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Themed cruises create memories

Cruising is already a fantastic hybrid of features — multiple destinations, onboard activities and the thrill of sailing all combine to compose the foundational appeal of a cruise. In recent years, cruise lines have been adding educational and cultural experiences to this foundation that are tailored to the voyage’s particular passenger clientele.

Known as “themed cruises,” these trips give you the opportunity not only to indulge your sense of adventure, but also your hobby, field of study, or penchant for exotic wine or foods. Whether you are setting sail around the world with your favorite music ensemble, or getting up close and personal with Galapagos wildlife, these themed cruises will give you one more excuse to take a step away from dry land and bring your group vacation experience out on the open water.


Julliard School of Jazz Cruise
Cunard Line

The Juilliard School in New York City is one of the world’s premier institutes of music, dance, and drama. It’s difficult to get tickets to a Juilliard performance on land; imagine being able to enjoy world-class arts from Juilliard in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!

Cunard Line brings you this very opportunity through their Juilliard jazz cruise. In 2014, Juilliard students, graduates and professors will be performing aboard the Queen Mary 2, Cunard Line’s flagship vessel.

This exclusive partnership not only gives you the opportunity to enjoy incredible jazz music in a transatlantic setting, but also to learn how to play it too: the musicians will be hosting a question-and-answer session as well as a jazz workshop during the voyage.

Joe McDonough, a Juilliard Masters graduate who has participated in the cruise before, said in an interview with “Music really brings everyone together. So does cruising. The two concepts go really well together.”

Whether your group is packing your saxophones or just your sunglasses, this is an unrivaled opportunity to experience jazz on the water.

The Juliard School of Jazz Cruise sets sail from New York City on October 28, 2014

Art Along the Coast of Maine
Smithsonian Journeys

Imagine if the same company that governs the United States’ Smithsonian Institution put together a cruise… surely it would be a singular educational experience. Dream no more — Smithsonian Journeys has done that in this themed cruise that will explore the rich art history along the coast of Maine.

University of Georgia art professor and scholar Janice Simon has been recruited to come aboard with your group to lecture and provide detailed insight to the various pieces and museums you will see along the way, such as the Farnsworth Art Museum and Portland’s Museum of Art.

“I never tire of seeing the art of Homer, Church, Wyeth, Hartley and many others at the museums we visit,” Simon said. “I so enjoy meeting new fellow travelers — everyone has so many interesting life experiences. And Maine is incredibly beautiful when we visit the coast.”

Your seaside experience will be capped off with a stop at Penobscot Marine Museum, which chronicles the area’s rich seafaring history — one which, by the end of this voyage, you will feel a part of yourself.

Art Along the Coast of Maine departs from Portland, Maine on August 01, 2014.

Robyn-Newbery-c-saga-uk2 copyBy Robyn Newberry, courtesy Saga UK

Floral Delights of the Canaries
Saga UK

If your group shares a number of green thumbs, nothing could be more exciting than getting to explore the lush gardens of the Canary Islands together; unless of course, you were able to explore the Canaries with British gardening extraordinaire Chris Beardshaw.

Saga UK has put together a niche cruise where you will get to do just that. With stops in the Canary Islands as well as Portugal and Morocco, you will be guided by Beardshaw through private and botanical gardens that will leave your senses of sight and smell enchanted.

Get your personal gardening questions answered through question-and-answer sessions, or hone your skills in growing fruits, vegetables or flowers in one of Beardshaw’s  on-board classes. Held during the winter months, this cruise also gives you the perfect opportunity to escape the winter blahs and get to hone your gardening skills in the off season. You’ll leave this cruise ready to re-create paradise in your own backyard.

Floral Delights of the Canaries departs Southampton, England, on December 08, 2014.

Viansa Winery River Cruise

Viansa Winery in California’s Sonoma valley is taking their passion for wine to France’s Rhone River. This themed river cruise will include stops at some of France’s most beautiful vineyards, with Viansa’s on-board wine experts providing information on the area and doing tastings of wines that come from each location.

Some of the regions included on this tour are Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Hermitage and Burgundy. Viansa has partnered with Uniworld cruises to charter this adventure aboard the new vessel, “Catherine,” which can carry 159 passengers. One of the best features of “Catherine” is that she carries bicycles for those who want to visit nearby villages or ride along the river quay — so guests will get to take in the sights of French wine country by boat and by land.

The Viansa Wine Cruise provides an opportunitiy to take your group’s knowledge and passion for wine up a notch while seeing some of the world’s most picturesque countryside.

“I am so looking forward to drinking some amazing wines and enjoying all the decadent sights, sounds and flavors of this region,” said Viansa Winery resident Lloyd Davis, who will be accompanying guests on this cruise.

Viansa Winery River Cruise leaves from Avignon, France, on July 24, 2014 with optional pre-excursion experiences in Paris.

lindblad-expeditions3 copyCourtesy Lindbland Expeditions

National Geographic Photography Cruise
Sunstone Tours and Cruises

Ever been envious of photojournalists whose sole job it is to capture amazing landscapes and wildlife in exotic locations? Well now your group can experience a week in their well-worn travel shoes.

Sunstone Tours and Cruises, in conjunction with Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, has put together an opportunity for you to travel to the Galapagos islands and learn directly from a National Geographic photographer.

“Our certified photo instructor will teach you a lot,” said Sven Lindblad, a nature enthusiast who helped develop the tour. “But I can tell you now that getting to eye level with animals makes a big difference.”

Departing on multiple dates in 2014 from Guayaquil, Ecuador, this is a 10-day adventure that immerses you in one of the zoologically richest area of the globe. Let the same diversity of species that have inspired Charles Darwin, Richard Gere and Herman Mellville inspire your own creative inclinations as you capture shots that will last forever.

Whether you are professional photographers or a group of amateurs or simply fascinated with the wild, this cruise will be a lesson in seeing things from new angles no matter what your craft.

“I really don’t think there is a place on the planet where there are consistently so many possibilities above and below the sea,” said Lindblad. “If you’re a photographer, the subject matter is infinite; a contemplative naturalist, any rock will do; a snorkeler, so much life every day — sea turtles, sea lions, and even penguins.”