Cruising: Theme Cruises
The new crop of cruise ships focuses on inventive activities and unusual destinations, rather than size.
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The latest cruise vessels aren't necessarily the biggest. Even so, they still provide all the services you expect on a major ship, with added activities and itineraries that cater to specific interests.
Norwegian Star | Due date: This month | Capacity: 2,200 passengers
Straddle the International Date Line while sailing on the only ship to visit Kiribati's equatorial island Tabuaeran, during its year-round Hawaiian Pacific journeys (seven-day itinerary from $1,629 per person, double).
Target audience: Families who need some time together, and some time apart. The Kid's Crew program, for ages 3 to 17, offers back-to-back activities so parents can be child-free until dinnertime. To keep adults relaxed, the Star has two Garden Villa suites with private rooftop terraces and butler service—features no other ship can claim.
Carnival Pride | Due date: January 2002 | Capacity: 2,124 passengers
Weeklong voyages will take the Pride from Port Canaveral, Florida, to the beaches of Key West, Belize City, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, St. John, and St. Maarten (from $759 per person, double).
Target audience: Cruisers who need to be entertained. Showgirl revues, as well as slot machines galore, make the Pride feel like a Vegas hotel afloat.
Star Princess | Due date: February 2002 | Capacity: 2,600 passengers
The inaugural trip departs from Los Angeles, then heads to Singapore, Bangkok, Taiwan, Okinawa, Osaka, and Kyoto (25 days from $5,390 per person, double).
Target audience: Asiaphiles who'd rather not fly—the voyage is round-trip from L.A.
Celebrity Constellation | Due date: May 2002 | Capacity: 1,950 passengers
This 91,000-ton ship will follow a 10-day route from Rome to Malta, Majorca, Barcelona, Nice, and Marseilles (from $1,699 per person, double).
Target audience: Stressed-out types, hop on board. If the Champagne bar and AquaSpa don't offer enough distraction, the music library (with CD's in every genre, from Delta blues to opera) should help tune out those mainland concerns.
Holland America Prinsendam | Due date: June 2002 | Capacity: 784 passengers
After a complete renovation, the former Seabourn Sun will begin 13- and 14-day cruises through the British Isles, Norway's fjords, and the Baltic Sea, winding up in St. Petersburg (from $2,869 per person, double).
Target audience: Introverts. The Prinsendam will have all the big-ship niceties—fresh flowers, five-course meals, attentive service—but none of the long lines.
Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas | Due date: November 2002 | Capacity: 2,501 passengers
Winter ports of call include Cozumel, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Aruba, Antigua, St. John, San Juan, and Curaçao (10-day packages from $1,029 per person, double).
Target audience: Anyone awestruck by views. The ship is practically see-through, with glass-fronted elevators overlooking the water, a nine-story glass atrium, and more outside cabins than other ships of its size.
to each his own
Theme cruises aren't just for the senior set. Ships now focus on almost any obsession, from literature to golf to weight loss. Pick your passion, then choose your own adventure.
Special interests: wine, Asian art, yoga
Crystal Cruises has scheduled a Wine & Food Festival on 21 sailings next year, giving passengers a chance to meet renowned chefs, take cooking classes, and participate in wine tastings. An Asian Art & Literature program is offered on Crystal's new 11-day Japan and China itinerary in April, when guest speakers will give talks on Chinese textiles and the Japanese tea ceremony. During two Yoga, Health & Fitness cruises, set for June and December, well-known instructors will lead yoga classes; lectures on holistic health and readings by best-selling New Age authors will also be part of the agenda (10-day voyages from $2,295 per person, double).
Special interests: all things Disney
Disney Cruise Line's Magic and Wonder, each with 877 cabins, will add itineraries to Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Castaway Cay, Disney's private Bahamian island, next year. The new year also marks the beginning of the 100 Years of Magic anniversary celebration, so watch for special discounts on Walt Disney World Land/Sea packages (seven-day trip from $829 per person; infants $119, children ages 3—12 an additional $399—$999, depending on cabin type).
