Category Archives: Wine Country

Cruise Report: California Wine Country

This morning’s fog drifted serenely over the Sonoma Marshes. Fishermen cruised by slowly admiring our ship, National Geographic Sea Lion. Following breakfast we made our way to the town of Oxbow to visit their market. There we were enamored by the variety of spices, antiques, chocolates, and local olive oils, as well as interesting variety of fresh produce. Soon the sun burned off the clouds and we knew we would have the perfect kind of Napa Valley weather; light cool winds, warm sunshine, and comfortable temperatures.

As we drove through the gorgeous landscapes we noticed that the grape crops had been mostly harvested, leaving only a few late varietals. We also admired the olive, walnut, and sequoia trees.

Later, we ventured to the William Hill Winery, up the Napa Valley where we were greeted with magnificent Chardonnays and Merlots. We enjoyed one of the best views of the valley, and later sat down to a lesson and lunch on fine eating, given to us again, by Chef Gary Jenanyan. Excellent rib eye and Fresh Alaskan Halibut tantalized our palates. This experience was beyond expectations. Shortly thereafter, we visited a second winery, the Parraduxx, where we saw the installations and enjoyed the pristine red wines produced there. The floral planted arrangements attracted humming birds and other pollinators. Some chose to ride bikes through quiet trails of the valley vineyards. We were in awe of the peace, tranquility, and the magic of the Napa Valley.

Laura Prince, Wellness Specialist

Upcoming Virtual Cruise Nights

Every wonder what a small ship cruise would be like? Would like to ask questions in a non-threatening scenario?

Consider attending a free, upcoming one-hour cruise webinar. These “virtual cruise nights” provide an overview  on select destinations and itineraries via the small ship experience; up-close, casual and personal.

Here’s what’s involved:

  • Register for an upcoming cruise webinar (see list below).
  • Attend the cruise webinar by pointing your web browser to a specific address to view the presentation, and dial a toll-free number to listen to the presenter.
  • Feel free to ask any question you like on the destination, itineraries covered, or the small-ship cruise experience in general.
  • By attending the cruise webinar, receive a discount when you book through Sunstone Tours & Cruises.

Here’s the list of upcoming cruise webinars by destination:



Columbia River

South Pacific

California Wine Country

Intro to Expeditions: Affordable Getaways

Ever want to be apart of an expedition, but either it was too long or too much?

Lindblad Expeditions, the pioneer of small-ship expedition travel, has just announced 4-night Expedition Getaways to the San Francisco Bay and Napa Valley, Pacific Northwest, and Baja California. With the same immersive experiences afforded by their longer journeys and prices starting at $1,690 per person, these voyages are a wonderful introduction to expedition cruising.

But don’t delay. As there are just a few departure dates, these expeditions will sell out fast. Contact Sunstone Tours & Cruises today toll-free at 1-888-815-5428.

Click on the itinerary below for more information.

California Wine Country via Small Ship Cruise

Please note: These California Wine Country sailings no longer operate via Cruise West. An alternative is the Columbia River Culinary & Wine cruises operated by luxury yacht cruise line American Safari Cruises.

Grape vines in California's Wine regionVisit and tour California’s famous wine country, the Napa and Sonoma River valleys, via a cruise ship you say? Yes, it is possible.

Aboard the Spirit of Yorktown, you’ll sail from downtown San Francisco, under the Golden Gate Bridge, into the heart of wine country at harvest time this September or October. These itineraries provide world-class insider events at some of California’s great wineries, Domaine Carneros, Benziger, Alpha Omega, Chateau St. Jean and Mumm Napa, all in the company of a private Cruise West wine specialist.

