A master sommelier will lead wine experiences both on land and onboard. // © 2016 Adventures by Disney
Feature image (above): Shore excursions in Amsterdam include the Heineken Experience at the historic brewery. // © 2016 Adventures by Disney
Adventures by Disney began offering its brand-new European river cruise product last summer, bringing families to Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary via seven trips along the Danube River. In 2017, the brand’s product line will expand with Rhine River itineraries, including a just-announced, adult-exclusive trip with a food-and-wine theme.
The quick expansion of Adventure by Disney’s river cruise product line was in response to demand, according to Heather Killingbeck, director of trip and program development for the brand. She says some 2016 cruisers were so happy that they returned home and immediately booked a 2017 trip.
“Our goal was to create a European vacation that’s active, immersive and easy for families, and from speaking with guests, it seems that this goal was certainly achieved,” Killingbeck said. “Guests loved the excursions provided, so much so that some even told us that there were simply too many options to choose from. If offering too many wonderful activities each day is our biggest complaint, I think we have a real winning product on our hands.”
The new food-and-wine cruise is aimed at families with children ages 18 and older who have come to depend on the brand’s storytelling and top-notch service. Inspired in part by the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival held annually at Walt Disney World Resort, the eight-day cruise departs from Basel, Switzerland, on Oct. 21, 2017, and sails on through France, Germany and the Netherlands. The itinerary brings the company’s European river cruise offerings to a total of 15. Guests will sail on the all-new AmaKristina, a vessel being custom-built by AmaWaterways.
At the helm of this epicurean experience is Disney culinary director John State and master sommelier Brian Koziol. The pair have worked together on numerous food-and-beverage projects at Disney theme parks. State will lead gourmet food demonstrations onboard, highlighting beloved European dishes. Koziol will host wine-tasting seminars and attend vineyard tours with guests. Other highlights on the trip include sampling sausages and macarons in the French commune of Riquewihr; a hands-on pastry-making class in Strasbourg, France; sampling beers and hearty local fare in pubs in Germany’s wine region; and a waffle demonstration and tour of the former Heineken factory in Amsterdam.
“It’s hard to pick just one thing that sets this cruise apart,” Killingbeck said. “Learning the art of making tart flambe and washing it all down with Alsatian wines, touring vineyards with a master sommelier — we offer so many special experiences. I think it’s going to be a home run for sure.”