The Scenic Diamond
Bordeaux. Perhaps no other wine region in the world is as highly regarded for its vinous output. The district’s nearly 10,000 growers and top class estates produce nearly 700 million bottles of wine each year, some of which are the priciest on the planet. For wine lovers, Bordeaux is undoubtedly the holy grail. 60 appellations fill its 290,350 acres – six times the size of Napa Valley and more than four times larger than Burgundy. And while a visit to the city’s destination-worthy wine museum La Cité du Vin can surely satiate curiosity about the region and its history, a Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours river cruise provides a deeper dive into all that makes this renowned historic capital city of Aquitaine so powerfully appealing.
The Bordeaux name derives from ‘a bord de l’eau,’ meaning ‘along the waters,’ and to explore its right and left banks (as delineated by the Gironde Estuary and the Dordogne and Garonne rivers) is to delve into historic deliciousness. Scenic Diamond’s Bordeaux Affair river cruise takes full advantage of these iconic waterways, cruising steadily along wooded banks, offering serene glimpses of a bucolic countryside dotted with majestic Chateaux. The all-inclusive week-long escapade is ideal for both wine aficionados seeking an inside track, and neophytes hoping to increase their wine knowledge.
Scenic Diamond embarks and disembarks in Bordeaux. Photo: Dan Miller
The cruise’s on-board wine offerings flow freely and are themselves an attraction. Selected by Scenic’s food and beverage director to perfectly pair with every gourmet dish, the line-up changes daily to coincide with the varietals featured within each port of call. To stay aboard the Scenic Diamond, enjoying each and every sip, is often enough ‘research’ for many of the maximum 150 passengers, but those who venture forth on land via the multitude of offered excursions are rewarded with immersive experiences and expert commentary in towns such as St. Emilion, the crown jewel of Bordeaux with its array of wine shops and its Monolithic Church, in which guests are invited to explore its underground catacombs. While docked in Libourne, choose from a guided tour of the 16th century town and its Gothic church, or visit the eclectic city of Bergerac. Visit the imposing estate of Château de La Rivière in the up-and-coming appellation of Fronsac and tour its 15 miles of underground wine caves. Enjoy a classical music concert within the Medoc countryside at the fairytale-like Château d’Agassac.
Château d’Agassac, Ludon-Medoc. Photo: Dan Miller
Cadillac. Photo: Fran Miller
Cyclists know that there is no better way to explore than on two wheels, and Scenic’s fleet of e-bikes makes touring a breeze. With an expert guide leading the way, guests easily traverse vineyard hill and dale in the commune and subprefecture of Blaye, in the celebrated Haut-Medoc appellation, and through the vineyards of Sauterne, with stops along the way for wine-tasting at historic Chateaux.
Scenic Diamond’s e-biking tours allows for easy exploration.
E-biking through Bordeaux
Back on board, Scenic Diamond’s varied amenities provide more than enough reason to skip the tours. From bountiful buffet breakfasts to sit-down lunches to multi-course gourmet dinners, the cuisine options feature choices for every discerning appetite. A full bar serves top shelf labels; every flute of champagne and every crafted cocktail is included. Special events include a Captain’s welcome with passed caviar hors d’oeuvres, and a week-ending oyster extravaganza featuring a bounty of the delicacy, delivered directly from the waters of Aquitaine’s Arachon Bay.
Scenic Diamond offers an all-day array of snacks.
Scenic Diamond cuisine options are plentiful.
With a range of cabin accommodations – from the 510 sq. foot Royal Owner’s Suite to a 160 sq. foot Standard Suite – each is sumptuously appointed and each features a complimentary mini-bar that is restocked daily. Most feature furnished balconies. With daily maid service and evening turn-down, Scenic Diamond is essentially a floating five-star hotel where tipping is never necessary. (At Scenic, ‘all-inclusive’ means all-inclusive.)
Scenic Diamond Balcony Cabin
A fully equipped gym, a rooftop hot tub, and a serene Himalayan salt room offer additional activity, as does the evening entertainment in which local musical artists are featured. A lively game of ‘Name That Tune,’ led by the Scenic Diamond’s vivacious and exceedingly entertaining cruise director, tests passengers’ knowledge of classic and current melodies, and Disco Night finds Scenic Diamond’s enrichment manager leading guests in a Village People dance routine that is campy, silly, and a whole lot of fun.
Scenic Diamond’s Himalayan Salt Room. Photo: Fran Miller
The cruise also allows plenty of time for exploration of its port city on foot or on bike. Follow the e-bike guide to Bordeaux’s 18th century Jardin Public and its 27 bucolic acres containing an arboretum, a library, a botanical garden, and a museum of natural history. Cross the historic Pont de Pierre bridge (commissioned by Napoleon and inaugurated in 1822), to find the inspiring, alternative urban community of Darwin where ecological innovators congregate in artistic harmony.
Bordeaux. Photo: Fran Miller
Though a tenth of the size of Paris, Bordeaux features much of what makes The City of Light so beloved: architectural beauty, history, shopping, fine cuisine, and fine wine. With Scenic as your expert guide, you’ll discover the region’s secrets and riches, while undoubtedly plotting and planning your next Scenic excursion.
Photos courtesy of Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, unless otherwise noted.