Activities include:

  • a private visit to the Culinary Institute of America
  • great dining at places almost impossible to arrange independently like world-renowned Auberge du Soleil and in the famous cave theatre of Clos Pegase
  • special meals and wine tastings obnboard ship that will make your trip truly memorable

Truly Special Getaways

Can’t afford to invest a week or more on a cruise vacation? These 3 & 4-night small ship getaways are perfectly designed for those with limited time in mind. The 3-night sailings depart of Fridays, allowing you to enjoy a weekend in the lap of luxury. For those with a little extra time, the mid-week 4-night sailings allow more time for exquisite experiences.

New Cruise & Spa Packages

Need a break with a touch of self-indulgence? These wine country cruises plus a San Francisco hotel & spa experience is sure to do the trick. Add a luxurious 2-night stay with premium amenities, a convenient location and chauffeur service. A perfect couples or girls-only escape!

Itineraries (view itinerary map below)

Map of California Wine Country cruise itineraries

Spa Package Available with California Wine Country Cruise

New for 2008, Cruise West is offering a spa package in connection with their California Wine Country itineraries.

The California Wine Country Spa Package will feature two nights of accommodations and spa treatments at the luxurious Huntington Hotel on Nob Hill in San Francisco and can be paired with either the three-night Culture of the Vine cruise or the four-night Vintner’s Choice cruise as a post-cruise extension.

The California Wine Country Spa Package includes:

  • Two nights in a Luxury Room at the Huntington Hotel on Nob Hill (
  • One 80-minute spa treatment of choice per guest in the Nob Hill Spa (excluding LED Light Therapy)
  • 15% off additional 80-minute treatments
  • Daily Continental Breakfast in the Big 4 Restaurant
  • Transfer to San Francisco International Airport via Towncar Service
  • Bottle of wine in-room on arrival to the hotel with macaroon cookies
  • The Huntington Hotels Services Include (but are not limited to):
  • Complimentary Chauffeured Sedan Service to/from Union Square and the Financial District
    between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Twice Daily Maid Service
  • Complimentary Access to the Spa
  • In-Room Coffee and Tea Service on Arrival
  • Full Service Concierge from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Both cruises sail aboard the 138-guest Spirit of Yorktown . The seven-day Vintner’s Choice cruise and spa package departs September 22, 29, October 6, 13 and begins at $2,849 per person based on double occupancy. The six-day Culture of the Vine cruise and spa package departs September 26, October 3, 10 and begins at $2,149 per person.

Latest Virtual Cruise Nights

Get a taste of a small ship cruise experience without packing your bag. Join Sunstone Tours & Cruise West for a live, online presentation. All you need are a telephone and Internet access to join us for an entertaining and informative online cruise night. Talk to a destination specialist and enjoy a live presentation on your favorite destination.

Register for one (or more) of the upcoming, FREE, online presentations:



Pacific Northwest

Baja Mexico / Sea of Cortez

Epicurean / California Wine Country

Upcoming Virtual Cruise Night Seminars

What is a Virtual Cruise Night?
Remember the days when you’d travel to a conference hall to attend a presentation on travel to an exciting destination? Fast forward to the 21st century. Instead of traversing the cold, snowy weather, you can attend a virtual cruise night virtually, in the warm, comfort of home, over the phone and in front of your computer screen.

Why would I want to attend a Virtual Cruise Night?
If you’d like to learn more about exhilarating, exotic destinations via a small ship, Virtual Cruise Nights are a perfect solution, and they’re absolutely free!

Who presents these virtual cruise nights?
Knowledgeable experts who’ve traveled to the destination of interest provide insight to the destination and the benefits of the small ship experience.

Who should attend?
Anyone interested in traveling to one of the fabulous destinations offered via a small ship.

How do I attend?
Review the list of upcoming virtual cruise nights. Click on the one of interest. You’ll provide some basic information to register, then submit. You’ll then receive instructions on where to go online and what number to call to listen. Remember, all you will need is a computer, Internet connection, and a phone line to learn more about these fabulous small ship experiences.

Select the desired FREE Virtual Cruise Night event below to register.



Wine & Epicurean