Cruises aren’t just about relaxing deck-side at sea: they take you to far-flung locations where you can fully immerse yourself in the local culture before returning to the ship. For wine-lovers or curious vacationers, Royal Caribbean offers a range of shore excursions focused on wine tasting. Though each is unique to the nearby region and its terroir, expect a dynamic experience that will take you into the vineyards and surrounding scenery, where you’ll sample the area’s wine and food, bringing new meaning to the term “local flavor.” Here are five not-to-miss tastings.
1. Wine Tasting in Tuscany
Italy is known for its bold reds and refreshing whites; and the fine art of winemaking is at the heart of Tuscan culture. Learn about this storied winemaking tradition, including grape harvesting and bottling techniques, during a leisurely tour of a charming Tuscan vineyard. Sip and enjoy the finished product along with a traditional selection of Italian antipasti.
Where to find it: Florence, Italy
2. Lanzarote Wine Route
Don’t miss this chance to explore one of the world’s most unusual wine regions on the island of Lanzarote, which UNESCO declared a protected Biosphere Reserve. Here, vineyards thrive in the volcanic ash of La Geria valley, and it’s customary to plant the vines in semi-circular rock formations that protect them from strong winds and help capture rainfall. You’ll see extinct volcanoes and marvel at one of Spain’s oldest and most unique wineries, Bodegas El Grifo. Once you taste the region’s refreshing, mineral-rich Malvasia wine, you’ll learn why it’s internationally renowned—and why it’s worth the effort (grapes are harvested manually and undergo a pre-fermentation maceration).
Where to find it: Lanzarote, Canary Islands
3. Pyrgos Village Mezes And Wine Tour
Start the day by boarding a Pyrgos-bound coach for a guided walking tour that features remnants of a large Venetian castle and an 18th century monastery. You’ll cap off this sightseeing by pairing the sun-splashed scenery with a tasting at Venetsano’s winery, the oldest and largest on the island. Sample local delicacies like tomato fritters, fava puree, cheese pies and meatballs, along with ample tastings of their wines. You’ll conclude with a ride to Fira Town for a bit of free time to sightsee and shop.
Where to find it: Santorini, Greece
4. Tastes of Turkey
Explore the rustic countryside around Ephesus en route to the Seven Sages Vineyard, a charming stone chateau and winery set amid the rolling countryside. Get an introduction to the 6,000-year-old Turkish winemaking process, explore the lush grounds of the winery, and sample their red and white varietals paired with local cheeses. Afterwards, you’ll savor a multi-course meal of the chef’s best creations (think stuffed grape leaves, lamb shank, lavender brulee—and coffee, of course).
Where to find it: Ephesus, Turkey
5. Village of Sete Cidades And Wine Tasting
In the Azores, climb to the rim of the Sete Cidades crater—a vast, extinct volcano—where, once at the top, you will be rewarded with the spectacular sight of two lakes—one blue, one green—that lie inside. Return to the Hotel Azores for some well-deserved downtime, and enjoy a special, tasty spread of local cheeses paired with a selection of regional wines at your fingertips (the Azores is home to three wine-growing regions on each of its islands), plus another gorgeous view of Ponta Delgada’s harbor.
Where to find it: Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal
There are many ways to experience the world and its diverse cultures while enjoying a cruise vacation with Royal Caribbean. Explore more Royal Caribbean shore excursions here—and don’t forget you can enjoy world-class wines on each ship, too.