The World’s Best Themed Cruises You’ll Want to Book and Board ASAP
Whether you want to learn more about art, wine, or history, hang with Oprah or a horde of zombies, or are simply crazy for country crooners, there’s a themed cruise out there that will float your boat and allow you to set sail with like-minded vacationers.
For aficionados of the undead
The bow (not to be confused with Daryl’s weapon of choice) of the Norwegian Pearl will be loaded with fans of The Walking Dead next February when the fourth Walker Stalker Cruise with Norman Reedus sets out from Tampa to Nassau, Bahamas. Find sanctuary on the sea at Q&As and autograph sessions with several of the TV show’s good guys, including Reedus (Daryl), Chandler Riggs (Carl), Tom Payne (Jesus), and Ross Marquand (Aaron); its current big bad Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan); and blasts from the past seasons like Laurie Holden (Andrea). But beware blood-red pools and biters (in full makeup from a seminar) at the bowling alley or the gym. (Hey, they have to work off all those brains to keep their bikini bodies too!) Prefer horoscopes to horror? Check out which cruise vacation is ideal for you according to your zodiac sign.
For those with a need for speed
Courtesy Windstar Cruises
Back in the 1980s, Windstar Cruises introduced what they claim was the original themed experience, and travelers are still racing to book the Grand Prix package and fill staterooms of the Star Pride during the seven-day sail around Monaco and the Mediterranean. Formula 1 fans will definitely brake for a visit to the pit; seats at the Grand Prix’s time trials and final rounds; a cocktail reception and dinner with an automotive motif; talks with a racing expert who serves as host; and a gift bag filled with a logo cap, a program, ear plugs, binoculars, and a seat cushion. If you ask nicely, the captain might even let you take the wheel for a few photos once you’re back in open water. Find out the best cruise to book every month of the year.
For those with a permanent case of Saturday Night Fever
Courtesy StarVista LIVE
Grab your bellbottoms and your dancing shoes and get down for five nights aboard StarVista LIVE’s inaugural Ultimate Disco Cruise. Launching from Fort Lauderdale, Florida next February and heading to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico, the Celebrity Infinity will become a floating fiesta of feathered hair and flared collars, featuring a far-out lineup of the genre’s legends including KC and The Sunshine Band, Kool & The Gang, Gloria Gaynor, Village People, Rose Royce, The Spinners, and Evelyn “Champagne” King. Disco diehards will dig rubbing elbows with them and Dance Fever/cruise host Deney Terrio at nightly concerts, a wine tasting, a Bee Gees tribute, live game shows, and costume parties.
For history buffs
Courtesy American Cruise Lines
Turn back time with a trip put together by American Cruise Lines. Their newest historic itinerary, being offered in October and November 2018, focuses on the American Revolution as you cruise around Virginia and Maryland via the Chesapeake Bay and dock in Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, Annapolis, Chesterton, and Washington, D.C. (The first voyage of the American Constitution last April marked the first cruise ship to call on the Capital’s southwest waterfront in more than 60 years.) While you’re sailing between sites of important battles and George Washington’s home, Revolutionary War experts hold talks, reenactors add an extra layer of theme, and passengers chow down on the region’s famous blue crabs. American Cruise Lines also puts on popular journeys with historians and costumed impersonators, spotlighting Lewis & Clark’s explorations along the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Pacific Northwest and the Civil War along the mighty Mississippi. Here are some more river cruises around the United States that you’ll love.
Sixthman and former WWE superstar Chris Jericho liked it, so they put a ring on it. A cruise ship, that is. The Norwegian Jade will host this year’s edition of the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager at Sea in October as it drifts between Miami and Nassau, Bahamas. There will be plenty of piledrivers and clotheslines during the Sea of Honor tournament at the outdoor ring, but this testosterone-filled trip goes beyond the mat with performances from musicians like Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, Fozzy, and Blizzard of Ozzy (Osbourne); meet-and-greet sessions with wrestling superstars like Mick Foley, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Rey Mysterio, and Raven; live podcasts; and themed bingo. To recover from long nights of trash-talking, fanboys and girls can hit a different kind of mat during three sessions of DDP Yoga with the flexible founder himself, Diamond Dallas Page.
For hoedowns on the high seas
Courtesy StarVista LIVE
Put country before the party, as well as during and after the party, on a pair of western music-themed odysseys. The raucous Outlaw Country Cruise has already filled every stateroom of its fourth tour. It’s a testament to how much fun folks have at the tattoo shop, whiskey and beer tastings, movie screenings (Westerns, duh!) in the theater, songwriting workshops, Mojo Nixon’s annual belly flop competition, and, of course, concerts. Next year’s lineup includes Lucinda Williams, Drive-By Truckers, John Doe, Steve Earle, and many more Americana acts. Prefer classic cuts? Your Country Music Cruise ship will come into Fort Lauderdale next January, swing by the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas, and feature music by The Oak Ridge Boys, Patty Loveless, Ronnie Milsap, Ricky Skaggs, and Shenandoah. There will also be cooking demonstrations, line dancing lessons, and a special edition of the Grand Ole Opry.
