What do book lovers, fitness junkies and binge watchers of popular TV shows like MasterChef and Dancing With the Stars have in common? They can all revel in their passions and fandom on a theme cruise.
Theme cruising has taken great strides in recent years, gearing more toward popular trends and interests. Reality show stars — and their fans — are taking to the high seas in ever increasing numbers. Food and booze still prevail, but are getting even more niche — the latest trend being craft beer themed cruises. Of course, if you’re trying to detox from all those calories, you can simply sign up for a sailing focused on healthy living.
To give you an idea of what’s hot in the market today, we’re putting four theme cruises in the spotlight. Don’t see a compelling cruise? Check out the full inventory.
The popular cooking competition TV series starring celebrity chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay is hosting its first-ever theme cruise in November 2014. Judge and Michelin-Star chef Graham Elliot, this past season’s MasterChef Courtney Lapresi and a few other stars from the show, will be sailing, and themed activities, such as the Mystery Box Challenge and Pressure Test, will bring the show to life onboard.
Dancing With the Stars
In a spinoff of the ABC television hit, professional dancers and celebrities from the show come onboard to perform Dancing With the Stars routine performances, offer dance lessons, take photos, sign autographs and more. On a special championship theme cruise, the professional dancers are out of the hot seat as they become the judges and cruise passengers take the stage to compete.
Yoga junkies, roll out your mats. In February 2015, the Zen Cruise will include more than 50 yoga and healing arts classes, as well as insightful presentations, live musical performances (Nahko & Medicine for the People and Ash Ruiz), ecstatic dance, sound healing and sacred land tours off the ship.
Prost! Beer tastings and historic brewery tours are among the excursions offered on river cruise line AmaWaterways’ first collection of beer themed cruises. You can choose between two sailings — a Tulip Time cruise along Belgian and Dutch waterways and a Christmas markets cruise from Prague to Budapest — each exploring iconic beer cities throughout the regions.
Cruise Critic staffers set sail every week, traveling the globe to bring you the latest cruise ship trends, port sneak peeks and onboard observations. Here’s where we are this week.
(Got questions about any of the ships we’re boarding or ports we are visiting? Ask us in the comments!)
Ship: Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess
Where: Departing Fort Lauderdale to Princess Cays, The Bahamas
Who: Chris Gray Faust, Destinations Editor
Why There? Although it’s been sailing for six months, Regal Princess is finally being christened at a Love Boat themed event featuring the entire original cast — and Charo!
We Can’t Wait: Besides Captain Stubing and Isaac the Bartender, a roster of the show’s former guest stars will be at the event, including a Who’s Who of 70s/80s TV shows (Jamie Farr! Florence Henderson! Lorenzo Lamas!) Expect a lot of #selfies. I also can’t wait to dig into Chocolate Journeys, Princess’ new sweet experience from chocolatier Norman Love. Chocolate salted caramel rum shake? Sign me up.
Ship: Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas
Where: Who cares? Joking, of course, but we’re on the Atlantic Ocean repositioning between England’s Southampton and New York. No ports in between. It’s all about… Quantum!
Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
Why There? While Royal Caribbean is offering a handful of promotional, two night sailings, we wanted a more in-depth experience. Mind you, Cruise Critic is totally excited to be part of the two nighters — both in Southampton and New York. But eight straight nights, all at sea, means we’ll have plenty of time to sample the offerings, from the North Star to bumper cars, on this year’s most exciting new ship.
We Can’t Wait: Suffice to say, we booked our cabin on this ship in May 2013 — 17 months before the ship’s launch! So we’re pretty jazzed. We’re also excited that our November 2 cruise will have a HUGE Cruise Critic meet up onboard. And we hear there are rumors of a flash mob wedding proposal (what would we do without inside insights from Cruise Critic members). Beyond that, we’re going to check out the restaurants, entertainment, venues, shops, etc. And we’ll take lots of photos. So stay tuned.
Get your November 2014 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! The nights are getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere and sweaters have replaced short sleeves. Miss your bikini already? We hope this photo of a cruise ship moored in the tropics inspires you to start thinking about booking your winter holidays.
Here’s how to put this photo on your computer, tablet or cell phone:
1. Click on the following links to get the size that you want. Each link will open a new window (or tab) displaying the wallpaper, in the appropriate format for your screen size.
2. For the desktop versions, right-click on the image, and choose the option that says, "Set as Desktop Background", "Use as Desktop Picture," or something similar. The wording depends on your browser. Mac users should ctrl-click and save the photo on their computer in the "Pictures" folder.
