Whether you are cruising around the world or overnighting from Melbourne to Tasmania, you will almost certainly be eating and drinking better than ever before.
Food and wine writer Winsor Dobbin tells Cruise Passenger what top drops are being served at sea.
P&O Cruises hosts regular gourmet cruises with winemakers including Bruce Tyrrell from Tyrrell’s Wines, Duane Roy from Glandore Estate and Craig Stansborough from Grant Burge Wines. And the wine focus is just as much the case on river and short cruises as it is on the ocean. Apart from champagne, P&O Cruises currently serves only Australian and New Zealand wines but is considering offering international wines from 2015 to meet increasing demand.
Scene Tours has an all-inclusive offering which includes the likes of Chateau Haut-Batailley 2006 Bordeaux and Barolo DaGromis 2007 from Angelo Gaja.
So just what can wine lovers expect when they step on board?
On round-the-world trips with Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, passengers can enjoy wine lectures from leading winemakers and tutored tastings from qualified sommeliers, as well as dinners featuring structured wine matches and dinners hosted by winemakers from around the globe (for an extra charge). Cunard offers “classic” and “premium” wine lists as packages for passengers, along with two collections for those who prefer to make their own selections. Queen Mary 2 also has a Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar for lovers of bubbles.
On all Cunard ships, guests can ring a dedicated number to ask for wine advice from the onboard sommelier. The line has collaborated with Corney & Barrow, one of England’s most reputable wine merchants, to put together its lists, which include a wide range of champagnes from Veuve Clicquot and Salon.
Cunard’s Bordeaux choices range from a 1996 Château Pétrus, Pomerol for $3,200 to a standard “claret” for $35, while Australians can choose from labels including Penfolds, d’Arenberg and Xanadu, among others.
Celebrity Cruises claims to have one of the world’s largest teams of sommeliers, and has a collection of over 500 labels, including a selection of half bottles.
Every major wine-producing region is represented on Celebrity’s ships. The line also offers wines from South America, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Portugal and South Africa to reflect a growing interest outside traditional producers.
Celebrity’s by-the-glass selection features 38 choices, many of which are available as part of the beverage package.
A new Reserve List contains wines priced from $100 to $250 and is designed for “discerning palates”.
Celebrity’s Solstice Class ships boast wine towers several storeys high created by renowned designer Adam Tihany. Each holds 1,800 bottles at the perfect serving temperature, while Celebrity Constellation and Celebrity Infinity visit France, Spain and Portugal to explore the world of wine.
Seabourn says its new wine menu features more than 200 wines from the world’s top regions, including a wide variety of classic labels and vintages as well as boutique wines of limited production. More than 50 quality wines from around the world are served at no charge to Seabourn guests with lunches and dinners on board, and are also stocked in passengers’ in-suite bars. These wines include Mumm Cuvee Napa Brut, George Duboeuf Macon Villages and Aresti Merlot from Chile, while additional payments upgrade passengers to the likes of Louis Roederer Cristal, Chateau Petrus 1997, Bonneau du Martray 1994 Corton Charlemagne and 1989 Chateau d’Yquem.
Crystal Cruises, the first line to sign up superstar chefs and restaurateurs, hosts winemakers’ dinners in the Vintage Room on Crystal Serenity featuring wines like 1959 Château Lafite-Rothschild. The line also hosts regular wine and food festival cruises. On Crystal Cruises, all beverages, including many fine wines, are included in the fare. And, while there are fewer than 200 Master Sommeliers worldwide, Seabourn has two of them on its staff.
Silversea Cruises, an all-suite line with all-inclusive fares, features elaborate six-course menus with matching wines.
MSC Cruises, being Italian based, has a strong wine and food focus. The latest addition to the fleet, MSC Preziosa, has a wine bar and pizzeria called La Locanda that hosts sommelier-led tastings. MSC also offers wine-blending classes on some sailings.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line has onboard tasting classes, wine-themed excursions and organic soave and valpolicella options by the glass and bottle. High-end wines are on offer in the upmarket Yacht Club section of MSC vessels. “Wine is an unbroken thread linking past to present in the Mediterranean, a region whose rich wine culture and history are admired the world over,” says MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato.
Royal Caribbean International has the Vintages Wine Bar tasting experience on Oasis Class, some Freedom Class and some Voyager Class ships.