We heard it through the grapevine: Catering to oenophiles is the latest trend on the high seas. A trio of cruise lines are pulling out all the stops to lure wine enthusiasts on deck, with newly launched wine-themed programs that feature plenty of wine experts on tap, viticulture-minded lectures, special vintage tastings, and more. And, of course, ports of call worthy of raising a glass to, in some of the world's top wine regions.
Celebrity Offers Immersive Europe Wine Cruises
Invoke Dionysus aboard Celebrity's new "Immersive Europe Wine Cruises." Embarking from Southampton, England, the vino-focused itineraries aboard the Celebrity Constellation (fresh from a $40 million renovation) will visit classic European wine regions, with port calls (some overnight) in France, Spain, and Portugal, along with special wine-tasting, grape harvesting, and educational excursions on the roster (and even more wine-focused activities onboard). Seven wine-themed sailings are scheduled during the height of the fall harvest season, from September 7 through November 18, 2012. Rates start at $1,099 for 12-night sailings. www.celebritycruises.com
Wine Experts To Host Silversea's Wine Series Program
Upscale Silversea Cruises will welcome wine experts aboard its ships to play host to a "Wine Series" program on five of its voyages this year (a sixth already sailed on February 4). The speakers—Lyn Farmer, senior editor of The Wine News magazine, and Richard Nurick, a retired wine merchant and lecturer—will conduct wine presentations onboard, with samplings of top vintages and special lectures on winemaking traditions. Some itineraries will additionally include guided excursions to celebrated wine regions like France, Portugal, Argentina, and more. Rates on 9- to 16-night itineraries on select dates from May through December start at $6,099/person. www.silversea.com
MSC Cruises Creates Virtual Winery at Sea
MSC Cruises has teamed up with Blend Craft Wines to create an exclusive wine-themed program on select Caribbean sailings. What's being billed as a "virtual winery at sea," the itineraries are currently being featured on select MSC Poesia cruises, allowing guests to have a go at wine making by creating, bottling, and labeling their own custom wine bottles, as well as attending a series of wine-themed lectures, dinners, and special events (note that participation requires an additional fee). Though the ship has already sailed on most of these cruises, one 7-night sailing to the Eastern Caribbean remains, embarking as soon as February 18; rates start at $429/person (the jury's still out on whether or not they'll reintroduce the program for the 2012/2013 calendar year). www.msccruisesusa.com
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