A culinary themed cruise hosted by Celebrity Cruise Line (Photo: Celebrity Cruise Line)
A culinary themed cruise hosted by Celebrity Cruise Line (Photo: Celebrity Cruise Line)

Theme Cruises 2019

Think of a hobby you enjoy, celebrity you'd love to meet or an exciting activity you've always wanted to try. Now imagine getting to do those things on a cruise. With popular options like yoga, craft beer and popular TV shows (such as AMC's "The Walking Dead" and HGTV's "The Property Brothers"), theme cruises are a great option for first-time cruisers or those looking to combine an interest with a relaxing vacation.

Updated March 28, 2019

Think of a hobby you enjoy, celebrity you'd love to meet or an exciting activity you've always wanted to try. Now imagine getting to do those things on a cruise. With popular options like yoga, craft beer and popular TV shows (such as AMC's "The Walking Dead" and HGTV's "The Property Brothers"), theme cruises are a great option for first-time cruisers or those looking to combine an interest with a relaxing vacation.

Some theme cruises offer up chances to hobnob with famous musicians, authors or athletes, or attend lectures, concerts and Q&As in intimate settings. Others allow cruisers plenty of downtime to indulge in their passions. For example, a golf cruise allows duffers to brush up on their skills with a cruise itinerary dotted with world-renowned courses, while a dancing cruise can be versatile enough for both seasoned foxtrotters and beginners.

Food, craft beer and music are the most widely offered themes. Cruises in our "Food, Wine & Beer" category offer a range of culinary pursuits, from regional wine tastings led by a sommelier and local brewery tours to cooking lessons from a celebrity chef and reality show-style competitions at sea. Music cruises, on the other hand, are less of a learning experience; they're a chance for fans of a particular artist or genre to attend concerts, Q&As with musicians and celebrity meet-and-greets.

Theme cruises can be broken down into three categories:

Full-Ship Theme Cruise: Choose your theme wisely because it will set the tone for your sailing. Everyone onboard can participate in the themed activities and entertainment, and every onboard venue is in use, from the pool-deck for concerts to the dining room, where special menus might be featured.

Full-ship theme cruises can be either fully chartered by an independent company or offered by the cruise line itself. For example, Sixthman, a travel company focusing on theme cruises, offers fully chartered musical festivals, such as The Rock Boat and Cayamo. Throughout each cruise, passengers can enjoy concerts, themed activities, competitions and opportunities to mingle with performers. Cruise line partnerships include MSC Cruises' Weight Watchers Cruise and Oceania Cruises' annual Jacques Pepin Cruise. These tend to appeal to a broader audience.

Partial-Ship Theme Cruise: Not all theme cruises engulf the entire ship. Special interest groups can purchase a number of cabins in different categories and market to people who would be interested in the activity, which can range from scrapbooking to baseball. These groups usually have little impact on the other vacationers onboard, although some of the public spaces may be taken over by the group.

Gay and lesbian cruises can be full-ship charters or groups booked on regular sailings. You can find out more about these themed sailings here.

Theme-Inspired Cruise: Cruise lines commonly advertise themed sailings, but these tend to be regular sailings with some extra special-interest activities or guest speakers added to the usual programming. On these sailings, you might have a regionally inspired wine tasting or guest musical performer onboard. Paul Gauguin Cruises, for instance, features appearances by oceanographer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau throughout the year. On these select sailings, Cousteau offers lectures and accompanies dives from the ship. Un-Cruise Adventures also welcomes special guests onboard its ships; they range from photographers to local brewers.

Seaboarn also has a linkup with physician and wellness guru Dr. Andrew Weil. The line's spa offers the "Spa and Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil" program, aimed at educating passengers through various complimentary classes and gatherings throughout their cruise. Dr. Weil joins select sailings to lead 60-minute lectures and smaller informal group discussions.

In our roundup, we offer suggestions for just about every type of traveler, divided by category. Check back often, as we'll be updating them throughout the year.


Music Wellness & Fitness Food, Wine & Beer
TV & Film Faith-Based Hobbies & Crafts
Sports Fan History & World Affairs Lifestyle
Dancing Science & Nature Art
Find a Cruise
Email me when prices drop
Find a Cruise
Email me when prices drop

Popular on Cruise Critic

What to Pack for a Cruise: A Beginner's Guide
There once was a not-so-savvy seafarer who didn't feel right unless she took two steamer trunks crammed with outfits on every cruise. This, she learned, was not a good idea. Besides incurring the wrath of her male traveling companion, who pointed out that he would have to wrestle with excess baggage through airport terminals and beyond, she quickly tired of cramming her belongings into tiny closets. The now savvy seafarer follows this packing rule: Thou shalt put into one's suitcase only that which will fit neatly in the allocated cabin storage space. Following that advice is getting easier because, for the most part, cruising has become a more casual vacation with relaxed dress codes. Plus, with airlines charging to check bags, it's just plain economical to pack light. To do so, you need to have a good sense of what you’re going to wear on a cruise so you don't pack your entire closet. If you're wondering what to bring on your next cruise, here are our guidelines for what you'll need to pack.
How To Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin: What You Need to Know
Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it's helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel: Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks It's the permutations (size, view, location, amenities and price, for example) of the four basic cabin types that can make choosing difficult. In addition to knowing your cabin options, you need to know yourself: Do you tend to get seasick? Do you prefer to nest peaceably on your balcony rather than hanging with the crowd around the pool area? Conversely, is your idea of a stateroom simply a place to flop into bed at 1 a.m. -- no fancy notions necessary? Are there certain amenities you are willing to splurge on, or can you simply not justify paying for unnecessary perks? The answers will help guide you toward selecting the best stateroom for your money. If you're feeling overwhelmed by choice, we'll help you get started with this guide to choosing the best cruise cabins for you and your travel party.
Best Time to Cruise
It's one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska, Australia, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii, Europe or the South Pacific? The answer depends on many variables. For example, fall foliage enthusiasts will find September and October the best time to cruise Canada/New England, whereas families prefer to sail in summer when temperatures are warmer for swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska will vary depending on your preferences for viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping, sunshine, warm weather and catching the northern lights. For most cruise regions, there are periods of peak demand (high season), moderate demand (shoulder season) and low demand (low season), which is usually the cheapest time to cruise. High season is typically a mix of when the weather is best and popular travel periods (such as summer and school holidays). However, the best time to cruise weather-wise is usually not the cheapest time to cruise. The cheapest time to cruise is when most travelers don't want to go because of chillier temperatures or inopportune timing (too close to holidays, the start of school, etc.). But the lure of cheap fares and uncrowded ports might make you change your mind about what you consider the best time to cruise. As you plan your next cruise, you'll want to take into consideration the best and cheapest times to cruise and see what jibes with your vacation schedule. Here's a when-to-cruise guide for popular destinations.