The last thing you’ll need to worry about on a cruise is cabin fever, thanks to a host fresh new activites.

Celebrity Chef: The only thing better than having a Jacques Pépin restaurant on the Oceania Marina? Inviting the chef himself aboard. The May 12 Tuscan Artistry cruise, which sails between Barcelona and Rome, will feature the seasoned chef in a series of classes and hands-on demos.

Political Debates: For passengers who want to keep au courant, Crystal Cruises is launching political powwows on six cruises this year. The first, on the March 31 Ocean View sailing, features a debate on world events with powerhouse couple James Carville and Mary Matalin, Ambassador Marc Ginsberg, and General Hugh Shelton.

Fitness Programs: Shape up or ship out? Celebrity’s enhanced wellness programs have a new roster of fitness classes and health-focused activities such as demos on how to make low-cal cocktails.

Shore Excursions: A cruise is just as much about the destination as the journey, so Silversea Cruises is expanding its overnight shore excursions: now you can view sand dunes from Namibia’s Sossusvlei Desert Lodge or climb up to Lhasa, Tibet’s Potala Palace.

Entertainment: Carnival Cruise Lines’ Fun Ship 2.0 initiative—a $500 million investment in fleetwide enhancements by 2015—will roll out this year on the Carnival Breeze and the Carnival Dream. Comedian George Lopez will revamp shipboard comedy clubs and DJ Irie will hone talent at his Spin’iversity.

By Lisa ChengJane Wooldridge and Lisa Cheng