Pick a theme — something fun and really exciting — then imagine playing it out on the high seas. Theme cruises focus on a specific interest or topic — everything from musical genres like smooth jazz to knitting — to set the tone for your cruise experience. Whatever your theme, start here — we’ll give you a few ideas for a cruise vacation to remember!
Love music and the open seas? Combine both with a music cruise. By far, music voyages are the most popular type of theme cruises available. There are generally 2 types: The first is the cruise that brings musicians on board for a concert or two, plus schmoozing with fans. These cruises tend to draw formerly big names -- think Kenny G (aboard Celebrity Millennium) and New Kids on the Block (aboard Carnival Victory).
The other type is more like a multiday music festival at sea. A few genre-specific headliners and up to 2 dozen lesser-known bands take over an entire ship and perform in auditoriums, lounges, even by the pool. Examples include the annual Rock Boat with 2 dozen rock bands, an annual Beatles tribute cruise aboard Royal Caribbean (usually in March) and the Country Cruising www.countrycruising.com event aboard Norwegian Pearl in January 2014.
So you love food and drink, now combine both with a lively sea adventure. These days, cruise lines are capitalizing on the popularity of celebrity chefs on channels such as the Food Network and Cooking Channel by bringing foodie celebs on board. Past contestants and judges from Top Chef come aboard Celebrity Constellation in spring 2013 for cooking demonstrations, photo ops and Q-and-A sessions with passengers.
Food, wine, chocolate and beer are the focus of additional theme cruises. The Silversea Flavours of Europe cruise, for example, provides special menus on board and excursions to farms, markets and restaurants in France, Spain and Portugal. Meanwhile, the California Beer Festival at Sea allows you to sample craft beers and learn about home brewing during a voyage on Celebrity Solstice.
Ever wanted to hobnob with a celebrity? Now’s your chance. Similar to music and celebrity chef cruises, a lot of other famous folks take to the seas as well. They run the gamut from old-school actors and directors on the TCM Classic Cruise (2014 dates pending) to journalists and pundits on both sides of the political aisle , from the annual National Review cruise aboard Holland America’s Eurodam) to the annual Nation Cruise aboard Holland America’s Veendam. Meantime, sports lovers will get a kick out of seeing long-retired but still-admired baseball players on the lecture circuit for MSC Cruises’ Baseball Greats Cruise.
Health and Wellness Cruises
So you’re the type who loves to get away, but not at the expense of your waistline. Fret not: While cruises can often lead to overindulgence, some can actually improve your health courtesy of health- and wellness-themed cruises that focus on exercise programs. These include the Yogacruise aboard a small yacht in the Mediterranean and the Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise, in which you cover the equivalent of 26.2 miles running or walking during shore excursions and on deck.
Travelers can also find health improvement-themed cruises. The Cruise for Diabetes brings together families with diabetic children on a winter break trip on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas. Sober Cruises include 12-step program meetings and non-alcohol-oriented activities. You'll even find cruises focused on holistic health, smoking cessation, hypnosis, psychics and marriage therapy, too.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had more time to indulge in your favorite hobby? A hobby cruise may be just the answer. Craft Cruises trips throughout the year for aficionados of knitting, crocheting, needlepoint and other crafts. Ballroom Dancing Cruising offers trips for singles and couples throughout the year. Photographers can join a number of instructional cruises, such as the Alaskan Photography Adventure in June aboard Celebrity Solstice. Quilters, bridge players, poker champions, horticulturalists and more have their own cruises, too.
Dress-Up or Dress Down Cruises
If you’re a fan of high fashion (mixed with a little high drama), a dress-up cruise may be just for you. Alternately known as lifestyle cruises, these expeditions usually include other activities too, including talent contests and trivia games. But let’s face it: The chance to play dress up is the key attraction. We’re guessing that passengers aboard the Drag Stars at Sea cruise in November and the Steam Punk Victorian-themed cruise in March have more checked luggage than you do.
And, if we’re talking about dress-up cruises, we might as well mention dress-down cruises -- all the way down. Nudist-themed cruise with Bare Necessities Tour & Travel www.cruisenude.com, anyone?
More Theme Cruise Options
Looking for more theme cruise options? Plenty more await -- you just have to know where to look. Because theme cruises are often arranged by specialty agencies, cruise lines don’t necessarily advertise them. So your best bet is to check out resources like Theme Cruise Finder or Cruise Critic’s Theme Cruise page. Bon voyage!