Tuesday,  October 3, 2023  6:41 am

Variations on a theme: cruises for every interest

Variations on a theme: cruises for every interest
Themed cruises offer guests the opportunity to indulge in their favourite hobby, pastime, or special interest. Photo: Crystal Cruises
Ming Tappin

Ming Tappin is a cruise industry expert and is the owner of Your Cruise Coach.

Themed cruises offer guests the opportunity to indulge in their favourite hobby, pastime, or special interest. Combined with the benefits of cruising – inclusive accommodations, meals, entertainment, activities, and port-hopping – themed cruises can be a perfect vacation.

Here are some of the popular themes currently being offered on board ocean and river ships:


Golf cruises are perhaps the most popular of sports-themed sailings. They are staffed with on-board golf pros who conduct lectures and lead practice sessions. The itinerary may also include golfing in-destination – such as Bermuda, Ireland and the U.K. – and tickets to golfing events such as the PGA Tour and the British Open.

Themed cruises are also built around Grand Prix races, where ships overnight in the host city, allowing guests to attend the race.

Fan cruises with hall of fame athletes, active and retired sports celebrities are also available. Fans have a chance to mix and mingle with their idols, attend Q&A sessions, photo and autograph sessions.


There’s a themed cruise for virtually every hobby: birding, photography, scrapbooking, knitting, quilting, cooking, stamp-collecting, bridge and astronomy are just a few of the pastimes that have dedicated cruises available. These sailings feature field experts conducting lectures, giving demonstrations and providing tips on best practices. Guests can participate in many hands-on activities on board and ashore that are tailored to help perfect their craft.

Food and wine

With gastronomy being a major part of a cruise experience, food- and wine-themed cruises are a logical fit. Photo: Oceania

With gastronomy being a major part of a cruise experience, food- and wine-themed cruises are a logical fit. These cruises feature celebrity chefs, wine connoisseurs, craft brewers, distillers and winery owners, with ample opportunities for guests to attend demonstrations, cooking or mixology classes and to learn about new products and trends. Cruises in the Mediterranean and on European rivers are especially conducive to these programs, as the ships sail through some of the most desirable food and wine-producing regions in the world.

Music and Dance

There is a themed cruise for every generation and genre of music and dance, from big band, jazz and blues, to rock, country, heavy metal, rap, electronica and opera. Cruises either feature learning opportunities conducted by professional musicians or dance teachers, or full-on music festivals at sea with concerts by chart-topping bands and solo artists.


Fitness-themed cruises may be hosted by trainers and coaches who conduct group workouts. Photo: AmaWaterways

The most common lifestyle-themed cruises are those focusing on health and wellness. Fitness-themed cruises may be hosted by trainers and coaches, who provide workshops on health and nutrition and conduct group classes. Also gaining popularity are exercise-specific sailings such as biking, hiking, yoga and Zumba cruises, with many of these themes being introduced on European river sailings. Blue World Voyages, a new cruise line currently in development, will be dedicated entirely to fitness and wellness with its purpose-designed ship.

Other lifestyle cruises include themed sailings for singles, the LGBTQ community, swingers and nudists. These adults-only departures are full-ship charters with exclusive on-board programming and entertainment.


There are also an increasing number of ocean and river sailings that celebrate Christian and Jewish heritage. Many of these cruises – which include on-board lecturers and visits to religious and historical sites – are hosted by pastors and rabbis with on-board religious programming. Faith-based itineraries include ocean cruises to the Holy Land and Jewish heritage sailings along the Danube. Every 10 years, river cruise lines feature special departures that include Oberammergau’s Passion Play in the itinerary – the next one being in 2020.

A golden opportunity for group travel

People love to travel with like-minded individuals and a sailings focus on hobbies they already enjoy is a better enticement to book.

Themed cruises are a great source for group business. People love to travel with like-minded individuals and a sailing that focuses on a hobby or interest they already enjoy is an even better enticement to book. 

Themed cruises also allow the non-participating family members to have a wonderful vacation. Using the golf cruise as an example, while Mom and Dad are immersed in all things golf, or other amenities on the floating resort, the kids are well looked after by the ship’s youth programs. It’s a win-win for the entire family.

Themed cruise clients are everywhere. Look into your local hobby associations, fitness centres, photography or birdwatching clubs, vineyards or wineries, cooking schools, community centres or golf and country clubs. It won’t be difficult to find a themed cruise to pitch to the right group and typically, these organizations have a social planner who can spread the word and grow the group size.

Themed cruise clients are also loyal followers. Once they realize the value and the inclusive nature of a themed cruise, they will become repeat cruisers – and your repeat clients.

2020 themed cruises

PAX has prepared a sample of themed cruises that will be offered by various cruise lines in 2020. Be sure to check each cruise line’s website for departure dates and details.

Cruise Line
Sample Themed Cruises
PerryGolf, Grand Prix
Crystal Cruises
Food and wine, golf, Broadway, film & theatre, big band, ballroom dance, jazz, mind and body, Grand Prix
Cunard Line
Wine, fashion, astronomy, genealogy, theatre, literature
Disney Cruise Line
Marvel and Star Wars Days at Sea
Norwegian Cruise Line
Comedy, country, blues
Oceania Cruise Line
Culinary, bridge
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Bridge, Broadway, floristry & garden, public broadcasting, wine
Spa and wellness
Silversea Cruises
Opera, wine, bridge, culinary, Royal Geological Society
Grand Prix, culinary
AMA Waterways
Avalon Waterways
Jewish heritage, beer, wine, culinary, photography
National Geographic
Uncruise Adventures
Birding, photography, wellness, wine & culinary
Jewish heritage, food and wine

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