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 2020 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, for instance, have designated portions of their cruising portfolio to itineraries focused on big-name 2020 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 (not to mention inflated rates on flights).

Adding to the value -- and convenience -- of these types of trips, event tickets are often included in the cruise fares or sold by the excursion team. 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 2020 events that you can attend via a cruise.

Event

Month

Australian Open

January–February 2020

Carnival

February 2020

Mardi Gras

February 2020

Cannes Film Festival

May 2020

Oberammergau Passion Play

May–October 2020

Monaco Grand Prix

May 2020

British Open

July 2020

Summer Olympics

July–August 2020

Edinburgh Tattoo

August 2020

Sail Amsterdam

August 2020

Melbourne Cup

November 2020

Total Solar Eclipse

December 2020

Australian Open

Australian Open Women's Championship Final, Melbourne, Australia (Photo: Neale Cousland/Shutterstock)

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 2020, matches will be held from Jan. 20 to Feb. 2.

The Cruise

P&O Cruises Australia makes it easy to attend a match at the Australian Open, via a partnership with Tennis Australia. Book Pacific Explorer's "Australian Open Tennis" six-night round trip voyage sailing roundtrip from Sydney and departing Jan. 19, 2020. Fares include three days of general admission tickets to Australia Open venue Melbourne Park, including Ground Pass tickets and transfers to and from the grounds.

Plus, onboard, passengers can hobnob and participate in meet-and-greets with several to-be-announced tennis personalities. Look out, too, for tennis-themed entertainment onboard like table tennis championships, trivia, Wii tennis tournaments and live showings of the Australian Open matches on the top deck.


Carnival

During Rio de Janeiro's Carnival (Photo: T photography/Shutterstock)

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 Feb. 21, 2020, before a more solemn Lenten period that leads up to Easter.

The Cruises

Celebrity Cruises runs a 14-night South American itinerary on Celebrity Eclipse. This Buenos Aires round trip voyage departs Feb. 16, 2020, and includes 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.

Azamara also brings passengers to Rio in time for Carnival aboard its 12-night "Carnival in Rio Voyage" on Azamara Pursuit. The ship sails round trip from Buenos Aires on Feb. 19, 2020, and includes three days in Rio for the festivities, as well as calls in Sao Paulo, Ilhabela, Punta del Este and Montevideo.

Alternatively, try a seven-night voyage round trip from Buenos Aires to Brazil and Uruguay on Costa's Costa Pacifica, which includes a stop in Rio on Feb. 24.

Or, cruisers with plenty of time to spare can try the 20-night "Brazilian Adventure" voyage on Princess Cruises' Island Princess from Buenos Aires to Fort Lauderdale; it features almost two full days in port in Rio during the start of the Carnival festivities, as well as several other calls in Brazil and stops in Uruguay, French Guiana and the Caribbean.


Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras Parade, New Orleans (Photo: GTS Productions/Shutterstock)

The Event

Besides Rio's Carnival, another way to celebrate the pre-Lent season of excess is to attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans (Feb. 25, 2020). 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-inclusive cruise in 2020 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 (Feb. 23 through 25) that are primed for Mardi Gras festivities.


Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival, France (Photo: nito/Shutterstock)

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 12 to 23 in 2020. 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.

Regent Seven Seas runs a nine-night voyage from Venice to Rome on the line's newest ship, Seven Seas Splendor, which brings passengers to Cannes in time for the festival (May 18); an extended 16-night version of the voyage, which continues on to Barcelona, includes a late-night call in Monte Carlo in time for the Grand Prix, as well.

Silversea's Silver Spirit sails a nine-night voyage from Rome to Barcelona (embarking May 17), including a late-night call in Cannes during the film festival (May 21), as well as an overnight stay for two full days in Monte Carlo during the height of the Grand Prix.


Oberammergau Passion Play

Oberammergau Germany Decorated Passion Play Painted House (Photo: Michael Warwick/Shutterstock)

The Event

With a history spanning four centuries, the Oberammergau Passion Play -- which unfolds in Oberammergau, Germany -- dates back to a time when the plague was wreaking havoc upon Europe. Villagers from the Bavarian town, in a desperate bid to appease the God they imagined to be behind the disease made a divine deal: When the plague would cease to claim lives, they would re-enact the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in an elaborate Passion Play.

When the plague did finally end, the people kept their end of the bargain, and the tradition of the Passion Play was born, with its first performance in 1634. Today, the once-a-decade productions -- which can run more than five hours and feature more than 2,000 performers and production staff -- continue on: The 42nd Passion Play unfolds from May 16 through Oct. 4 in 2020.

The Cruise

Regional river cruises will be well-poised to deliver passengers to the performances, with most of the major lines offering at least one or two Oberammergau-inclusive itineraries (either on the Rhine or the Danube). Book a sailing with major companies like Avalon Waterways, CroisiEurope, Emerald Waterways, Scenic, Tauck or Viking River Cruises for the utmost in convenience. Not only will they get you transport to and from the event (including ground transfers) but they'll also arrange for included-in-the-fare show tickets.

