World's Wackiest Theme Cruises
Published: June 2009
By Fran Golden
Chocoholics, Harley riders, and <em>Star Trek</em> fans can all find cruises that float their boats.
You know you can cruise around the world, but did you know you can cruise to The Dark Side of the Moon?
Yes, a Pink Floyd–themed cruise debuts this spring (alas, sans giant pink pig).
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of theme cruises offered around the world annually—Holland America Line ships alone are home to as many as 30 theme cruises per year, and according to a recent survey of Cruise Lines International Association members, an average of 15 percent of business in 2008 was dedicated to theme cruises.
What all theme cruises have in common is a chance to explore your special interest with others who share your passion. While Pink Floyd fans rock out on their way to the Bahamas, leather-clad Harley riders can commune at a Hogs on the High Seas rally while cruising the Mexican Riviera. There are cruises for psychics (but they probably already knew that) and cruises for people who like to vacation naked. There’s a little something for everyone on the open waters—and then some.
We can only imagine what happens when you combine fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with those of Star Trek—actually, we don’t have to imagine it because there’s a theme cruise that does that too.
Some of the cruises are full-ship charters, with everyone onboard sharing an interest, passion, or out-and-out obsession. Others are big groups with private activities (other passengers on the ship aren’t allowed to participate).
Many of the participants on these cruises are first-time cruisers attracted by the theme, like Harley rider Pat Runyan of Eagle River, AK. He went on his first Hogs on the High Seas cruise with wife Patti (they’ve now gone on several).
“Before, my vacations were moose hunting or fishing, but I got on that first cruise and really loved it. When we got back and I went moose hunting, I was like, ‘This ain’t a vacation, this is work!’ The cruise really spoiled me,” says Runyan.
Theme cruises are especially enticing for solo travelers, who automatically become part of a group. Some of the cruises even offer roommate matching for those who want to share a cabin.
Richard Meadows, executive VP of marketing, sales, and guest programs for Holland America Line, says it’s not surprising that the number of theme offerings has expanded.
“There are so many passions people have, and when they have the ability to combine that kind of passion or lifestyle or activity with like-minded people in a great atmosphere, it’s a win,” Meadows says. “It makes the experience more rich and relevant.”
On fan cruises, such as the SOAPnet-sponsored Rock the Soap Cruise, there’s also the advantage of being in a limited space where you can really mingle with the stars and gather autographs and photos.
Of course, a big benefit of pursuing your passion at sea is you also get to participate in all the regular shipboard activities. And your meals, accommodations, and entertainment are included in the cruise fare. Still, there’s something about a boatload of chocolate that makes a sailing all the more tantalizing.