Burgundy and Provence

We have just returned from a delightful eight-day river cruise aboard Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection‘s stunning S.S. Catherine sailing from Lyon to Avignon. From the moment we boarded, we were impressed with the magnificent Murano chandelier, the glass elevator with a glimmering waterfall cascading down its side, a Murano horse and long stretches of mirrors and marble.

Murano Horse
Murano Horse in s.s. Catherine’s Lobby
Murano Chandelier
Murano Chandelier in s.s. Catherine’s Lobby















Each stateroom is uniquely decorated with rich textiles, lovely French furnishing and handcrafted Savoir of England beds with fine linens. Shimmering marble bathrooms have a glass-enclosed shower, a towel-warmer, and L’Occitane toiletries.

On Monday, in Macon, France, we elected to take a bespoke experience: Southern Burgundy Delights at Chateau de Rully. The Chateau de Rully belongs to the same family from the beginning. The changes of the name over the centuries show that ownership was sometimes transferred through the female line; the main family names have been: Rully, Saint-Leger, Montessus and today de Ternay. Monsieur Le Comte de Ternay welcomed us and guided us through the Chateau. During the tour, we learned about the family history, anecdotes and secrets.

Chateau de Rully

Chateau de Rully Courtyard
Chateau de Rully

Monsieur Le Comte de Ternay
Monsieur Le Comte de Ternay

Our Tuesday port-of-call was Lyon, the culinary capital of France. Our included tour, “Do as the Locals do,” was a Lyon city tour. We discovered why Lyon has been named France capital of gastronomy while we visited Les Halles Paul Boucuse and strolled through Lyon’s historic old quarter, with many spectacular examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture and les traboules, the city’s old passageways.

LyonMarketplace Cheese ShopPuppets








Tain L’Hermitage, France was our Wednesday destination. Our included Twin Cities walking tour with wine tasting. Nestled on opposite side of the river in the heard of the Cotes du Rhone, the twin cities of Tournon and Tain L’Hermitage make an ideal destination for wine connoisseurs.

Tain L'HermitageL'Hermitage Landscape

Back on board, we were treated to a Crepe Suzette cooking demonstration and tasting with Pastry Chefs Raluca and Nuno in the Van Gogh Lounge.
Crepes Suzettes

On Thursday, we explored the charming village of Viviers with an organ concert performed in the Cathedral just for Uniworld guests. Viviers climbs a hill above the river, crowned by 12th century St. Vincent’s Cathedral. It happens to be the smallest cathedral in France, but it contains a marvelous organ. Sitting under the soaring vaults, we listened while a local organist demonstrated just how fine an instrument it is. From there we wandered down through the town and were treated to a special visit to our guide’s home!

St. Vincent's CathedralViviersSt. Vincent's Organ











We elected to visit a Truffle Farm and Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine tasting on Thursday afternoon.
Truffle HunterGrape Varieties










Our excursion choice on Friday in Avignon was a walking tour and the Palace of the Popes. It’s hard to believe, looking at the charming cafes and entertaining street performers in the Clock Tower Square, that this lively scene owes its existence to a 15th-century siege. This area was the heart of medieval Avignon~and the site of the original Roman town~crowded with cottages and narrow treets, until a pope had it all demolished in order to give his troops a cleared field of fire!

Avignon cafePalace of the Popes










Arles rounded out the week on Saturday. Van Gogh paid tribute to Arle’s atmospheric beauty in some 200 paintings, including Starry Night Over the Rhone. It’s an ancient city boasting a remarkable collection of Roman ruins. We strolled through the district where medieval houses crowd in among the ancient structures and the city gates date to the 13th century.
Van Gogh CafeArles Roman Ruins










The final verdict? Uniworld’s attentive service, unique decor, wonderful beds and bathrooms, and superb cuisine make the s.s. Catherine a brilliant choice for vacationing in one of France’s most alluring regions.

Appealing? Want to plan a river cruise for 2018? I would love to make this happen for you.

Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

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  • or by phone – 800-372-1963
  • Danube Dreams For Wine Lovers

    Join us on Avalon Waterways 10-day “Suite-Ship” the Panorama on October 29, 2018. We’ll begin our European adventure with two nights in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, then sail along the Danube River, and end in Hungary’s exciting capital of Budapest. This is a cruise with a wine theme and a Master of Wine will sail with us and will share his expertise at lectures and wine tastings!

