Wine themed cruises have become very popular in the past few years and for good reason. If you are taking a river cruise through Europe, you are most likely cruising through the continent’s prime grape-growing regions. You don’t have to be an oenophile with a collection of expensive wines to enjoy taking a wine themed cruise, you just have to enjoy drinking wine and learning more about wine. Don't make the mistake of thinking wine cruises are filled with snobby know-it-alls. Wine cruises are fun; they typically attract younger passengers (40’s and 50’s) who share a passion for a nice glass of wine, a delicious meal and interesting conversation.
What is a wine cruise?
Typically, a cruise line will partner with a vineyard or wine expert who will deliver lectures and tastings during the cruise. You may have opportunities to visit a number of vineyards, chateaus, estates and/or wine cellars, some that have been around for hundreds of years. You will also have opportunities to taste the local wines throughout your cruise. Often, the cruise line will arrange for special shore excursions and culinary experiences that make the most of the local varietals. Most cruises will also do at least one wine paired dinner, where you enjoy a different wine with each course. Wine themed cruises are usually held during the shoulder season (spring and fall) but you can find some during the summer. Amawaterways, American Queen Steamboat Company, Avalon Waterways, Viking, Crystal, and Uniworld all offer wine themed cruises.
The Best Itinerary for Your Favorite Wines
Bordeaux: As France’s premier wine region, wine cruises in this region will focus on red wines- cabernet sauvignon and merlots – and the sauternes. River cruises generally sail an itinerary that is round trip from Bordeaux, stopping in Cadillac, Pauillac and Lisbourne.
Danube: If you love Riesling and Gruner Veltliner, this is the itinerary for you. A Danube River cruise will include (among others) stops in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
Douro: The Douro River runs through Portugal which is famous for the red grapes used to make the fortified wine, Port. Highlights of this cruise would include a day in Salamanca and other stops at wine estates.
Columbia River: If you want to sail on the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest, you can enjoy Washington Syrahs and Oregon Pinot Noirs. This cruise may include visits to historic and picturesque Astoria, Portland and the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge.
Rhine and Moselle: These rivers run through the heart of Germany’s Riesling wine region. The popular wine towns include Rudesheim, Koblenz, and Cochem.
Rhone: On this cruise, you will find varietals used for the area’s blends, such as Syrah and Grenache. Typical stops will include Arles, Avignon and Lyon.
Seine: Although this river does not flow through a wine region, there are several wine cruises offered on this itinerary. You will enjoy visiting Rouen, Giverney (Monet’s home and, yes, his famous gardens) and the Normandy D-Day beaches. Personal note: We are hosting a wine themed cruise on Amawaterways “Impressions of the Seine and Paris” from April 2-9, 2022 and we’d love to have you join us! It’s turning out to be a very fun, friendly group of wine lovers.
If you have any questions concerning wine cruises or any other travel questions or would like help booking your next great vacation, please give us a call, or text or email us today. We'd love to help. Until our next adventure...