From perfecting a pastime to pursuing a niche passion with fellow fans, themed cruises can be fun, educational or just plain quirky. Here Karl Cushing casts an eye over the best themed cruises for 2022 to 2023.
Christmas is coming early for those lamenting the loss of Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) with April seeing Ambassador Cruise Line commence a similarly theme-packed programme of UK-centric sailings aboard first ship Ambience. Targeting the 50+ market, its themed cruises out of London Tilbury channel everything from Bridge to British Broadcasting Legends. Expect pomp and pageantry aplenty on its 12-night Round Britain voyage celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (from £1,219pp, departing May 26).
Food and wine
Gastronomic cruises keep getting tastier thanks to facilities such as the Culinary Arts Kitchens aboard Regent Seven Seas Explorer and Splendor. Or take Oceania Cruises whose Culinary Discovery Tours fuse chef-led demos and classes in the Culinary Centers aboard Riviera and Marina with innovative food-themed shore excursions. MSC Cruises remains the TV tie-in titan with its MasterChef At Sea Experience and MasterChef Juniors at Sea programme.
Following its partnership with the U.S. based James Beard Foundation, Windstar Cruises, meanwhile, is to offer three chef-led, food-themed cruises a year from 2022 to 2025.
Interesting new foodie excursions include Quark Expeditions’ Tundra to Table, an Inuit Culinary Experience. Available on select Arctic 2022 and 2023 voyages it’s hosted by Inuit chefs, with a further chef-led wild foraging excursion planned. Other highlights at sea include Silversea’s new culinary programme SALT which, having debuted on Silver Moon, will feature on 2023 launch Silver Nova.
Unsurprisingly, wine is a common focus on European river cruises. Emerald Cruises’ new eight-day Wines of the Moselle Cruise, sailing from Frankfurt to Bernkastel aboard Star-Ship, is typical, featuring onboard wine presentations and tasting tours at estates such as Schloss Vollrads (from £2,595pp, departing August 21, 2022; emeraldcruises.co.uk). Passengers on Scenic Luxury Cruises’ 11-day Flavours of Bordeaux also get to quaff Cognac at Rémy Martin’s estate (from £3,195pp, departing May 25, 2022).
Art and culture
A French Art and History Cruise along the Rhone, from Lyon to Martigues, features among CroisiEurope’s cultural capers while recently renovated VIVA Tiara has 13 departures of its four-night, round-trip Arts, Culture and Culinary Delights itinerary out of Düsseldorf, Germany (January to March; from €350pp). Budding supersleuths, however, should investigate sister ship MS Swiss Ruby whose seven-night Crime Cruises to Berlin and Düsseldorf star guest authors (from €995pp; viva-cruises.com/en).
Some itineraries include tickets to coveted performances. European Waterways’ summertime Opera Cruises in Northern Italy aboard La Bella Vita, for example, feature performances at Arena di Verona amphitheatre.
Plus, Strictly Come Dancing fans will go ‘cha cha’ for Emerald Cruises’ 2022 programme of cruises featuring stars from the TV show, including Strictly Dancing with Anton and Erin (from £2,145pp, departing Budapest on April 14). Or for a cultural cruise with a side order of wellness the line’s eight-day Rhine Spa, Arts & Culture Cruise from Mainz to Basel includes a day enjoying Caracalla Spa’s thermal springs (from £2,495pp, departing June 26, 2022).
Star Clippers is a good bet for yoga-themed cruises, including a springtime trio of Caribbean yoga-themed sailings aboard Star Flyer (departing March 5, 12 and 19, 2022).
Lines upping their game include Silversea Cruises. Having debuted on Silver Dawn its new wellness program, Otium, is set to star on 2023 launch Silver Nova.
Notable river cruise picks include VIVA Moments. Its two four-night itineraries out of Düsseldorf, Germany – Wellness Trip Middle Rhine and Wellness Trip Rhein-Main – each enjoy nine scheduled 2022 departures (from €395pp).
Cycling and river cruises make natural bedfellows. Scenic’s onboard fleet of e-bikes, for example, enable clients to pedal power their way to sites such as Château de Benauge on its 11-day Beautiful Bordeaux itinerary. The likes of CroisiEurope’s Hiking Cruises, meanwhile, take an altogether more pedestrian approach.
Amadeus River Cruises’ expert-led Golf Programme breaks on the Rhine, Danube and Seine also feature tee-time at famous courses, with Vienna’s Fontana Golf Club a highlight of its seven-night Golf on The Danube aboard MS Amadeus Silver III (from £2,368pp, departing Budapest on September 30, 2022; amadeus-rivercruises.co.uk).
Plus, everyone from Windstar to Star Clippers offers itineraries featuring Monte Carlo overnights for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. Top picks include Star Clippers’ seven-night Grand Prix Finals cruise, departing Cannes, France on May 27, 2023 (from £1,870pp).
Astronomy and photography
Wildlife or landscape photographers will certainly benefit from spending time with the onboard pro photographers typically featured by expedition cruise such as Aurora Expeditions. Standout sailings include Quark Expeditions’ 14-day Spitsbergen Photography: In Search of Polar Bears aboard Ultramarine (from £7,830pp, departing Helsinki, Finland on May 18, 2023).
Lovers of heavenly bodies will particularly appreciate the planetariums on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and Viking Orion. For a particularly illuminating time opt for a cruise showcasing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, such as Hurtigruten’s itineraries along the Norwegian coastline, backed by its generous Northern Lights Promise.