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CRUISE: Find your theme

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All images by ©IBIT/G.Gross. All rights reserved.

Cruises designed around a specific topic or activity are a breed apart from regular cruise vacations. They can cost more — maybe a lot more — but you get a lot more for your money.

Do you have this problem?

You’re dying to go on a cruise, but your partner would sooner undergo a root canal, without anesthesia. Fear of boredom is the reason. Nowadays, nearly every cruise ship has a full day of scheduled activities and entertainment — but for some, the activities themselves may not have much appeal.

The prospect of endless hours and days with little or nothing to do but stare at the ocean leaves your significant other absolutely cold, and you utterly frustrated. Can this relationship be saved?

Actually, there is a solution — and it’s neither a divorce nor a fistfight.

The best way to bridge this gap may be a theme cruise.

Unlike regular cruises, a themed cruise revolves around a specific focus, activity, topic. Some are private and can only be booked through a travel agent. Others are charters, arranged by a particular organization but made available to the public. Still others are put together by the cruise lines themselves.

But what you want to know is whether there’s a theme cruise that appeals to you and yours.

The answer is yes. Actually, hell, yes. There are almost as many theme cruises as there are themes, and the themes themselves are limited only by the imagination of the organizers.

You might think this would be a hassle for the cruise lines, but they love it, having realized that “one size fits all” doesn’t work for everyone when it comes to cruise travel.

I recently did one such cruise, the week-long Soul Train Cruise along the Mexican Riviera aboard the Holland America Westerdam. Easily the most enjoyable cruise I’ve ever done. Look for more on that later this week.

If I tried to list all the available theme cruises — and their themes — in this space, we’d be here for days. But if you’re having trouble persuading someone to do a cruise with you, that huge range of options works very much in your favor.

Many theme cruises revolve around music. Classical, country, jazz, R&B, gospel — you name the style and there’s a good chance someone’s already designed a cruise vacation around it.

There are so many theme cruises out there that finding the right one for you can be a challenge, but there are online resources to help in the search. Some sites will even help you plan your own theme cruise.

Here are a few of the sites where you can find theme cruises. If you find other really good sites, let me know:

Theme Cruise Finder
Cruise Critic
Vacations to Go
Theme Cruises by Corporate Travel Service

And don’t forget to check with the various cruise lines, nearly all of which offer theme cruises of their own.

Want to dance, or learn to dance? Want to learn something else — science, literature, history, how to cook? Want to get fit? Get religious? Get political? Like art? Into wine, beer, fashion, photography? Are you a foodie, an adventure seeker? Want to spend your vacation time picking up new skills that can help with your career? Get wet and wild? Share or faith or even do a religious pilgrimage?

There are theme cruises for adults, kids, singles, couples, families. Hobbies, avocations, passions. You name it, and odds are somebody’s got a cruise for it.

If you can’t find a theme cruise that matches your interest and/or that of your travel companion, you’re either not trying or not breathing.

Still, finding the right theme cruise may be tricky — not just because you need to find something that engages both of you equally, but because of the sheer volume of theme cruises available.

The Web site Theme Cruise Finder alone lists more than 500 cruises created around 55 different themes, as well as 24 different cruise lines — both ocean and river cruise lines — offering theme cruises.

So you and your reluctant cruise partner have a lot to choose from.

These cruises do tend to be more pricier than a standard cruise, and as with all cruises, you have to pay in advance. However, theme cruise organizers may let you pay in installments, which can ease the financial burden somewhat.

But whether you pay it off gradually or all at once, a theme cruise is really about value for your dollar. And if you pick the right one, the value is enormous.

Think about it. Like any other cruise, your lodging, meals and shipboard activities are all covered. Once on board, you don’t have to spend another dime unless you feel like it.

But a theme cruise pushes the value even further, with on-board sessions, classes, concerts, parties, lectures, workshops — anything and everything, all day and maybe well into the night, all of it tailored to you and your specific interest.

In a very real sense, it’s no longer just a cruise. It’s your cruise, created for you and folks like you. It makes for a different vibe when everyone is on the ship basically for the same reason.

So if you’re dealing with a finicky, cruise-averse travel partner, consider a theme cruise. You both may get a lot more out of it.

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