Theme cruises have become so popular they now span a wide spectrum of interests and topics. These special sailings can be the perfect incentive to cruise newbies, as well as die-hards who fancy getting insight into their favourite pastime. Where better to immerse yourself in your cherished hobby, recreation or entertainment with like-minded people than on a leisurely cruise? Whether a jazz buff or enthusiastic gourmand, an avid golfer or hooked on soaps, a yoga devotee or dedicated dancer, chances are there's a theme cruise for you.
While the possibilities are diverse, this comprehensive guide to theme cruises gives details of scheduled sailings with enhanced or specialised programming onboard. These specific voyages have the added benefit of seminars and interactive sessions, hands-on learning and even exclusive events ashore. Some theme cruises even offer the chance to hobnob with famous musicians, renowned chefs or television celebrities in intimate settings.
Cruise lines' themed voyages are more dynamic than ever, though it's the TV tie-ins that are really taking off. Princess Cruises are recreating the hugely-popular BBC programme "The Voice", while "Strictly Come Dancing" cruises are now a regular fixture on P&O Cruises.
Below we list what's on offer for 2017 and beyond.
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Theme: Crystal Cruises Wine and Food Festival
Date: 6 September 2017
Details: Crystal Cruises are renowned for their themed Experiences of Discovery voyages and gourmands should look no further than this 13-night Food and Wine Festival cruise onboard Crystal Symphony, sailing round-trip from Lisbon. On this Accent on Atlantic Isles voyage, chef Hans Neuner of the two-Michelin-starred Ocean Restaurant in the Portuguese Algarve will mingle with guests as well as imparting his skills during culinary demonstrations. There is another 13-night Food and Wine Festival cruise on Crystal Symphony from Port Louis in Mauritius to Cape Town, departing 9 December 2017.
There's also a 24-night Food and Wine Festival voyage to the Amazon on Crystal Serenity, sailing round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, departing 27 October 2017. The Crystal Dining Room will be the showcase for culinary expertise of Yerika Munoz. As Executive Chef at Mexico City’s Astrid & Gaston Restaurant, Chef Munoz has garnered herself worldwide acclaim for her Peruvian cuisine.
Theme: P&O Cruises Food Heroes
Date: March to October 2017
Details: P&O Cruises is offering an even greater variety of Food Heroes sailings this year. On a seven-night cruise aboard Britannia setting sail from Southampton on 26 March 2017, passengers will have the chance to see popular TV chef James Martin as they cruise to La Coruna, Bilbao, La Rochelle, and Cherbourg. “Cake Boy” Eric Lanlard will be onboard Britannia for a 12-night cruise on 7 May; a seven-night cruise departing on 28 May; and a 12-night cruise on 4 September. Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar will be the Food Hero aboard Azura for a 12-night cruise on 4 June, he will also be aboard Ventura for a 12-night cruise on 23 July and again on 15 October. Marco Pierre White will sail on a 14-night cruise aboard Britannia on 16 September; aboard Azura for a 12-night cruise departing on 8 October; as well as on Ventura for a seven-night cruise setting sail on 4 August and again during a 12-night cruise departing on 17 September. Wine expert Olly Smith will also sail onboard Ventura for a 13-night cruise departing on 10 May and on Britannia for a 12-night cruise leaving on 4 September. Food Heroes cruises include cooking demonstrations, masterclasses, hosted dinners, book signings, Q&A sessions and food or wine-related shore excursions in specific ports of call.
Theme: Oceania Cruises Claudine Pépin Cruise
Date: 27 July 2017
Details: This 12-day culinary cruise onboard Oceania’s latest ship, Sirena from Lisbon to Bilbao, is hosted by the ship’s godmother who happens to be the daughter of master chef and executive culinary director for Oceania Cruises, Jacques Pépin. Guests will be treated to a selection of specially-designed signature menus, culinary lectures, and demonstrations from Claudine Pépin who is a respected chef and cookbook author.
