Whatever hobby, pursuit or pastime you enjoy, it’s possible there’s a voyage that will let you combine it with the pleasures of cruising. From food to fashion, music to mystery, the offerings are as varied as the destinations which are included on ship itineraries.
An Internet search for cruises that interest you may turn up one or more alternatives. While cruise lines are gradually beginning to return to normal services, it’s necessary to check what sailings are being offered, and what coronavirus/COVID-19 protocols they have in place.
Food aficionados long have looked to Avalon Waterways to meet their longing for haute cuisine. And what could be more “haute” than combining a voyage through the rivers and lush landscapes of France's Burgundy and Provence including gourmet meals? These food and wine trips merge cuisine and culture to offer a memorable experience.
For golfers - from duffers to low-handicap players - small luxury Azamara Cruises is a good place to start. It has a well-deserved reputation for cruises including some of the best known and most beautiful courses around the world, with packages including everything from experienced caddies to convenient transportation to the links. Another plus is on-board opportunities to compare experiences and tips with other golf aficionados.
And now turning from links to tunes, music is usually a big part of the entertainment on any given cruise, but some special-interest sailings make it front and center, such as next Februaary's 70’s Rock & Romance Cruise leaving Miami and including the Caribbean islands of St. Maarten and St. Thomas. A long list of performers includes the popular band Guess Who and singer-song writer-actress Melissa Manchester, plus a long list of others. Onboard activities will range from a disco party and costume ball to question-and-answer sessions with the musicians.
Where there’s music there often is dancing, and that’s definitely true on Holland America’s Dancing with the Stars cruises. Champions from that popular TV series join passengers in competing for the colorfully named Mirrorball Trophy. Those who feel they’re not quite ready to don dancing shoes with experts may join a complimentary onboard class to learn the same routines that have been performed on the hit show.
Hands-on workshops also are part of Transatlantic Fashion Week, which since 2016 has been a feature of Cunard Line’s cruise calendar. Designers, milliners, models and others present a series of talks, Q&A sessions, catwalk shows and events aboard the Queen Mary 2 that celebrate style against the backdrop of an iconic ocean liner.
Wait, there's much more! Art mavens will get a kick out of Avalon's Art and Impressionist river sailings through the French countryside, including destinations depicted by the likes of Van Gogh and Monet (his house and gardens depicted above). Avalon also runs other specialized history itineraries such as a World War II itinerary led by an expert in the amphibious landing on the beaches of Normandy and stories of the Allied forces that drove the Nazis out of France and other occupied countries, and several of its Danube River cruises explore Jewish heritage stories and sites such as the world’s second largest synagogue in Budapest and Prague’s Jewish quarter.
The themes of other special interest cruises range from birding in the Arctic/Antarctic and elsewhere to beer (Avalon and Crystal Cruises) and from literature (Cunard) to craft cruises focusing on the likes of knitting and needlepoint.
Theme cruises differ in other ways as well. Some take over an entire ship while others have a group join a regular itinerary. In addition to the opportunity to enjoy a favorite activity, benefits include meeting and mingling with people who share an interest and input from experts in the topic or activity.
At this time of restrictions on the cruise industry, it’s necessary to check if, and when, a theme cruise in which you may be interested will sail. Check out websites of individual cruise lines or log onto Sixthman.net, a clearing house for special-interest shipboard experiences.