Are you fascinated by photography, inspired by culinary stars, or an avid ballroom dancer or fitness buff? Then chances are quite good that there's a cruise with your name on it. Hobbyists cruises, in which lines and organizers offer planned activities in a breathtaking span of options -- which include tracking wildlife, indulging in Titanic-mania, vineyard-hopping to wine tastings and more -- are on the rise.
Themed cruises are more popular than ever, with a notable number of cruise virgins opting for them as an incentive to try a cruise. They may be worried about feeling trapped or isolated onboard, unable to relate to the seasoned cruiser, so a chance to immerse themselves in their passion with like-minded people can help them embrace a new type of vacation.
Before booking, be sure to research what type of theme cruise would suit you. The choices vary. You could opt for a block booking of cabins by a fan group, a series of lectures and workshops organised by the cruise line or even a full-ship charter, in which activities are fully centered on that trip's theme. The difference could mean anything from a diversion to keep your interest for a few hours a day to an all-encompassing adventure. As complements, all of these offer the usual in-port adventures.
This year's offerings are as dynamic as ever. From nude river cruises to radio soap operas, cruise operators and specialist holiday firms have something for everyone. Below is a selection of what is on offer for 2013, but please come and look again, as we will be updating the content on a regular basis. (And if you want us to include a trip that is not on the list, don't hesitate to contact us by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Details: Enjoy the astonishing sights of the China Sea from the luxury of your own Crystal Cruises Cabin, as you set sail aboard the Crystal Symphony. From helicopter flights over the breathtaking city of Hong Kong, to guided tours of the imposing Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an, many shore excursions are available, allowing you to experience everything that this vaunted stretch of coastline has to offer. Remarkable memories won't be restricted to the shore however, as you will be sailing in the company of the Crystal Wine and Food festival, giving you access to master chiefs and wine experts, such as Fred Dame. As passengers travel from vibrant Hong Kong north to the famed cities of Shanghai and Beijing you will experience some of the best food, and greatest sights the ocean can offer.
Caveat: Remember to book shore excursions well in advance to really make the most of this fantastic journey!
Details: Experience the scintillating cuisine and culture of the Mediterranean as this themed cruise from Wind Star Cruises carries you along the Greek and Amalfi Coastline. Along the way you will enjoy the vibrant culture of Rome, the sophisticated history of Athens, and even the ruins of mighty Sparta. As the fully rigged Wind Star calls in at these historic stops you will be able to head ashore and experience a famed food culture, and sample the delights it offers. Adding the Tastes and Traditions of the Mediterranean Excursion package to your booking will ensure you have access to an array of private tastings of world famous olives, oils, cheeses and wines, even as the ship calls in at cities brimming with fine restaurants and cafes, meaning your every culinary desire will be satisfied. This cruise will fully immerse you in the landscape, food and history of the cradle of European civilisation.
Caveat: Be sure to book the Tastes and Traditions of the Mediterranean Excursion package in plenty of time. BR>
Details: Foodies and travellers combine on this cruise of a stretch of coast famed for its superb food and wines. Sailing from Southampton aboard the Azamara Journey , you will explore the cheeses, seafood and wines of Nantes and Bordeaux, before indulging in rich Rioja and tapas in scenic Bilbao. Along your route, as you sail south to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon with Azamara Club Cruises, you will be able to head ashore for many wonderful excursions, such as wine tasting in St. Emilion, visits to the Port Lodges of Lisbon or walks along the highest sand dunes in Europe in Arcachon. And with complimentary evening events, and professional butlers for suite passengers, your time onboard will be spent in just as much luxury as your time ashore. A must for all food and wine enthusiasts, this cruise will allow you to see the full glory of this culinary heaven, and enjoy all its edible delights.
Caveat: Remember to pack a few warm items, as the bay of Biscay can be cold and windy at times.
