A culinary themed cruise hosted by Celebrity Cruise Line (Photo: Celebrity Cruise Line)

Theme Cruises 2019

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 nineties music, a yoga devotee or dedicated dancer, chances are there's a theme cruise for you.

Updated February 14, 2019

Culinary Wine
Wine & Wildlife Music
Dance Fitness & Well-Being
Golf Film

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 nineties music, a yoga devotee or dedicated dancer, chances are there's a theme cruise for you.

When considering a theme cruise, remember that they can be broken down into three categories:

Full-Ship Theme Cruise: Choose your theme wisely because it will set the tone for your entire sailing. Everyone onboard can participate in the themed activities and entertainment, and every onboard venue is in use, from the pool-deck for concerts to the dining room, where special menus might be featured.

Full-ship theme cruises can be either fully chartered by an independent company or offered by the cruise line itself. For example, Sixthman, a travel company focusing on theme cruises, offers fully chartered musical festivals, such as The Rock Boat and Cayamo. Throughout each cruise, passengers can enjoy concerts, themed activities, competitions and opportunities to mingle with performers. Cruise line partnerships include MSC Cruises' Weight Watchers Cruise and Oceania Cruises' annual Jacques Pepin Cruise. These tend to appeal to a broader audience.

Partial-Ship Theme Cruise: Not all theme cruises engulf the entire ship. Special interest groups can purchase a number of cabins in different categories and market to people who would be interested in the activity, which can range from wine to golf. These groups usually have little impact on the other holidaymakers onboard, although some of the public spaces may be taken over by the group.

Gay and lesbian cruises can be full-ship charters or groups booked on regular sailings. You can find out more about these themed sailings here.

Theme-Inspired Cruise: Cruise lines commonly advertise themed sailings, but these tend to be regular sailings with some extra special-interest activities or guest speakers added to the usual programming, such as P&O Cruises' Food Heroes sailings. On these cruises, you might have a regionally inspired wine tasting or guest musical performer onboard. Paul Gauguin Cruises, for instance, features appearances by oceanographer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau throughout the year. On these select sailings, Cousteau offers lectures and accompanies dives from the ship.

Below we list what's on offer for 2019.


P&O Cruises' Food Heroes Sailings

Date: Marco Pierre White will host excursions on seven-night sailings departing on 18 May and 29 June 2019, Eric Lanlard’s tours will be available on seven-night cruises departing 27 April, 8 June and 31 August 2019, and Olly Smith will lead the brewery tour on an 11-night itinerary departing 7 September 2019.

Details: P&O fans with a penchant for celebrity chefs will want to bag a cabin on one of the line's upcoming Norwegian Fjords cruises with chef Marco Pierre White, patissier Eric Lanlard and wine expert Olly Smith set to host a series of foodie-themed sailings.

The line's Food Heroes will take passengers on tours to learn about local food delicacies and offer cookery classes in partnership with restaurants in port.

Marco Pierre White will take passengers to a local farm to select seasonal ingredients in Stavanger followed by a cookery demonstration at the Fish & Cow restaurant run by Norwegian celebrity chef Kjartan Skjelde. 

Eric Lanlard will team up with Stavanger chef Mary-Ann Skjeie at Tango restaurant for a dessert-making masterclass and Olly Smith will lead a brewery tour and tasting session in Bergen.

Food Heroes cruises also feature onboard cookery demonstrations, masterclasses, hosted dinners, book signings and Q&A sessions.

P&O Cruises' Britannia at sea

Oceania Cruises' Claudine Pépin Cruise

Date: 15 July 2019

Details: This 10-day culinary cruise onboard Oceania’s latest ship, Sirena, from Rome to Barcelona, 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.


Glass of wine being poured

Wine Cruises

SeaDream Yacht Club's Wine Voyages

Dates: 4 May; 18 May; 1 June; 12 June; 27 June; 5 October; 12 October, 2019

Details: SeaDream Yacht Club's popular "Wine Voyages" return in 2019 with a series of seven Mediterranean sailings. The five-, seven-, ten- or 11-night voyages will take place on both of the line's ships, SeaDream I and SeaDream II and will take in some of the world's richest wine regions in the heart of the Med. Wine Voyages includes visits to vineyards, wine tastings and the popular Winemaker Dinner, featuring expertly-prepared local dishes paired with wines from visited ports.


Woman performer singing at the BB Kings Blues Club on Holland America

Music Cruises

Seabourn Cruise Line's Seabourn Conversations

Date: 10 April 2019

Details: During this epic 18-Day "Jewels of Southeast Asia" itinerary on Seabourn Sojourn the award-winning musical theatre lyricist Sir Tim Rice will be reminiscing about his career. This Seabourn Conversations voyage complements the line's "An Evening with Tim Rice" show, which is now playing on all Seabourn ships. The concert-style show is narrated by Rice and highlights some of his greatest work, including pieces from "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Aladdin" and "The Lion King".


