Cruises usually attract a mixed bag of attendees: retirees, bachelor and bachelorette parties, college kids on break, carousing cougars, casino gamblers and families with toddlers will often find themselves sharing the same buffets and pool decks. But when you want to sail with a relatively like-minded group of individuals, a theme cruise might help to reduce the on-deck dissonance. The latest trend in cruising is to get groups -- of every size and persuasion -- together to sail the high seas and indulge in whatever might be their thematic passion. Caribbean Travel + Life's editors recently rounded up their favorites and found several unique picks.
Most of the special-interest cruise themes we've seen look fun, while still being fairly tame. For the football fan, there's the "2012 Super Cruise" from February 5-12th, 2012 on Royal Caribbean, which is deemed the world's largest Super Bowl party, and we're sure it will have a truly epic buffet. Musically themed cruises abound, with upcoming sails featuring the Backstreet Boys (Carnival, December 2-5, 2011), Donny & Marie (MSC, February 28-March 3, 2012, wedding vow renewals optional), a Beatles tribute (Royal Caribbean, February 4-11, 2012) and modern rockers Weezer (Carnival, January 19-23, 2012), among others. There are also plenty of options for foodies and oenophiles, including cruises centered around rum, winemakers, chocolate and cooking lessons (including a January 21-28, 2012 Celebrity cruise hosted by chef Paula Deen).
If you're looking for a real high-seas adventure, however, there are a handful of cruises we think are guaranteed to be a memorable experience. A few of the more unique themes that caught our eye this season:
Monsters of Rock Cruise (MSC, February 25-28, 2012): This Bahamas cruise features almost every '80s hair metal band still in operation, including Cinderella, Tesla, Firehouse, Faster Pussycat and Stryper. The special events, however, are what truly make this cruise. Pack your Aqua Net hairspray, stilettos and shoulder pads for the "Monsters Rock & Roll Prom 1989", and if you're cruising with that special someone, renew your commitment to one another with the "Shotgun Wedding Vow Renewal."
Gothic Cruise and Masquerade Ball (Norwegian, September 23-30, 2012): Embarking from NYC to the Devil's Triangle, Bermuda, this cruise features performances from industrial/goth bands like VNV Nation and Icon of Coil. "Vampire/Industrial/Gothic" attire is encouraged, and the organizers also indicate Victorian apparel is more than welcome at the formal dinners, though due to the proximity of the tables, hoop skirts are probably a no-no. In addition to nightly parties, events aboard the Gothic Cruise include a Masquerade Ball and a Gothic fashion show. Recommendations: if planning to spend any time on the deck during daylight hours, pack your best sunscreen if you want to blend in.
Eternal Retreats Caribbean Cruise with Kelly Mcleod (Royal Caribbean, December 3-10, 2011): We're sure Kelly Mcleod, as an internationally renowned psychic, can already see into the future and determine whether you'll be in attendance on this psychic awareness and spiritual retreat, which sails through the Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Enjoy sunrise meditation and psychic development workshops, connect to the spirit world to commune with loved ones and spend some time regressing to your past lives. While on board, you can also get a discount on a psychic reading from Kelly herself.
Caribbean Skiing (IgluCruise, December 15-21, 2011): The itinerary covers the islands of Tobago, St. Lucia and Grenada, among others. The feature here, though, is that you'll be cruising with the same people you usually hit the slopes with, on a ship that features a 150-meter open-air ski slope and lift on its top deck. In lieu of a snow machine, they've opted to cover the slope in Perma-Snow, an "all-weather ski carpet." And if your choice of apres-ski beverage is schnapps or Glühwein - don't worry, they've got you covered. (When you've worked up an appetite for a croque monsieur, they request you remove your beanie before entering the restaurant.)
As the theme-cruising market continues to grow, we expect even more eclectic themes in the years ahead, and we look forward to seeing what the cruise directors come up with thematically. Happy sailing, everyone!
By Alyx Kaczuwka