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The best booze cruises in Europe and the USA

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Get ready to cheers. These adult cruises are packed with tastings, on board seminars and excursions to the vineyards, cellars, and breweries.

For cruise-lovers, nothing says vacation like the wind blowing through your hair, the horizon hang on just before, and perhaps most importantly: your favorite adult beverage, grip firmly in the hand.

Fortunately, a large number of cruises have graduated from the days of “Bahama Mama” umbrella drinks served in tacky souvenir glasses for a large number of high-end “booze cruises” that make for a surprisingly elegant crossings. Here, we round up the most buzzworthy alcohol-themed routes—whether it be wine, champagne, beer or strong liquor, which is the best wet your whistle—spread over a series of vessels, large and small.

Yes, we’ll drink to that.

  • 1.

    Wine on the Rhine…and the Rhône, the Danube, the Douro, and more

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    AmaWaterways offers a series of 40-plus weeks of “In Celebration of Wine” sailings in Europe’s most legendary wine regions. The wine-minded cruises on the river, drifting on the Rhine, the Rhone, the Seine, the Danube, the Douro, Moselle and new for the spring of 2016, the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers in Bordeaux—search for the best vineyards. Operated on a dozen 106 – 170-passenger river boats (including the brand new AmaStella and AmaViola), possible routes, few popular cities, such as Paris, Amsterdam, Prague or Lisbon, with included excursions to the vineyards and wine cellars in the fourth wine hubs such as Saint-Émilion, Rüdesheim, or Porto. On board, expert wine hosts lead lectures, tastings, food and wines, and even wine-blending workshops.

    Starts on selected dates from March to November in 2016 and 2017; prices from $1,849/person

  • 2.

    For lovers of champagne

    French Country Waterways is specialized in luxury wine – and Champagne-centric holiday on the canals of France. Their six-night itineraries through the famous Champagne region, are intimate affairs, with a capacity for only eight passengers and a crew of six aboard the plushly re-Princess on the ship. Along the way, between the small French towns of Chateau-Thierry, and de Courcy, included lively-minded excursions, you for cellar tours and private tastings at champagne houses such as Veuve Clicquot. On board, guests can enjoy unlimited pours of dozens of the best wines and champagnes paired with regionally inspired dishes, as they sail along the scenic landscapes of the Champagne vineyards.

    Begins on select dates from April to July, 2016 and 2017; prices from $6,095 per person

  • 3.

    Bourbon Country Cruises

    Looking to the South of the legendary bourbon country, thanks to the American Queen Steamboat Company now-annual bourbon sailing along the Ohio River. Cruising from St. Louis to Cincinnati aboard the luxurious, 436-passenger American Queen paddle-wheeler, the seven-night “In the Bourbon Experience” tour leads the guests to the bourbon-making epicenter of Kentucky. Along the way, including stops highlight tours and tastings at local bourbon distilleries (Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and more), while back on board, guests can enjoy bourbon-improved menus and take part in tastings and lectures organised by the likes of Bill Samuels, Jr, son of the founder of Maker’s Mark.

    Begins: July 10, 2016, or July 2, 2017; prices starting from $2,149 per person

  • 4.

    The craft Beer Cruises à la the Pacific Northwest

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    The expedition-style small ships of Un-Cruise Adventures might be light on the frills, but they offer the perfect platform for off-the-path discovery of the craft beer-packaged ports of the Pacific Northwest. Their seven-night in the craft beer-themed ‘ Explore! Olympic Wilderness & San Juan Islands” itineraries run round-trip from Seattle to the islands and the coast of Washington, which active adventures (kayaking, hiking, and more), wildlife viewing (whales! eagles!), and craft beer tastings and tours at local breweries. Aboard the 76-passenger Wilderness to Explore, you can benefit from the tutelage of the craft beer experts and brewers, through special presentations, hosted beer tastings and pairings of craft beer with regional dishes.

    Begins on specific dates in April and October in 2016 and 2017; rates from $1,795/person

    View more of the best American and European booze cruises.

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