Themed Cruises


Silversea Cruises' onboard wine programs allow passengers the opportunity to sample fine vintages and learn about winemaking

For every hobby or interest, there is a cruise waiting to happen. From scrapbooking to Cajun music, from financial management to fine wine and cuisine, from Elvis to chocolate, the ideas for a themed cruise are endless. Yes, there’s even a “Psychic Medium Cruise” sailing June 29 to the Caribbean on Carnival Valor. Guests will chat with mediums Joanne Gerber and Rita Berkowitz and perhaps opt for a private reading for an optional fee.

“Consumers consistently look for a reason to go on vacation, even in today’s economy,” notes Jeffrey Anderson, vice president of marketing, America’s Vacation Center. “Themed cruises provide that reason for travel and have the added benefit [for the client] of vacationing with like-minded people who enjoy the same interests.”

Echoing that is Steve Tucker, Silversea Cruises’ vice president of national accounts, who says, “Travelers today are looking for agents to connect them with enriching and one-of-a-kind travel experiences.” In addition, Anderson says, “Travel professionals should definitely consider pitching themed cruises to their clientele because they can often lead to group bookings.”

Themed cruises are great for corralling first-timers, emphasizes home-based agent Michelle Mangio, Magical Escapes Vacations, Attleboro, MA. “They might be thinking, ‘Will I enjoy it? What is there for me to do? What if I don’t like the people sitting at my table?’ But if they love murder mysteries, then they might jump at the opportunity to try a murder-mystery cruise, where they will have the opportunity to do something they enjoy and meet people who will enjoy it as well.”

Here is a sampling of other themed cruise options that home-based agents might consider:

Baseball to Golf: Baseball fans might enjoy MSC Poesia’s baseball cruises from Port Everglades to the Caribbean, sailing on multiple dates between November 2009 and April 2010. Baseball greats will be onboard to sign autographs, tell stories and give clinics on pitching, hitting and defense strategy. In addition, multiple lines offer golf-themed cruises at the world’s most famous courses.

Music to Dance: Musical themes are abundant. For example, Peter Deilmann Cruises features a classical music cruise along the Danube River on the Mozart, departing October 4. Your clients will enjoy Baroque music, classical sonatas, piano and harp music during evenings on the water, as well as see classic European sites. Agents might also tap into big band, salsa, hip hop, rock ’n’ roll and dance cruises on a range of lines.

Cuisine and Wine: On September 27, your culinary and wine-focused clients might enjoy a Wind Surf cruise from Nice. Onboard will be Greg Lill, a Pacific Northwest winemaker, and guests will enjoy tastings and wine lectures. Celebrity Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Silversea Cruises also offer wine-themed voyages.

Selling Themed Cruises

Home-based agent Michelle Mangio of Magical Escapes, Attleboro, MA, says themed cruises are perfect for those with similar ideals, causes or interests. Here are some tips to get started:

Start with your own database. Do you have clients who participate in a particular activity or enjoy a specialized interest? Pitch a cruise to meet individual interests—by personalized letter or e-mail, blog, newsletter article or other outreach efforts.

Look to your own interests for group possibilities. If you’re part of a diet group like Weight Watchers, then put together a health and wellness cruise.
n Utilize existing cruise-line
group programs to secure such inclusive features as a welcome gift, meeting-room use or group photo.

Send an introductory “feeler” letter to any groups you haven’t worked with in the past. Follow up by phone, ask to meet for coffee or come to a group function and talk about a cruise.

Find so-called “pied pipers” to help in building attendance, such as a group president, local celebrity or disk jockey.

Stress the inclusivity of a cruise and the tremendous values in the marketplace this year!

For instance, Silversea’s Silver Wind voyage on July 6 from Lisbon features Salvatore Ferragamo, operator of a Tuscan wine estate and grandson of the Italian fashion icon. Guests will sample fine vintages and learn about winemaking in tastings and lectures conducted by Ferragamo.

Epicurean expert Christina Pirello will sail on the August 8 “Glacier Bay Inside Passage” sailing of Holland America Line’s Zuiderdam. She’ll perform cooking demonstrations in the ship’s show kitchen, as well as conduct seminars and tastings and participate in Q&A sessions.

Chocolate lovers will flock to Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ “Chocoholics Cruise” on November 30 from Port Everglades on the Seven Seas Navigator. Guests will enjoy demonstrations by master pastry chefs; expert advice on wine-chocolate combinations; and tastings of yummy chocolates and confections.

Antiques and Ancient Sites: Norwegian Cruise Line’s Bermuda-bound sailing on October 24 aboard the Norwegian Majesty from Philadelphia will focus on antiques. Guests will attend art and antique seminars, as well as try appraising—and a few guests will have pieces appraised at sea. History-themed cruises also abound, with many great cruising destinations featuring Roman, Greek and Biblical sites.

Health and Wellness: Fitness and wellness groups are prime targets for agents pitching a themed cruise. Most ships have state-of-the-art exercise facilities, on-staff personal trainers, running tracks and spa facilities. Costa Cruises and Crystal Cruises regularly host yoga and well-being cruises.

Politics and Spies: The Crystal Symphony sailing on June 7 from Rome to London will focus on conservative politics. Your clients will hear discussions by Dick Morris, a FOX News analyst; Gen. Alexander Haig, former White House chief of staff; and Ronald Kessler, a renowned author.

Clients onboard the new Seabourn Odyssey “Spycruise” on July 8 from Istanbul will become spy-savvy with lectures by former CIA, RCMP and KGB operatives. Guests will hear daily lectures on spy tactics, the Cold War and intelligence gadgets.

Gaming and Techie Play: High-stakes players meet the high seas for casino gaming and tournaments in Royal Caribbean’s signature Casino Royale. Guests on all four-night or longer itineraries in 2009 can buy into and vie for cash prizes and a complimentary cruise for two in the cruise line’s Royal Poker Tour. Winners of these satellite tournaments also will receive an entry to the Royal Poker Tour Championship to play for an estimated prize pool of $100,000.

On the high-tech side, bloggers will likely enjoy the John Heald Bloggers Cruises; multiple cruises are planned each year, hosted by the popular Carnival Cruise Lines’ cruise director. Many lines, including Princess Cruises with its [email protected] program, offer edu-tainment courses such as how to edit travel videos or work with digital images. Crystal offers full-blown computer courses on some voyages.

Nature and Science: Cruise lines field strong eco-options, particularly in destinations like Alaska, Antarctica and the Amazon. For instance, Regent Seven Seas partners with Jean-Michel Cousteau and his Ocean Futures Society for themed cruises built around eco-edutainment, marine activities and environmental stewardship.

Cunard Line is partnering with Oxford University Press on new Cunard/Oxford University Press Science Club cruises that feature Science at Sea lectures by prominent science writers and educators. The program kicked off this month, and the upcoming Science at Sea voyages will depart on June 13, August 29 and October 9.


Carnival Cruises' Cruise Director John Heald hosts several popular Bloggers' Cruises annually

Many river cruise operators, barge brokers and tour operators offer themed journeys with a cruise component that focuses on history, music, wine, cuisine or bicycling. France Cruises, specializing in hotel barge and luxury canal cruises, announced new themed cruises on April 1. Clients might go on a shopping voyage to discover priceless antiques, clothing and more in Provence.

Whether your clients love rock stars or art classes, there’s likely a themed cruise to suit their interest. Peruse your database and begin pitching themed options that are more likely to tweak the client’s interest.

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