3. If the image does not fit your desktop background neatly, you may have to go to your preference panel (on a Mac: System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver > Desktop; on Windows: Control Panel > Display > Desktop) and choose"Fit to screen" as the display mode of your background image.
4. For phone and tablet, open the link and center the photo on your phone so it fills the screen. Take a photo and save it on your device. Then go to your Settings and find your Wallpaper (on an iPhone, this is under "Wallpapers & Brightness." Set the saved calendar photo as your wallpaper.
Check back on December 1 for the December 2014 calendar.
Every time I go on a cruise, I always take my swimsuit. And every time I return from a cruise, it’s bone dry, having never seen any aquatic action in the ship’s pool or ocean. In fact, the deepest it’s ever been is the depths of my cabin drawer. So on my next cruise, I vow to take the plunge.
I was reminded of this resolution, thanks to a popular thread started by Cruise Critic member marshhawk. She asked: “What are you going to do on this next cruise that you haven’t done before? I swear I am going to order room service and watch a movie, or fill up a plate with burger and sit in my cabin and watch a movie!”
Although this was prompted by Carnival cruise lines, his sentiment can of course apply to any ship. Along with ordering room service for the first time, other top things on members’ ‘to do’ lists include going to the piano bar, watching a movie under the stars, buying a drinks package, having afternoon tea and taking a dance class. I was pleased to see that meeting other Cruise Critic members also featured.
Some members have very peaceful and singular desires. Moshewil wants to lay her head down and take afternoon naps. TennesseeTater aims to get up in time to see the sunrise and walk around the ship while it’s still quiet.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to spend months out of the year on a cruise ship? Now imagine getting paid for the privilege. If that sounds like the life for you, you can be jealous of Douglas Ward, author of the annual “Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships” guidebook, who spends about 200 days a year onboard ships, and Carolyn Spencer Brown, Cruise Critic editor in chief, who sails a respectable 90 days a year reviewing cruise ships around the world.
The two cruise experts met up for a chat to share some of their favorite (and not so favorite) memories from their years at sea, as well as comment on the industry and offer their best cruise tips.
On Getting Started
Cruise Critic: How long have you been cruising, and how did you get your start?
Douglas: My first journey was in July 1965. … So that’s a few weeks ago. That was on the old ocean liners, the original Queen Elizabeth, and doing transatlantic crossings. I was actually a bandleader, in first class only. We had five bands onboard, mostly for dance music, a little light jazz, cocktail music, things like that.
The writing came quite a lot later, in about 1979 or 1980, when I went to live in the U.S. Passengers were saying, “There isn’t any way to compare these ships. There’s no information anywhere.” So with some passengers, we opened an association and produced a newsletter, originally called “Cruise Digest Report.” It was all about the ships — a very, very detailed introduction to the ships.
As Cruise Critic’s news editor I’m always reading through our message boards, keeping up with what our readers are talking about and concerned with. At least once a week I come across questions regarding what can and can’t be brought onboard a cruise ship. Most are straight forward. Can I bring a curling iron? Can I bring my medication in a plastic bag? Can I bring a box of wine or a bottle of vodka?
But sometimes the item in question catches us off guard. Below are seven items it never occurred to us to consider taking on a cruise before.
Question 1: We know coffee connoisseurs often stress about finding a good cup o’ joe, yet I was surprised to see NeilD ask about bringing his own Keurig mini coffee maker onboard.
Answer: All cruise lines ban electrical and household appliances like coffee makers, blenders, toasters and hot plates. The only exceptions are items for personal grooming, like curling irons and hair straighteners.
Every Wednesday, we’ll be taking you on a journey around the world to some of the most interesting places our members have trekked, swum or merely witnessed from afar while cruising.
Whether these photos inspire you to plan a relaxing escape or walk on the wild side, we hope they ignite your senses and give you ideas for your next cruising adventure. If you have a photo you’d love to share, send it to us at email@example.com or post it in our member photo gallery. Feel free to send us your Twitter handle. Maybe you’ll get a shoutout next #WanderlustWednesday!
Although Tortola is one of the less cruised Caribbean destinations, it’s regarded as one of the more desirable among seasoned travelers. The sea is clear and calm, making it ideal for diving, snorkeling and yachting. Plus, its central location allows cruisers to easily explore other British Virgin Islands on day trips from its shores. Thanks to Cruise Critic member CUBCRUISER71 for submitting this photo of Holland America’s Zuiderdam docked in Tortola.