River Boat AMA Raising wine glass B

Q – I am wondering if you can recommend a wine/food program on a riverboat or barge. We really want excellent food and your ratings seem to play down the overall quality of the cuisine on the river boats. We’re from Sacramento and we visit Napa often. We expect to have two or three other couples join us, one of whom owns a restaurant with an excellent wine list.

Trust you can advise these California “Winies”. I fear our travel agent drinks “Ripple”.

A – If you want to make the better of the riverboat options, consider the Food and Wine designated AMA Waterways sailings or the highly-regarded  “A Taste of France” Tauck itinerary in France.

But given your profile, we want you to think seriously about doing one of the excellent French barge trips through the Bordeaux or Burgundy regions of France. The food, inclusive wines, and close up and personal scenery will far eclipse anything offered on a 120 Guest river boat. But the trick is to try to do this trip with two other couples and book far in advance. There are a few absolutely lovely three-bedroom barges available through a knowledgable consultant. The majority of barges in France offer wonderful, leisurely sailing but smallish cabins and bathrooms that only a supermodel can endure. If you travel as a sixsome, and we know you Californians like to do that, the boat opportunities really open up in terms of comfortable accommodations and attention from the crew.

Most French Barge itineraries are six nights rather than seven and the experience is more costly than a river boat cruise. But for many of those who contact us about the various merits of the river boats, the barge option in France is a wiser choice.