Cruise ship ports of call. Acapulco. Montego Bay. Honolulu. Stockton.
That’s right, Stockton.
Upwards of 180 paying guests plunking down at least $5,990 for one of 99 rooms will be disembarking in Stockton during each of eight scheduled cruises during the next 15 months.
It’s part of an eight-day, seven-night cruise being offered by American Cruise Lines.
Dubbed the San Francisco Bay Cruise, it is the first river cruise offered in California in roughly 80 years.
It features four ports of call: San Francisco, Stockton, Sacramento, and Napa.
The first cruise starts Feb 24. There is a cruise planned for March as well.
Then after a seven-month break, six more once a month cruises are scheduled between November 2023 and April 2024.
“Exploring this beautiful region of Northern California by riverboat will provide a new opportunity for our guests to discover the Bay area and the Napa Valley in an exceptional way,” says Charles B. Robertson, president and CEO, American Cruise Lines. “Many have driven there but not many can say they have actually cruised through wine country.”
The itinerary for Stockton port of call might surprise you especially given the way it is described.
That’s because the olive ranch experience with tasting is described in some of the firm’s press release as being “deep within the San Joaquin Valley.”
In order to get deep into the San Joaquin Valley, you have to get at least as far south as Merced-Madera with the closest river stop being in Firebaugh.
The Stockton stop includes a grape to glass activity dubbed as an old vine experience that is presumably a visit to the Lodi Wine Country.
If you really like dissing the county where you live consider this: The Lodi Wine Country boasts 80 wineries. San Joaquin is the largest wine grape growing county in California. It’s not Napa. It’s not Sonoma. And it’s not Monterey.
Three of the world’s five largest wineries are in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. That is in addition to Manteca’s Delicato that is in the top 10.
Those who aren’t total wine snobs and who don’t view view San Joaquín County as a less than beautiful place won’t be surprised by the decision to include “an old vine experience” during the stopover in Stockton.
It also includes an excursion to the Haggin Museum. It is one of the great treasures of Stockton that is also arguably one of its best kept secrets for many newer residents.
It is an art museum and a local history museum that opened in 1931. It is located in Stockton’s Victory Park not far from the deep sea channel.
The history galleries focus on the San Joaquin Valley’s past and the accomplishments of its residents, such as Charles Weber, Stockton’s founder; Benjamin Holt, inventor of the Caterpillar track-type tractor; Tillie Lewis, the “Tomato Queen” and the Stephens Bros. Boat Builders.
Its art collection includes works by European painters Jean Béraud, Rosa Bonheur, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Jean-Léon Gérôme, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, landscapes by French artists of the Barbizon school, and sculptures by René de Saint-Marceaux, Alfred Barye , and Auguste Rodin.
The museum also features a number of works by Hudson River School and California landscape painters, including the largest collection of Albert Bierstadt works in the region.
It also features changing exhibitions.
The museum is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 pm, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:30 pm to 5 pm, and the first and third Thursday from 1:30 pm to 9 pm
The admission won’t set you back much; it’s $8 for adults 18 to 64 with seniors and military $7 and youth $5. More information is at hagginmusuem.org.
From Stockton it’s up to Sacramento.
Among the attractions the cruise company boasts about are Sacramento’s large collection of museums.
They include the largest historic railroad museum in the Western Hemisphere as well as nearly a dozen others including those dedicated to Gold Rush history, automobiles, and art. That doesn’t mention the “living museum” that is Old Sacramento, the western terminus of the Pony Express.
There is also a farm to table cuisine event.
In Napa, there’s a trip to the Trefethen estate, a winemaker for a day experience, an excursion to downtown Napa, and a ride on the wine train.
The trip, of course, is bookended by San Francisco and its endless world-class attractions.
You’ve got to love their description of cruising the Delta. “Bask in the beauty of the California Delta, as you cruise to each new port along one of America’s original highways. Glide past beautiful state parks, lush vineyards, tree-lined channels, and tranquil river bends on this labyrinth of waterways which descend from the snowcapped Sierra Nevada range.”
However, the picture they used to illustrate the Day 2 itinerary which is Stockton is a little interesting.
Sacramento, as an example, has a stunning view of the Tower Bridge and the Sacramento River with lush rose bushes in the foreground.
Napa has rolling vineyards.
As for Stockton, it looks like a panorama photo with hills in the foreground taken somewhere on the eastern elevation of the Diablo Range looking northeast away from Stockton.
Since they talk about lush bounty of the San Joaquin Valley surely they could have come up with an appropriate agricultural-related photo or at least a view of Weber’s Point and the waterfront.
It should be noted Stockton is a legitimate port. The Port of Stockton — dubbed California’s Sunrise Seaport — is the farther east inland port in the state.
The cruise company boasts that “riverboats are inherently smaller with fewer guests onboard, making for a more intimate and personalized travel experience. Guests often make lasting friendships with other travelers and may even book future river cruises together.”
For more details go to americancruiselines.com.