Marella Cruises' Electric Sunsets Back to the 90s

Date: 1 September 2019

Details: This three-night sailing aboard Marella Explorer, departing from Newcastle, will feature appearances by Five and 911, as well as DJs Judge Jules and DJ Sash. The adults-only cruise will whisk passengers across the North Sea with calls in Ijmuiden in Holland and Zeebrugges (Bruges) in Belgium, before ending in Southampton on September 4. Revellers will also get up close to Bwitched and S Club Party, with an array of 90s-themed entertainment taking place onboard.


"The Boaty Weekender" with Belle and Sebastian

Date: 8 August 2019

Details: Sixthman, the company responsible for organising numerous successful theme cruises for the North American market, announced in 2018 it is coming to the UK this summer with a music sailing featuring Belle & Sebastian. Dubbed the 'Boaty Weekender', the four-night voyage on Norwegian Jade from Barcelona to Sardinia will include Q&A sessions with Belle & Sebastian, as well as performances by the band and other supporting acts.


Holland America Line "B.B. King's Blues Club"

Date: Year-round

Details: Holland America Line's Koningsdam and new Nieuw Statendam have been designed with music in mind. One of the world's best hospitality designers, Adam Tihany, has created an interior for newest Holland America ships 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. Both ships feature a variety of high-calibre musical options including the 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 live music venue created to showcase a chamber ensemble performing evening recitals and in the afternoon on sea days and the brand-new "Rolling Stone Rock Room", that debuted on Nieuw Statendam.


Princess Cruises "The Voice of the Ocean"

Dates: Year-round

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".


Dance Cruises

Cunard's "Dance the Atlantic" with the English National Ballet

Dates: 11 August 2019

Details: Practice your pirouette as you cross the Atlantic Ocean on Cunard's Queen Mary 2 this summer on a seven-night sailing with the English National Ballet. The world-famous ballet troupe will join Cunard's largest ship on this transatlantic sailing for the first time, with ballet classes, the chance for passengers to drop in on rehearsals, workshops and performances in the ship's Royal Court Theatre all taking place before arriving in New York.


Film Cruises

Celebrity Cruises' "Film Festival Cruise"

Date: 17 May 2019

Details: Passengers onboard Celebrity Infinity's 12-night cruise from Barcelona, departing 17 May, 2019, 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 an overnight stay in Cannes during the festival; plus stops in Florence/ Pisa, Rome, Naples, Palermo, Malta, Marseille, Sete, before returning to Barcelona. Tickets to the Film Festival are not included.


tee-off at sea and ashore

Golf Cruises

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' Golf & Cruise

Date: 19 May 2018

Details: This 13-day voyage on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' Europa takes in the stunning Spanish coast, starting in Palma and ending in Lisbon. Golf enthusiasts will get the opportunity to play on a variety of golf courses, while also visiting ports such as Seville, Gibraltar, Valencia and Barcelona. Hapag-Lloyd is a German cruise line and the entire sailing will be conducted in German, including all printed materials onboard, Though the ship's crew are all fluent in English.

Find a Cruise

Popular on Cruise Critic

6 Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid
You might expect loud noises, close quarters and crazy manoeuvres in the dance club onboard your cruise ship -- but not in your cabin. Even if you don't plan to spend much time there, it should be a restful and private place so you can maintain that much-needed holiday stamina. To help you do so, we've compiled a list of cabins you'll want to avoid booking if closet-like dimensions or scraping chair sounds overhead aren't appealing to you. Heed our advice, and you might be feeling a bit less claustrophobic and a tad more refreshed come disembarkation.
11 Best Luxury Cruise Ships
The moment you step aboard a luxury cruise ship, a hostess is at your arm proffering a glass of bubbly while a capable room steward offers to heft your carry-on as he escorts you to what will be your home-away-from-home for the next few days. You stow your things (likely in a walk-in closet) and then emerge from your suite to get the lay of the ship. As you walk the decks, friendly crew members greet you ... by name. How can that be? You just set foot onboard! First-class, personalised service is just one of the hallmarks of luxury cruise lines. You can also expect exotic itineraries, varying degrees of inclusivity in pricing, fine wines and gourmet cuisine as well as universally high crew-to-passenger ratios. That being the case, you might think any old luxury cruise ship will do, but that's not quite true. Like people, cruise ships have their own unique personalities -- and some will be more suited to your holiday style than others. Lines like SeaDream might not offer the most spacious suites, but their intimate yachts can stealthily visit ports that large ships can't manage. Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises are owned by the same parent company but Regent offers a completely inclusive holiday experience, while Oceania draws travellers with a more independent streak. Take a look at Cruise Critic's list of best luxury cruise lines and ships to see which one resonates with you.
How To Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin: What You Need to Know
Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it's helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel: Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks