Enriching your lifestyle through wine, culinary and jazz travel.

The Grapevine

We bring you the best in travel, wine and food with these blog posts.

Posts Tagged ‘River Cruises’

FREE Air to Europe

Posted on: |
Google+PinterestTwitterFacebook
Visit Europe Now
Glide along the Canals of Amsterdam while in Europe

Glide along the Canals of Amsterdam while in Europe

Book an amazing cruise through the Netherlands and Belgium waterways and receive free airfare*. With the US dollar having gained on the Euro, now is a great time to visit Europe, as you’ll have more buying power abroad.

Your cruise begins in Amsterdam. Spend time on the iconic canals, sightseeing and admiring the Dutch architecture. Enjoy the world-famous nightlife or become part of the bike-focused culture by taking a ride along the numerous paths and trails. You’ll marvel at sites in Kinderdijk, home to the country’s greatest concentration of windmills.

There’s so much to do and see.  Better yet, arrive a few days prior to cruise embarkation to truly see what this vibrant city has to offer including:

  • Picturesque villages and towns
  • UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Anne Frank’s home
  • The Delta Works, a 30-year engineering project
  • The Grote Kerk (Great Church) one of Europe’s largest
  • The Royal Palace and the Red Light District
  • The Van Gogh Museum

You’ll also sail along the waterways through Antwerp, Belgium.  There are numerous activities to see and do here such as:

  • Fashion Museum, Museum of Photography, Fine Arts Museum
  • Bike along the beautiful waterfront
  • Take a break in one of the many coffee houses, cozy cafes or trendy bars
  • Visit the Cathedral of Our Good Lady

This offer expires Sept. 30th, 2016.  Call us today as staterooms will fill up quickly.

*Round-trip airfare is from select gateway cities. Other terms and conditions apply.

 

 

Tags: ,

Cruise News

Posted on: |
Google+PinterestTwitterFacebook

Cruise News – April

Here’s an update on the latest in cruise news. River and ocean cruise lines have been busy lately.

 

Carnival
Gay with Jennifer Hudson in Cozumel

Gay with Jennifer Hudson in Cozumel

Carnival Cruise Line has announced summer and fall 2015 artists’ lineup for its Carnival Live Concert Series.  Recently, The Band Perry, BOSTON, Lionel Richie and Heart were added to the lineup.

The spring series, which kicked off last month, included performances by Journey, Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Smokey Robinson and Styx.

Concerts are held in the ships’ main theaters, which accommodate a guest capacity from 900 to 1,300.  Concerts are held while the vessels are docked in one of three ports of call: Cozumel, Nassau and St. Thomas.

 

Repositioning Ships

Carnival Cruise Line will be increasing capacity by 34 percent on 3- and 4-day Bahamas cruises from their Port Canaveral terminal. Their newest class of ships will commerce 7-day Caribbean voyages beginning 2016.

In October 2016, Carnival Valor will replace the Carnival Victory’s 3- and 4-day Bahamas cruises from Central Florida. Valor will be the only ship operating 3- and 4-day cruises.  She has undergone the Fun Ship 2.0 upgrade.

On November 27, 2016, The Carnival Magic will embark on a 12-day Carnival Journeys. These cruises are part of new Space Coast, departing from Galveston. Featured ports will include Cozumel; Limon, Costa Rica; Colon, Panama; Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia; Aruba, and Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos.

 

Disney Takes to the River

Adventures by Disney has partnered with AmaWaterways to launch river cruise itineraries. Beginning summer 2016, Disney will have four sailings on the Danube River.

The new itineraries will take place on board the new, 170-passenger AmaViola. The new ship is being built with family-friendly design elements in mind, including six sets of connecting staterooms. Additionally, the ship’s suites have pull-out sofas that allow them to sleep three or four. Finally, Adventures by Disney plans to sail the ship at a faster pace than is common for river cruises, allowing for more time in a destination; and fewer restless children.

 

Royal Caribbean

The Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International’s newest Quantum-class ship, arrived at the Southampton Cruise Port on April 15.  Anthem of the Seas will begin her inaugural spring and summer season with sailings from her Southampton homeport. The itineraries are throughout Europe, including the Mediterranean. In fall 2015, the Anthem will head across the Atlantic to her new home at the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in New York HarborThen, she will head for itineraries in the warm waters of the Caribbean.

