A new cruise ship to ferry affluent visitors to Napa Valley…and Vallejo? | Local News


Most visitors arrive in Napa Valley via their own car, a tour bus, or perhaps even a private plane.

You can now add a cruise ship to the list.

In February, travelers can board the American Jazz riverboat in San Francisco and cruise the Bay Area’s inland waterways.

Operated by American Cruise Lines, the cruise plans to stop in Napa, then Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco again. A map on the company’s website indicates that the cruise also stops in Vallejo.

The cost ranges from $11,280 for the “large” suite to $5,695 for a single room. All have private balconies.

The cruise line recently announced the launch of the new eight-day, seven-night cruise.

“Exploring this beautiful region of Northern California by riverboat will provide a new opportunity for our guests to experience the Bay Area and Napa Valley in an exceptional way,” said Charles B. Robertson, president and CEO of ‘American Cruise Lines.

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“Many have driven there, but few can say they have actually driven through wine country,” he added.

Cruise includes: “Napa Valley Wine Experience”, visits to Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square and Alcatraz, NASCAR-style “driving experience” at Stockton 99 Speedway, guided tour of the Underground City and port of Old Sacramento and a visit to the California Railroad Museum.

Throughout the cruise, passengers will enjoy daily morning yoga, “one-of-a-kind wine experiences”, “special wine presentations to discover, sip and savor regional varietals” and cooking demonstrations.

The San Francisco Bay cruise takes place aboard the new American Jazz, which seats 190 passengers. The river boat is 345 feet long and 60 feet wide.

Napa Valley (not accessible by large ocean-going vessels) “is a perfect region to be explored by smaller, nimble, environmentally friendly vessels, such as our new American-built riverboats,” wrote Alexa Paolella, manager. of public relations at American Cruise Lines, in an email.

According to the company’s website, American Cruise Lines offers “experiences that emphasize the history and culture of the United States. American Cruise Lines is an American company that operates ships built and registered in the United States. In addition, all crew members and employees are American. The company is headquartered in Guilford, Connecticut.

Other details have yet to be announced by the cruise line, including exactly where the small ship will dock in Napa. Passengers enter and exit American Jazz via an opening bow and retractable gangway, which means unlike giant cruise ships, American Jazz can dock in a wider variety of locations.

Would the boat dock at the downtown Napa dock at the Riverfront complex? Paolella could not answer this question at the moment. A representative from Tideline Marine Group, the company that issues business permits for the downtown Napa wharf, could not be immediately reached this week.

“We are honored to have the small ship from American Cruise Lines offer a once-in-a-lifetime Napa River voyage and Napa Valley experience on its first-ever California cruise,” wrote Linsey Gallagher, president and CEO of the direction of Visit Napa Valley.

“The river was of course historically an early gateway for tourism and commerce in Napa Valley, and remains a tremendous asset to our community today,” she said.

The small boat tour “is a new and fun way for visitors to experience our destination during cabernet season, our traditionally slower visiting season,” as it looks like a total of four ships are expected to arrive in port from Napa in February and March 2023, each for one day, Gallagher noted.

“It offers an innovative luxury travel experience, much of it outdoors and outdoors, and we are delighted to be included in the itinerary.”

Cruise expert Spud Hilton said he thought the idea of ​​a Bay Area river cruise sounded fascinating.

Personal watercraft are commonly used in the delta, but inland waterways aren’t generally considered the type of place you go from town to town on a cruise ship, he said.

That said, “I think there are wonderful opportunities here to explore the delta itself as well as the northern part of the bay”, the Napa River in particular.

Hilton explained that most Americans think of cruising as getting on a ship in California or Florida and going somewhere else, like Mexico or the Caribbean. River cruises in general tend to be a great approach to finding out where you are rather than where you’re going, he noted.

“You see the earth moving at about 10 mph. It’s not a bad way to sit down and relax and grab a spot most of us don’t usually go.

In the delta in particular, “there are a lot of funky little towns that have big, quirky personalities or a festival once a year.”

Hilton said the likely target audience for such a cruise are people from other places in the United States.

“It’s basically a road trip where you don’t have to stop to refuel,” and you can see part of California without getting in the car.

But, “if you’re from the international market, I can’t really imagine you spending eight days doing this.”

Most small-ship cruises tend to appeal to more affluent people, in part because “they’re not just looking for recreation, they’re looking for the exclusive experience,” Hilton said. For example, “there are not 8,000 people lining up for the buffet”.

The travel expert said the Napa stop is a highlight of this particular cruise.

“No one outside of California knows what Stockton is, but everyone knows what Napa is. You are the name recognition you bring to this particular cruise.”

He surprised Hilton that the cruise currently plans to spend two days in Sacramento but only one day in Napa. “I would have reversed that personally.”

Should those more affluent cruisers be excited about a Stockton cruise, especially compared to a stopover in the famous Napa Valley?

“Almost anywhere you can take a boat, there’s something worth checking out,” he said.

“If the cruise line plays its cards right, it will find in Stockton what people will appreciate. But that’s a big if.

Northern California has a lot of history to appeal to a lot of different people, he noted. “Whether or not they’re ready to get on set like they’re supposed to get in their car is kind of a big question.”

“Honestly, I don’t know how many requests there will be.”

“Everything we do is destination driven, so activities at each port of call will always reflect the region’s rich history, character and culture,” Paolella wrote. “In Napa, of course, we will definitely visit a few local wineries.”

According to Napa travel agent Flo Schilling, American Cruise Lines is currently the only such cruise ship to include Napa Valley on an itinerary.

Schilling said this cruise would most likely appeal to cruisers who don’t like large cruise ships.

“It’s more low-key and more service-oriented than the big cruise liners with 2,000 or 3,000 people on board.

A river cruise would also appeal to people who don’t like to fly or even drive on vacation. These guests, “like the safety of being close to home”, and the fact that there is no driving from one destination to another. You simply board and when the ship docks and all shore excursions are planned in advance.

“When you’re browsing, it’s all about you,” she said. “People don’t hesitate to pay for this service.”

Yes, the prices will be higher, noted the agent. “It’s usually about two to three times more expensive,” compared to larger cruise ships. However, it is a one-time offer, “so they can name the price”, based on supply and demand.

American Cruise Lines’ 15 small ships and riverboats accommodate 100 to 190 passengers, and all river and coastal routes remain within the United States.

You can reach reporter Jennifer Huffman at 707-256-2218 or [email protected]


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