With ships beefing up their activities and amenities, even veteran cruisers will find new kinds of entertainment. From wine tours to political debates, here’s the lowdown.
Cruises continue to step up their culinary offerings with updated restaurants and food-themed seminars. In May, Food & Wine magazine is pairing with tour operator Food & Wine Trails (800/367-5348; foodandwinetrails.com) for a 14-day Barcelona-to-London voyage on Oceania Cruises’ Regatta. On the menu: exclusive wine tastings and chef-led shore excursions in Spain and France.
Cruise West (888/851-8133; cruisewest.com) is giving its new menus a Pacific Northwest twist, serving up wild salmon with an apple-cider reduction, paired with a Washington State Riesling.
The 8,000-bottle cellars on Azamara Club Cruises’ ships Journey and Quest (877/999-9553; azamaracruises.com) now include vintages from boutique wineries, many not available in the United States.
Looking for high-action, low-impact excursions? Gap Adventures (800/708-7761; gapadventures.com) has teamed up with the Discovery Channel for a series of environmental expeditions: the six-day Galápagos cruise deploys Zodiacs and dinghies to explore lava caves and wildlife-filled mangroves.
On an ascent up an active volcano in Santorini, Greece—a new eco-excursion from Costa Cruises (877/882-6782; costacruises.com)—hikers get 360-degree views from the summit’s crater.
Quark Expeditions (866/961-2961; quarkexpeditions.com), meanwhile, has travelers pitching tents in Spitsbergen, Norway, home to 3,000 polar bears, in its Arctic shore option.
With enhancements industry-wide, spas at sea are making waves. Oceania (800/531-5658; oceaniacruises.com) recently joined forces with the Canyon Ranch Spa Club to offer signature treatments in state-of-the-art facilities that include a Thermal Suite with a steam room and thalassotherapy pool.
The Odyssey and Sojourn ships from Seabourn (800/929-9391; seabourn.com) feature 750-square-foot spa villas with oversize tubs, wraparound terraces, and customized treatments.
Come April, Windstar Cruises’ Wind Surf (800/258-7245; windstarcruises.com) will also have a set of spa suites—with organic bath products and bed linens, as well as credits at the ship’s WindSpa.
With family travel bigger than ever, cruise lines have been developing creative ways to keep everyone happy. Ride a jet boat to Mount McKinley, tour a gold mine, and hike to the historic Savage River Camp on a 12-night Alaska cruise tour from Princess Cruises (800/774-6237; princess.com).
Uniworld (800/733-7820; uniworld.com) has expanded its family programs on the Paris & Normandy and Castles Along the Rhine itineraries, now with more kid-focused options such as hot-air balloon rides over Paris and visits to the Cologne Chocolate Factory.
Disney Cruise Line’s (888/325-2500; disneycruise.disney.go.com) 12-night Baltic itineraries offer exclusive family-friendly port excursions, including a “Royal Ball” in St. Petersburg’s Catherine Palace.
Seminars and theme cruises are offering innovative forms of onboard enrichment. Science buffs can hop on the Science & Technology cruise from Crystal Cruises (888/722-0021; crystalcruises.com) for lectures on military, space, and medical trends and workshops on the latest personal handheld devices.
Debate U.K.-U.S. politics, history, and culture with academics, politicians, and journalists on transatlantic crossings aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary (800/728-6273; cunard.com).