For wine enthusiasts
Whether you’re a casual imbiber or schooled sipper, you won’t get bore-deauxed on AmaWaterways‘ wine-specific river cruises through famed French appellations. Visit historic and elegant chateaus. Taste sweet Sauternes and bold reds in Médoc. Eat your way through market day in Libourne. Bike and hike through sprawling vineyards and postcard-worthy towns like Saint-Émilion and Blaye. Wander the hallowed halls and tech-savvy exhibits of the decanter-shaped wine museum La Cité du Vin. Then, when back on the boat where it’s always wine o’clock, attend presentations by the resident winemaker, usually picked from the grape groves of Napa (which incidentally shares several similar geographical characteristics with these French regions) to put everything you’ve seen and swirled into perspective. More vintages are poured in the lounge to entice cruisers to come to class instead of taking a nap. Learn the 13 things experts wish you knew about booking a cruise.
For people who aren’t still afraid to go in the water
Courtesy Princess Cruises
Live every day like it’s Shark Week all summer long on the Caribbean Princess. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Discovery Channel’s summer must-see, Princess Cruises launched a series of fin-tastic alterations, starting with a Phillip Colbert-designed decal on the starboard surface. Public spaces including elevators, restaurants, and casino tables will also be redesigned to pay homage to the apex predators, and specialty drinks have attacked the cocktail menu. Guests will get a sneak peek at some of the network’s 2018 programming, including the Great White Abyss documentary, while the teen and youth centers will have shark-themed crafts and face painting. Select July sailings in Alaska and the United Kingdom will also get the Jaws treatment. That doesn’t bite! Check out some more of the best cruises for kids.
For those curious about their family tree
While motoring across the pond in the Queen Mary 2, families can do a deep dive into their lineage with the help of Cunard and ancestry.com. A Journey of Genealogy, which will take place in November, marks the first collaboration between the cruise line and the largest online family history resource in the world. Four experts from Ancestry, including the director of research and a master of uncovering military pasts, will give lectures and workshops to help people trace their pasts. We’re guessing many of them will find themselves on a similar Atlantic crossing toward New York and the Statue of Liberty as their immigrant relatives ages ago. Cunard will also hold the second Greatest Generations Crossing in late July to pay tribute to the heroes of World War II. Listen to lectures, attend Q&As, or mingle and swap war stories with veterans in the QM2‘s many galleys and bars.
For those who can take a joke
Next February’s Impractical Jokers Cruise from Tampa to the Bahamas promises to revolutionize your life and change the way you look at everything. Just kidding. The only thing you should expect from this comedy cruise helmed by the stars of truTV’s Impractical Jokers is laughter and lots of it. The Tenderloins (Sal, Joe, Q, and Murr) will stock the Norwegian Pearl with top-notch talent whose sole goal is to tickle 2,300 funny bones at endless comedy sets, meet-and-greets, improv performances, and even in line at the buffet or on the shuffleboard court. Check out more all-inclusive cruises that will give you the best vacation ever.
For serious foodies
Courtesy Windstar Cruises
Culinary-centric programming shows up on almost every major carrier, but a few go above and beyond when it comes to gourmet getaways. Windstar serves up six food-filled voyages in a variety of regions yearly, in conjunction with the James Beard Foundation, that include market tours with a guest chef and beverage expert, wine-paired meals, cooking demos, menus that highlight local delicacies, and shore excursions that are cuisine-oriented. Holland America teamed up with America’s Test Kitchen to provide caloric content on three cruises devoted to dining well. (The September edition on Veendam winds its way around Canada and New England.) Cast members from the beloved cooking series put on live shows, host hands-on lessons and Q&As, sign their books, give a multi-media presentation on recipe development, and test their kitchen knowledge at trivia.
For aspiring photographers
Want to make sure your selfies and social media accounts are shipshape? Then try Uniworld’s Floating Photo Workshops in Europe. While you travel around Portugal, Spain and the Douro Valley, the Rhine (Basel to Amsterdam), or Paris and Normandy, travel photographer Mark Edward Harris, whose work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Condé Nast Traveler, and LIFE (among other publications), will give lectures full of tips and tricks for shooting landscapes, city streets, and portraits of locals, as well as one-on-one critiques and daily assignments that correlate to the day’s port and shore leave.
