"Food and Wine Cruises" are themed cruise deals well appreciated and looked for mainly in Europe (including on riverboats and hotel barges) and Australia. This is not because of the general "eat and drink" vacation experience. "Food and Wine" themed voyages provide enhanced "gourmet dining" experience for connoisseurs and lovers of expensively special (limited edition) premium wines and exquisite cuisine prepared to perfection by celebrity chefs.
If you are inspired by culinary stars, there are big chances to find a hobbyist voyage just for you. Due to the increasing number of top-luxury cruise ships (many newbuilds), there is also a rise in food-themed cruises. Before you book, research the type of theme that would suit you- cruise ship operators have options for everyone.
"Food and Wine" Cruise
Food and wine cruise deals are aimed at the diversity and variety of signature dishes and deluxe wines. They enable travelers to discover a different cultural and social aspects of ports of call. Everything that includes local food traditions, wine appreciation, and dining etiquette is included in the gastronomic adventure.
The experience features local dining etiquette, wine appreciation and food traditions on gastronomic adventures. Cookery courses, tasting sessions, tips and recipes for creating authentic flavors allow travelers to experience different cultures. Le Cordon Bleu Chefs are always on hand on food-themed cruises to offer instructions and help uncover inner cooks.
Wine is the ideal accompaniment to any cuisine. Wine pairings became a culture of their own. Sommelier recommendations provide passengers with the needed knowledge to pair the perfect meal with the perfect wine. Wine is always an excellent topic, whether discussing a particular variety's notes or identifying the wine which is ideal to pair a specific dish. Expert tasters are also on board to guide "gourmet travelers" through grape varieties, discuss and teach the wine tasting art. Fine dining or feasts, these types of cruises will reawaken your exquisite tastes.
Drinking age limits on cruise ships
All major companies define whether you are allowed to drink on ship cruises, or not allowed to have alcohol due to your age. Each of them sets own drinking limits.
- Drinking alcohol on board is permitted if you are 18 years or older on Carnival, Holland America, Oceania, P&O, Fred Olsen, Regent Seven Seas, Star Clippers, Uniworld, Viking, GAP Adventures.
- Minimum age 21 years is required for onboard alcohol consumption on Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Crystal, Disney, Holland America, Azamara, Hurtigruten, MSC, NCL-Norwegian, Princess, Seabourn, SeaDream, Silversea, Star Clippers, Uniworld, Viking, Windstar.
- On "Food and Wine Cruises" departing from South American and European ports, parents traveling with children between 18-20 years old must sign a waiver which allows them to consume alcohol. The drinking rule is implemented in the areas where the legal drinking age is under 21 years.
The following table shows wine-themed cruises in the regions of Alaska, Australia, Europe (Mediterranean and river cruise deals), Caribbean. The list of most popular wine-themed activities includes pairings with dinners on the ship, as well as land tour based tastings. Traditionally, all themed voyages are hosted by special guests from this business, like winery owners, premium winemakers, wine judges, etc.
Note: In the following table, all links are CruiseMapper (internal). They lead to the ship's cruise itinerary schedule where you can compare all dates and prices per person).
|Cruise Companies / Ships / Themes||Departures Dates||Itineraries|
American Cruise Lines (paddle riverboats and small ships in the USA)
American Queen Steamboat Company (paddle riverboats in the USA)
Mississippi River / 8-day Memphis to Louisville / 8-day Cincinnati to Memphis
Aqua Expeditions (riverboats in Asia and South America)
theme "Premium Chocolate Experience"
|various departures 2021||various itineraries|
various departures 2021
theme "Meet The Winemaker"
various departures 2021
various itineraries (Mediterranean / Europe)
The company hired the following celebrity chefs:
Each chef will develop one 3- or 4-course menu during a themed eveningr. During the exclusive meals, these chefs will greet and interact with passengers.
