By Sherry Jefferson, Cruise Consultant, The Cruise Web, Inc.
Theme cruising is a way to bring together people who share common interests, hobbies and passions, and combine it with the cruise experience. A theme cruise is an excellent way to meet others who share your interests and passion on a particular subject. Most groups dine together at dinner time, so you’ll have a chance to really get to know others in the group.
What is a Theme Cruise?
Theme cruises can take many forms, but are usually a “regular” cruise with enhanced or additional programming onboard. This programming can run the gamut from seminars, to classroom style sessions, to hands-on learning sessions, to concerts or dance themes – the possibilities are endless. Themed programming typically takes place on board the ship, but sometimes the events will take place in port to coincide with an event taking place there. Examples of that might be the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo, the Chelsea Flower show, or Jazz in the Norwegian Fjords.
Types of Theme Cruises
The most common theme cruises are those developed by some type of organization and administered by a travel agency. This means that in order to participate in the described events, guests must book through the participating travel agency. General guests onboard the ship will normally be prohibited from participating in events. There have been Soap Opera cruises, guest chefs from the Food Network, Oldies, Baseball legends, etc. These cruises might have as few as 25-30 guests, or as many as 1,000. While you may pay a bit more to participate in a private theme cruise, the added value normally far outweighs the additional cost.
While essentially a “private” cruise, everyone on board is part of the group. Charters are typically implemented for music cruises, religious themes, alternative lifestyle and gaming tournaments. It is possible that a chartered vessel may only accommodate 200-300 guests, or as many as 3,000.
Many cruise lines develop and implement their own theme cruises to attract guests. The advantage of this type of theme cruise is that there is normally no additional cost to participate in the event. Celebrity chefs, cooking schools, guest lecturers, health and wellness, antiques, astronomy, ballroom dancing, and children’s themes like Nickelodeon are all examples of themed cruises. If you can imagine it, there probably exists a theme cruise for you.
Wine Tastings – Some cruise lines offer wine cruises with special wine tastings and food pairings. Guests often include sommeliers, vineyard owners, and wine enthusiasts.
Health & Wellness – This is one of the most popular cruise themes and it’s offered on many different itineraries. During a health & wellness cruise you will interact with many different trainers, specialists, doctors and nutritionists that offer insights on different workouts and healthy lifestyle habits. There are also marathon cruises where you run a certain distance at different ports, resulting in a full 26.2 miles by the final disembarkation.
Cruise for a Cause – Cruise ships will team up with different organizations to bring awareness and raise money for a cause through various onboard activities. For example, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), some ships have been known to change the lighting around the ship so that areas appear pink rather than their normal color.
Nickelodeon at Sea – Norwegian Cruise Line has teamed up with Nickelodeon to offer the perfect cruise for children! The stars of Nickelodeon are invited onboard where they perform shows and spend time with the children.
Singles Cruises – Singles cruises are becoming very popular as they encourage single people to travel solo and meet other singles. They offer events that help you mingle and form new friendships.
Music – Some cruise lines offer sailings with well-known bands and/or music legends with special performances for the guests. Guests usually have an opportunity to meet the legends and learn more about their music through different events around the ship.
Mystery – Perfect for those who enjoy the fear of the unknown. The ships are altered to create a mysterious environment where the guests are given clues to figure out the mystery. The staff can also be involved in the mystery, keeping guests on their toes.
Gaming Cruise – These cruises are perfect for the cruiser that enjoys all sorts of games, ranging anywhere from board games to casino games. A wide variety of games keeps things interesting; new games offer a fresh challenge while the favorites keep everyone happy.
Scrapbooking Cruise –This is the perfect time to get away and take all of your memories with you. This cruise offers a relaxing environment and time away from distractions where you can scrapbook until your heart is content.