Culinary Focused Cruises for Food Lovers

As a certified specialist with 7 river cruise companies, I always keep an eye on what special itineraries the river cruise companies are offering that might appeal to you.There are noteworthy experiences available both on the river and the ocean for 2018.

Amawaterways Wine Cruises

North American winemakers, winery owners, and expert oenologists will be featured on over 50 of AmaWaterways European wine cruises in 2018. The special wine sailings are priced the same as AmaWaterways regular cruise itineraries, but offer wine lovers additional wine focused excursions and an opportunity to taste and learn from winemakers and producers onboard the ship.

Wine enhanced excursions include visits to private cellars, strolls through vineyards, and encounters with world-class vintners and artisans. The cruises sail the rivers around Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Alsace in France; the Moselle and Rhine valleys in Germany; Austria’s Wachau Valley; and Portugal’s Douro River area. I know from experience that the Douro cruises sell out fast.

The 2018 line-up of winemakers includes husband and wife winery owners, family winemakers, and 9 women who are making their mark in the wine industry.

AmaWaterways is known for outstanding market driven food, in multiple venues onboard. Most cruises include a Le Chain Rotisseur, Food and Wine Gastronomy Society dinner. Complimentary regional wines and beers are included with lunch and dinner, as well as sparkling wine with breakfast. A new complimentary addition for 2018 is a cocktail hour preceding dinner.

Offered in the spring and fall, these popular wine river cruises generate a lot of interest and availability is limited.

American Queen Steamboat’s Bourbon Cruises 

You don’t have to travel to Europe or Asia for a fabulous river cruise. Two wonderful cruise lines operate here; one even docks here in NYC for Hudson River and fall foliage cruises. Bourbon lovers will not want to miss the American Queen’s 2 bourbon focused sailings in 2018.

American Queen offers many theme cruises, including these special bourbon itineraries. You will visit distilleries and learn how to distinguish between their offerings. Special tastings, treats, and cooking demonstrations have been arranged, in addition to on-board guest lecturers.The American Duchess features a bourbon cruise May 6-14 from Cincinnati to Memphis. The American Queen’s tour will operate July 1-9 from Memphis to Louisville. Cruises include a complimentary excursion to the Jim Beam Distillery or the Maker’s Mark Distillery in Brandenburg, KY. The American Queen journey also includes a free tour of the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, KY from the Madison, IN port.

America’s Test Kitchen now live on Holland America

Fans of America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) and amateur cooking enthusiasts will not want to miss Holland America’s 3 special ATK cruises in 2018. One of public broadcasting’s favorite cooking shows has a partnership with Holland America. The 3 cruises will be hosted by experts from the TV show, and will feature cooking demonstrations and hands-on workshops. Guests will also have access to episodes of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country in their staterooms.

A fee is charged for the 90 minute hands-on workshops, which will offer such subjects as making pie dough and homemade pasta. ATK hosts will share culinary tips, recipes and samples in live 45-minute cooking demonstrations on meatless meals, Italian favorites, Mediterranean cooking, and more.

The voyages will include:

  • May 6-13 roundtrip from Vancouver on the Westerdam. Jack Bishop, chief creative officer of ATK, and Bryan Roof, executive food editor for Cook’s Country magazine and an on-screen test cook for the Cook’s Country TV show.
  • July 7-21 Northern Isles on the Zuiderdam with Bridget Lancaster, host of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country TV shows, and Lisa McManus executive editor in charge of equipment and ingredient testing at ATK.
  • September 22-29 Canada/New England on the Veendam, featuring Julia Collin Davison, host of the ATK and Cook’s Country TV shows, and Becky Hays, deputy editor of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and on-screen test cook for ATK.
Rooftops of St. Emilion
St. Emilion, France

Ponant Gastronomy and Oenology Cruise

Ponant is a French cruise line that recently has generated more awareness among Americans.

If like me, you love classic French cuisine, the Ponant Gastronomy and Oenology cruise may be for you. This cruise, on Le Soleal, takes place from April 11-19 and stops at the ports of the Medoc, St. Emilion, and Bordeaux.

Two gala dinners will be hosted by Chef Pascal Feraud of the Eiffel Tower’s Michelin starred Le Jules Verne, and Chef Stephane Duchiron of Versailles’ Ore restaurant.

The voyage also includes a dinner supervised by Pascal Feraud in wine mecca, Pauillac, with the ship moored in front of Chateau Latour. The menu will be paired with Medoc’s finest grand cru wines.

The cruise will also feature a famous cheesemaker, Bernard Antony, who will conduct tastings. Jean-Robert Pitte, president of the Academy du Vin de France will also lead discussions on board. Guests will also visit prestigious estates and vineyards, including Chateau Siaurac in Bordeaux.

Le Soleal is a small luxury cruise ship with only 132 staterooms and suites that gives travelers the intimate feeling of being on your own yacht. Built in 2013 it is modern and features 2 restaurants: a fine dining gastronomic with wine cellar, and a more casual grill. The ship is also used for Antarctic expeditions. With a spa, several lounges, and a theater, there is plenty to do when not in port.

For information about any of these cruises, or other cruises dedicated to your particular areas of interest, please contact me.

If culinary focused trips on land are more your thing… Let’s talk. We can develop a custom trip for you around your passions for food, wine, beer, liquors, and cooking either in the US or abroad. As more and more clients request this, my tour company partners are developing organized tours encompassing market tours, cooking classes, and artisanal tastings worldwide. Please contact eva at for information.

Gastronomy on the Water

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