Not too long ago, few wine choices were available on cruise ships – white, red or, if one was lucky, blush. Today, chances are you'll find wine lists as long as your forearm at a restaurant, bar, or even a sun lounger on deck. Some cruise lines even go above and beyond an expanded cellar, offering unique wine programs and exclusive labels for wine lovers and newbies alike. If the oenophile inside of you is looking to pair his next cruise with the right wine, take a look at some of the best new offerings on the high seas.
Mondavi Family Estate
Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line
Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line teamed up with the Michael Mondavi Family Estate to revamp the cruise line's wine list. Michael Mondavi, a third-generation winemaker from Napa Valley, along with his son and daughter, used their decades of knowledge and experience to curate a top-notch wine selection.
This wine menu first made its debut on Norwegian Getaway on its Caribbean sailings and has since rolled out to the rest of the fleet.
Photo by Princess Cruises
Cruise Line: Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises stepped up its selections by offering an unprecedented 25 Super Tuscan wines on their newest ship, Royal Princess. Super Tuscans are based on special wine combinations from blends originating in Tuscany, including the Bordeaux blend that mixes Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot. There are only 29 Super Tuscans known to exist.
Sabatini's, the Italian specialty restaurant onboard Royal Princess, hosts Super Tuscan wine Tastings – your chance to sample a variety of these superb wines along with perfectly paired small plates. Find your favorite and buy a bottle to enjoy.
Royal Princess also offers the Wine Maker's Dinner in its main dining rooms. More than just a sip and taste, you can enjoy multicourse menus designed to pair with wines from select winemakers around the world.
Photo by Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean has gone self-service with its wine-tasting with a 48-bottle WineStation on its ships. The largest automated wine serving system of its kind at sea, the WineStation houses bottles from the cruise line's recently updated wine list. You're in control – buy by the glass or half glass, or have a taste of some of their wines from exclusive partners, like Château Lafite Rothschild (France), Frescobaldi (Italy), and Penfolds (Australia).
Also, for the last several years, Royal Caribbean has let you bring two bottles of wine or champagne per stateroom on its ships. No sneaking necessary to enjoy a glass of your favorite wine while taking in all those balcony views on your next cruise.
Wine Blending Experiences
Photo by Holland America Line
On Holland America's Koningsdam, MSC Cruises' MSC Divina, and across Celebrity Cruises' entire fleet, guests can take a special wine blending class. Expert wine blenders lead you through the different types of wine that are available and how they might go well together to create your own custom blend. To keep track of your likes and dislikes, a cheat sheet is provided so you can hone your creation into a perfect harmony of flavors to suit your taste buds. Once you've come up with your ideal combination, you can create a custom label for your bottle and enjoy it onboard or bring it home with you.