As the cruise industry expands and grows, its one-size-fits-all vacation model is changing to include — and often feature — specialty theme cruises. From arts and education to dancing, sports, and offbeat cultural trends, those who never thought of themselves as “cruise people” might now be tempted to climb aboard.
BASEBALL GREATS MSC Cruises hits a home run hosting a series of baseball-themed cruises in the eastern Caribbean aboard MSC Poesia. Each voyage features at least five baseball stars, including Cookie Rojas, Ken Griffey Sr., Stan Bahnsen, and Rico Petrocelli. Players host trivia games, question-and-answer sessions, and storytelling events. Hone your skills in pitching, hitting, and defense strategy clinics, and enter the passenger pitching contest. At the end of each cruise the players sign autographs. Round trip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Feb. 23, March 9, April 6. Rates from $559 (February) and $499. 877-665-4655, www.msccruisesusa.com/us_en/Cruise-Departures/Theme-Cruises/Baseball-Greats-Cruise.aspx
BARBIE PREMIUM EXPERIENCE Royal Caribbean International is partnering with Mattel to feature a Barbie cruise package for girls 4 to 11. Staterooms decorated in the doll’s signature style feature keepsakes such as a Barbie doll and fashions, blanket and pillowcase, tote bag, toothbrush, and toiletries bag. Activities include a “Tiaras and Teacups” party, mermaid dance class, fashion design workshop, fashion show, and more. Available on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, and on the rest of the fleet in March. Add-on package cost $349. 866-562-7625, www.royalcaribbean.com/statichtmlpage.do?pagename=Barbie
“DANCING WITH THE STARS” Kick up your heels on one of Holland America Line’s dancing cruises. Here’s your chance to meet the dancers, take lessons, and enjoy performances starring the pros and celebrity competitors from the TV show, including two-time champions Mark Ballas and Kym Johnson, and Tristan MacManus and Lacey Schwimmer. Various dates and destinations: Feb. 16, MS Eurodam, seven-day eastern Caribbean; June 22, MS Veendam, seven-day Canada and New England; June 30 and July 7, MS Oosterdam, seven-day Alaska, and more. Rates depend on destinations. 2013 from $899; 2014 from $699. 877-932-4259, www.hollandamerica.com/pageByName/Simple.action?requestPage=DWTS
STEAMPUNK Pack your best retro-futuristic Victorian duds and set sail on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas on the First Annual Steampunk Cruise and High Seas Ball. Billed as “Downtown Abby meets Jules Verne,” this fast-growing genre of literature, fashion, music, and culture is best described as Victorian science fiction. The seven-night trip departs from New Orleans and sails to Grand Cayman, Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico, March 16-23. Features author G.D. Falksen, music by This Way to the Egress, appearances by writer and puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal, a Chrononauts Parade, a Great Mad Scientists Monologue Competition, film festival, vintage bathing suit contest, and more. Cabins for two from $909 per person. 855-783-2600, www.steampunkcruise.com
ARCHEOLOGICAL TOURS Visit archeological sites while enjoying Sicily’s rugged beauty on the Sicily, Malta, and the Aeolian Islands voyage, April 29-May 7, sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). Lecturer and host Albert Leonard Jr. leads the group on a circumnavigation of the islands, highlighting the ways that Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, Christian, Jewish, Byzantine, and Muslim cultural experiences intermingle. All accommodations aboard the 290-foot Corinthian are suites with sea views, some with balconies. All AIA Tours small ship cruises anchor at ports and historic towns that larger ships cannot visit. Pricing from $6,990 per person, double occupancy. 800-748-6262, www.archaeological.org/tours
WINE AND FOOD CELEBRATION Cruise Specialists, a luxury world cruise agency, offers six food and wine themed voyages aboard the intimate, 684-guest ships of Oceania Cruises. Designed to satisfy the most serious foodies and oenophiles, these 10- to 25-day voyages feature cooking classes and demonstrations in the Bon Appetit Culinary Center — with 24 hands-on work stations — plus wine seminars, tastings, and wine and food pairings run by wine specialists and growers. The executive culinary director for Oceania Cruises is Jacques Pepin. Voyages offered to Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Panama Canal, and South Pacific. The 20-day Grand Panama Canal cruise departs Lima May 6 and ends its journey in New York. Rates from $4,589. Book by March 31: free air, 2-for-1 fares plus bonus savings. 800-544-2469, www.cruisespecialists.com/cruise-package-detail.aspx?packageId=2257 Continued...