 

A Foodie’s Delight

Gourmet Dining for the Foodie

Gourmet Dining for the Foodie

The Anthem of the Seas will be a foodie’s dream. Gourmands will love the all-new Dynamic Dining experience.  Guests can choose from a selection of 18 restaurant concepts, including five complimentary main dining restaurants.  There’s also an option to choose between Dynamic Dining Choice, which allows guests to decide when, where, and with whom to dine each evening.  For those diners who prefer the more traditional experience,  the Dynamic Dining Classic is available still.

 

Sick on the High Seas

During its most recent sailing, which ended in San Diego on April 13th, 99 guests and one crew member on board the Celebrity Infinity experienced gastrointestinal illness. The culprit was believed to have been the norovirus, according to Celebrity Cruises.

Upon arriving in San Diego,  the Celebrity Infinity crew began an extensive and thorough sanitizing of the ship, as well as the cruise terminal.  This was designed to help prevent any illness from affecting the subsequent sailings.

 

Guests Should do Their Part

However, the cruise lines cannot prevent illness by themselves. It is critical that guests use the hand sanitizers the cruise lines have distributed throughout the ship. Also, guests should wash their hands frequently and instruct their children to do the same. If you are sick, you should notify the staff immediately so they can provide you with aid and help prevent the spread of illness to other guests.

 

Source: Travel Agent Central

Tags: , ,

Viking Cruises Sails the Mississippi

Posted on: |
Google+PinterestTwitterFacebook
Viking Cruises on the Mississipi
Viking Cruises will Sail from New Orleans on the Mississippi

Viking Cruises will Sail from New Orleans on the Mississippi

Viking River Cruises is coming to America. The European-based cruise line has revealed plans to base six river ships in New Orleans. Starting late 2017, the first ever sailings in North America will head up the Mississippi River. During the next three years, two ships per year will be deployed.

 

 

 

 

The Itinerary

Embarking from the New Orleans French Quarter, the itinerary will include stops in St. James, East Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes in Louisiana.  Then, depending on the season will continue upriver to Memphis and St. Louis, Missouri or further north to St. Paul, Minnesota. With stops in Missouri, it presents a great opportunity to listen to some great American jazz or blues music!

 

A Boast to the Economy

The move to the United States will create nearly 800 jobs for the Louisiana-based vessels.  The Viking River Cruise ships, costing upwards of $100 million will be built in US shipyards.

 

Viking Cruises on the High Seas

Viking River Cruises will launch the first of its ocean-going vessels this year. The line, formerly only sailed on the rivers of Europe but in recent years has expanded its fleet to other rivers of the world. Now, the all-veranda, ocean-going Viking Star will be christened on May 17, 2015. Then, on April 11th, the new ship will take her maiden voyage from Istanbul and sail through the Mediterranean Sea.

 

Source: TravelPulse

Tags:

Bordeaux Wine Cruise

Posted on: | 2 Comments
Google+PinterestTwitterFacebook

We’re Heading to Wine Mecca

Bordeaux Wine River Cruise

Bordeaux Wine River Cruise

We are hitting the road. Well make that the river on a journey to wine mecca, Bordeaux, France. We will be leading a small group to Bordeaux, home to arguably the world’s best wine. So, Save the Date, April 15, 2016.

Not to be sacrilegious, but many wine lovers have the Bordeaux wine region on their Bucket List since it is considered Mecca for wine enthusiasts. Our group will be embarking on a 7-day Bordeaux wine cruise, traveling along the rivers through the top communes with winery visits and tastings, wine and food pairing dinners, cultural walking tours and so much more. The cruise will begin and end in the city of Bordeaux, with pre- and/or post-cruise land packages available.

 

Bordeaux – The Ancestral Home
Bordeaux Red Wine Mecca

Bordeaux – Red Wine Mecca

Serious wine drinkers and of course, I’m referring to those who drink red, all have a bottle or 12 of Bordeaux in their wine collections. Bordeaux is the celebrated offspring of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Typically, a Bordeaux red blend is comprised of the following five grapes:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Petit Verdot
  • Malbec

Due to Frances’ strict viticulture laws, these, along with carmenere are the only red grape varieties allowed to be grown.

