Seven of the best themed cruises
From card games to music, Asian cruisers are especially keen on themed journeys that include the chance to learn or experience a favourite pastime.
“Thematic cruises, including karaoke, vow renewal, educational and gourmet theme cruises, have garnered exceptional response,” says Anthony Chan, Managing Director of Singapore-based Chan Brothers, which includes one of the region’s largest cruise centres.
Here are some of the favourites:
Ship: Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas
Price: from US$412 per person
Departure date: November 20, 2015
Asia’s largest festival at sea, It’s The Ship, will be sailing from Singapore’s Marina Bay Cruise Centre to tropical Langkawi in Malaysia. Over three nights, Mariner of the Seas will play host to some of the music industry’s big names, including Grammy Award nominee Kaskade, Trance figurehead Ferry Corsten and Australian EDM revolutionaries Peking Duk, Will Sparks and Tiger Lily. The event is expected to draw crowds from 19 countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Australia, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Those who book a quad-share cabin of four girls are eligible to get US$50 off per person.
Ship: Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony
Price: from $2810 per person
Departure dates: December 11, 2015; March 25, 2016; October 18, 2016
Crystal Cruises offers Ballroom@Sea, theme cruises that offer complimentary group dance classes on all sea days, taught by professionals who are often champion dancers. Private lessons are also available ($75 for 30 minutes, $100 for 45 minutes). Sailings also include the production of ‘Dancing With The Crystal Stars’, featuring crew members who train in a variety of ballroom, Latin and swing dances in their time off. For bonus culture, depending which sailing is chosen, guests could find themselves in the Canary Islands, Bermuda, Spain, France, Monaco or Portugal.
Ship: Silver Shadow
Price: from AUD$6550
Departure date: January 5, 2016
This 14-day Singapore round trip will be a favourite among serious bridge players. Set in a competitive atmosphere, the formal program will feature daily contract and duplicate Bridge sessions (twice daily on sea days), and will be overseen by certified American Contract Bridge League Life Masters. There will also be lectures for beginners and intermediate-level players. Silversea has organised many different Bridge-themed cruise itineraries throughout the year; this particular one will call at Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Thailand.
Ship: Disney Fantasy
Price: from US$4263 per person
Departure dates: January 9, 23; February 6, 20; March 5, 19; April 2, 16
Star Wars Day at Sea is set to be so popular, Disney Cruise Line is holding it over eight days over the first six months of next year. For one jam-packed day on select Western Caribbean sailings, Disney Fantasy will bring the saga to life with a deck-party celebration, meet and greets, themed activities and exclusive merchandise.
Ship: Norwegian Pearl
Price: from US$525 per person
Departure date: January 15, 2016
The colourful Norwegian Pearl looks like the last place you’d find zombies – but next year she’s out to prove you should never judge a ship by her exterior. On her three-day sailing from Miami to the Bahamas, the Pearl will host a number of high-profile guests, including eight popular cast members of The Walking Dead. ‘Walker Stalker Con’ will feature theme nights, question-and-answer panels, costume contests, a zombie makeup experience and the chance to have a photo taken with the celebrities onboard.
Ship: Freedom of the Seas
Price: from US$1996 per person
Departure date: February 21, 2016
Now in its sixth consecutive year, JoCo Cruise is a self-proclaimed “summer camp for nerds”. Onboard will be a 4000-square-foot Game Room open all day, every day. For passengers who are more interested in creating their own story than playing someone else’s, there’s the Writing Track, led by sci-fi writer and New York Times bestseller John Scalzi. Other drawcards on the seven-night Eastern Caribbean round-trip itinerary from Florida include cosplay photoshoots, music and comedy concerts, group meditation and puzzle hunts.
Ship: Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer
Price: from AUD$7995 per person
Departure date: April 7, 2016
On APT’s 14-day Chinese Gardens History and Culture excursion from Shanghai to Beijing, guests will explore the world of gardens that abounds in China. They’ll explore the colours of the Azalea Flower Show in Suzhou and visit the Yu Garden, Garden of the Humble Administrator and Hangzhou’s Huqingyu Herbal Medicine Museum. They’ll also feel immersed in culture as they sail the Yangtze River, visit giant pandas at Chongqing Zoo and the Terracotta Warriors, and walk the Great Wall of China. A botanical guide Julie Prent, who has been involved in horticultural education for the past decade, will be available on the cruise.