    Danube Dreams for Wine Lovers
    Our Itinerary

    In Prague, guided sightseeing shows us the city’s best-known treasures and an excursion takes you to Mĕlník to visit the wine cellars of the Lobkowicz family. Then we’ll drive to Regensburg, one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval cities. Lovers of architecture will delight in the treasures this town has to offer. Enjoy a tasting of local sausages before heading to Deggendorf, where our river cruise journey begins. Passau, the “City of Three Rivers” lies at the confluence of the Danube, Inn, and Ilz Rivers. We’ll walk the city with a Local Guide and marvel at the patrician houses and baroque St. Stephen’s Cathedral. In Linz, Austria, we’ll walk around the Hauptplatz, Austria’s largest medieval square which forms the center of the city and prepares our taste buds for an exclusive onboard food and wine-pairing dinner hosted by your Master of Wine. We’ll enjoy the splendid views as we cruise through the picturesque wine region of Wachau Valley. We’ll stop in Melk to visit the spectacular Benedictine Abbey; and in Dürnstein, we may join an optional interactive wine experience and tasting. Vienna, the “City of Music,” makes an immediate impression with its lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace and neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House. We’ll enjoy a guided tour of this magical city and then take time to explore on our own. In Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital, a guided walk takes us through the delightful Old Town and a visit to gothic St. Martin’s Cathedral.

    Lastly, a local expert shows us the must-see sights of Budapest, then takes us to visit wine cellars right in the heart of the city! A perfect ending to this timeless European river cruise.

    Budapest At Night

    Highlights & Sightseeing
    Day 1 Prague: welcome to Prague

    Prague Astronomical Clock

    Day 2 Prague: guided sightseeing, see the Astronomical Clock and visit Hradčany Castle grounds, excursion to Melnik

    Day 3 Prague–Regensburg, Germany–Deggendorf (Embarkation): travel by motorcoach to Regensburg, guided sightseeing; special treat; transfer to Deggendorf; onboard welcome reception

    Day 4 Passau: guided walk, onboard wine tasting and lecture by our Master of Wine

    Day 5 Linz Austria: guided sightseeing, onboard Food and Wine pairing dinner

    Day 6 Melk–Dürnstein: guided visit of the Benedictine Abbey in Melk; cruise through the Wachau Valley; choice between guided walk in Dürnstein or an interactive wine experience. Melk Abbey

    Day 7 Vienna: guided sightseeing

    Day 8 Bratislava: guided sightseeing, visit St. Martin’s Cathedral

    Day 9 Budapest: guided sightseeing, see Fishermen’s Bastion and Heroes’ Square, visit a wine cellar and enjoy wine tasting. Budapest Fishermens Bastion

    Day 10 Budapest (Disembarkation): your vacation ends this morning

    Meals
    • Captain’s welcome & farewell receptions with sparkling wine and canapés
    • Welcome dinner
    • Farewell dinner
    • Daily full buffet breakfast with made-to-order egg station, hot and cold menu items
    • Early and Late Riser breakfast
    • Daily lunch buffet with pasta or carving stations
    • Alternative light lunch or (weather permitting) grill fare at the Sky Bistro on the Sky Deck
    • Daily four-course à la carte dinner in the main dining room
    • Alternative dinner of petite portions or regional specialties with wines, in the Panorama Bistro
    • Daily Afternoon Tea
    • Daily Night Fare
    • Complimentary sparkling wine with breakfast; wine, beer, or soft drinks with lunch and dinner are included daily on board your vessel

    Notes
    • In the event of water level problems or any problems of a technical nature, it may be necessary to operate the itinerary by motorcoach or to alter the program.
    • Included visits and special features are subject to change. If a change is necessary, a substitute will be offered.
    • Please check visa requirements with your local consulate(s); the responsibility for obtaining a visa rests with the traveler.

    Appealing? Won’t you join us? I would love to make this happen for you.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

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  • or by phone – 800-372-1963
  • How To Take Your Wine Tasting Club To The Next Level

    You and your friends have organized a successful wine tasting club. You’ve done everything right for each monthly meeting:

    Red Wine

  • Decided on a formal or informal format
  • Created a theme such as “Wines of Chile,” “The Best of the California Cabernets,” or “Favorite Holiday Wines”
  • Secured appropriate wine tasting supplies and accessories such as glasses, rinse pitchers, dump buckets, drinking water, bland bread or crackers, and a tasting evaluation form for each member
  • Allocated time for enrichment from research shared by members or an outside presenter such as a wine merchant or local winery vintner
  • Focused on food and wine pairing with the meeting theme
  • Mailed a newsletter or sent an enewsletter with the next meeting’s location, agenda, theme, and other details as well as a review of the last meeting’s tastings, upcoming community wine-related events, etc.