These five varieties are used in varying combinations in wine regions the world over but all got their start in Bordeaux. Bordeaux-style red blends are referred to as Claret by the Brits, whereas American winemakers use the name Meritage (rhymes with heritage), which can only be used by members of the association.

Merlot and Cabernet Franc are grown on the “Right Bank”, the name given to the vineyards on the east side of the Gironde River. Merlot, the most widely planted adds fruit and richness to the mid-palate during blending.

Bordeaux Communes Map

Bordeaux Communes Map
Courtesy of CIVBordeaux

Notable Right Bank appellations include St-Émilion and Pomerol. The wines produced in these regions are of excellent quality and have lengthy aging potential, but without the stratospheric prices common for Left Bank reds.

Plan on leaving room in your suitcase or think about shipping a case or two home of these amazing bargain reds. For those traveling with us from the same gateway city, San Diego we can mix and match cases for more cost-effective buying.

The top communes and the ones fetching the highest prices are:

  • Médoc (Haut-Médoc)
  • Pauillac
  • St-Estephe
  • St-Julien
  • Margaux

White wine lovers, do not despair. On our cruise tour, you’ll also get to experience Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion as well as Muscadelle, which is a different grape variety from similar sounding name Muscat. The primary growing regions for these three white varietals are located south of Bordeaux along the Garonne River.  Sauternes is home to the delicious, sweet dessert wine of the same name. The city of Graves produces dry and sweet wines.

 

Reserve Your Spot
Let's Hang Out Together on the River Cruise

Let’s Hang Out together on the River Cruise

Call us today so we can add your name to our Interest List for those joining us on the Bordeaux Wine Cruise.  Plus, your $400 deposit guarantees you the reduced 2015 pricing.  And, if you change your mind, your deposit is fully refundable until March 31, 2015.

It’s going to be a merry, fun time. Why not join us? Joie de vivre!

Tags: , ,

AmaWaterways River Cruise

Posted on: |
Google+PinterestTwitterFacebook

Experience a River Cruise

porto Boats on the Douro River

http://www.finelivingenthusiast.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=4882&action=edit&message=10 Port Wine Boats on the Douro River

Over the past 20 years, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying several ocean cruises.  Each was special in its own way.  But, I decided it was time to test the waters on a river cruise.  After studying the offerings from a handful of  lines, I chose AmaWaterways River Cruise.  They even sweetened the pot by offering a themed itinerary called In Celebration of Wine, which was right up my alley.  This is the perfect cruise for a wine enthusiast.

Tulip Fields of Holland

Tulip Fields of Holland

 

 

 

On an AmaWaterways River Cruise, be prepared for an authentic vacation experience. The complimentary shore excursions allow you to enjoy the region’s top activities or attractions, without any real effort on your part.  Since all of the planning and arrangements have been taken care of for you, you just need to be ready at the allotted time.  And don’t worry, with the ship size limited to 175 people tops, you aren’t going to be herded like cattle.  These are small-group tours with a sense of intimacy.  On our trip along the Rhone, we developed friendships with a group of people and we ended up taking all of our tours together.

Pont d'Avignon, France

Pont d’Avignon, France

As you sail along, you will be captured by the unbridled views of castles, quaint villages; while given front-of-the-line access to famous landmarks and museums, as well as hidden gems.  As you cruise along the river, you’re able to soak in so much of the country and its history.  This experience is simply not possible on an ocean liner cruise.

Extraordinary Cruise Cuisine

Enjoy Extraordinary Cuisine on AmaWaterways River Cruise

What is the perfect compliment to wine?  Food of course. The AmaWaterways River Cruise line has been inducted into La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, one of the world’s most prestigious culinary organizations.  When you sit down at the table for dinner, you immediately feel as though you are at a 5-star restaurant.  The staff remember your dining preferences and are attentive without being annoying.

I’ve met several people, including our good friend Kim Vickers who are afraid to take a cruise.  But I’m certain that all of their fears would dissipate if they’d give river cruising a chance.  The rivers of Europe were the original “highways” used for transporting goods and  services.  If you aren’t afraid to drive on the San Diego Freeway or the Pennsylvania Turnpike, then you can certainly take a river cruise.