Details: Arrive in Monaco for ‘Race Sunday' in the most glamorous way possible. Sail into the city aboard the Azamara Journey and mingle with the celebrity crowds while checking out the premier class machinery that gathers for the competition that is known as the peak of motorsports. This will be the 72nd Grand Prix of Monaco – a prestigious event that, every year, draws the cream of the crop to compete and to spectate. This eight night cruise also stops off in the luxurious and exclusive resort of St. Tropez, with visits to San Remo, Cannes, Barcelona and Rome (via Civitavecchia) also planned for the voyage. The deal includes return flights from the UK, but tickets to watch the Grand Prix itself will need to be added later.
Caveat: Interested passengers are advised to book sooner rather than later, as interest in this cruise is usually very high.
Details: An ideal cruise for motorsport enthusiasts, Wind Star Cruises offers the chance to add a dream excursion to the glamorous Monte Carlo Grand Prix, to its already superb cruise of the Italian coastline. Sailing aboard the Wind Surf, you will experience the waters of St. Tropez, the class of Monte Carlo and the historic beauty of Rome, the Eternal City, and all that Italy has to offer. From nights spend in Monaco's Grand Casino, deck top barbeques at Portofino and tours of the Vatican, this cruise offers an ideal chance to see some of the greatest sights in the world. What is more, with the Grand Prix package, guests will be able to attend an exclusive cocktail party, rubbing shoulders with race experts and aficionados, leave with a Grand Prix themed gift package, and have tickets to both the race and time trials included in the price. This is a once in a lifetime chance for Formula One fans to experience the Monte Carlo Grand Prix in more than appropriate style!
Caveat: Remember to pack your formal evening wear to participate fully in the ship's evening itinerary!
Details: Here's an opportunity for book early for a summer's cruise that takes in some of the best golfing destinations around the UK and Ireland. Passengers on the Crystal Symphony can look forward to visiting ports in England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Guernsey, where they will be accompanied by PGA trainer, John Clark, who will help them to get the best out of the country's golf courses. They will also be joined on the cruise by the famous American golfer ‘Billy' Casper, who will regale audiences with anecdotes from his time working with golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, as well as from his stint captaining the 1979 US Ryder Cup team.
Caveat: Non golfers needn't despair! A full and varied alternative itinerary is available for those not keen on hitting the fairways.
Details: An opportunity to experience a true adventure, this cruise aboard Un-Cruise Adventures' Wilderness Discoverer , enables passengers to get to grips with some of the world's most spectacular landscapes. Sailing from Ketchikan on Prince of Wales Island to Juneau, the cruise will take in the spectacular wilderness, or "skootum" of Alaska, and gives adventurers the chance of spotting sea lions, eagles and whales in their natural habitat. Not an excursion for the faint of heart, passengers will be able to paddleboard, kayak and skiff their way through a tapestry of inlets and islands, explore caves and even witness the birth, or calving, of mighty glaciers from the Dawes Glacier. A cruise which will immerse you in the nature and culture of this scenic land, from the whales of Frederick Sound to the totem carving school at Klawock, a village of the native Tlingit people, this is a must for any adventurer.
Details: Hurtigruten have gained a reputation for taking their passengers beyond the parameters of a traditional cruise, bringing out the adventurer in everyone and getting people closer to some of the landscapes and wildlife of a selection of inspiring destinations. This cruise gives passengers aboard Hurtigruten's Fram the opportunity to get up close to polar bears in their own habitat; the island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard Archipelago. The voyage, which takes in glaciers, rugged cliffs and icy landscapes, as well as the unusual spectacle of the midnight sun, will circumnavigate the island, giving excellent opportunities to observe the local wildlife, as well as to learn about it from an expert who will accompany passengers onboard.
Caveat: The cruise's planned landings are subject to weather and ice conditions. Passengers are advised to bring warm wind and water resistant clothing as well as sturdy footwear and a small backpack.
