Ama Waterways wine cruisesFrom wine to history to art, river cruise lines are putting a greater emphasis on themed itineraries, a move that is helping extend their sailing season in Europe.

For instance, Ama Waterways has released a separate 2013 brochure devoted to cruises focusing on wine and other themes. It includes its new In Celebration of Wine program, cruises through Europe’s wine regions with an emphasis on learning about and experiencing regional wines. Many of the wine cruises take place in the traditionally slower months for European river cruising, like October and November.

The In Celebration of Wine cruises feature included shore excursions and wine-themed programming, such as visits to vineyards and wine cellars, vintner talks, wine tastings and wine-themed lectures co-hosted by experts from U.S. wineries.

The brochure features seven wine-themed itineraries, including a 15-day Legendary Wine Regions of the Rhone on the 150-passenger Amadagio, with sailings in November. There is also a 13-day Culture & Wine Legacy of the Rhine cruise on the 148-passenger Amacello, with departures throughout November.

Tauck, too, has added a 14-day Artistic Impressions: Monte-Carlo to Paris itinerary on its 118-passenger Swiss Emerald. Art-themed activities during the Rhone cruise include guided tours of the Chagall and Matisse museums in Nice, as well as the Jean Cocteau Museum in Menton, France.

Guests will trace Van Gogh’s footsteps in Arles and explore the works of Cezanne in the Granet Museum in Aix-en-Provence. The itinerary ends in Paris, where guests will get a behind-the-scenes tour of an artist’s studio and choose between guided tours of the Louvre or the Musee de Rodin. There are two departures for this cruise, on May 17 and Sept. 18, 2013.

Avalon Waterways has said that the demand for “passion travel” has motivated the company to offer more themed cruises next year, as well, including two new culinary-themed cruises: one on its eight-day Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches cruise, with an Oct. 29 departure, and one on its 16-day Grand France cruise, with an Oct. 21 departure.

The culinary cruises include wine and oil tastings as well as distillery and farm visits. Additionally, a local chef will prepare a menu of regional specialties while sharing tips about food preparation.


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