Regent Seven Seas Cruises will offer food and wine connoisseurs a rare treat this fall: an incomparable journey through Australia’s vibrant wine region, featuring stays at luxurious boutique hotels, sumptuous meals paired with regional wines, and exclusive tastings at the region’s best vineyards.

These activities and more will be available as part of “Australian Food and Wine Experience,” a six-night, pre-cruise Circles of Interest enrichment program being offered before a 13-night, Sydney-to-Auckland cruise aboard the 700-guest, all-suite, all-balcony ship Seven Seas Mariner® departing Nov. 19, 2008. This is the first Circle of Interest that features an extensive land program and marks the latest evolution in this innovative program from Regent.

Circles of Interest offer Regent guests exclusive onboard and shore-side experiences, featuring world-class lecturers, instructors and authorities from the realms of art, cuisine, history, conservation, photography and wellness. These sought-after journeys allow guests to discover destinations through the lens of a particular interest, and feature the insight and perspective of knowledgeable hosts, as well as the camaraderie of an intimate community sharing similar interests.

“This extraordinary Circles of Interest program will offer an unprecedented journey into the best of Australian cuisine and fine wines,” said Sophie Vlessing, vice president, marketing and guest strategy for Regent. “As with all of our Circles of Interest programs, this unique itinerary will provide our guests with opportunities to gain insight and fulfillment in this very special area of personal interest. ‘Australian Food and Wine Experience’ will provide Regent guests with truly memorable experiences.”

The six-night, pre-cruise Circles of Interest program, starting November 13, will offer participants a comprehensive journey into Australia’s vineyards, featuring insight from local experts who will lead exclusive tastings. Beginning in Melbourne, the tour proceeds to Yarra Valley and a two-night stay at the exclusive Chateau Yering. From this luxurious base, guests will have the opportunity to visit some of the most storied wineries of the area, including names such as De Bartoli, Yering Station, Green Point and Coldstream Hills. Guests then return to Melbourne for a special visit with author and chef Allan Campion, who will share some of his favorite “foodie” experiences in this beautiful city.

After a flight to Sydney, guests travel to the Hunter Valley for a two-night stay at Peppers Guest House with a special dinner at Rock restaurant. The group will be joined by husband and wife team Karina Barry (former chef of the Savoy Hotel in London) and Brian Barry (a wine educator with 25 years experience). They will lead the group in a private tasting at the Binnorie Cheese Factory followed by a hands-on cooking class using organic produce. Other highlights in the region include a dinner at Robert’s Restaurant, and a visit to some of the region’s best wineries led by winemaker Richard Everett. Wineries include such names as Lindemans, McWilliams, Rothbury, Hardy’s, Wyndham Estate, McGuigan and Hunter Resort. Guests then travel back to Sydney for a two-night stay at the Shangri-La Hotel.

From the hotel, guests will enjoy an escorted “gourmet walkabout” to the Sydney Fish Market and the gourmet food shops of Queen Street including Simon Johnson and “Jones the Grocer,” followed by a wine tasting with a local expert and a meal at award-winning Catalina’s restaurant, overlooking Sydney Harbour. A hands-on cooking class rounds off the first day’s activities. The final day in Sydney is spent on a tour of this beautiful city and its surroundings, followed by an exclusive lunch-cruise charter, offering a close-up view of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The tour ends at the Sydney Cruise Terminal for embarkation on Seven Seas Mariner. The Food and Wine Circle of Interest will continue on board, where throughout the voyage participants will join their fellow Circle guests for wine tastings, an exclusive dinner, and more.