Theme: Seabourn Cruise Line Seabourn Conversations
Date: 23 April 2017
Details: During this 18-night Asian Capitals cruise on Seabourn Sojourn from Hong Kong to Kobe, Darren McGrady will be reminiscing about his career at Buckingham Palace. Chef McGrady has been personal chef to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II; Diana, Princess of Wales; as well as Prince William and Prince Harry. He has also cooked for Presidents Ford, Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes. He is the author of "Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen."
Theme: SeaDream Yacht Club Wine Voyages
Date: 27 April 2017
Details: SeaDream Yacht Club's "Wine Voyages" return in 2017, featuring a series of seven itineraries that have been designed by the line's wine director, Ida Donheim, a seasoned chef and sommelier who has worked at Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck. Every voyage is personally escorted by Ida with passengers getting to experience local wineries along the route. At the final night's "Winemaker Dinner" expertly-prepared local dishes are paired with wines from visited ports. The nine-day 27 April sailing, from Lisbon to Barcelona, onboard SeaDream I includes wine tastings and pairings, with stops at Portimao, Gibraltar, Puerto Banus, Malaga, Cartagena, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca and Menorca.
Theme: Hebridean Island Cruises "Hebridean Symphony"
Dates: 4 July 2017
Details: This six-night "Hebridean Symphony" cruise departs Oban on 4 July. The 50-passenger floating Scottish country lodge that is Hebridean Princess visits the pretty fishing village of Tayvallich before venturing to the Isle of Jura. The neighbouring island of Islay is famous for its peaty single malt whisky and there is the opportunity to visit Laphroaig, followed by an onboard concert from musicians of the Cantilena Festival. After exploring Colonsay House Gardens and the Benedictine abbey on the holy isle of Iona, guests land on the island of Staffa to see the magical Fingal's Cave (which inspired Mendelssohn). The final day is spent sailing Loch Sunart to Salen for walks in the ancient oakwood ahead of a champagne reception at Duart Castle on Mull.
Theme: Holland America Line B.B. King's Blues Club
Details: Holland America Line's new Koningsdam has been designed with music in mind. One of the world's best hospitality designers, Adam Tihany, has created an interior for this new ship that is inspired by music and musical instruments. The "B.B. King's Blues Club" recreates the Memphis music experience of Beale Street. The B.B. King All-Star Band -- an eight-piece group featuring two vocalists backed by rhythm and horn sections -- brings the best of the city's music to sea. From funky and fast to soulful and smooth, the band will perform six nights a week in the Queen's Lounge. Koningsdam features a variety of high calibre musical options including the new live music venue "Billboard Onboard" -- a live interactive music experience that's part of the "music walk complex" which showcases live musicians. There's also the "Lincoln Centre Stage", a new live music venue created to showcase a chamber ensemble performing evening recitals and in the afternoon on sea days.
Theme: Unique Cruises' "Anchored" on Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas
Dates: June 11-18
Details: Unique Cruises is a brand-new lifestyle brand, set up by experts in the party holiday industry. In their words: "We wanted to create something different. To design a cruise that revolutionized what cruise meant to you." The company has chartered Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas for a week to sail around the party hotspots of the Med for week -- Mykonos, Santorini, Monte Carlo and Rome -- complete with top DJs from around the world and headliner Tinie Tempah. The ship's top deck will rival the best of Europe's beach clubs with white leather beds, tables, hostesses and champagne spray parties. For more details: Unique Cruise
Theme: Rock the Boat U.K. 2017 on Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Magellan
Dates: September 2, 2017
Details: Join Europe's biggest Rock & Roll Fest at Sea on Cruise & Maritime Voyages' Magellan on a seven-night round-trip cruise from Newcastle, calling in at Aberdeen, Portree, Liverpool, Dublin and Invergordon. Confirmed acts include: Suzi Quatro, The Manfreds feat. Mike d' Abo, The Yardbirds, Slade, From the Jam, Big Country, Animals and Friends and The Troggs. For more details see Rock the Boat.