Read our Oberammergau Cruise Tips: Seeing the Passion Play by River Cruise for all of the fine details. Just don't miss the boat -- The next Passion Play won't come around till 2030.


Monaco Grand Prix

Grand Prix of Monaco (Photo: cristiano barn/Shutterstock)

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 21 to 24 in 2020, 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 2020. Most itineraries include an overnight call in Monte Carlo.

To live like a VIP yourself, Windstar's Wind Surf is sailing a seven-night round trip Rome itinerary in the Mediterranean that will call in Monaco overnight from May 24 to 25. Look out for Grand Prix-themed offerings like reserved seating at two days of races and a visit to the pits to see the race cars up close. The Wind Surf sailing even touts a Formula One host, Bob Varsha, onboard the ship, where special experiences include a Grand Prix-themed cocktail reception and dinner and race day brunch.

P&O Cruises also has an itinerary scheduled on Oceana that is timed to coincide with the Grand Prix. (Race 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 24.

Crystal Cruises is running a 12-night voyage from Rome to Barcelona on Crystal Symphony, bringing cruisers into Monaco for an overnight stay on May 22. Or, sail nine nights from Barcelona to Rome on Crystal Serenity, offering an overnight call in the city on the same night. On either voyage, the line can arrange grandstand seating as an excursion, too.


British Open

European Tour BMW PGA Golfing Championship (Photo: Mitch Gunn/Shutterstock)

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; it follows The Masters, the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open. The contest celebrates its 149th anniversary in 2020 (July 12 through 19) at Royal St. George's along the Kent coastline of England.

The Cruise

If you're looking for a British Open cruise in 2020, one option is Celebrity's 12-night "British Isles and Amsterdam" voyage aboard Celebrity Reflection that departs Amsterdam on July 17; access to the event is possible via the overnight port call at Dover on July 19 (about a half-hour away), and the line offers excursions to the event, complete with transfers and tickets.

Another good choice is Azamara's 14-night "British Isles & Golf Voyage," sailing from Dublin to Southampton on Azamara Pursuit, with stops along the way at several ports in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. The golf-themed voyage, organized in partnership with golf travel pros PerryGolf (and hosted by PerryGolf's co-founder), will get passengers six rounds of golf en route; British Open ticket packages, including ground transport, can be purchased as an excursion.


Summer Olympics

Gold silver and bronze medal, white snow background (Photo: kovop58/Shutterstock)

The Event

Let the games begin and let there be sushi, too! Come late July, the 2020 Summer Olympics (July 24 to Aug. 9) will take over Tokyo with the biggest sporting event on the planet, with some 10 million people expected to descend upon the city during the course of the games. Top international athletes will compete in Japan's capital for the second time (Tokyo last hosted the Olympics back in '64), with many events -- including the opening and closing ceremonies -- slated to unfold at the new Tokyo National Stadium.

If you're lucky enough to score seats, you can view high-stakes competitions in more than 30 sports, from sailing to swimming, taekwondo to tennis, badminton to beach volleyball and beyond.

The Cruise

Is there an Olympic sport for buffet grazing, or poolside lounging, perhaps? If so, you're in luck, thanks to these Royal Caribbean sailings that will get you into Tokyo just in time for the summer games. While there are several ships being chartered (from lines like MSC Cruises and Princess) to serve as temporary floating hotels for the influx of visiting athletes and spectators, Royal Caribbean is offering several standard itineraries that will be making overnight port calls in the city, too.

Hop aboard Spectrum of the Seas (sailing from Shanghai, embarking on July 25 and again on Aug. 2) or Voyager of the Seas (cruising from Hong Kong on July 26 or from Tokyo on Aug. 2), each of which will be overnighting in the city during the height of the games. Bonus: You'll be docked in the city's brand-new Shinkyaku Pier cruise terminal, which is slated to debut just ahead of the Olympic Games. The caveat: You're on your own to score and purchase tickets to any games you'd like to attend.


Edinburgh Tattoo

Pipes and Drums at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo (Photo: domhnall dods/Shutterstock)

The Event

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (Aug. 7 to 29, 2020) takes place at historic Edinburgh Castle and is one of Scotland's most significant cultural events. Some 1,200 performers come from around the globe to present music, dance, military pageantry and more -- with plenty of fireworks, too.

The Cruises

Princess comes to the table this year with two opportunities to experience the event, with back-to-back 12-night cruises aboard Regal Princess that feature calls in England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and France, including a stop in Edinburgh en route. The first embarks round trip from Southampton on Aug. 8, with a call in Edinburgh on Aug. 17; the second sailing leaves from Southampton Aug. 20, arriving in Edinburgh for the last day of the festival on Aug. 29.

