With a seemingly endless supply of theatre, food and live music, some cruise ships feel like floating cities.
Whether you are looking for shows straight from Broadway, symphony orchestras or murder mystery parties, there are cruise lines to cater for your every entertainment need.
Here, we look at the best on offer from ex-UK cruises.
In 2015, P&O Cruises is offering four dedicated Strictly Come Dancing-themed cruises – including a 14-night cruise to Portugal, Gibraltar and Spain on Aurora and a 14-night cruise to the Canary Islands & Iberia on Britannia.
Each cruise will have two pairs of the BBC programme’s professional dancers as well as a judge and special celebrity.
Fred. Olsen’s unique ‘Poison, Murder & Mystery Cruise’ – which sails from Edinburgh on 10 July, 2015 – is one of the most inventive themed-cruises on the waves, but its ‘You Choose Your Cruise’ perhaps steals the show.
Guests on Braemar, departing from Southampton in October 2015, get the incredible opportunity to vote for the next port of call as the cruise progresses, with two choices each time.
Thespians at sea are more common than you may think. Cunard’s Royal Court Theatre, with the resident Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company, presents musical productions and abridged Shakespeare classics on its cruises, while P&O’s Britannia will feature a 936-seat theatre.
Royal Caribbean, as the first cruise line to feature fully licensed, Tony Award-winning Broadway productions has announced plans to feature Ben Elton’s world-famous We Will Rock You onboard Anthem of the Seas, when the ship sails from Southampton in April.
A holiday is nothing without a good knees-up – and cruise lines, from Royal Caribbean to Cunard, know that. But how you go about enjoying the odd tipple differs dramatically between operators. The former offers a futuristic experience while the latter prefers things a little more rustic.
Onboard RCI’s Quantum of the Seas are the Bionic Bar’s martini-making robotic barman. The bartenders, powered by Makr Shakr, can produce two laser-precision drinks per minute for a total of 1,000 drinks a day.
On Cunard, by contrast, is the proper British pub, The Golden Lion, which offers quizzes, karaoke and live sports on its televisions (and human bar staff).
As well as theatre, Cunard is known for its high-brow musical offerings, particularly through its partnership with the National Symphony Orchestra.
The Midships Bar offers music each evening from Queen Elizabeth’s resident pianist, while the string quartet accompany afternoon tea and soundtrack the Royal Night Theme Balls.
But musical cruises don’t have to be of the classical variety: Fred. Olsen’s ‘60s-themed three-night Balmoral cruise, which departs from Southampton in December 2015 and heads for Antwerp, promises an ample opportunity to get your dancing shoes on. There is also a ’70s-themed sailing within a week of the ’60s sailing.
Culture need not to be confined to art galleries on land. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas boasts a fascinating art collection, including “interactive art created by the world’s best digital and video artists” within the theme of ‘What Makes Life Worth Living’.
Oceania Cruises, meanwhile, is so proud of its artistic eye that it has released a book detailing the multi-million dollar collections available to view on its ships, while its Artist Loft offers a hands-on program for budding painters.