SPIRITS & WINES: Royal Caribbean International expands VINTAGES concept
31 December 2003; Source: ©The Moodie Report
By Martin Moodie
US. Royal Caribbean International has partnered once again with some of the most prestigious names in wine to offer a week-long wine celebration at sea on its newest ship, Mariner of the Seas.
The cruiseline has joined with Robert Mondavi, Beringer Blass Wine Estates and Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery to expand its popular VINTAGES wine bar, which first made its debut in December 2002 on Navigator of the Seas. The initial concept was developed by long-term duty free executive Deborah Golden, Beverage Consultant - Fleet Beverage Operations, Royal Caribbean International and president of Florida-based GoLDEN Speaks Out
“The exploration and appreciation of wine is another adventure that appeals to Royal Caribbean’s guests,” said Maria Sastre, vice-president, Fleet Guest Services, for Royal Caribbean International. “Every aspect of the new VINTAGES wine bar on Mariner of the Seas was designed to provide opportunities for guests to experiment with, try and enjoy new wines.”
Central to the enhanced programme is a vastly-expanded wine list, now featuring 61 offerings from Robert Mondavi, Beringer Blass and Niebaum-Coppola, and representing some of the world’s premiere wine-growing regions: California, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and Chile.
VINTAGES’ user-friendly menu is organized by both varietals and taste profiles, making it easy to find the ideal white, red, blush or sweet wine. The wine list focuses on superior, yet accessible, wines that appeal to a broad audience, but also includes rare and expensive wines.
“The VINTAGES wine list represents an innovative design in the hospitality industry, enticing our guests to try new wines in an approachable and appealing style,” said Bob Midyette, manager, Fleet Beverage Operations, for Royal Caribbean International.
In addition to increasing the quantities of wines to choose from, Royal Caribbean is offering new ordering options to encourage guests to expand their wine repertoire. Guests can request complimentary “splashes” of any wine on the list, making it easy to find the wines that suit their tastes.
All wines are now available by half glass as well as by full glass and bottle, with prices ranging from US$2.25 to US$9.25 per half glass, US$4.00 to US$18.50 per glass, and US$22 to US$99 per bottle.
VINTAGES also encourages guests to expand their wine horizons with 13 different “wine flights”. The flights are named groupings of three or four wines by taste profile, varietal or winegrowing region, such as “Spice Up Your Life,” “Pretty in Pink,” “How Merlot Can You Go?” and “Down Under.” A wine flight purchase includes a 2 oz. sample of each wine, and a complimentary copy of Oz Clarke’s Wine Tasting or Wine & Food Matcher pocket guides. All guests visiting VINTAGES also will receive a complimentary copy of Wine Spectator magazine, the wine industry’s leading publication.
Each cruise, VINTAGES offers a full schedule of fun and informative events, including a basic wine overview called “Making Sense of Wine;” three levels of wine tastings ranging from excellent wine values to rare and expensive wines; a Spanish-language wine introductory class; a late night wine and chocolate tasting; and a wine trivia game with prizes. All events are run by VINTAGES’ “Wine Tenders,” who have received extensive training from expert Master Sommeliers and at the wineries of Royal Caribbean’s Napa Valley partners.
The wine bar is located on Mariner’s Royal Promenade, a dining, entertainment and shopping “street” that runs down the center of the ship. Designed in the rustic style of California wine country, VINTAGES features warm woods and rich leathers, gleaming copper and brass fixtures, flagstone walls, terracotta floors, and a 600-bottle wine cellar.
Photos and television monitors guide guests on a virtual tour of the California wine country as Michael Mondavi, chairman of Robert Mondavi; Ed Sbragia, winemaster of Beringer Vineyards; and Francis Ford Coppola, owner of Niebaum-Coppola Estate Winery, share personal insights and winemaking philosophies with guests via video.
Background: Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand currently with 18 ships in service and two more under construction or on firm order. The company also offers unique cruise tour vacations in Alaska, Canada and Europe. Deborah Golden has worked for nearly 20 years in the North American and cruiseline sectors, principally for Allied Domecq, before creating her own company, GoLDEN Speaks Out. See www.GoldenSpeaksOut.com for details.