Tauck River Cruises
theme "Tauck: A Taste of France"
various departures 2021
various itineraries on Rhone River (France)
Paul Gauguin Cruises
Paul Gauguin - theme "Salvestrin Winery and Whitehall Lane"
|-||10-day Tahiti and the Society Islands|
Star Clippers Cruises
Royal Clipper - theme "Neapolitan chef Armando Bisceglia"
|-||roundtrip voyage from Rome, visiting Ponza, Palmarola, along Amalfi Coast, Sicily, the volcanic island of Lipari, Stromboli Island.|
AmaWaterways (riverboats in Europe)
|AmaDante (2021, Seine River, between Paris and Le Havre) - July 8, August 5, August 12, November 4, November 11|
TUI River Cruises
TUI Maya - theme 'Beer and Wine" (4- and 7-day itineraries on the Rhine River)
ship to be announced - theme "Rolling on the Rhine" in collaboration with food influencer Salvatore DiBenedetto ("The GrubFather")
|itinerary to be announced|
In 2021, AmaWaterways hired popular wine hosts (wine experts, certified sommeliers, vineyard owners) for 60+ "Celebration of Wine River Cruises" (food and wine-themed voyages) in Europe. The shipboard program included daily scheduled lectures and tasting events complementing the company's included in the fares tours and excursions ashore. With the program were introduced two new itineraries in France's Normandy and Burgundy regions.
Each "Celebration of Wine River Cruise" is hosted by a qualified wine expert bringing on the riverboat hand-selected wines for tastings, seminars and special meals. The two new cruisetour itineraries were "The Essence of Burgundy and Provence" (Chalon-sur-Saone via Tournus to Lyon) and "Impressions of the Seine and Paris" (from Le Havre to Paris or reverse). The Seine cruisetour offered an optional 4-night fully-escorted land package in Brittany for visiting Saint-Malo and Mont Saint Michel.
Best cruise lines for "Food and Wine" themed voyages
In 2017, there were 100+ different wine-themed voyages with planned activities on 20+ ships. The best among the "wine cruise lines" are Oceania, Cunard, Silversea, SeaDream and the river cruise companies Uniworld, AMA, Avalon, and Viking.
NCL Norwegian Cruise Line
Introduced in 2017, "Meet The Winemaker Cruises" are a new selection of wine-themed NCL cruises on the ships Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Escape.
- Passengers can wine and dine with top experts of winemaking. The Winemaker Dinner series is hosted at "The Cellars" - onboard Wine Bar via a partnership with Michael Mondavi Family and other beverage partners (including Moet Hennessy).
- In 2015, Michael Mondavi Family partnered with NCL to introduce the company's first at-sea branded wine bar on Norwegian Escape. The serves feature curated wine list and service by certified sommeliers. The wine bar allows passengers to participate in various interactive and educational wine-themed activities, such as seminars, wine and food pairings, workshops, wine tastings.
- The partnership was expanded in 2016 when "The Cellars" opened on Norwegian Dawn.
Norwegian Cruise Line's Meet The Winemaker cruises feature opportunities to interact with popular names in vino business. Special events take place throughout the trips. Not only guests have the chance to meet the wine experts through Q&A sessions and seminars, but they can take the experience to the next level in a number of ways, including wine-paired dinners and guided wine-tastings by the special guest winemakers. The wine tastings run US$19.95 per person (plus gratuity and tax), while the dinners are US$60 per person (plus gratuity and tax). Both are to be held in the NCL wine bar The Cellars.
Line-up of NCL wine cruises 2019-2020 included:
- 2019 June 8 (NCL Joy) host Bob Bertheau (Chateau Ste Michelle)
- 2019 August 17 (NCL Joy) host Rob Mondavi Jr (4th-generation winemaker at Napa Valley Winery)
- 2019 October 6 (NCL Bliss) host Rob Mondavi Jr
- 2019 October 20 (NCL Escape) host Salvatore Ferragamo (owner of Il Borro Winery, Tuscany)
- 2019 November 3 (NCL Bliss) host Aaron Sanchez (owner of Johnny Sanchez restaurant, New Orleans)
- 2019 November 24 (NCL Joy) host Juan Munoz Oca (Columbia Crest)
- 2019 December 1 (NCL Encore) host Rob Mondavi Jr
- 2020 January 4 (NCL Escape) host Andrea Robinson (Master Sommelier)
- 2020 January 26 (NCL Encore) host Jacques Lardiere (Louis Jadot Winery)
- 2020 February 2 (NCL Dawn) host Andrea Robinson
- 2020 February 16 (NCL Encore) host Gerard Bertrand (Languedoc-Roussillon)
Holland America Line
In September 2018, Holland America Line (HAL) added 20 new culinary-themed tours (to a total of 43) as excursion options on itineraries in Asia, Australia New Zealand, Canada New England. HAL's food cruise program is via a partnership with "FOOD and WINE Magazine", and also includes select voyages in Europe (Mediterranean and Baltic).