    You’ve done well. Membership has grown and your group of like-minded individuals are now the best of friends. Where can you go from here? Plan a tour for your group to a wine region! Start with a short trip, perhaps a three or four-day cruise in Napa Valley. After one or two successful wine holidays, plan more extensive travel to wine regions of France, Germany, South Africa or even Australia and New Zealand.

    Wine appreciation themed river cruises add an exceptional epicurean dimension to European river cruises. A distinguished wine authority leads interesting discussions onboard and expert chefs pair fine regional wines with superb cuisine. You’ll visit wine villages where vintners and growers will walk you through the winemaking process and taste some of their special varieties. AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, and Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection offer themed cruises on select itineraries and dates. AmaWaterways Wine Tasting


    Is your wine club ready to step up to a European river cruise? If you are considering an wine-theme river cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 269-372-1963 | 800-372-1963

  • What’s New With AmaWaterways?

    AmaWaterways, designated Best River Cruise Line of 2016 by Cruise Critic, continues to set the standards for ingenuity and flair in the river cruise industry year after year. New additions for 2017 feature multi-generational travel, more alternative ways to explore and more included choices. AmaWaterways has effectively attracted new passengers to river cruising, and they continue to fine-tune the onboard experience with alternative restaurants and new cabin designs. Take a look at the latest features below.

    ► NEW! River Cruise Ship, AmaKristina
    AmaWaterways Lobby Set to debut on April 1, 2017, the AmaKristina is the 21st member of AmaWaterways fleet, named after Godmother, Kristin Karst. The 158-passenger vessel features connecting staterooms and triple accommodations, designed specifically to target the multi-generational group and family travel markets.

    ► NEW! Africa Safari & Wildlife Cruise Itinerary
    Experience the thrill of daily game drives and exceptional amenities, service and cuisine aboard the Zambezi Queen on the new Wildlife and the Falls itinerary. 1 night Johannesburg, a 4-night African river safari, 2 nights in Victoria Falls, 2 nights in Johannesburg & 3 nights at a luxury safari lodge in greater Kruger National Park
    Game Viewing On The Chobe12 Nights – Travel to Johannesburg and return from Johannesburg



    ► More Wine Cruises in 2017
    AmaWaterways‘ award-winning wine theme cruises have grown significantly to nearly 50 departures in 2017. These are exclusive wine cruises that showcase the acclaimed wine regions along Europe’s Danube, Douro, Mosel, Rhine, Rhone and Seine Rivers. These exceptional sailings are hosted by leading wine experts and feature complimentary lectures, wine tastings, superb cuisine with paired wines, and excursions to historic vineyards and wine cellars. Durnstein Wine Tasting Guests learn about centuries-old wine traditions, sample one-of-a-kind vintages and enjoy private wine-themed excursions. Other highlights include: music and newly pressed wine at a rustic Austrian tavern; Alsatian wines in Colmar, the French “Capital of Alsatian Wine”; and a German “Oktoberfest” in the village of Vilshofen, held year-round exclusively for our guests. Love wine? These are the perfect cruises for you!

    ► More Ways to Discover
    Recently awarded Cruise Critic’s 2016 Best River Cruise Line for Active Cruisers, AmaWaterways offers travelers a new degree of adventure including a selection of biking, hiking, and multiple-paced walking tours. Castelo Rodrigo Portugal



    ► Backroads Partnership
    Biking On The Danube AmaWaterways and Backroads have amplified their partnership, doubling active river cruise options for 2017, with over 100 departures to choose from.

    ► Adventures By Disney Partnership
    Following the successful inauguration of the partnership, Adventures by Disney has expanded its lineup of family-oriented river cruises with AmaWaterways in 2017, now featuring itineraries on both the Danube and Rhine rivers. Family Vacation



    If you are considering an AmaWaterways river cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • Uniworld’s Once-in-a-Lifetime Experiences

    Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is amplifying its award winning excursions in 2017 with a generous menu of meticulously planned and expertly guided cultural experiences.

    Golf Club and Ball Is golf your game? Uniworld is adding new golf excursions to its Paris & Normandy itinerary in 2017 aboard the new Joie de Vivre, debuting in March 2017. Uniworld passengers will be able to hit the links during an eight-day river cruise throughout France at two of Europe’s top courses: Golf de Rouen Mont-Saint-Aignan in Rouen and Golf d’Etretat, which overlooks the coastline of Étretat. All golf equipment for men and women is available onboard.