River Cruise has Free Wi-Fi

Stay Connected with Free Wi-Fi on your River Cruise

What’s wrong? Are you terrified to have one day without Internet?  Don’t worry because complimentary WiFi is available in your stateroom as well as ship wide.  Are you fighting the battle of the bulge?  They’ve already thought about that too. On board every AmaWaterways’ ship, there’s an albeit, small fitness center with a treadmill, Bosa ball, light weights and a mirror to check your progress.  Plus, being so close to own, you can simply slip off the ship and head into town on foot.

 

Bike Amsterdam

Bike-friendly Amsterdam

Many of the ships also have bicycles, free of charge that you can use to tootle around town. So no more excuses.

AmaWaterways won the Travel & Leisure World’s Best Awards in 2013.  Book a river cruise and see for yourself.

Tags: , , , ,

Top Cruise Destinations

Posted on: |
Google+PinterestTwitterFacebook
Cruise Ship Buffet

Cruises offer Gourmet Buffets

The despite the headlines, travelers still love taking cruises.  And why not?  You only unpack once, you get to enjoy gourmet meals each night, the ports of call are fun-filled, and the price is right for any budget.

Nexion, the travel industry’s premier host travel agency, has announced the top cruise destinations its agents are booking for 2014.  In a recent survey, Nexion members indicate that the most popular cruise destination among their clients for 2014 is the Eastern Caribbean, with the Western Caribbean as a close second.

El Morro, Old San Juan

El Morro, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

According to Nexion President Jackie Friedman, CTC, CTIE, this bodes well for clients, given that many of Nexion’s trusted supplier partners have additional capacity in the Caribbean. In addition, 44% of Nexion agents surveyed say they are seeing an increase in bookings made by first-time cruisers as compared to the previous year. Nexion is also proud to announce that they are the recipients of Celebrity Cruises’ Central Region Account of the Year Award for 2013.

Fine Living Enthusiast is a proud member of the Nexion family.

Nexion agents, who indicated that they book cruise vacations, were asked to identify the one most popular cruise itinerary they are booking most for 2014.

Cancun

Mayan Ruins near Cancun

So where are travelers cruising in 2014?  The six top cruise itineraries are:
  1. Caribbean – Eastern 21%
  2. Caribbean – Western 19%
  3. Europe – River Cruise 14%
  4. Alaska – 11%
  5. Caribbean – Southern 9%
  6. Europe – Mediterranean 6%

    An Old Fort's Canon

    Old Fort Canon in Caribbean

Source:  Press Release, Nexion

Tags: , ,

Travel in Style on a River Cruise

Posted on: |
Google+PinterestTwitterFacebook

 How to Choose Between a River Cruise & and an Ocean Cruise

Oceanliner Cruise ShipRiver Cruises are a bright spot for an industry that has suffered a black eye with mishaps on ocean-liner cruises that have included onboard fires, sanitation issues and engine failures. However, not all cruises are alike. River cruising provides travelers with multi-stop itineraries analogous to an ocean cruise; however, that’s where the similarity ends. For vacationers who enjoy the cruise lifestyle, nothing compares to a river cruise.Middle Aged Couples Enjoying Wine

If you have been contemplating your next vacation experience, you should strongly consider taking a river cruise. A river cruise is an ideal vacation for adults over the age of 40, including empty nesters, as well as couples with children who are looking to recharge their marriages with a child-free getaway. The river cruise is the perfect vacation for supercharging romance, celebrating milestone birthdays or extended families traveling with parents/grandparents who are commemorating a wedding anniversary.

Here are some of the major differences to help you decide which cruise is right for you and your vacation or special occasion:

Evening in BudapestOn an ocean liner, the destinations are the primary focus of the cruise. You typically sail off each night so you can reach the next day’s port of call. However, with a river cruise, you are experiencing the destination the entire day. All day you are exposed to a region’s attractions. On one of the great rivers of the world, you’ll leisurely cruise through the heart of towns, villages and cities with the shoreline less than 35 feet away. There’s no need for you to stop what you are doing to rush back to the ship before 5:00 p.m. or you’ll be left behind.

