This is sponsored content by Celebrity Cruises.
For a wine lover, enticing holidays beckon from around the globe: Champagne, Napa Valley, Tuscany, Bordeaux, La Rioja, Mendoza, Marlborough, Douro, Stellenbosch – the list goes on.
You could spend a lifetime striving to reach them all. Or, you could take a cruise with savvy wine enthusiasts eager to experience the world's best drops with ease.
Today's luxury liners boast some of the world's best wine cellars and lists, plus endless ways to explore them, guided by highly qualified experts.
In recent years, as cruise lines have reinvented their restaurants and menus to attract travelling gourmands and wine buffs, the quality of drops on board has risen to rival the cream of onshore restaurants.
As many as 40,000 bottles and 600 labels on board. Photo: Getty.
It's been such an impressive transformation that in 2013, Wine Spectator, the leading wine authority, started including cruise ships in its prestigious annual Restaurant Awards that recognise restaurants for their superior wine offerings.
Since then, luxury ships have featured annually in the Awards of Excellence line-up. The race for vinous supremacy is led by Celebrity Cruises, winner of 48 of the Awards of Excellence, making the brand's collection the most awarded at sea.
Cornelius Gallagher, Celebrity's Vice President of Food and Beverage Operations, has been leading the company's 'the culinary cruise line' messaging and is proud of this recognition. "We are the only cruise brand in the industry where every one of the ships in the fleet has won the Award of Excellence," he says.
Celebrity's flagship Celebrity Edge, which has a hefty 500-strong wine list across the main dining rooms, is also the only cruise ship included in the Awards of Excellence 'best of' list – the very top tier.
An ocean of wine
A Celebrity Cruises ship is a giant floating wine cellar boasting as many as 40,000 bottles and 600 labels, constantly replenished from curated selections around the world.
There's something for every palate and price. Dine out with a $21 a bottle, or splurge over $8,000 for a special occasion. For travellers who prefer to taste their way through regions and varietals, there are some 100 wines available by the glass.
Among these are precious rare vintages; think Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1898, Heidsieck Monopole Champagne 1907, Chateau Latour 1929, Chateau Margaux 1929, Chateau Petrus 1978 and Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2005.
Beyond restaurants, onshore wine excursions from Tasmania to Tuscany await. Photo: Supplied
Alongside these liquid stars, Celebrity Cruises employs 200 sommeliers – one of the largest teams of certified sommeliers in the world and the in the cruise industry.
They all update their knowledge constantly, participating in their industry's best-in-class education program with the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Immersed in wine
For wine loving cruisers, all this translates into a wide array of immersive experiences combining theatre, education, adventure and indulgence.
The Solstice Class ships boast a striking two-storey glass and steel wine tower, created by acclaimed designer Adam Tihany. Each holds 1,800 bottles of wine, maintained at optimum serving temperature.
On each ship the dedicated wine bar, Cellar Masters, is the epicentre of wine activities, with sommelier-hosted enrichment, tasting and education experiences that share the best of the world's drops in a 'global wine tour'.
Onboard, you'll find tastings and talks on wines from Tuscany to Tasmania and wine pairings themed around the regions. These might involve fresh market ingredients and newly sourced drops from ports of call.
Cruising's scope for wine discovery goes beyond restaurant experiences. The space and resources aboard a modern luxury ship enable activities rarely found outside wineries, such as Celebrity's Blendtique Winemaking Experience. Here, guests can blend their own wine from four varietals, complete with bottle and personalised private label to take home. If you love what you made, you can order more when you're back on dry land.
Further perks include private tastings of rare, premium wines at prices that compete keenly with those on land and a Riedel crystal workshop that demonstrates how glass enhances the taste of a great wine.
With over 170 awards globally, when you cruise with Celebrity Cruises® you'll experience extraordinary destinations, culinary excellence, intuitive service, luxurious accommodations and stunning design. Our dining options, with menus curated by Michelin star Chef Cornelius Gallagher, are inspired by, and locally sourced from, the amazing destinations we visit. Celebrity Cruises recently joined forces with the iconic Chef Daniel Boulud as our Global Culinary Ambassador to create even more unique dining experiences for our guests. Discover Europe in 2020 with Celebrity Cruises' revolutionary new ships - Celebrity Edge® and Celebrity Apex℠ for the most groundbreaking culinary experiences at sea.