    Explore Europe by river and by bike, via an exclusive partnership with award-winning tour operator Butterfield & Robinson on the Danube River. Cycling routes that showcase Europe’s spectacular old-world scenery. Customized bicycles, detailed maps, support vehicle and expert bike guides. Biking Excursions

    After-Hours Visit Inside St. Mark’s Basilica
    Uniworld guests have an exceptionally rare opportunity to observe a private after-hours lighting ceremony inside St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. St. Marks Basilica The lights serve to enhance the elaborately adorned interior of this beautiful church, a sight that’s especially resplendent when viewed after the daytime crowds have departed. Experience it on these itineraries: Gems of Northern Italy and Splendors of Italy.

    Guided Kayaking on the Gardon River
    “Go Active” as you paddle your own kayak on a guided excursion along the tranquil Gardon River. This is a delightful opportunity to view the UNESCO-listed, millennia-old Pont du Gard from a fresh, fun and truly unforgettable perspective.Kayaks Experience it on “Burgundy & Provence” (May through September departures only).

    Morning with the Masters
    Venture inside the acclaimed Kunsthistorisches (Art History) Museum in Vienna for a special early opening and private tour. After viewing the Habsburg’s imperial treasures and works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer, Titian and Tintoretto, enjoy a Bellini cocktail on the museum’s stunning cupola terrace. Experience it on “Enchanting Danube”. Vienna Art

    Doktorenhof Vinegar Estate Visit & Tasting
    Discover the complex, elegant and unexpectedly flavorful aperitifs made with premium wine vinegars at this unique estate’s atmospheric tasting room. Holzfigur Monk The hooded monks’ robes, candlelit cellars and fascinating vinegar-inspired lore all contribute to a most memorable excursion in Germany. Experience it on these itineraries: Castles Along the Rhine and Legendary Rhine and Moselle

    Artisanal Wine-Pairing Lunch at Chateau Royal de Cazeneuve
    We treat our guests to a delectable wine-pairing lunch at Château de Cazeneuve, an 85-acre estate where local experts are happy to share their knowledge of Sauternes—the highly prized, golden-hued sweet wine that takes its name from the region. French Sauternes Experience it on these itineraries: “Bordeaux, Vineyards & Châteaux,” “A Portrait of Majestic France,” and ” Ultimate France.”

    Concert, Dinner & Royal Ballroom Dancing in a Viennese Palace
    Danube Holiday MarketThere’s no better way to celebrate the holidays and the “City of Waltzes” than to spend a perfectly choreographed evening in a sumptuous Viennese palace. Enjoy a private concert of classical music by Austrian composers, a gourmet meal with fine wines and after-dinner dancing in an opulent Royal Ballroom. Experience it on select sailings of “Grand Christmas & New Year’s Cruise”.

    If you are considering an European river cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • French Wine Experiences

    White Wine Tasting

    If you’ve got a passion for outstanding travel experiences and unforgettable wines, why not make 2016 the year you visit some of Europe’s most famous wine regions? On Châteaux, Rivers & Wine cruise explore incomparable Bordeaux, arguably the most famous wine region in the world.

    Viking River Cruises

    Viking River Cruises

    The Châteaux, Rivers & Wine itinerary explores the region’s opulent culture including its 18th-century merchant mansions, Gothic churches, celebrated Quarter Saint-Pierre and, of course, France’s largest controlled wine region with its Médoc, Saint-Ėmilion and Graves collections.

    The Wine Regions of Bordeaux
    Bordeaux, France is home to the world’s most prized wines. Learn about its many different regions and appellations with Karine Hagen of Viking.

    Bordeaux’s Sublime Red and White Wines from Viking River Cruises
    Delve into the essence of the region’s most popular wines with a local expert.

    Bordeaux’s Clairet & Rosé Wines from Viking River Cruises
    Introduce yourself to some of the hidden gems of Bordeaux. You’ll learn the subtle differences and why the French treasure these wines each summer.

    Truffle Hunting
    Ever wonder how rare and delicious truffles are found? Join Karine Hagen of Viking River Cruises in Bordeaux, France as she learns how dogs are trained to unearth one of the world’s great delicacies. On Viking’s Châteaux, Rivers & Wine river cruise, a visit to a working truffle farm is one of the many optional excursions you can enjoy.

    Sauternes – The Sweet Alternative from Viking River Cruises
    Enjoy a glimpse into this intriguing sweet wine. Karine Hagen takes a closer look with one of Sauternes’ local experts.

    If you are considering an wine themed river cruise in France, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • 5 Tips for a Successful Wine Tasting Tour

    We ran across the following article on our way to searching for other things. Enjoy!

