If you are interested in any river cruise / cruise line mentioned above – including our specialty wine cruise Taste Of Bordeaux with very special offers (in collaboration with Wycombe and AmaWaterways), please contact us under (215) 348-4632 or email@example.com, or visit our website at http://www.vacationcrusaders.com.