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Beacon Senior News

Themed cruises: Enjoy more than deck chairs and endless buffets

Jan 25, 2022 10:21AM ● By Victor Block

Several people watch a master baker demonstrate making pastries. Others participate in a chocolate, cheese and wine tasting, or enjoy a food-and-wine pairing gourmet dinner.

Elsewhere, golfers play at some of the most famous courses around the world, then attend a tournament that brings together the top professionals.

In another part of the world, music fans swing and sway to tunes that were popular during the 1970s, then have an opportunity to meet and mingle with singers and members of the bands that made them hits.

What do all these people have in common? They’re enjoying some of their favorite pastimes while taking an ocean or river cruise

In addition to traditional vacations at sea or along major rivers, there are sailings across the world that focus upon a variety of interests. 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 the latest fashions, music to mystery, the offerings are as varied as the destinations.

From foodies to music-lovers

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 lush landscapes of Burgundy and Provence, France, with gourmet meals? These food and wine trips merge cuisine and culture to offer a memorable vacation experience.

For golfers from duffers to low handicap players, Azamara Club Cruises is a good place to start. It has a well-deserved reputation for tours to some of the best known and most beautiful courses around the world. Their packages include everything from experienced caddies to convenient transportation to the links. Another plus is onboard opportunities to compare experiences and tips with other golf aficionados.

Golf swings are supplanted by swing and sway with a rock n’ roll or decades cruise. Performers include popular musicians and bands as well as cover artists of hit bands. Onboard activities complete the music-loving voyage, ranging from disco nights to karaoke and music trivia.

Where there’s music there’s often dancing. That’s particularly true on Holland America’s “Dancing with the Stars” voyages. Champions from the 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 were performed on the hit show. 

Hands-on workshops also are part of Transatlantic Fashion Week, a feature of Cunard Line’s voyage calendar since 2016. Designers, milliners, models and others present a series of talks, Q&A sessions, catwalk shows and events aboard the Queen Mary 2, celebrating style against the backdrop of an iconic ocean liner. 

Can’t decide where to go? You may prefer a cruise where the focus is on not knowing where you’ll be going. People who book a Fred Olsen mystery trip have no idea where the itinerary will take them (except, of course, the ship’s captain). Sometimes passengers even have the option of voting on which of two possible destinations they prefer to visit.

Culture on the high seas

If you think this eclectic list of unusual cruises is coming to an end, think again. The likes of Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet join passengers on Avalon Waterways Art and Impressionist River sailings in terms of places they depicted in their works. Sailing through the French countryside brings alive artists in visits to their homes and the scenes they made world famous in their paintings. Fans of Monet are likely to recognize his house and the lush gardens that surround it.

Fans of Monet are likely to recognize his house and the lush gardens that surround it.

History buffs or people looking to explore their heritage can find those themes and more on other Avalon sailings. Learn about the World War II amphibious landing on the beaches of Normandy and stories of the Allied forces that drove the Germans out of France and other occupied countries from a knowledgeable expert on a European cruise.

Additionally, some of Avalon’s Danube River cruises explore Jewish heritage stories and sites. One of the many highlights is a visit to the world’s second-largest synagogue in Budapest and Prague’s Jewish Museum and cemetery.

The themes of other special interest cruises range from bird watching (oceanwideexpeditions.com) to beer (crystalcruises.com), and from literature (cunard.com) to crafts like knitting and needlepoint (craftcruises.com).

Cruisers watch birds from a ship

Some theme cruises 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, check if and when a themed cruise you’re interested in will sail and what coronavirus protocols they have in place. Check out websites of individual cruise lines or log onto www.sixthman.net, a clearinghouse for special interest shipboard experiences.