For dance floor divas and dudes
Courtesy StarVista LIVE
Next January, get your life back on track with the Soul Train Cruise from Fort Lauderdale to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, The Chi-Lites, George Clinton, Morris Day & The Time, The Ohio Players, and other R&B favorites will make passengers feel the rhythm of the tropical nights. Dust off your moves and boogie down alongside original Soul Train dancers. Go behind the music at Q&As and cocktail receptions. Raise the roof during Gospel Hour, snicker satisfyingly at the comedy club, and pay respects at Earth, Wind & Fire and Luther Vandross tributes. You might experience some positive side effects by choosing a music-themed cruise. Learn the secrets cruise lines won’t tell you.
For squads and self-care practitioners
You get a cruise, you get a cruise, and you get a cruise! You will have to pay for it first, but going on Holland America‘s Girls’ Getaway (Fort Lauderdale and a private island in the Bahamas) or an Adventure of Your Life sojourn (Seattle to Alaska in August, Eastern Caribbean in October) will be the closest most fans will come to being on Oprah Winfrey’s former talk show thanks to the brand’s partnership with her O magazine. The Queen of All Media and her bestie Gayle King will personally join next January’s Getaway on the brand new vessel Oprah was named godmother of, the Nieuw Statendam. Oprah will participate in three live conversations designed to celebrate the power of female friendship. Guests can also join the creative director’s style tips talk or shop for favorite things with him in the dedicated O boutique. Morning meditations will be held around the serene Lido Pool, and the author of the latest book club selection will be on board to lead a discussion. Adventure of Your Life sailings have similar types of wellness activities —psychologist-led seminars and sound baths—but don’t necessarily promise sightings of the Wrinkle in Time actress.
For the art smart
Courtesy Coral Expeditions
Learn about the Land Down Under and its Indigenous art scene through a small-ship expedition to Australia’s remote northern coast with Coral Expeditions. Departing from Cairns next October, the voyage visits Cape York and Arnhem Land art communities like Yirrkala, Maningrida, Elcho Island, and Badu Island with artist-in-residence Brian Robinson. The Torres Strait artist will educate guests about the communities, art techniques, song lines, and stories that shaped the country and will host workshops on traditional carving, print making, sketching, and weaving. He will be joined by naturalist Chris Done, who will provide more context on how the region’s flora, fauna, geology, and management issues have affected Aboriginal art, culture, and history. The company also offers a trip that explores Australian cuisine on the same route, as well as itineraries that center around bushwalking in Tasmania and the Sydney to Hobart Race for sailing hobbyists.
For hero worshippers and friends of Mickey
Courtesy Disney Cruise Line
Given what they do with movies and theme parks, you can trust the Disney Cruise Line to deliver fun for the whole family (if you dare celebrate a holiday while on holiday) with Halloween on the High Seas. Costume up for the Mouse-querade party. Brave hearts can join a mysterious sea captain for scary stories under the stars or groove along with a ghost band. Jack Skellington and Sally visit the Nightmare Before Christmas scream-along screening and the rest of your favorite characters will join you for servings of spooky juice and spider cakes. Select 2019 voyages will also cater to superhero and Star Wars lovers big and small. The Avengers, from Black Panther to the Winter Soldier, reign supreme during Disney Magic‘s Marvel Day, which leaves from Miami, while new Jedis are trained during Star Wars Day on certain Disney Fantasy sailings from Port Canaveral. Both have action-packed deck shows and out-of-this-world character interactions. These are things that are worth a splurge on a Disney cruise.
Boldly go where thousands of men (and women) have gone before on Star Trek: The Cruise III. Next January, the redecorated Norwegian Jade will beam fans and Starfleet alumni from a variety of the sci-fi franchise’s iterations, including Brent Spiner, Jason Isaacs, Rene Auberjonois, and Wil Wheaton, to Miami, the Cayman Islands, and Jamaica. Resistance to having fun during six days of game shows, scavenger hunts, screenings, costume parties, vow renewals (declare your love to the whole galaxy again!), karaoke at the 13 Forward lounge, Thomas Dolby concerts, official prop/costume museum visits, swinging singles events, Tribble tosses, and celebrity-guided excursions and activities is futile. Try these hacks to make your cruise cheaper and easier.
For fitness fanatics
Courtesy Zumba Fitness
Feel the burn and the beat on the fourth annual Zumba Cruise taking place on the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas next March. It sails from Miami and stops at Labadee, the line’s private resort in Haiti. But you probably won’t even notice, given that 50 of the top instructors, including exercise creator Beto Pérez, will be teaching just about every type of Zumba you can imagine—indoors, outdoors, beginner, advanced, under the stars, accompanied by a DJ or a band, in the water, Zumba toning, and the new high-intensity non-dance bootcamp-style known as STRONG. Gear up in the brand’s apparel pop-up shop. And if that isn’t enough of a workout, try rock climbing and ice skating on the ship, which is getting a full facelift a couple months before this jaunt. Next, check out some more cruises with crazy cool amenities you’ll want to book right now.