Exploring Europe’s Wine Regions on a Celebrity Cruise

The London Eye in London EnglandWine Tasting Menu on CelebrityI recently experienced 12 nights on the Celebrity Constellation. It was a wine cruise through the wine regions of France, Portugal and Spain departing from Southampton, England.

We began our trip by flying into London (LHR airport) and staying one night in the beautiful Royal Gardens Hotel with a view of the Kensington Palace right outside our window. We enjoyed one of London‘s landmarks, the London Eye, and took in the beautiful city and all its sights.

The cruise allowed us to experience many ports with 2 days in Bilbao Spain, 2 days in Bordeaux, France and 2 days in Paris/Normandy France.  The other 2 days were in Porto, Portugal and Vigo, Spain.

The average age of the guests on the ship was approximately 60, many of them from England, and very few children.

The ship has many dining options which include “Bistro on Five” with crepes, sandwiches and soups to “die for”.

The guest Wine Vintner, Christopher Cannan, was on board to help celebrate and explore the world of wine with daily activities to include wine pairing, wine and cheese pairing and just simple wine tasting.  It was informative and fun.

Since it was a wine discovery cruise, all of the ports were in wine growing areas of the regions.  Celebrity Cruises offered many shore excursions featuring tours to each of the local wineries as well as cultural and city tours.  There were also shuttles offered in the ports close to town.

It is important to know about the distance from the pier to the city centers in France. The bus rides to Normandy and Paris take 2 – 2 ½ hours in each direction which makes it a long day.  Since the ship is docked for days in each of these ports, some people prefer to stay at a hotel in Paris or St. Michele for one night, so they can explore the city further. This should definitely be done in advance, if this is your preference.

Bilbao, Spain is well known for the Guggenheim Museum but I loved the “Puppy” made of flowers and the “Mama Spider” made of steel which were outside of the actual museum.

My favorite day was in Porto where the national drink was named after the city and is the headquarters of the country’s wine industry.  I had never tasted white port, which is rather bubbly, and realized it was very good.  There are wine caves all along the Douro River with many stores selling beautiful local crafts and good food.

Overall, it was a great cruise, perfect weather and I enjoyed it immensely. I think it is a perfect cruise for a wine lover or someone that enjoys wine and would like to learn more about the drink and its heritage.

The Celebrity ship, Constellation, is going into dry dock next Spring to be Solsticized so it will be even better.

I had pre-arranged a private car from the ship to the airport for the end of the cruise. This was great because we were picked up at the pier at 10am rather than earlier, when everyone else departed, which made our check in a breeze.  The cost was completely reasonable and highly recommended.

If you would like to learn more about this wine cruise or others, please contact me. I have been a travel agent for over 30 years and I love to make my clients vacation dreams come true!

Carol Benson for Carefree Vacations

Direct Line: (858) 551-4488

E-mail: cbenson@carefreevacations.com

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