Another good option is from Holland America, which runs a 14-night "Northern Isles" sailing round trip from Amsterdam on Nieuw Statendam; the ship stays for two days in Edinburgh during Tattoo time, on Aug. 14 and 15.

Crystal's Crystal Symphony pairs a two-day call in Edinburgh during the festival with a whirl around the Norwegian fjords via an 11-night voyage from Dover, England, to Amsterdam.

Fred. Olsen is additionally sailing an eight-night voyage round trip from Liverpool, England, aboard Black Watch that gets cruisers into Rosyth, Scotland (less than 30 minutes from Edinburgh), for a late-night stay on Aug. 8.


Sail Amsterdam

Sailing boats on river during Sail Amsterdam (Sail In), Netherlands, with beautiful sky (Photo: Elisabeth Aardema/Shutterstock)

The Event

Occurring just once every five years, Sail Amsterdam (Aug. 12 to 16, 2020) brings together a flotilla of sailboats, tall ships, naval vessels and historic boats for a stunning maritime spectacle. The five-day-long festival marks one of the largest nautical event on the planet and kicks off with a huge parade of hundreds of ships, followed by navy shows and waterfront activities.

The Cruise

Windstar's Wind Surf is one of the world's largest sailing yacht and will accordingly be one of the festival's main attractions. Sail aboard the line's eight-night "Sail Amsterdam Celebration" voyage from Edinburgh to Tilbury, England (embarking Aug. 9), with stops in England, Belgium and Holland. The trip includes three full days at the Amsterdam event, where cruisers will enjoy a prime position from deck for ogling the hundreds of ships and fireworks display in the harbor.


Melbourne Cup

(Melbourne Cup) Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria (Photo: Neale Cousland/Shutterstock)

The Event

The Melbourne Cup is one of Australia's major thoroughbred horse races, called "the race that stops a nation." Cup Day (Nov. 3, 2020) 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 packages or participate in a "fashions on the field" contest in which the best-dressed participants on the racecourse can win prizes.

The Cruise

Two ships in P&O Australia's fleet will offer Melbourne Cup cruises in 2020. The brand-new Pacific Adventure sails from Sydney on a six-night voyage and Pacific Explorer embarks from Brisbane on a seven-night voyage; both depart on Oct. 31. The ships will dock in Melbourne during the race and include transfers and tickets to the event at the Flemington Racecourse; ticket upgrades can be purchased, including access to the exclusive P&O Enclosure. Back onboard, expect race-themed entertainment and the company of racing personalities; details are to be announced.

Or, Carnival's Carnival Splendor departs Sydney for a six-night round trip sailing on Nov. 1, three days of which it will dock in Melbourne, including the main race day on Nov. 3. Bonus: General admission to the Lexus Melbourne Cup and Kennedy 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.


Total Solar Eclipse

Astronomical phenomenon, depicting a full total solar eclipse with mountains and sea (Photo: IgorZh/Shutterstock)

The Event

Witnessing a total solar eclipse is breathtaking spectacle, a phenomenon that occurs roughly every 18 months, when the moon passes between the sun and earth, blocking the sun's rays and casting a shadow on our planet. In order to see the total eclipse, you must be in the path of the moon's shadow. Oftentimes, the best viewing platform for any sort of eclipse or solar event is from the deck of a cruise ship at sea, since it can maneuver into the best spot for viewing. The next opportunity for a total eclipse comes up on Dec. 14, 2020, with optimum viewing this time around in Chile and parts of Argentina.

The Cruise

There are a handful of voyages that will get you optimized viewing of the 2020 event. Holland America's Westerdam embarks on a lengthy 22-night "South America, Antarctica and Solar Eclipse" voyage from Santiago, Chile (at San Antonio), to Buenos Aires, with an at-sea day planned off the coast of Argentina on Dec. 14, offering prime eclipse viewing from the ship's decks. Onboard, special guest speakers, including an editor at Sky & Telescope magazine, astronomer and even a former astronaut, will lend context to the event.

Princess is offering the chance to witness the total solar eclipse on a similar route (from San Antonio to Buenos Aires), minus the Antarctic visit, on its 15-night "Cape Horn and Strait of Magellan Itinerary" aboard Coral Princess. Passengers can witness the event from the ship's deck while sailing off the coast of Argentina on the 14th.

Finally, California-based tour operator Wilderness Travel is offering an eclipse-themed program with a tropical slant aboard Paul Gauguin (of Paul Gauguin Cruises). On this 14-night French Polynesian voyage, sailing round-trip from Papeete, Tahiti, on Dec. 5, you'll be joined by guest expert, explorer/educator Jean-Michel Cousteau; eclipse day viewing will be from aboard the ship, maneuvered to a prime position in the Pacific to allow for optimized day-of event viewing.