British cruising institution Cunard has upped the ante in terms of enrichment and at-sea education programs, this week becoming the first line to offer a fully certified wine and spirits courses to its guests in conjunction with a new partnership with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).

The move is a significant step-up from the casual classes and seminars normally available, with the new qualification taking place over five days, initially on westbound Trans-Atlantic crossings and round-the-world voyages on Queen Mary 2.

Up for grabs for those eager to undertake the course is the chance to obtain a WSET Level One certification in wine on a Trans-Atlantic sailing, while a more advanced Level Two award in Wines and Spirits can be obtained on longer round-the-world voyages. Both courses are designed to provide hands-on introductions to the complex world of wines and spirits.

Cunard's new wine courses are internationally recognised as a symbol of excellent and knowledge.
Cunard’s new wine courses are internationally recognised as a symbol of excellent and knowledge.

Guests enrolled in the Level One award will canvass basic topics including the different types of wine, correct storage, how to identify different styles through sight, smell and taste, food pairing and basic serving techniques. While still a recognised qualification, courses are still conducted in a relaxed manner in line with the nature of a Cunard cruise.

For more advanced learning, those in the Level Two certification will learn to understand basic grape varieties and the styles of wine they produce. Key labelling terminology and what you should order from a wine list will also be covered – the latter a skill bound to help when examining close to 500 wines available on Cunard vessels. The culmination of the five-day programs is a multiple choice exam, certificate presentation for the globally recognised WSET qualification and a lapel pin.

Cunard's Queen Victoria, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth all approaching Southampton together.
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Courses have been designed to complement the extensive Cunard Wine Academy already in place across all three Queens, with Andrés Solís Lira – Cunard’s Executive Wine Educator, leading both the Cunard Wine Academy and the new WSET courses. The longer courses are the latest in a string of beverage synergies developed by Cunard, the line also partnering with French champagne house Veuve Clicquot to feature champagne bars on its trio of ships.

The WSET courses – which work with approved institutions in more than 70 countries worldwide – launch later this month aboard Queen Mary 2, with Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth to follow in early 2017 with the departure of the next round of World Cruises. Guests can enrol in the programs once onboard their ship or by contacting the line ahead of embarkation to book their place.