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 2018.
P&O Cruises' Food Heroes Sailings
Date: Various sailings throughout 2018
Details: P&O Cruises has offered an even greater variety of Food Heroes sailings this year, continuing in 2018 with James Martin, who has bagged the line's Caribbean and Azores fly-cruise, departing 17 March from Barbados onboard Britannia. Michelin-star chef Atul Kochhar will be the Food Hero on Ventura for a 14-night Spain, France and Italy cruise on 13 April. Marco Pierre White will join a seven-night cruise on Britannia on 17 June to the Norwegian Fjords, while wine expert Olly Smith will sail onboard a Canary Islands and Portugal voyage on Azura, departing 6 May, and Eric Lanlard will join the Spain and Guernsey sailing, departing Southampton on 9 September onboard Britannia. 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.
Oceania Cruises' Claudine Pépin Cruise
Date: 30 July 2018
Details: This 10-day culinary cruise onboard Oceania’s latest ship, Sirena, from Rome to Venice, 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.
SeaDream Yacht Club "Wine Voyages"
Date: 12 May 2018
Details: SeaDream Yacht Club's "Wine Voyages" return in 2018, featuring a series of nine itineraries in the Mediterranean with two new sailings in the Caribbean. This seven-night voyage, from Nice to Rome, onboard SeaDream II takes in Villefranche-sur-Mer, Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Portofino, Portoferraio (Elba) and Porto Ercole -- taking in some of the world's richest wine regions. As with every wine voyage, this sailing includes visits to vineyards, wine tastings and the popular Winemaker Dinner, featuring expertly-prepared local dishes paired with wines from visited ports.
Seabourn Cruise Line's Seabourn Conversations
Date: 13 January 2018
Details: During this epic 21-night Ultimate Antarctica & Patagonia cruise on Seabourn Quest -- from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso (Santiago) -- 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".
Cunard Line "Anthony Inglis and The National Symphony Orchestra"
Date: 18 October 2018
Details: This seven-night westbound transatlantic crossing onboard Queen Mary 2 -- departing from Southampton on 18 October -- features Anthony Inglis and the National Symphony Orchestra. Having performed at London's Royal Albert Hall more than any other conductor, Inglis's return to the QM2 is a highlight for many passengers, with the famed conductor taking part in a Q&A session onboard.
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.
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".
Fitness and Well-Being Cruises
Star Clippers Yoga Sailings
Date: Through 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.
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.
MSC Cruises' Wellness Experience Sailings
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.
Celebrity Cruises "France, Italy and Film Cruise"
Date: 17 May 2018
Details: Passengers onboard Celebrity Constellation's 11-night cruise from Barcelona to Venice, departing 17 May, 2018, 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 (Monte Carlo, Monaco) during the festival; plus stops in Sete (France), Florence, Rome, Kotor, Dubrovnik and Split, before ending with an overnight stay in Venice. Tickets to the Film Festival are not included.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' Golf & Cruise
Date:13 May 2018
Details: This nine-day voyage on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' Europa 2 starts in Abu Dhabi and ends in Dubai (the first night is a hotel stay). Golf enthusiasts will get the opportunity to play on a variety of golf courses, while also visiting Doha, Mina Khalifa, Khasab and Muscat. It is worth noting when booking that this cruise takes place during the fasting month of Ramadan, during which period it is not permitted to consume food or drink in public during the day and local restaurants will not open until the evening.