Plan the Perfect Cruise

Your next cruise could be a variation on a travel theme: plan it to suit your interests. Who knows? You just may learn something new along the way

Themed cruises stimulate passengers to immerse themselves in their passions. On any itinerary – whether you’re a novice cruiser or a seasoned traveller who has sailed there, seen that – a niche theme enriches your pleasure while linking you to like-minded people. On seas brimming with cruise lines, here are some of the best themes afloat.

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Faithlegg Golf Course Waterford, Ireland

Sports Golfers craving to test their mettle on British Isles fairways can do so with a PGA teaching pro on Crystal’s July Bonny Isles cruise. The 14-day round trip from London – calling at ports in England, Ireland and Scotland – includes famed golf courses: Faithlegg in Ireland, Carden Park in England, Gleneagles and Kildare in Scotland, and Royal Belfast in Northern Ireland. For 2016, Crystal offers golf-themed cruises on Mediterranean, Canada/New England, and Gulf Coast itineraries. For avid joggers, Crystal’s Site Running Tours are escorted jaunts on five- to 10-kilometre stretches through European cities, including Amsterdam.

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Hiking in the Galapagos Islands

Adventure Expeditions

Adventure and nature escapades are constant themes for expedition ships that whisk guests into the hearts of their thrilling ports on Zodiacs, where passengers disembark for guided hiking, diving and energetic adventures. Among the best: Silversea’s Silver Galapagos for access to the Galapagos Islands; Cruceros Australis for Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and ascent to Cape Horn; and Cruise North Expeditions for Canada’s North. Hurtigruten adds an astronomy theme to several star-studded winter aurora borealis voyages that call at Norwegian coastal ports of Bergen, Trondheim and the Lofoten Islands en route to the Arctic Circle where guests visit Tromso’s Northern Lights Planetarium. Adventure Canada cruises are by nature themed for adventure, venturing into the Arctic, Nunavut, the Northwest Passage, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Baffin Island-Greenland. Among the fascinating roster of experts, filmmaker and Inuit art expert John Houston will host the 2015 Heart of the Arctic voyage in July, visiting art-making hamlets along the way. This spring, the line’s newest ship, Ocean Endeavour, departs from Quebec City.

Gastronomy and Wine

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The liberian inspiration cruise features Jacques Pépin

Gastronomy and worthy wines are de rigueur on all itineraries of the luxurious Seabourn and Silversea ships as well as the mid-size Crystal vessels; each offers shopping jaunts with the chef in conducive ports. These lines and others also promote themed cruises featuring celebrity chefs and sommeliers. Crystal’s Canary Island Classic November cruise features Kevin Zraly, founder of Windows on the World Wine School. Seabourn’s Taste of the Mediterranean April cruise presents flavours and méthodes de cuisine of Greece, Italy, France and Monaco. Guests craving hands-on experience may gain skills at Silversea’s Relais & Châteaux L’École des Chefs interactive cooking school offered on three itineraries: Portugal to U.K.; Australia-South Pacific; and transoceanic voyages. Oceania’s July Iberian Inspiration cruise from Lisbon to Rome features Jacques Pépin and daughter Claudine (host of TV show Cooking with Claudine). Crystal’s November 2016 cruise looping from New Orleans focuses on microbrews and craft beers with certified cicerones.

Art Appreciation

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Monet’s gardens at Giverny

Avalon Waterways’ 16-day July Art & Impressionist river cruise through France (departing July 28) plies waters between Paris, Normandy and the French Riviera, enhancing passengers’ appreciation for the artists’ visual joy of scenery. Excursions include Vincent van Gogh’s Auvers-sur-Oise, Napoleon and Josephine’s Château de Malmaison, Claude Monet’s gardens at Giverny, and enchanting cities including Avignon, Arles and Lyon. For wannabe filmmakers, Crystal cruises feature professional instructors from the USC School of Cinematic Arts who will teach the art of digital filmmaking on iPads, how to shoot and edit short movies.

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Performers in Holland America Dancing with the Stars At Sea-

Music and Dancing

Swing your way across the ocean on Crystal’s Trans-Atlantic Ballroom at Sea in June or December. Or tap your toes on Crystal’s Jazz cruise down the Pacific Coast in May. Carnival is running a series of short, band-themed Carnival Live Concerts: the Eastern Caribbean June itinerary features Styx. For boatloads of fun, music and dazzling dancing, join the fans on one of Holland America’s six Dancing with the Stars at Sea cruises that feature dance celebrities from the ABC show and invite guests to compete on stage. These themed cruises sail from June to January on seven-day itineraries that run between Boston and Bermuda, Boston to Montreal and loop from Fort Lauderdale to the Eastern or Western Caribbean.

 

IF YOU GO

Go to the cruise line links for alternate dates  in 2015 and 2016.

Book via the companies’ websites (many also have toll-free phone numbers), or see your travel agent.

Avalon Waterways www.avalonwaterways.ca/art-river-cruises/

Adventure Canada www.adventure canada.com

Carnival Cruise Lines www.carnival.com

Cruceros Australis www.australis.com

Crystal www.crystalcruises.com

Holland America Line www.hollandamerica.com

Hurtigruten www.hurtigruten.com/us/norway-voyages/winter/voyages/astronomy-voyage

Oceania www.oceaniacruises.com

Seabourn www.seabourn.com

Silversea www.silversea.com