The eight-passenger L’Art de Vivre has undergone some improvements.

WHY IT RATES: A golf- or whisky-themed cruise through the Scottish Highlands, a wine-lover’s cruise through Burgundy and an opera-oriented cruise in Venice all speak to their passengers’ shared passions while exploring those iconic regions that are virtually synonymous with the subject of each sailing. — Laurie Baratti, TravelPulse Associate Writer

Responding to the ever-increasing demand for experiential travel, European Waterways announced that it is now offering a wider range of new, themed cruise departures for 2020 that can be booked on a per-cabin basis.

Cruises eligible for cabin bookings include the April 5, 2020 Whisky Trail cruise aboard the Scottish Highlander and the April 26, 2020, Golf Cruise aboard the Spirit of Scotland, both on Scotland’s Caledonian Canal; the April 12, 2020 Wine Appreciation Cruise aboard L’Impressionniste in Burgundy, France; and the August 16, 2020 Opera Cruise aboard La Bella Vita, which sails out of Venice.

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Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways, explained that European Waterways’ themed cruises feature enhanced itineraries that highlight the guests’ particular interests. For example, wine cruises will contain more exclusive tastings on a variety of vintages than the classic cruises, while golf cruises include guaranteed tee times at world-class courses. The cruises are especially appealing to small groups or local clubs that share a common pastime or passion.

“Our guests don’t want to be ‘spectators’ of history and culture, they want to be participants,” said Banks. “From sharing a glass of Pastis with a friendly lock keeper, to gourmet lunch with a baroness, to playing golf in the country that invented the sport, they seek immersive experiences that are both memorable and meaningful in providing insight into the local cultures.”

For single malt whisky enthusiasts, the April 5, 2020 Whisky Trail cruise aboard the eight-passenger Scottish Highlander hotel barge is ideal. Guests will visit at least three distilleries, where they will enjoy private tours and tastings. Among these is the family-run Benromach Distillery near Forres, as well as the Tomatin and Dalwhinnie distilleries, both in the Highland region. Cabins for the cruise start at $4,590 per person, based on double occupancy. There is no supplement for the Whisky Trail Cruise.

The April 12, 2020 Wine Appreciation Cruise aboard the 12-passenger L’Impressionniste in Southern Burgundy features private tastings at some of the best “off the beaten path” vineyards. Guests will enjoy such Burgundies as Nuits St-Georges, Santenay and Vosne Romanée, with premier or grand cru vintages hand-picked by the knowledgeable guides. Regions visited include the Loire Valley, Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon, and Alsace. Rates for the cruise start at $5,350 per person, based on double occupancy. A supplement of $775 is applied to participants.

It’s widely believed that golf was invented in Scotland, where rules for the modern game and the first eighteen-hole courses were established. European Waterways’ twelve-passenger Spirit of Scotland Golf Cruise offers guests the opportunity to play the game with the wide expanse of the Scottish Highlands providing a dramatic background. The boat’s April 26, 2020 departures lets players tee up at four championship courses that include the Castle Stuart, the Royal Dornoch, Fort Augustus, and Newtonmore. Rates for the cruise start at $4,790 per person. A supplement of $950 is applied to participants.

For opera lovers, Venice’s Arena di Verona offers one of the most impressive settings to enjoy a performance of some of the world’s most famous operas. The August 16, 2020 departure on the 20-passenger La Bella Vita includes premium seats at this internationally famous venue for a performance of Verdi’s “Nabucco”. Cabins start at $4,050 per person, based on double occupancy. A supplement of $625 is applied to participants. Other Opera Cruises can be booked throughout July and August, either by cabin or as whole-boat charters, based on availability.

“Whether our guests select a themed cruise or one of our numerous classic cruises, they are guaranteed world-class cuisines, unique excursions, and unforgettable experiences,” said Banks.

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SOURCE: European Waterways press release.