• The river cruise ship is docked each night, allowing you to spend evenings in town, further soaking up the culture, history and local attractions. You can enjoy a gourmet dinner on the ship, then walk to the theatre or attend a concert and then end the evening dancing at a nightclub until 2:00 a.m. You want to disembark the ship during the day, and not return until evening. You’d be able to just walk or bike back to the dock where the ship is moored for that night. The ship waits for you, not the other way around. It’s a very freeing experience, especially for people who have challenges with punctuality.

Sunset on Cruise DeckGenerally, on a river cruise, travelers can expect to share the ship with far fewer passengers. This creates a more-intimate setting than an ocean-liner cruise ship, which are designed to sail with as few as 1,100 people to as many as 3000-plus passengers. River cruises sail with as few as 140 passengers, with most ships carrying between 150- 190 passengers.

• There aren’t any cabaret shows, comedians or dance troupes on a river cruise. The entertainment is going to be much more cultural. For example, on a wine-themed river cruise, you’d get to enjoy wine education lectures from a sommelier or perhaps the sommelier would team up with a chef and they would discuss pairing wines with various foods.  Other shipboard activities may include a violin and piano duet or an art appreciation lecture that coincides with an upcoming shore excursion.

• A river cruise has exceptional value; although at first glance, it may appear that a river cruise is expensive. However, a river cruise is an all-inclusive vacation. Not only are the meals included but also, most or all of the shore excursions. Depending on the destination, the excursions will be quite extraordinary with offerings of private wine dinners in a wine cave or a chef-led walking tour to the local markets followed by a cooking demonstration.

Multi-generational vacations

Multi-generational vacations

• The average age on a river cruise is older, being typically over the age of 40. However, many families are bringing along children on the fastest-growing segment of the travel industry, multi-generational vacations. It’s a great way for an extended family of three or four generations to spend time together but without all the hassles of planning day-to-day activities. But the purpose on river cruise is family time, walking together around medieval villages, while experiencing the cultural and historical sites, with the aid of a complimentary local guide. There aren’t any adventure excursions like zip lining or 4×4 rides excursions or rock climbing walls to scale while onboard.

Cruise Ship Beveage Program

Beverage Program

• A river cruise has an included beverage program, which alone could save you several hundred dollars. All wines, beers, soft drinks and tea services are included with dinner. This unlimited beverage service includes premium brands not just the off-brand or inexpensive labels, which cost extra on an ocean cruise. This free-flowing beverage policy may be similar to the bottomless champagne brunches you may have attended at restaurants back home. On an ocean liner, you will have to purchase your alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages on a pay-as-you-drink basis or via a wine package, that your waiter will add to your ship bill.

• You’ll receive more far amenities on a river cruise. Here are some examples of what would be included in your all-inclusive price:

o Daily bottled watered in your stateroom, which you could bring ashore while taking excursions.

o Complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the ship

o Complimentary Internet in your stateroom

o Free movies to enjoy in your stateroom

• Port charges are overlooked charges people forget to include when they are calculating a price comparisons between a river cruise and an ocean cruise.  Port charges are several hundred dollars and are wrapped into the advertised price of a river cruise. Typically, port charges are tucked in a footnote of an advertisement for ocean cruises. It’s just something that you should be aware of since it is frequently overlooked when making the price comparisons.

Whether you take a river cruise or an ocean cruise, both will provide you with a memorable vacation. It just all depends on the activities, amenities and destinations you are looking for on your cruising vacation. Bon Voyage!

 

Tags: ,

River Cruise $200 Shipboard Credit

Posted on: |
Google+PinterestTwitterFacebook

German Countryside along Rhine riverThere’s still time to receive a $200 shipboard credit*. Call me so I can book your 2013 Viking Cruise through the magnificent waterways of Europe.

If you have ever wanted to experience the beauty of Europe, a river cruise is a great way to see many countries and unpack only once. But hurry because this great shipboard credit offer expires at month end.