Details: Here's a great opportunity to take off on a two week whale watching cruise in the Sea of Cortez, taking in the abundant wildlife that graces the western coast of California's Baja Peninsula. Passengers are taken on a specially chartered ship that can get them closer to some of the region's animals without too much disruption. Among others, passengers will be able to observe Humpback, Fin, Bryde's, grey and Sperm Whales, various sea birds and dolphins as well as the, sometimes elusive, Blue Whale, which Naturetrek claims a 100% success rate in spotting on trips since 2010. There will also be exciting options to go snorkelling with sea lions and other marine wildlife. Air fare is included in the price.
Caveat: The cruise is intended to show off the wildlife of the Baja coastal region; but these are wild animals. While the company is experienced in predicting the animals' behaviour and patterns, there is no way to guarantee that they will cooperate (with the almost definite exception of the grey whales – who just seem naturally inquisitive and friendly).
Details: What better than a winter cruise along the winding river Danube, knitting needles in hand – watching the sights of central Europe gently slide by? Passengers are invited to book now for their chance to spend a week in the company of renowned textile expert and knitting ace, Barry Klein, who will pass on new techniques as well as inspiration for new projects and help with getting started in this age old handicraft. Passengers on the AmaBella will be able to enjoy the sights of central Europe in winter, with planned visits to Prague, Passau, Linz, Melk, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. There will also be a festive night planned for New Year's Eve – providing a distinctive and unusual way to ring in 2015.
Caveat: Demand is likely to be high and places are relatively limited, so it is advised that passengers book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
Details: In an unusual itinerary, Craft Cruises gives keen crafters the chance to take to the waters of the Antarctic, cruising the South American coast line while creating personalised goods from the famed fabrics of the region. Aboard Holland America's majesticZaandam, you will sail from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, enjoying the friendly vibrancy of the Argentine capital, the Casa del Pueblo art museum of Punta del Este, and hiking through the Tierra del Fuego National Park along the way. While ashore you will be able to stock up on many unique fabrics to create fantastic garments while at sea, and you will also be able to learn the delicate art of knitting lace, under the expert tutelage of Myrna Stahman. Open to all skill levels, and with a variety of inspiring fabrics and sceneries to get your creative juices flowing, this cruise is a rare and provocative combination of art and adventure, and not to be missed.
Caveat: Be sure to book Myrna Stahman's course early as it is likely to fill up fast!
Details: Here's a chance for fans of the classic crooners of the 1950s and 60s to experience for themselves the glamour of the Rat Pack with this themed music cruise from Saga. Passengers on the Saga Sapphire can relive the golden years of Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Frank Sinatra with music, drinks and dancing. The destination is a classic one, with passengers getting to enjoy the sights of the Norwegian Fjords – with planned visits to Bergen, Olden, Flam and Stavanger included in the trip.
Caveat: Make sure to bring appropriate attire for the Fjords at the dtart of summer.
Details: Indulge in the rich musical legacy of the River Danube, as this river cruise takes you through the beautiful heart of Europe. Aboard Lüftner Cruises' elegantAmadeus Brilliant, you will travel the waterways of Austria and Hungary, taking in the imperial splendour of Budapest and Vienna. A skilled musical ensemble shall be present on board, providing regular concerts, which will be augmented by an informative and enlightening lecture, allowing passengers to learn every aspect of the regions unique musical history. When heading ashore, passengers can tour the grand cities of Bratislava, Vienna and Budapest, visit the rococo masterpiece that is Schoenbrunn Palace, and experience the “Celebration of the Great Masters” excursion, allowing you to discover the Danube's Musical Maestros. A must for music lovers, this cruise gives you a glimpse into the lives of musical greats from Strauss to Mozart, all from the luxury of your cabin.
Caveat: Remember to pack your formal evening wear to participate fully in the ship's evening itinerary, and book shore excursions in advance.