On these food-themed land tours, cruise passengers participate in cooking classes (led by top chefs), culinary-themed walking city tours, authentic street food sampling, visit wineries for wine tasting, explore local restaurants.
- On Asian-Australian cruises are offered 14 food-themed tours in Bangkok, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Yokohama, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Napier, Dunedin.
- Canada New England tour experiences include gourmet dishes like poutine, clam chowder, lobster, maple-infused treats. These are offered in ports Bar Harbor, Portland, Halifax, Boston, Quebec City.
- HAL planned to expand its culinary tour program in 2019 by adding port destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, Hawaii, Panama Canal.
Since January 2017, Cunard Line (a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation) offers shipboard wine education courses via a partnership with the world's largest provider of wine and spirits qualifications WSET ("Wine and Spirit Education Trust").
- WSET courses were initially available only on QM2's westbound Transatlantic crossings and world cruises, but were later offered fleetwide and on all voyages.
- The 5-day course gives WSET Level 1 in Wines and covers the basics (wine types, styles, sight, smell, taste, storing, serving, food pairing).
- The 12-day course gives WSET Level 2 in wines and spirits and explores grape varieties, styles of wines, produce, wine regions, classifications, labeling terminology, categories of spirits and liqueurs.
- Classes are led by professional sommeliers and educators from Cunard Wine Academy. Each course finishes with an exam. In addition to the globally recognized WSET qualification certificates, passengers also receive lapel pins.
- The first wine cruise was the crossing Southampton-NYC (December 15, 2016). The first world cruise with WSET courses was on QM2 (January 10, 2017).
- WSET's qualification program is offered to enthusiasts and wine professionals. It ranges from Level 1 Award (Wines, Spirits, and Sake) to Level 4 Diploma (Wines and Spirits).
Princess Cruises' "Wine Country Coastal" voyages (along the US west coast) provide passengers with the opportunity to taste and pair wines and also to participate in wine-themed onboard activities. Maitre D's are available to explain more and help with vintages and wine-food pairings. Among the destination ports in the region are:
- From Santa Barbara CA are offered wine tasting tours in Santa Ynez Valley.
- From San Francisco can be visited 2 -renowned wine regions - Napa and Sonoma.
- From Astoria (Oregon) are offered tours to Willamette Valley (pinot noir wines) and The Cellar on 10th wine shop (Pacific Northwest wines).
- From Seattle WA are offered tours to Woodinville (over 117 wine tasting rooms and wineries.
- From Victoria, BC (Canada) is operated the Butchart Gardens tour for wine pairings (with tapas and hand-made chocolates) at Blue Poppy Restaurant.
- From Vancouver BC (Canada) can be visited Fraser Valley - home to around 30 vineyards and 15 wineries.
In 2019, Princess Cruises introduced fleetwide a new wine menu with a total of 142 wines selected via partnership with Doug Frost. He is one of only four men in the world to hold both titles "Master of Wine" (UK-issued) and "Master Sommelier" (wine and food pairing qualification).
The new wine menu is available in ship's Main Dining Room and offered at a 30% discount on the list price (wines priced USD 39 or less) and at 66% discount (wines priced USD 49 or less). The new wine list is also offered at Lido Deck, The Sanctuary, Explorer's Lounge, Wheelhouse Bar, Crooners Bar. The company's new beverage menu also features new, itinerary-based premium spirits, craft beers, and wines by the glass.
The 2019 wine program of Silversea was selected by the company’s expert Wine Ambassador, Lawrence dAlmeida. Nearly 160 different wines populate line’s wine selection, which is praised by wine experts for including one of the biggest choices of complimentary wines onboard any cruise ship, with about 70 different labels.