    White Wine Tasting

    If you are considering a wine tasting tour, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • Châteaux, Rivers & Wine


    Viking River Cruises Special Offers - 2 -TastefulJourneys

    If you’ve got a passion for outstanding travel experiences and unforgettable wines, why not make 2015 the year you visit some of Europe’s most famous wine regions? On Viking River Cruises Châteaux, Rivers & Wine cruise explore incomparable Bordeaux, arguably the most famous wine region in the world.

    The Châteaux, Rivers & Wine itinerary explores the region’s opulent culture including its 18th-century merchant mansions, Gothic churches, celebrated Quarter Saint-Pierre and, of course, France’s largest controlled wine region with its Médoc, Saint-Ėmilion and Graves collections.

    The Wine Regions of Bordeaux

    Bordeaux, France is home to the world’s most prized wines. Learn about its many different regions and appellations with Karine Hagen of Viking.


    Continue reading Châteaux, Rivers & Wine

    Ultimate Winery Experiences of Australia

    Did you know? Australia’s wine industry was born when the first fleet disembarked in Sydney Cove in 1788, bringing with them vines from Brazil and South Africa.
    And, Australia produces just four per cent of the world’s wine, but is the world’s fourth largest exporter behind Italy, France and Spain.

    Australia has more than 2,400 wineries dotted among 65 wine regions around the country. Australia’s wine regions produce more than 100 different grape varieties and over 30 million glasses of Australian wine are consumed worldwide every day. Australia is home to some of the oldest vines in the world, dating back to the 1850s.

    Ultimate Winery Experiences of Australia is a collection of premium award-winning wineries in Australia’s most renowned wine regions. These wineries are not just places to sample and purchase wine. They offer a range of diverse experiences beyond the cellar door including restaurants, major events, art, as well as behind the scenes tours, private tastings, and wine education, in some of Australia’s most spectacular locations.

    The Ultimate Wineries of Australia collection includes:
    • Leeuwin Estate and Voyager Estate in Margaret River, Western Australia
    • Jacob’s Creek and Seppeltsfield Winery in the Barossa Valley, South Australia
    • Chapel Hill and d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale, South Australia
    • Penfolds Magill Estate in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia
    • Montalto on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
    • De Bortoli and TarraWarra in the Yarra Valley, Victoria
    • Wyndham Estate and Audrey Wilkinson in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales
    • Josef Chromy and Moorilla Estate in Tasmania

    Australia's Wine Country Sign
    You’ve arrived!

    Australia is one of the world’s exceptional wine-producing countries. Large and small, traditional and boutique – their wineries offer an assortment of distinctive experiences. Walk into almost any cellar door of the Ultimate Wineries of Australia Collection and you can expect to find yourself talking directly to the winemaker, who are often second or third generation vignerons.

    These wines display the multiplicity of the early migrants whose expertise influenced the trade. Most of Australia’s wineries are not far from the major cities. Many offer behind-the-scenes tours, unparalleled restaurants and wine appreciation classes to enhance your experience. Plan a stop during harvest season and smell, touch and taste each vintage as it comes off the vine.

    Is Australia on your bucket list? If you are considering a trip “down under,” adding the Ultimate Winery Experience will enhance your vacation. Please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • 6 River Cruises Wine Lovers Shouldn’t Miss!

    Celebration of Wine

    AmaWaterways popular In Celebration of Wine river cruises are for intrepid oenophiles keen to immerse themselves in the culture and traditions of Europe’s top wine producing regions. Set sail this November for one of six cruises on the Rhine or the Danube Rivers featuring wine tastings, tours of vineyards and wineries, wine and food pairings, and onboard lectures from distinguished wine authorities. Delight in magnificent wines as you fix your eyes upon astounding and ever-shifting landscape. Love wine? These are the ideal river cruises for you!

    MelodiesOfTheDanube

    GREAT CAPITALS & VINTAGES OF THE DANUBE
    7-night cruise from Budapest to Vilshofen aboard the AmaBella
    U.S. Departure Date: November 8, 2013
    Starting from $2,149 per person
    Optional 3 nights in Prague for $690 per person
    Wine Hosts: Bob & Jodi Dickinson of Camillus House, Miami, FL

    Bob and Jodi Dickinson are passionate fundraisers for Camillus House, a Florida nonprofit. A former cruise industry executive, Bob is a wine enthusiast and collector and a member of many prestigious food and wine societies.

    Continue reading 6 River Cruises Wine Lovers Shouldn’t Miss!