Details: Cruise the picturesque waters of the mighty Rhine with Lüftner Cruises aboard the Amadeus Diamond, and take in the musical heritage of the great river. As this cruise takes you along the majestic waterway, from Basel in Switzerland all the way to the sea at old Amsterdam, you will experience the historic cities of Bonn, Cologne, Strasbourg and Koblenz, and your evenings will be filled with fine music, provided by our onboard ensemble. You will set off ashore and visit such remarkable locations as Beethoven's House in Bonn, experience live concerts in Strasbourg and Amsterdam and a wine tour through the vineyards of Alsace. With a superb array of hospitality and entertainment available onboard, with complimentary meals, wines and musical performances, this river cruise lets you enjoy the beauty of this iconic river in absolute style and comfort.
Details: See all of the sun drenched sights of the Mediterranean, and dance the nights away with P&O's Mediterranean Strictly Come Dancing Cruise. While island hopping the iconic islands of Madeira, La Palma and Gran Canaria aboard the Oriana you will be joined by a judge and two professional dancers from the hit BBC show, Strictly Come Dancing, who will perform and chat with lucky passengers. While on shore excursions you will be able to explore small but bustling Lisbon, walk the volcanic craters of La Palma and see Gran Canaria from the unique viewpoint of a camel's back. Life on board holds just as many delights for the passenger, as alongside inspiring performances from the professional dancers, the Oriana offers an array of entertainments, from casinos and restaurants to spas and boutique shops. This cruise is so full of activities and excursions, that even the most hardened dance fan may find themselves distracted.
Caveat:Sunglasses and sun lotion are a must on this Mediterranean idyll!
Details: In a cruise harking back to the elegance of a bygone age, Crystal Cruises offers you the chance to sail aboard the aptly namedCrystal Symphony , in the company of the Harry James Orchestra, allowing for nights of dancing on the ocean. As the ship sails from Lisbon to Miami, your evenings will be filled with lavish dances, lively band performances, and full tutelage, meaning that anyone from an experienced dancer to a complete novice can cut an elegant figure on the floor. While the nights will be filled with this decadence, the days will not miss out, as all manner of shore excursions, from walks through timeless Lisbon to deep sea fishing off Grand Turk, Diving and snorkelling, are available to make this trip a truly memorable experience. A chance to revel in the glamour of the ballroom, while crossing this iconic ocean, this cruise is not to be missed!
Caveat: Remember to pack your formal evening wear to participate fully in the ship's evening itinerary!
Details: Crystal Cruises' Ocean Views series has brought lively intellectual debate to the high seas, bringing together ambassadors, scholars and experts to discuss some of the world's most pressing questions. Global issues and current affairs will be the focal point of this cruise, with discussions, in-depth debates and lectures on the day's most prominent and interesting events. Special guests will include, amongst others, former chair of Political and International relations at the University of Cape Town - Robert Schrire, novelist Kathy Reichs and award winning journalist Ken Rees. Passengers on the Crystal Serenity will depart Southampton for the West African coast, taking in some of the most celebrated sights in South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Ghana, Senegal and Morocco, as well as stopping off in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, on the return voyage.
Caveat: The itinerary includes an invigorating range of shore excursions, and passengers are advised to ensure they bring appropriate footwear.
Details: Fred Olsen Cruises is inviting curious passengers to learn more about the exciting, clandestine world of espionage on this 10 night cruise of Africa and the Algarve. Passengers will be joined aboard the Black Watch by Cambridge graduate and former military intelligence officer, Major General Peter Williams. A former Cold War intelligence specialist, Major General Williams is a real life James Bond, having served as Deputy Chief UN Military Observer and Chief Faction Liaison Officer in NATO's HQ in Sarajevo, dealing with the Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Federation Ministries of Defence and general staffs. The cruise will include a series of talks and discussions for people interested in learning more about the role if military espionage in international diplomacy.
Details: Cruise the rivers of northern Europe and celebrate the allied liberation of France from occupation during World War 2. Passengers can board the ship for a week long cruise that will pay homage to the soldiers' journey through France – boarding the Creativity, in Paris and heading towards Vernon – taking in Rouen, Les Andelys and Auvers sur Ouse. Passengers will be joined aboard by a series of guest lecturers who will, through a series of onboard lectures and shore excursions, help them to understand the history of the region and the war-time connections that made the region such a key wartime battlefield.