World's major wine regions are represented in Silversea's complimentary range, along with major wine grapes, yet Italian wines are well-represented as a homage to the heritage of the line. When relevant to the visited destination, local wines are added to the wine selection, enabling passengers to sail deeper via sampling fine wines from around the world.
An additional 19 varieties of the best wines in America are available, due to Silversea’s partnership with American Fine Wine Competition. Journalists, wine magazine publishers, co-founders of American Fine Wine Competition (AFWC), Vintners, Monty and Sara Preiser of Napa and Florida join the cruise as instructors and hosts. The Preisers are expected to present AFWC’s Double Gold Medal-winning wines and bottles from the ‘Winery of the Year’ to passengers of the trip.
Illustrious members of ASPI sommelier association, Gennaro Buono and Giuseppe Vaccarini, a former best sommelier in Italy and best sommelier in the world respectively, each join a segment of the transatlantic cruise. Vaccarini is expected to accompany guests on wine-related shore trips, while Buono is to host an accredited propaedeutic sommelier course.
- SeaDream Yacht Club offers opportunities for cruisers to visit over 20 wineries at boutique ports of call along the Mediterranean coast. SeaDream's Wine Voyages offer complimentary tastings of exceptional wines and visits to renowned vineyards. Among them are Bartulovic and Korta Katarina wineries, Allegrini Wines, Benanti Winery, Cantine Lunae, Cava Recaredo, Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla, Chateau de Cremat, Chateau Gassier Wines, Fattoria dei Barbi, Clos Canarelli, Finca Valpiedra Wines. Also featured are Louis Jadot Wines, Mazzei Wines, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio, Niepoort Wines, Sorrentino Winery, Panizzi Winery, Taittinger Champagne, Weingut Groebe Wines, Weingut Wittmann Wines, Tenuta San Guido Wines, and local wines of Cartagena, Domaine Souviou and Le Castellet Village.
- Examples of Wine Voyages include a 9-day Lisbon to Barcelona sailing, that visits Gibraltar, Portimao, Puerto Banus, Cartagena, Ibiza, Malaga, Menorca, and Palma de Mallorca. A week-long round-trip from Rome, June 10, visits Bonifacio (Corsica) overnight, Positano, Amalfi, Sorrento, Capri.
- Another week-long Rome round-trip visits Portovenere, Portoferraio, Marina di Carrara, Portofino, Saint Florent, Porto Vecchio.
- Further Wine-themed cruises offer destinations like Dalmatian Coast (Adriatic Sea), Greek Isles, Italian Riviera, French Riviera. Fares start at USD 4,199 per person, double occupancy, including ocean-view accommodations, gratuities, gourmet meals, wine with lunch and dinner.
Dream Cruises tea-themed voyages
- In the period April 29 through June 14 (2018), passengers booked on 2- and 5-night itineraries enjoyed authentic Japanese culture experience. The tea-themed voyages were via the partnership with Nakamura Tokichi Honten - one of Japan's finest tea houses.
- The scheduled unique onboard events included Kimono masterclass, tea expert-led workshops, Japanese tea tasting lessons, Tea Kabuki (traditional quiz game), meet-and-greets with Okinawan celebrity illustrator, Awamori (alcoholic beverage) tasting, limited-edition Matcha delicacies (cream roll, cream puff, cheesecake) traditionally served with steeped Matcha tea latte.
- Shipboard dining included Okinawan food and drinks, such as Wagyu beef, Agu pork, seasonal vegetables, and fruits.
June through November 2018, MS World Dream offered "Taste the Dream" – Wine and Dine at Sea". The event featured a collaboration between 6 Asian celebrity chefs (Michelin-starred) and the company's culinary team.
- Passengers booked in "The Palace Suites" had the chance to enjoy limited-edition food and wine pairing menus ("4-hand" / created by 2 chefs). Note: "The Palace" is a ship-within-ship concept (exclusive complex) consisting of 154 premium suites with exclusive dining and lounge areas, butler service, perks.
- The limited tasting menus were included in the complimentary dining options for "The Palace Suite" passengers on World Dream. The program also included interactive cooking workshops (led by the chefs) and exclusive "Chef’s Table" throughout the voyages.