Theme: Princess Cruises "The Voice of the Ocean"
Details: Princess Cruises brings the excitement and spectacle of BBC TV's singing competition "The Voice" to the high seas. The line’s "Voice of the Ocean" show begins with karaoke try-out sessions for vocalists 16 years or older, plus two opportunities to audition during open karaoke in one of the ship's lounges or showrooms. Fellow guests and cruise staff then decide who progresses to the competition stages. Selected singers are assigned a professional mentor to rehearse with the Princess Band and back-up singers. The live show, hosted by the Cruise Director on the last night of the cruise, will feature up to nine contestants performing in the Princess Theatre. The audience will include three team coaches that may feature a guest entertainer, the Hotel General Manager or even the Captain. Once teams are chosen, each coach picks one finalist. The audience then votes for the winner who will be awarded a trophy and the title "The Voice of the Ocean".
Theme: P&O Cruises "Strictly Come Dancing"
Dates: April to June 2017
Details: Glitz and glam will hit the ocean waves again this year as the television phenomenon that is "Strictly Come Dancing" returns on four sailings with P&O Cruises. Each cruise will host four of "Strictly's" professional dancers, captivating guests with incredible, show-stopping routines. This year's professional dancers waltzing onto the decks include Giovanni Pernice, Oti Mabuse, Joanne Clifton, Gorka Marquez, AJ Pritchard, Chloe Hewitt, Janette Manrara, Aljaz Skorjanec, Oksana Platero, as well as Karen and Kevin Clifton. Also joining these four cruises is judge and king of legendary put downs, Craig Revel Horwood. The "Strictly" stars will offer up-close interviews onboard, meet and greet opportunities, and spectacular "Strictly Come Dancing" showcases. The highlight of these two-week cruises is the guest dance competition, which culminates in a grand finale performance in the ship’s main theatre, with a judging panel including Craig Revel Horwood and a “Strictly” professional dancer.
Cruises include: A 14-night Western Mediterranean cruise on Ventura, setting sail on 30 April 2017 with Giovanni Pernice, Joanne Clifton, AJ Pritchard, Chloe Hewitt, Neil and Katya Jones. Heading north, a 14-night Baltic cruise on Britannia departs on 4 June 2017 with "Strictly" favourites Janette Manrara, Aljaz Skorjanec, Giovanni Pernice, Oti Mabuse, and Oksana Platero. Rounding off the 2017 season of "Strictly Come Dancing" cruises is a 14-night Central Mediterranean voyage onboard Britannia, departing 25 June 2017, with the impressive line-up of Janette Manrara, Aljaz Skorjanec, Natalie Lowe, Karen and Kevin Clifton.
Fitness and Well-Being Cruises
Theme: Star Clippers Yoga Sailings
Date: April to December 2017
Details: Star Clippers offer guests daily yoga and meditation on selected yoga-themed sailings. With spectacular settings as a background, yoga classes take place in the open air on the teak decks under billowing sails. Qualified yoga teachers hold daily sessions of Astanga yoga -- also known as power yoga -- on deck in the cool morning air, with a second session just before sunset which includes meditation. There are also lectures on the philosophy of yoga and advice for practice at home. On 31 October 2017 Star Flyer will depart Malaga bound for Las Palmas when Shannon Aleksa will impart her expertise. Royal Clipper has a yoga-themed cruise sailing in the stunning Grenadines departing on 9 December 2017 from Barbados, when Catherine Derrow will be the yoga expert.
Theme: Saga Cruises' The Great Outdoors
Dates: 20 November 2017
Details: Saga Pearl II appeals to more active Saga Cruises’ passengers so it’s not surprising that this 18-night Jewels of the Canary Islands cruise, departing Southampton on 20 November 2017 has a Great Outdoors theme. There will be active excursions by foot and bike as well as captivating talks by Debra Searle MBE who rowed across the Atlantic single-handed.
