The World Famous Carnival in Rio de Janiero

Maybe you've dreamed of taking part in Rio de Janeiro's annual Carnival -- or maybe you're a sports fan and want to attend the British Open or Monaco Grand Prix in person. No matter which 2018 events and festivals you hope to attend, you might be surprised to find out you can cruise there.

Cruising to major world events -- from elite sporting competitions and races to cultural festivals and street parties -- marks a popular segment of theme cruising. Lines like Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, for instance, have designated portions of their cruising portfolio to itineraries focused on big-name 2018 events.

Even better, cruising to marquee events can often save you money over putting together a land-based visit on your own. For example, there's potentially huge savings in cruising to the Monaco Grand Prix, since the markup on a cruise fare is likely far less than that of a hotel stay combined with restaurant meals during race weekend in Monte Carlo. Adding to the value -- and convenience -- of these types of trips, show or race tickets are often included in the cruise fares or sold by the excursion team, sometimes at less of a premium than those offered by land-based ticket-sellers. Packages might include transfers, as well as cool extras tied to the event theme, such as cocktail parties, events-related experts onboard or meet-and-greets with pro athletes and celebrities.

Here's a look at some of the big-name 2018 events that you can attend via a cruise.

Event

Month

Australian Open

January 2018

Carnival

February 2018

Mardi Gras

February 2018

New Orleans Jazz Fest

April-May 2018

Cannes Film Festival

May 2018

Monaco Grand Prix

May 2018

British Open

July 2018

Edinburgh Tattoo

August 2018

New York Fashion Week

September 2018

Melbourne Cup

November 2018


Australian Open

Australian Open

The Event

Tennis-lovers have made the pilgrimage to Melbourne for the Australian Open since its inception in 1905. It launches the "Grand Slam" season with the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open following later in the year. The Australian Open is incredibly popular and tickets can be hard to come by for men's, women's, mixed doubles and junior championship matches. In 2018, matches will be held from January 15 to 28.

The Cruise

P&O Cruises Australia makes it easy to attend a match at the Australian Open. Book Pacific Explorer's "Australian Open Tennis" five-night round trip voyage from Sydney, departing January 19, 2018; or, try Pacific Eden, which runs a similar five-night voyage from Sydney that departs a bit earlier, on January 17. Fares include a two-day Australian Open ticket and transfers to and from the grounds. Upgraded tickets for the Rod Laver Arena or Margaret Court Arena are available for an additional charge. Plus, onboard, passengers can hobnob with to-be-announced Australian tennis personalities, who will lead talks and participate in photo opps. Look out, too, for tennis-themed onboard events like table tennis championships, trivia, Wii tennis tournaments and live showings of the Australian Open matches on a giant poolside screen.


Carnival

The Event

During Rio de Janeiro's Carnival, one of the most famous parties in the world, millions take to Rio's streets for five days, wearing colorful costumes and dancing away their doldrums in a collective celebration of life. The festival kicks off February 9, 2018, before a more solemn Lenten period that leads up to Easter.

The Cruises

Several cruise lines offer sailings to the region in time for the event. Celebrity Cruises runs its 14-night "South America & Carnaval" itinerary on Celebrity Infinity. This Buenos Aires round trip voyage (complete with onboard samba dancers) departs February 4, 2018, and includes an overnight in Buenos Aires plus three days of Carnival revelry in Rio. Other ports of call include Sao Paulo, Ilhabela and Buzios in Brazil, and Punta del Este and Montevideo in Uruguay. If a 14-night voyage is a bit too long for you, take a look at MSC Poesia's nine-night Buenos Aires round trip voyage departing February 9, which will net you two days in Rio for the event, plus visits to Punta Del Este, Ilhabela and Buzios. Costa is also offering a shorter eight-night voyage round trip from Montevideo, Uruguay, aboard Costa Fascinosa, which pulls into Rio during the festivities, on February 10.


Mardi Gras

The Event

Besides Rio's Carnival, another way to celebrate the pre-Lent season of excess is to attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans (February 13, 2018). This extravaganza centers on parades, where you can collect beads, toys and trinkets thrown from festive floats. Although nighttime reveling in the French Quarter can be raucous, G-rated parades, family picnics and elegant balls are the true traditions of the citywide celebration.

The Cruise

Celebrity is running a 10-night Mardi Gras cruise in 2018 aboard Celebrity Reflection that runs round trip from Fort Lauderdale, with stops in Grand Cayman and Mexico (at Cozumel), as well as three days in New Orleans (February 11–13) that are primed for Mardi Gras festivities. Onboard, take in jazz performers and events like a Mardi Gras-themed warmup party, and in port, sign up for excursions that feature grandstand seating for the colorful parade.


