Make the Most of Theme Cruises

landTheme cruises are more popular now than ever before.  What started off as a way for like-minded travelers to bond at sea has turned into a multi-million dollar niche; however, cruise companies aren’t the only ones benefitting from these unique voyages.  Passengers also gain in more ways than one when booking a theme cruise.  Not only do guests enjoy all the services and amenities associated with a regular cruise, they also get the added bonus of partaking in a specific passion, be it music, cooking, writing or scrapbooking.

Helping stretch passengers dollars at sea is Holland America.  The cruise company is catering to foodies around the world by offering them a chance to set sail on a culinary-themed trip.  Holland America recently hired celebrity chef Cat Cora to headline a cooking extravaganza on an upcoming Mediterranean voyage.

Cora, better known as the first female Iron Chef on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” will be starring as the featured attraction on a 12-night sailing this July.  If you can’t make the summer cruise, Holland America is offering a collection of other culinary-themed cruises featuring several big name chefs, cookbook authors and television cooks, such as the Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star” finalist Michele Ragussis and Danny Grant, executive chef at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, who was named one of Food & Wine‘s Best New Chefs of 2012.

Guests who register for the culinary cruise will enjoy a slew of related events, including wine tastings, hands-on cooking classes and mixology presentations in the ships’ Culinary Arts Centers.  All 15 of Holland America’s vessels are equipped with theater-style spaces featuring elaborate kitchens that are used for on-board cooking shows.

If an entire theme cruise seems a bit overboard for your taste, consider registering for a themed shore excursion.  This summer, Carnival will be offering a “Thomas the Tank Engine” shore excursion in the Canadian port city of Saint John, New Brunswick.  The stop coincides with the “Day Out With Thomas: The Go Go Thomas Tour 2013,” a festival traveling across the U.S. and Canada.

The excursion features a 25-minute ride on a full-sized replica of the popular storybook character.  In addition, guests of all ages are invited to take part in “Thomas & Friends”-themed activities at the event, such as storytelling, videos, arts and crafts and photo ops with Sir Topham Hatt.  Guests will also be given tickets to ride on double-decker buses that visit key city sights.

The “Thomas” shore excursion is only available to passengers who book five-day Carnival Glory cruises from New York, embarking August 5th and 10th.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.