Theme Cruises

Theme cruises have exploded in popularity in recent years, giving cruisers an opportunity to dive into their favorite hobbies or see performances by their favorite artists while at sea. No matter what you're into, chances are that there's a sailing that focuses on your interests.

Carnival kicked the concept of the theme cruise up a notch a few years ago when it introduced its Carnival LIVE sailings. Initially focused on musical artists like Journey and Martina McBride, the line has expanded its entertainment offerings to include comedians and actors like Chris Tucker and Kathy Griffin.

Sometimes, outside companies charter out an entire ship for music-related cruises. Norwegian Cruise Line has partnered with a company called Sixthman to operate full-ship music charters that feature bands like KISS, Train, and events like the first Ubersoca cruise at sea aboard Norwegian Pearl.

Photo Gallery of Theme Cruises

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The line maintains a webpage at www.ncl. Com/theme-cruises with all the details.

Food and wine-themed cruises have become popular in recent years, too. The focus can be on regional cuisines, local wineries and breweries, or cuisine in general. Many sailings feature headlining chefs; Jacques Pepin and his daughter occasionally host sailings on Oceania Cruises, home to his eponymous bistro restaurant. On these sailings the chef does cooking demos, signs autographs, and designs special menus. On cruises hosted by winemakers, there are often full degustation dinners on offer.

Hobbyists and crafters also have their own sailings, with knitting, needlepoint, and scrapbooking sailings. Sports fans often sell out their theme sailings early, whether the focus is on a sport or an individual team. Lines like Cunard, Seabourn and Silversea frequently feature guest speakers and lecturers that talk about political and intellectual topics. Usually, these are related to the itinerary that your ship is sailing, but quite often lecturers can present other topics, as well. Expedition lines take things one step further, with full-blown naturalists, botanists, and geologists (not to mention photographers, documentarians, and noted authors) who help add insight to the adventuresome destinations you'll visit.

There are also cruises that cater to nudists, swingers, and gay and lesbian travelers, though these tend to be full-ship charters, meaning there's not much chance of you accidentally winding up on a ship full of nudists if that's not your thing.

A comprehensive list of theme cruises is maintained at ThemeCruiseFinder. Com.

Just consider yourself warned: Many theme cruises are annual sailings and so you may have to plan your vacation time around their availability. The good news: Itineraries and departure dates are typically released well in advance.

Tip: Because able bodied passengers have discovered that accessible cabins are often roomier, it's become harder of late to get an accessible cabin (since able-bodied passengers have been booking them under false pretenses). So book early to ensure that you get what you need.

If you have a chronic health problem, we advise you to check with your doctor before booking a cruise and, if you have any specific needs, to notify the cruise line in advance. This will ensure that the medical team on the ship is properly prepared to offer assistance.

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