One size does not fit all. Today’s bevy of beverage-focused boats range from tiny, ultraluxurious yachts to supersized ships with fit-to-scale cellars. There’s a cruise for every type of traveler and wine drinker.
Tiny: (125 passengers or less)
The 62-passenger Crystal Esprit will offer its first “Wine and Food Festival” in October. The seven-day Venice to Dubrovnik, Croatia, cruise features Croatian wines with trips to local wineries, a shore-side truffle hunt and outdoor cooking demos by Chef John Pisto.
Adventures aboard the 112-passenger SeaDream I yacht include visits to wine destinations between Rome and Cannes, additionally spotlighting unique local drinks like absinthe in Antibes, France.
Small: (125–300 passengers)
Looking to learn about wine and food in exotic environs? Sail with the experts on a James Beard Foundation Culinary Collection cruise. Guests travel in luxury aboard a Windstar ship that docks at several ports in Europe and North Africa. With less than 300 passengers, expect intimate wine and culinary events with local flair hosted by Beard-approved chefs and star sommeliers.
Viking Cruises’ 190-passenger “Châteaux, Rivers & Wine” is an eight-day trip that revolves around vineyard visits in Bordeaux and Cognac. The “culture curriculum” onboard includes classes from a master sommelier, French vocabulary lessons and help pairing wine with on-ship meals.
Midsize: (300–1,000 passengers)
For luxury in the South Pacific, consider a seven-day cruise on the 332-passenger Paul Gauguin. Its food menus were created by Chef Jean-Pierre Vigato of Michelin-starred Restaurant Apicius in Paris. In January, sail with industry leaders like Robin Akhurst, head winemaker at Swanson Vineyards. Along with wine lectures and samplings, enjoy floating Polynesian cocktail bars on private beaches.
Silversea’s “Wine Series Voyages” include not only talks and tastings, but also private tours in emerging wine regions like Montevideo, Uruguay. The ship’s 500-plus passengers also enjoy fine wine pairings alongside meals at sea.
In April 2017, Oceania’s 684-passenger Sirena sails from Sydney to Auckland on a “Down Under Wine Cruise,” developed by Food & Wine Trails. The 14-day cruise includes wine education and visits from Australian and New Zealand vintners.
Large: (1,000+ passengers)
With the ability to welcome 3,560 passengers and room for 41,178 bottles of wine onboard, the Regal Princess is a grand ship with a wine collection to match—especially in Super Tuscan wines. Sailings include the Caribbean, North Baltic and Europe. Experience a “Chef’s Table” meal, with a Champagne-fueled galley tour, followed by a multicourse wine dinner and special pairing classes at the ship’s wine bar, Vines (which boasts 30 by-the-glass pours).
Experience a vineyard at sea aboard the Norwegian Escape. The cruise line’s newest ship can hold 4,248 passengers and boasts The Cellars—A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar. With more than 35 grape varieties represented, among them selections from Napa Valley and Tuscany, you’ll have plenty of wine choices.
With a capacity of 4,345 passengers, the MSC Divina inspires amateur winemakers to create their own bottlings with a “Blend Craft Wines” program. Interactive blind tastings and visiting vintners are fun perks.