- The 6 celebrity chefs were Alvin Leung, Chan Kwok Keung, Christian Yang, Martin Yan, Vicky Cheng, Wan Tat Kong.
Cruise itinerary October 20-29, 2018 (9-day "South Pacific Islands" roundtrip from Sydney NSW) became Australia's first-ever vegan-themed voyage. It was available for booking on Celebrity Cruises ship Solstice and featured a special vegan dining menu.
- The voyage was organized by Paige Renshaw and as onboard pre-scheduled events featured daily food demonstrations, workshops, and professional presentations, as well as meditation classes, yoga and pilates, various group activities, and documentary movie nights.
- The itinerary's call ports were in New Caledonia and Vanuatu (Noumea, Mystery Island, Isle of Pines, Lifou Island).
In 2018, the luxury cruise line Oceania expanded its vegan offerings onboard all 6 of its ships, making the company one of the most vegan-friendly on the high seas. The new breakfast menu includes vegan tortilla Espanola with tofu, potato, and onions, along with vegan link sausages, pistachio muffins, and vanilla waffles. For lunch, passengers can opt for Tuscan-style bean soup, for dinner - vegetable tartare, parsnip soup and quinoa salad are all available, followed by the dessert - shortbread with passionfruit cream.
Further, on a couple of Oceania’s cruise ships, Marina and Riviera, raw-fruit juices and vegan smoothies are available from the specialty bars situated on the Pool Deck. Guests can opt for a cold brew latte or sweet green juice, as well as chia cashew yogurt bowl or acai berry.
Vegan cruises are currently becoming more popular with vacationers. Both Toronto and Australia launched their first-ever vegan voyages in 2018, bound for the Toronto Islands and the Pacific Islands. A cruise to benefit Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary with Carnival departed for the Caribbean last February, with a special vegan “Esther-approved” menu served onboard.
In early June, it was announced that the largest group travel company in the world, Intrepid Travel, had launched 3 new vegan food tours in Italy, India, and Thailand.
"Dinner Cruise" is an affordable short-break deal and a unique experience in New York City. If you add the nightlife and romance, the NYC skyline at night, and party-loving friends - it becomes a must for bot citizens and guests of the metropolis. Locals often book harbour cruises in NYC to celebrate birthday parties, anniversaries, family events, business dinners, classy dates.
Before 2017, from NYC were also offered Cruises to Nowhere. Dinner cruises generally last 3-4 hours and no cabin booking is required. The experience features fine food and theme music. NYC dinner cruise deals require advance reservations (minimum of 72 hours pre-booking).
- Prices on "Brunch Cruise" on a luxury yacht (duration 2 hours) start from $80.
- PP prices on luxury yacht dinner cruise are as follow - Friday and Saturday ($120), Sunday through Thursday ($105), Holiday sailings - Mothers Day, Valentines Day and Thanksgiving ($120), 4th of July and New Years Eve ($350), and Weekends (January through March) $105.
- "Spirit of New York" prices for NYC Harbor cruises are Friday ($120), Saturday ($125), Sunday through Thursday ($105), Easter ($85).
- "Spirit of New Jersey" prices - the ship is in Newark NJ, departing year-round from Lincoln Harbor, Weehawken NJ) - Friday ($120), Saturday ($125), Sunday through Thursday ($105).
NYC dinner and harbour cruises are operated April through December. The next table shows themed harbour shortbreaks as duration, package inclusions, and prices per person.