New Orleans Jazz Fest

The Event

Music lovers descend on New Orleans in droves for the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, aka Jazz Fest, held from April 27–29, and again from May 3–6, in 2018. The festival encompasses all types of music, not just jazz. Look out for big-name acts; 2017's headliners included Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Kings of Leon, Lorde and more (2018's lineup has yet to be announced). Between tunes, dig into traditional Louisiana cuisine and peruse regional crafts on sale from local artisans.

The Cruises

Set out on an 11-night "Jazz Fest and Caribbean" sailing round trip from Miami aboard Celebrity Equinox. The ship will remain docked in New Orleans for three days (April 27–29), right as the music fest starts up. Onboard, expect special jazz programming, too. Alternately, consider embarking on a seven-night Mississippi River cruise between New Orleans and Memphis on American Cruise Lines' Queen of the Mississippi. The ship departs from the Crescent City on May 5, and the cruise line bundles in a pre-cruise hotel stay in the heart of New Orleans the night before, giving passengers the chance to hit up the festival independently prior to embarkation. There's also a seven-night round trip New Orleans sailing on the Mississippi aboard the same ship that embarks on April 28, which gets cruisers a one-night hotel stay in the city in time for opening night of Jazz Fest.


Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival

The Event

Few film festivals embody the glamor and sophistication of the silver screen scene, with its many international stars and starlets, like the French Riviera's ode to cinema: the Cannes Film Festival. The event has been held annually since 1946 and is running from May 9–20 in 2018. Visitors to Cannes during the festival period can try to catch a glimpse of the star-studded events that unfold along the red carpet of the Palais des Festivals, or check out the imprints of some 150 stars' hands at the Allee des Etoiles (Walk of the Stars).

The Cruises

Some sailings call in Cannes right in time for the fabulous film fest, though note you'll likely have to make independent arrangements for any festival tickets or events, which aren't typically part of the cruise lines' excursions offerings. Silversea's seven-night Silver Spirit voyage from Rome to Barcelona includes a late-night stay in Cannes during the film fest (on May 10). Fred. Olsen's 16-night round trip sailing from Dover, England, on Boudicca, meanwhile, pulls into Cannes for a late-night call on May 14.


Monaco Grand Prix

The Event

Three storied competitions make up auto racing's version of the Triple Crown: the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Formula One's Monaco Grand Prix. Monaco's race, held from May 24–27 in 2018, has been a tradition since 1929. VIP parties, hundred-million-dollar yachts anchored in Monte Carlo's harbor and Gucci- and diamond-draped tourists strutting around Ferrari-choked streets of the principality are all part of the entertainment of race weekend.

The Cruises

Given Formula One's popularity and this spectacular location, it isn't surprising to find that Monaco Grand Prix cruises abound in 2018. Most itineraries spend one or two days in Monte Carlo. To live like a VIP yourself, board Silversea's Silver Muse for a nine-night voyage from Barcelona to Rome (embarking May 20), including an overnight stay for two full days in Monte Carlo during the height of the Grand Prix. Windstar's Star Pride is sailing a seven-night round trip Barcelona itinerary in the Mediterranean that will also be in Monaco overnight, from May 26–27. Look out for Grand Prix-themed offerings like a race day brunch and reserved seating at the qualifying and final races; the Star Pride sailing even touts a Formula One host onboard the ship. P&O Cruises also has an itinerary scheduled on Oceana that is timed to coincide with the Grand Prix (tickets can be arranged for passengers directly through the cruise line). Its seven-night Mediterranean sailing round trip from Malta brings cruisers to Villefranche, France (just 30 minutes from Monaco), in time for the race on May 27.

Alternately, if you have loads of time, board U.K.-based Fred. Olsen's Black Watch for a 16-night Liverpool, England, round trip voyage that will call on neighboring Nice in time for the Grand Prix on May 27. Other ports of call include Lisbon, St. Tropez and Spain's Cartagena, Barcelona, Cadiz and Mallorca.

SeaDream Yacht Club's SeaDream II runs a nine-night cruise from Rome to Nice, with a late-night stay on May 27 -- the culmination of the Grand Pix -- in Monaco, with an optional ticket package available for that race.

Star Clippers' Star Flyer, meanwhile, offers two departures that feature Grand Prix festivities: For the race trials, board the May 19 cruise from Barcelona to Cannes and tour the French Riviera, Monaco, Mallorca and Menorca. Alternately, you can book Star Flyer's May 26 round trip Cannes sailing for the Grand Prix Final, with stops in Portofino and Sardinia, Italy, as well as Corsica, Porquerolles and Sanary-sur-Mer in France.


