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By Tela Lewis

Three special ways to try wine tasting at sea

Cruise vacations are an enjoyable and economical way to experience a new area of the world. For passengers who are interested in wine or spirits tasting, several levels of education and options for cruising are available. Each trip combines lodging, food and activities centered around developing wine or spirits tasting skills. They also offer a way for family and friends to relax and indulge in a peaceful vacation.

True value for the money spent

Where else can you pay once and receive a place to stay, all the lobster you can eat and dramatic views of ever-changing scenery? Many cruise vacations can be booked for an average of $100 per person per day. Of course, that does not include the wine or specialty drinks. Still, many cruise lines are now offering beverage packages which include alcoholic drinks. Choose an all-inclusive package, a wine package or just bring your own wine and pay reasonable corkage fees.

Location, location, location

Choosing the correct region when planning a wine-centric vacation is essential. Princess cruise lines offers a California coastal cruise several times a year. It includes port stops in the San Francisco Bay Area, just a hop away from the Napa Valley. It also stops in Santa Barbara, another well-known wine region. While on board, true oenophiles have many opportunities to taste wines and participate in activities tailored to wine enthusiasts. Passengers should plan on purchasing a few superb wines to take home, so shipping costs for a case or two need to be factored into the budget.

Surrounded by experts

Upscale options are available for those truly committed to surrounding themselves with wine experts in order to quickly enhance their wine knowledge. Once a year in the southern Mediterranean, Seabourn Cruises offers a 10-day sommelier’s odyssey wine cruise. It is a chance to learn from top sommelier Sebastian Pacheco, who has lead Seabourn’s wine team as head sommelier since 2012. It includes shore-side winery tours and tastings in some of the most iconic wine regions in the world. Once back on the ship, a host of events immerse vacationers in everything from cooking demonstrations to wine and food pairing menus. This once in a lifetime trip will leave even someone new to wine obsessed for life!

Southern spirit

The American Queen Steamboat offers seven-night vacations with stops at many of the best bourbon distilleries in the country. They offer trips which leave from Memphis or Cincinnati. The cruise is along the Ohio River and includes hosted tastings at distilleries, as well as plenty of extra samples when back on board. The menu also includes meals paired with different types of bourbon whiskey and a specific menu designed to highlight America’s favorite spirit. This low-key, slow-moving steamboat is a great family vacation for children or grandchildren as well.

Start simple

Remember, these three industry favorites are just a sampling of all the creative ways cruise vacations can be combined with a wine and spirits education. Most cruise ships have an on-board wine staff that can assist in pairing wine with your favorite dishes. These wines are hand-selected for their ability to complement the courses, so trust your wine guides as knowledgeable hosts through a culinary journey. If you enjoy learning about wine or spirits, consider incorporating these special locations or events into your next vacation.

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