Special interests: food, jazz
Windjammer Barefoot Cruises' tall ship Legacy appears regularly on the Food Network's Dining on Deck. Take cooking classes and head out on food-related shore excursions, such as guided rain-forest hikes to pick wild herbs. Windjammer's music cruises are timed so that guests can attend the St. Lucia Jazz Festival or the annual World Music Festival on Dominica (six-day journey from $1,000 per person, double).
Kimberly Robinson was formerly the cruise editor at Travel + Leisure.
American Hawaii Cruises 800/765-7000; http://www.cruisehawaii.com.
Carnival Cruise Lines 800/227-6482; http://www.carnival.com.
Celebrity Cruises 800/437-3111; http://www.celebritycruises.com.
Clipper Cruise Line 800/325-0010; http://www.clippercruise.com.
Cruise West 206/441-8687; http://www.cruisewest.com.
Crystal Cruises 800/820-6663; http://www.crystalcruises.com.
Cunard Line 800/728-6273; http://www.cunard.com.
Delta Queen Coastal Voyages 800/846-8000; http://www.coastalvoyages.com.
Disney Cruise Line 800/951-3532; http://www.disneycruise.com.
Holland America Line 877/724-5425; http://www.hollandamerica.com.
Norwegian Cruise Line 800/327-7030; http://www.ncl.com.
Orient Lines 800/333-7300; http://www.orientlines.com.
Peter Deilmann Cruises 800/348-8287; http://www.deilmann-cruises.com.
Princess Cruises 800/774-6237; http://www.princess.com.
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises 800/285-1835; http://www.rssc.com.
Royal Caribbean International 800/327-6700; http://www.royalcaribbean.com.
Seabourn Cruise Line 800/929-9391; http://www.seabourn.com.
Silversea Cruises 800/774-9996; http://www.silversea.com.
Star Clippers 800/442-0551; http://www.starclippers.com.
Swan Hellenic Cruises 877/219-4239; http://www.swan-hellenic.co.uk.
Windjammer Barefoot Cruises 800/327-2601; http://www.windjammer.com.
Windstar Cruises 877/827-7245; http://www.windstarcruises.com.
World Explorer Cruises 800/352-2752; http://www.wecruise.com.
Zegrahm Expeditions 800/628-8747; http://www.zeco.com.
Small-ship sailing gives a glimpse of nature that many miss when traveling by land or by mega-ship. World Explorer's 731-passenger Universe Explorer can snake into Alaskan ports—such as Kodiak Island's, where guests disembark to go bear-tracking—that larger liners have to skip (14 days, from $1,995 per person, double). Next March, naturalists and ornithologists will explore the really wild side of the Amazon River delta, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, and the Orinoco River on Zegrahm Expeditions' Jungle Rivers of South America journey (16 days, from $8,290 per person, double). Peter Deilmann Cruises makes the most of a Galápagos Islands itinerary on its 48-passenger barquentine, the Lili Marleen. It's stationed in the islands year-round (10 days, from $3,348 per person, double).
Isn't Life Grand?
Now mere mortals can charter the Christina O, the 325-foot yacht once owned by Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, through Titan Brokerage Corp. for a mere $70,000 a day. For a bit less (from $17,500 per couple), you can book a suite on a 10-day Mediterranean trip next spring, through Tauck World Discovery. The vessel, which has played host to Maria Callas, Winston Churchill, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, and Ava Gardner, has 19 staterooms, an onyx-and-silver handrail on the spiral staircase, and its own Renoir. Titan Brokerage Corp., 30-1/428-0889; Tauck World Discovery, 800/468-2825
Since this article was published in the November issue of Travel + Leisure, there have been some important security changes in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The Coast Guard, cruise lines, and port authorities are working together to ensure maximum safety on every voyage. In adherence to heightened security measures, passengers are expected to show tickets and valid photo identification before entering a cruise terminal. All luggage, including carry-ons, is thoroughly screened by hand and by metal detectors, so passengers should arrive at least three hours before debarkation. For information about specific ships and docks, contact individual cruise lines or the port authority for the departure city. At many docks, guards are boarding ships to escort them in and out of berths, confirm manifests, and check official documents. A 100-yard security zone is being delineated around many ships while at port. Log on to http://www.iccl.org for industry-wide security standards, and check out travelandleisure.com's Cruise Safety Update.