Caveat: Details of this cruise will be finalised in April 2013 – please check the Avalon Waterways website for up to date details of the lecture programme and speakers.
Details: As family entertainment goes, getting to meet favourite Nickelodeon characters such as Sponge Bob Squarepants, Dora the explorer, the fairly-odd parents and the stars of iCarly, makes for quite a special cruise. Passengers traveling aboard theNorwegian Epic or the Norwegian Jewel will be able to mingle with the Nickelodeon stars as well as take part in special onboard games and activities, such as singing and dancing, watching exclusive premieres of Nickelodeon TV shows and taking part in the channel's signature ‘slime time' game show. These children's activities are intended to help bring families together over long cruises, giving them plenty of opportunities to play together as well as providing some time alone for parents.
Details: Norwegian Cruise Line has long been known for its more laid-back take on cruising life and its attitude towards sport and fitness onboard is no exception. Looking to use a cruise to kick bad health habits? Keen to flex your muscles, shed a few pounds and have some fun while at sea? NCL suggests that passengers ditch the workout and join the party' with its programme of onboard Zumba classes! From Spring 2013, passengers on NCL ships will be able to complement their cruise with a series of integrated zumba workouts, with elements of hip-hop, salsa, African inspired dance and Reggaton helping participants to get into the groove. All classes will be taught by registered ZIN (Zumba Instructor Network) istructors.
Caveat: Remember to pack your trainers, tracksuits, t-shirts and anything else you need for a good work out!
Dates: Multiple cruises on selected Costa ships in 2013.
Details: Everyone knows that the sea air is good for you, but Costa Cruises has gone one further with the introduction of their health and wellness cruises, aimed at giving passengers the full spa treatment to make their holiday that bit more relaxing. Passengers can book a place on the Wellness programme aboard theCosta Mediterranea or the Costa Atlantica, while passengers traveling on the Costa Magica, Costa Fortuna, Costa Victoria, and Costa Classica can also partake in therapeutic ‘Harmony and Relaxation' treatments. Guests can also visit the exclusive Samsara Spas aboard selected ships.
Caveat: Watch out for treatments that cost extra or that aren't included under the wellness package.
Dates: Multiple cruises on selected MSC Cruises' ships in 2013.
Details: MSC Cruises want you to have a more balanced experience aboard their ships and are encouraging passengers to replenish both their bodies and their minds in one of their onboard Aurea spas. There are a number of packages for people looking to incorporate the spa experience more fully into their cruise. Passengers on the MSC Divina, MSC Splendida, MSC Fantasia, MSC Magnifica, MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra and the MSC Musica, can enjoy a Wellness package for two, including massages and special treatments, while single gentlemen or ladies travelling on these ships can consider a male or female only spa experience.
Caveat: Be careful to keep an eye on what treatments are included under the spa packages and remember that extra treatments may cost extra.
Details: Enjoy the Caribbean au naturel and perfect that all-over tan with a nudist cruise aboard Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam. This is a great opportunity for nudists to meet other, like-minded people and to enjoy the pristine beaches and resorts of the Caribbean as nature intended. Passengers can visit the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Honduras, visiting famous nude beaches, coastal resorts and the exclusively nude island of Half Moon Cay. Holland America will treat passengers to everything they'd expect on any other cruise, including fine dining, spa and fitness facilities and a range of shore excursion activities, including hiking, scuba-diving, snorkelling and swimming with dolphins.
Caveat: Passengers with sensitive skin might want to pack extra sun lotion.
Details: Whodunit Productions will be stepping onboard a variety of Royal Caribbean ships to bring a sense of mystery and intrigue to your cruise. With comical shows and performances, you will have the chance to solve murder mysteries at sea. This is not one for the meek, as you will be given your own character to play. All cruises leave from America and are priced in U.S. dollars.