Theme: MSC Cruises Wellness Experience
Dates: Year-round from April 2017
Details: MSC Cruises is meeting the growing demand for wellness travel by introducing an exclusive "Wellness Experience", developed in partnership with Technogym. Once onboard, guests will receive a one-to-one appointment with the Master Trainer who conducts an assessment consisting of a body scale analyser test combined with an in-depth consultation. In addition, passengers get a health check-up by the MSC Doctor. "Wellness Experience" guests also benefit from exciting group fitness classes designed around Technogym's ARKE equipment for core and bodyweight training, as well as Technogym Group Cycle class. In addition, MSC offer a range of new fitness classes such as Bella Barre and Hula Fit will be introduced along with popular favourites including tai chi, pilates, and yoga. The personalised programme takes place in the swimming pools, gym, open-air sports facilities and the adult-only top sun deck.
Theme: Celebrity Cruises France and Film cruise
Date: 18 May 2017
Details: Passengers onboard Celebrity Equinox's 12-night cruise from Barcelona to Barcelona, departing 18 May, 2017, can rub shoulders with the rich and famous at the Cannes Film Festival. They will indulge in the epitome of A-list Hollywood glitz and sophistication by attending an exclusive VIP rooftop celebration ashore with live French music and cocktails while overlooking the picturesque harbour. Onboard, guests can enjoy "Celebrity Cruises' Film Festival" -- a celebration of past Cannes Film Festival winners -- and watch live presentations from a film historian. The film-themed cruise takes in Cannes (Monte Carlo, Monaco) for an overnight stay during the Cannes Film Festival; Provence (France); Valletta (Malta) for an overnight stay; Rome (Italy) and Florence (Italy). Tickets to the Film Festival are not included.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines' The Lochs, Castles & Coasts of the British Isles
Date: 21 May 2017
Details:On this 10-night cruise aboard Braemar from Southampton, passengers will enjoy walking in the footsteps of famous actors in legendary locations for memorable films. In Edinburgh (on tour from Rosyth) they can see where the original Trainspotting was filmed -- as well as the recently-released "Trainspotting 2". There’s also the chance to visit Roslyn Castle -- setting of part of the "Da Vinci Code". The Glenfinnan Viaduct, reached from Fort William, is an iconic backdrop in the Harry Potter films. Belfast has plethora attractions but movie-buffs will go in search of sites that feature in "Game of Thrones". From Falmouth a trip to the sweeping Cornish countryside bring images captured in Poldark to life -- although it’s unlikely Aiden Turner’s bear chest will be on display. Finally from Portland it’s easy to get to Lyme Regis -- setting of ITV’s "Broadchurch".
Theme: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' Golf & Cruise
Date: 24 August 2017
Details: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' golf and cruise packages, offered on the line's Europa 2 2017 summer itineraries, allow golf enthusiasts the opportunity to play on a variety of golf courses in cooperation with the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) of Germany. Not only that, but the packages also accommodate budding young golfers, by offering special golf taster course on board for golfers of the future. The 13-day package will travel from Hamburg to Kiel via a daytime passage through the Kiel Canal, Copenhagen/Denmark (Kokkedal Golf Club), Journey through the archipelago, Stockholm/Sweden (Bro Hof Slott Castle Course), Tallinn/Estonia (Estonian Golf Club), Helsinki/Finland, St. Petersburg/Russia, Klaipeda/Lithuania (National Golf Club) and Gudhjem/Bornholm/Denmark.
Theme: Azamara Club Cruises' British Open
Date: 19 July 2017
Details:This 13-night Round Britain cruise on Azamara Journey from Southampton offers the chance to enrol in a golf package provided by Perry Golf that includes attendance at the final round of the 146th British Open Championship at Royal Birkdale when the ship is docked in Liverpool. There will also be six rounds of golf at other courses included in the package. The company’s signature Azamazing Evening event on this cruise will be a performance of Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin.