They say, "The best wines are the ones we drink with friends." And we can't think of a better place to sip and socialize than on a cruise. Lucky for wine lovers, many cruise lines have dedicated bars where you can enjoy a variety of reds, whites, roses and bubbly with like-minded passengers.
Cruise ship wine bars range from intimate spaces offering paired dinners to lively venues serving up cheese plates and tapas. But it's not all about schmoozing. Many cruise ship wine bars have sommeliers available to guide your palate and educate you on wines from around the world.
We've hand-picked a few cruise lines to spark your grapelust -- a few even let you blend your own wine to take home as a souvenir. If your idea of a perfect night is sharing a bottle of Chenin blanc with good company, then check out our six favorite wine bars at sea.
1. Oceania Cruises' La Reserve
Why We Love It: Developed in partnership with Wine Spectator magazine, Oceania's La Reserve can impress even the most discerning wine drinker. The cozy venue offers sommelier-led seminars, vintage tastings and wines from around the world, selected by Wine Spectator experts. Wine-pairing gourmet dinners also are available, starting at $95 per person. If you decide to splurge on a dinner, rest assured: The food alone is worth it.
2. MSC Cruises' La Cantina di Bacco
Ships: MSC Divina
Why We Love It: La Cantina di Bacco is small yet charming. The rustic Italy-inspired bar features an extensive wine list and includes tapas (such as olives and bruschetta) with a drink purchase. Delicious thin-crust pizza is also available a la carte, starting at $8.50 per pie. For $40 per person, the 60- to 90-minute Winemakers Experience lets you blend, bottle and label your own wine to bring home as a souvenir. (Holland America's Koningsdam also allows you to make your own wine, at a dedicated venue called Blend.)
3. Norwegian Cruise Line's The Cellars
Why We Love It: Backed by the acclaimed Michael Mondavi family, The Cellars was made for wine lovers -- with fun, educational tastings (designed for both oenophiles and newbies) and 35 varietals from all over the world. Both ships' venues are conveniently located near the atrium, but maintain an intimate feel. On Norwegian Escape, wine drinkers also are treated to an outdoor bar on the ship's Waterfront promenade, and have the option to order a la carte small plates from Pincho, celebrity chef Jose Garces' tapas bar.
4. Disney Cruise Line's Pink
Ships: Disney Dream
Why We Love It: We adore Disney Dream's Champagne bar because of its fun setting. Glowing glass bubbles, shimmering bar stools and varying shades of pink set the tone for this chic, Art Nouveau-style space. (And if you see a tiny elephant projected in one of those bubbles, it doesn't mean you've downed one flute too many; it's a secret homage to the pink elephants on parade from "Dumbo.") Order Champagne cocktails and wines by the glass or splurge on a bottle of bubbly -- which can cost up to $500.
5. Princess Cruises' Vines
Ships: Regal Princess, Royal Princess, Caribbean Princess, Crown Princess, Emerald Princess, Golden Princess, Grand Princess, Sapphire Princess, Ruby Princess, Star Princess and Majestic Princess
Why We Love It: On Princess' Grand- and Royal-class ships, wine lovers can order single glasses or custom-made flights -- such as the "Trio of White Grapes" and "Norman Love Confections," paired with Norman Love chocolates as part of Princess' Chocolate Journeys program. (We recommend saving the latter for after dinner.) As an added bonus: Made-to-order sushi and tapas are complimentary with any wine purchase (on select ships).
6. Royal Caribbean's Vintages
Ships: Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas
Why We Love It: It's all about the atmosphere at Royal Caribbean's Vintages. The wine bar is perfect for date nights -- setting the mood with its cozy seating nooks, dim lighting and extensive wine list; there's also an a la carte menu of tapas, perfect for sharing. On the Oasis-class ships, the venue is even more intimate -- nestled amid live foliage in Central Park, next to some of the ship's nicer restaurants. Interested in taking a bottle home? Vintages allows you to sample the wine before you buy it.