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    Celebrity ship to host 'Beer Festival at Sea.' Does this interest you?


    Oenophiles always have had a hearty selection of wine-themed cruises from which to choose. But for beer lovers, a well-stocked cruise ship pub is usually the best they can hope for at sea.

    That looks to be changing.

    In May, a nine-night "California Beer Festival at Sea" will take place on the 2,852-passenger Celebrity Solstice. Its organizers, Cruise Specialists, are calling the sailing the first of its kind.

    "Craft brew connoisseurs have just as much passion and depth as their wine counterparts," said Greg Nacco, vice president of Cruise Specialists. "Beer may be the new wine in terms of methodology in brewing and diversity of flavors."

    Nacco thought of the cruise after doing a few wine-themed voyages with Celebrity, and found that craft beer also was extremely popular.

    The Pacific Coast sailing departs Ensenada, Mexico, on May 6, 2013, visiting San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Calif., San Francisco, Astoria, Vancouver and Seattle.

    Hosted by a California "Brew Master," passengers on the Beer Festival at Sea will be able take a home-brewing lesson, attend craft beer tasting parties and a four-course craft beer pairing luncheon, and go on optional brewery tours.

    "Beer cruises have a lot of potential," said Matt Hannafin, Frommers.com cruise blogger and beer aficionado, who added that a growing number of people in cruising's primary age demographic are "learning about craft brews and even brewing their own beer at home."

    Hannafin said that to date, supply and demand have kept cruise lines from stocking many world-class beers.

    "Most great brews aren't distributed widely enough that cruise lines can stock them consistently," he said, "but a few lines are taking baby steps: Celebrity at its Michael's Club bars, Norwegian at its beer bars. There are craft brews out there that are just as great as great wines, but the cruise lines aren't going to stock them until the average cruiser starts to demand them. Until then, beer theme cruises are probably the best way to get craft beer quality at sea."

    The "California Beer Festival at Sea" sailing is being offered in association with the California Beer Festival.

    This item was written by Johanna Jainchill, who covers the travel industry for Travel Weekly. Jainchill is serving as Guest Editor of The Cruise Log while USA TODAY Cruise Editor Gene Sloan is away.

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    Very interesting. Wine-themed cruises are huge, so craft beer (weren’t they called micro-brews last year?) is the next logical step. Is there a region that’s famous for craft beer (California isn’t my first thought)? Maybe there’s an Octoberfest river cruise in Europe for beer lovers…

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