The eligible river cruise sailings are as follows:

8-day Rhine Getaway – Amsterdam to Basel

8-day Romantic Danube – Budapest to Nuremberg

8-day Danube Waltz – Passau to Budapest

7-day Heart of Germany – Frankfurt to Nuremberg

 

Here’s an example of what you can expect to see and do on one of these awesome river cruise journeys:

Views of Amsterdam Canal15-day Grand European Tour – Amsterdam to Budapest

  • Visit 5 Countries
  • Enjoy 13-guided tours
  • Travel along the Rhine, Main & Danube Rivers
  • Holland’s Tulips Fields, Germany’s Fairytale Castles
  • See the Main-Danube Canal Engineering Feat
  • Picturesque Vineyards of Autria’s Wachau Valley
  • From $3,999/person

 

Act Now!

We can also offer you excellent pricing on international air.

*Sailings within 30 days prior to departure are not applicable to this promotion. Offer expires on Sept. 30, 2013

Call us about 2 for 1 Cruises for 2014, plus 2 for 1 air.   This offer has been extended but expires on Sept. 30, 2013

 

 

Tags: , ,

European Culinary & Wine Immersion Cruise

Posted on: | 1 Comment
Google+PinterestTwitterFacebook

Bordeaux Wines & Basque Country Gastronomy Cruise

Drinking wine on the Celebrity Constilation

Drinking wine on the Celebrity Constilation

Enjoy a luxurious, round-trip cruise from Southampton, England with ports of call in Spain and France.  On this 12-day wine and food cruise, you will explore the great European vineyards of world-class Bordeaux and sample the unique culinary foods of the Basque region.

This magnificent food and wine vacation will include several special food, wine and cocktail activities including:

  • Cooking Demonstration with a cookbook signing
  • Hands-on cooking class
  • Dinner with Master Sommelier & Michelin Chef
  • Sake Demonstration
  • Wine tastings and food pairings with a Master Sommelier
  • Michelin-star chef dinner
  • Cocktails-at-Home Class with Mixologist

Also, at this great introductory price of $899*, you get inclusive and complimentary services such as:

  • Specialty restaurants, Fine wines, Champagne, Premium spirits, Non-alcoholic beverages, Pre-paid Gratuities for staff including housekeeping, bar service and dining room

Book with us and receive the Fine Living Enthusiast Special Treatment:

  • Private cocktail reception
  • Exclusive shore excursion including tapas bar and museum tour
  • Concierge Host
  • And of course, a bottle of wine

Francophiles – Live the dream!

Select your departure dates from one of the following:

  • Oct. 13, 2012
  • Oct. 25, 2012
  • Nov. 6, 2012
  • Nov. 18, 2102

* Cabins start at $899 but are filing up quickly so call today for availability. Suites are available from just $1,999.

We book air and have access to travel agent specials.  Give us a call for an opportunity at discounted airfare to London.  Also, ask us about pre- and post-cruise land vacations.

Tags: , , , ,

Burgundy & Provence On a Wine River Cruise

Posted on: |
Google+PinterestTwitterFacebook

A Food & Wine Travel Extravaganza

Côte d’Azur to Paris – October 30, 2011   from $3,039/pp

Eiffel TowerWhether you’re a wine connoisseur or just an everyday enthusiast, you’ll expand your horizons on this exciting Burgundy & Provence Wine River Cruise. As you leisurely float by the legendary vineyards along the Saône and Rhône Rivers, a distinguished wine authority is available to describe how various grape varieties are cultivated; and will teach you what to look for in a good wine.

wine river cruiseHere are some of the activities you can enjoy on this European wine 11-day adventure:

  • Wine tasting in a wine cellar in Beaune
  • Chardonnay excursion in Burgundy
  • On-board Beaujolais Wine Tasting
  • Food & Wine pairing dinner on-board
  • On-board Wine & Chocolate Tasting
  • World-renown Chateauneuf-du-Pape excursion
  • Visit the France’s gastronomic capital of Lyon
  • Two-night stay in Paris to explore and sight see
  • Architectural highlights of Roman, Christian and medieval influences

Join us for an adventure Bacchus himself would enjoy!  Call today to secure your spot on this extravagant wine and cuisine exploration.  This is one of the best ways to enjoy food and wine travel without blowing the budget.

Ask us about Paris/Nice or London/Paris/Nice pre- and post-cruise extensions on an independent traveler basis.

Tags: , ,