|Dinner Cruises NYC||Price (USD)||Duration||Package Inclusions|
|"Luxury Yacht Cruise"||$160||3 hours||Welcome aboard premier NYC dining cruise and indulge in beautiful music, fun dancing, outstanding cuisine, and attentive service. Walk along the spacious luxury yacht's decks and enjoy the view of the dazzling NYC skyline, including the outstanding Statue of Liberty! The best way to see the romantic side of New York! Two options are available for this NYC dinner cruise: Premium Harvest Gold Menu and Harvest Gold Menu.|
|"Bateaux Cruise"||$170||-||An elegant harbor NYC dinner cruise event - Bateaux NY is a real inspiring dining experience. Its innovative design of glass ceiling and walls helps to view the magnificent skyline. The vessel is London and Paris Bateaux sister ship- Bateaux NY Celestial offers both sophisticated music and fine food. Required minimum 72-hour advance booking.|
|"Spirit of New York Cruise"||$120||-||All that you love about NYC is provided here - the NY harbor Manhattan's floating bistro offers unique three levels of enjoyment including dancing, dining, live floorshow, and spectacular sightseeing. Required minimum 72-hour advance booking.|
|"Spirit of New Jersey Cruise"||$120||-||Celebrate aboard a hip attitude floating bistro including a dance lounge and live floorshow. This dinner cruise NYC departs from Weehawken, New Jersey, and offers really much - a floating New York Harbor bistro with two levels of enjoyment including dancing, dining, dancing, sightseeing!|
|"Weekend Cruise"||$120||-||Come aboard an NYC dining cruise yacht and enjoy the fresh four-course dinner that is set to sparkling NY skyline views. Live entertainment for romantic dancing and spacious decks for taking in the marvelous scenery will remind you that life is beautiful! An option for upgrading the evening is an Open Bar Premium Package.|
|"Themed Entertainment"||$85||-||The chic private yacht departs from NY Skyport Marina, providing a 3-hour NYC dining cruise with different entertainment options - choose the so popular Zumba, Belly Dancing, Salsa, Samba, Jazz, Magic, or Stand-Up Comedy.|
|"Valentine's Bateaux Cruise"||$120||Celebrate this special Valentine's day with an NYC dinner cruise aboard a sophisticated vessel. Ultimate indulgence and distinctive cuisine, wow-views, and live entertainment, could you wish for more? Show someone special person how much you care for her/him and make this Valentine's the one you two will never forget. Romantic memories aboard will not fade away - treat to the bountiful buffet, enjoy the DJ show, and dancing beneath the stars. Two options are available for this dinner cruise NYC: Gold Menu and Preferred Gold Menu. (including open bar upgrades).|
|"Mothers Day Cruise"||$160||3 hours||Come with moms for a luxury NYC dinner cruise experience and they will be really flattered this evening - make them feel special, they deserve it! Relax in the pleasant atmosphere of musical entertainment, elegant dining, dazzling views. Special champagne toasts included - for Mom, of course! Two options are available for this NYC dinner cruise: Gold Harvest Menu and Gold Premier Menu (with an upgrade of soda, beer, and wine served at the private table of yours).|
|"Fourth of July Cruise" (on a luxury yacht)||$350||5 hours||Take part in a dazzling celebration of US independence, while enjoying a five-course superb dinner, music and dancing, open premium bar, and amazing fireworks display. This premier dining cruise NYC will help you indulge in attentive service and outstanding cuisine!|
|"4th July Fireworks Cruise"||$350||6 hours||Make this Independence Day different! Join a special NYC dinner cruise and celebrate the Birthday of America with a 6-hour event- 5-hour dinner cruise and one-hour party dockside. Celebrate the 4th of July cruising around Manhattan Harbor and enjoy the views of the 4th of July Macy's Fireworks Show on Hudson River. This very special NYC dinner cruise includes a cash bar and a casual dinner menu for purchase. A DJ show with your favorite tunes is a plus. For the 6-hour dinner cruise NYC three packages available to choose from Standard, Gold, Platinum.|
|"Thanksgiving Cruise" (on a luxury yacht)||$190||3 hours||Make Thanksgiving an extravagant feast and enjoy a traditional four-course Thanksgiving dinner, dancing, and music, dazzling everchanging views of NYC skyline and the majestic Statue of Liberty.|
|"Christmas Eve Cruise"||$160||4 hours||Christmas Eve on an NYC dinner cruise aboard a luxury yacht can come true. Indulge in a four-course sumptuous dinner prepared right there, onboard, with local ingredients, and enjoy music and dancing. Two options are available for this NYC dinner cruise: Gold Harvest Menu and Gold Premier Menu (with an upgrade of soda, beer, and wine served at the private table of yours).|
|"New Year's Eve Cruise" (on a luxury yacht)||$350||4-5 hours||Travel from Midtown to Hudson River for views of George Washington Bridge, East River, and Battery Park, and all around NY Statue of Liberty, Verrazano Bridge, Ellis Island.|