Of AmaWaterways 22 new sailings in the Bourdeaux region, eight will be wine-themed cruises. // © 2015 AmaWaterways
Feature image (above): Passengers on the new itineraries will sail onboard AmaDolce. // © 2015 AmaWaterways
AmaWaterways has announced the debut of its first-ever Bordeaux, France, itineraries. Starting in spring 2016, the line will offer 22 Taste of Bordeaux sailings onboard AmaDolce, sailing the Garonne and Dordogne rivers in France’s most renowned wine region. Eight of these departures will be special wine-themed cruises, providing an even more immersive experience that includes expert wine hosts and sommeliers, onboard lectures, interactive tastings and multicourse menus paired with select vintages.
The 2016 cruises will sail the Garonne River and its surrounding estuaries, exploring one of the world’s undisputed wine capitals. Guests will visit Bordeaux’s famous chateaus and vineyards, with stops at Cadillac’s medieval Roquetaillade Castle, a Medoc wine tasting in Pauillac, an excursion at the fairytale Chateau de Montaigne in Libourne and more. Optional pre- and/or post-cruise land extensions provide city tours in Paris, additional chateau visits and wine tastings in the Loire Valley.
Expert wine hosts and sommeliers will lead passengers in onboard lectures, interactive tastings and multicourse menus with hand-selected vintages. Travelers will also have the opportunity to tour historic wine cellars, learn about winemaking and indulge in local epicurean traditions.
Bordeaux is a wine industry capital and has been producing wine since the eighth century. The historic port city of Bordeaux, the Port of the Moon, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its thousands of lovely buildings created during the Age of Enlightenment.
Once known as La Belle au Bois Dormant (translated into “Sleeping Beauty”), Bordeaux woke up at the millennium, restoring its buildings and making its streets pedestrian-only. A lively university town, it is the heart of a region divided into the left bank and the right bank as well as a wine lover’s dream, with a rich and delicious culinary tradition to go with it. On a romantic note, Bordeaux houses more than 13,000 fairy-tale castles (chateaux) — some completely renovated and others in ruins.
“Bordeaux was always on the horizon for me — I’ve spent four or five years looking at the possibilities, and CroisiEurope was the only line in,” said Rudi Schreiner, president and co-owner of AmaWaterways. “The question was always whether we could fill a ship there. Our partners are pushing for more expansion, but demand fluctuates, and I want to grow consistently. We didn’t have enough capacity previously to dedicate a ship to Bordeaux, but we added three ships last year, three this year and we’ll have two additional ships next year, so we’re putting AmaDolce in Bordeaux in 2016.”
Schreiner is planning to slowly replace the ships on the Rhine and Danube with new vessels and move the 110-meter ships to France.
“Some people prefer the Rhone because of the cities like Avignon — but of course Bordeaux is heaven for wines, and our wine hosts are looking forward to this,” said Schreiner.
AmaDolce features French balconies and a very impressive entertainment system that includes complimentary Wi-Fi access, first-run Hollywood movies and a full music library. The ship also offers two dining venues; a lobby bar; the Sun Deck, with a walking track and whirlpool; and bicycles for guests to enjoy during group or self-guided shore excursions.
Through July 2015, the river cruise line is offering an early booking discount of up to $1,500 per stateroom.