Regular cruises can be pretty awesome, what with the gluttonous amount of food and entertainment at the ready for excited passengers. But theme cruises ratchet up the fun an extra notch or 20 by offering activities and even celebrity interactions related to a particular hobby or interest.
"Theme cruises have proved to be an incredibly successful venture for cruise lines, as evident by their massive growth and expansion over the years," emails Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of CruiseCritic.com. The lure of a particular theme is very successful at getting the coveted "new to cruise" folks to take the plunge, often becoming regular cruiser, she adds.
Theme cruises have been around since at least the 1990s, though a 1980s "Love Boat" episode featuring a mass wedding at sea might well have been the first themed cruise, says Simon Duvall, a community manager with Cruiseline.com. Music cruises, featuring a specific band or type of music got popular around the turn of the millennium, he notes.
Although many excursions are profitable, there is still some financial risk for organizers. "Many theme cruises are full ship charters, so the band or organization is on the hook for the entire ship and often onboard spending guarantees (the cruise line doesn't want to take a loss) that are hard to hit if they're not able to sell most of the cabins," says Duvall, via email.
Not sure which theme cruises will literally float your boat? Here are some out-of-the box numbers.
Meow Meow Cruise
Are you more into cats than canines or kids? Look no further for your ideal vacation - there is actually a cruise for cat-lovers and it debarks April 21, 2016 from Tampa, Florida, for four nights (one stop in Cozumel, Mexico). Sadly, feline friends are not permitted to cruise, but guests can swap stories, tips and show photos of Fluffy to their hearts' delight.
Freedom Cruise 2016
If you don't get enough politics from the Internet and you love Fox News, hop aboard this conservative-themed cruise alongside speakers like Newt and Callista Gingrich and retired United States Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Oliver North. Don't go expecting wet T-shirt contests or Jell-O shots, though — a power tie and sport coat might be more appropriate. The cruise, which sails along Europe's Danube River from June 16-23, 2016, will feature panel discussions, lectures and lots of elbow-rubbing potential with the celebrity speakers.
70000 Tons of Metal
If you love big hair, heavy metal and aren't afraid of a headache or two, mark your calendar for the 2017 70000 Tons of Metal cruise, which will sail to Labadee, Haiti, from Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (February 2-6, 2017). Dozens of acts will perform on board, plus guests will also be able to enjoy clinics and workshops with the talent, as well as "70000 Tons of Karaoke" and a belly flop contest. What more could a metal head ask for?
Quilt Seminar at Sea
You and your quilting supplies can enjoy seven fabulous days of "sewcializing" at sea in picturesque Alaska alongside like-minded enthusiasts via the Quilt Seminar at Sea (May 14-21, 2016). Four "rock stars" in the world of quilting will on board to teach classes and even sign autographs in between port stops at locations like Juneau, Alaska, and Victoria, British Columbia.
Star Trek: The Cruise
Trekkies of the world are dusting off their Spock ears and swimsuits for this cruise of the Bahamas and Mexico (Jan. 9-15, 2017). William Shatner (Captain Kirk to his devoted legions) will be on board, which is probably why the 2017 excursion is already sold out. Keep an eye out for announcement about 2018 plans, though. If "Star Trek" has taught us anything, it's that the future is just around the bend...
If you want to find like-minded folks to discuss crop circles, chemtrails and who really shot JFK, look no further than this week-long cruise along the Mexican Riviera. The first-ever Conspira-Sea cruise set sail this year in February (one guest speaker was Andrew Wakefield, who published a paper on the now-discredited link between autism and vaccinations). The cruise was apparently so successful, another one is scheduled tentatively for fall 2017.