The British Open

The Event

Attending the British Open is a rite of passage for many golf fans. It's the oldest of four major golf championships and a most coveted ticket, following The Masters and the U.S. Open and leading up to the PGA Championship. The contest celebrates its 147th anniversary in 2018 (July 15–22) at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland.

The Cruise

If you're looking for a British Open cruise in 2018, one option is Celebrity's 12-night "British Isles & British Open" voyage aboard Celebrity Eclipse that departs Amsterdam on July 13; it offers access to the event via a two-hour transfer from the port of call at Edinburgh (via Newhaven, Scotland). Another good choice is Azamara's 13-night British Open voyage, sailing from Southampton, England, to Edinburgh, Scotland, on Azamara Journey, with stops along the way at several ports in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. The golf-themed voyage, organized in partnership with golf travel pros PerryGolf, will get passengers tickets to the final round at the Open as well as six rounds of golf en route. Crystal is also running a 14-night sailing round trip from London (at Tilbury) aboard Crystal Serenity that gets cruisers into port at Dundee, Scotland (a maiden call for the line, set about 25 minutes by car from the event), for the Open finals on July 22. 


Highland Dances at Edinburgh Tattoo.

Edinburgh Tattoo

The Event

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (August 3–25, 2018) takes place at historic Edinburgh Castle and is one of Scotland's most significant cultural events. More than 1,200 performers come from around the globe to present music, dance, military pageantry and more. The nightly event is capped off with a regal fireworks display.

The Cruises

Celebrity Cruises comes to the table this year with a 12-night "British Isles Cruise." This round trip voyage out of Amsterdam features two days in Edinburgh for the festival. Once there, cruisers opting for one of Celebrity's shore excursions can get Front Stand (or Side Stand) seating for the exciting ceremonial performance that includes military bands, pipe and drum corps and traditional dancers. The sailing also visits Inverness, Scotland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Dublin and Cork, Ireland; and the Channel Islands.

Another good option is from Holland America, which runs a 14-night "Northern Isles" sailing round trip from Amsterdam on Koningsdam; the ship stays for two days in Edinburgh during Tattoo time, on August 7 and 8. Or, try Holland America's 14-night "Scottish Highlands & Icelandic Fjords Explorer" on Prinsendam; sailing round trip from Amsterdam, it also brings cruisers to Edinburgh for two days of festivities (on August 21 and 22). Fred. Olsen is additionally sailing a nine-night voyage round trip from Dover, England, aboard Boudicca that gets cruisers into Edinburgh for an overnight stay on August 5.


New York Fashion Week

The Event

Don your finest duds and make way to the fashion epicenter of the world during New York Fashion Week, a biannual model- and media-packed event held in New York City each February and September. See the beautiful people strut their stuff as the biggest names in fashion unveil their freshest collections in one of the most important fashion shows in the world, rivaling only those held in Paris, London and Milan. The fashion event is scheduled for September 6–14 in 2018.

The Cruise

Cunard's art deco-inspired Queen Mary 2 oozes style and good taste -- a fitting venue for its Fashion Week-themed "Transatlantic Crossing Fashion Week" sailing, scheduled to coincide with the September event. Sail on a seven-night voyage from Southampton, U.K., which crosses the Atlantic to New York. En route, the itinerary focuses on all things fashion and glamour, hosting a slate of special catwalk fashion shows (executed by professional models) and exhibitions, plus guest lectures and hosted dinners with the likes of fashion journalist and style commentator Colin McDowell and InStyle magazine founding editor Hal Rubenstein. The ship pulls into port on September 9, just in time for the latter part of New York Fashion Week's run.


Melbourne Cup

The Event

The Melbourne Cup is one of Australia's major thoroughbred horse races, called "the race that stops a nation." Cup Day (November 6, 2018) is a public holiday in the state of Victoria, where the race is held, and it's celebrated by many Australians nationwide. Racing fans looking for a more social experience can book special dining and entertainment packages; there's even a "fashions on the field" contest in which the best-dressed women on the course can win cash prizes.

The Cruise

Three ships in P&O Australia's fleet -- Pacific Explorer, Pacific Eden and Pacific Dawn -- will offer Melbourne Cup cruises in 2018. Pacific Explorer and Pacific Eden are both departing round trip from Sydney on November 3 for six-night sailings that dock in Melbourne during the race and include transfers and tickets to the event. Pacific Dawn offers the same inclusions and departure date, but it embarks from Brisbane for a seven-night round trip sailing. Or, Carnival's Carnival Spirit departs Sydney for a six-night round trip sailing on November 4, three days of which it will dock in Melbourne, including the main race day on November 6. Bonus: General admission to the Emirates Melbourne Cup and Crown Oaks Day is included in Carnival's fare, while onboard racing-themed events will feature tips from to-be-announced racing legends, as well as a "fashion on the fields" fashion show.