Setting sail on the open ocean to destinations around the Caribbean, Mexico, and Alaska is just part of the fun of a cruise vacation. Add in the copious amounts of food and live entertainment and you get a virtually all-inclusive cruise vacation where you barely have to do any planning at all. But while standard cruises are plenty of fun, there’s something to be said for special themed cruises, too.
Themed cruises run the gamut from family-friendly cruises to adult-oriented cruises, and on themed sailings you can meet other cruisers with similar interests all traveling together on the same ship. Here’s a look at the themed cruises offered by the major cruise lines to help you decide if there’s a sailing out there that appeals to your unique interests.
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1. Disney Cruise Line
Setting sail on any one of Disney Cruise Line’s five cruise ships is like a Disney-themed vacation at sea. But for an extra dose of Disney, DCL also offers officially themed cruises virtually year round, and the options are pretty spectacular for families. Every January through early March, Pixar characters take over the Disney Fantasy on select seven-night sailings with Pixar Day at Sea; Disney Dream hosts Marvel Day at Sea, where families can have epic encounters with their favorite superheroes; and Disney Fantasy hosts Star Wars Day at Sea.
In September and October, all five Disney Cruise Line ships get into the spooky spirit with Halloween on the High Seas; and in November and December, Christmas comes early with Very Merrytime Cruises. Each of Disney’s themed cruises includes character meet-and-greets, themed entertainment, and delicious themed treats.
2. Royal Caribbean
Known for its cruise ship water parks and over-the-top ships that have something for everyone in the family, Royal Caribbean takes a similarly all-in approach to themed cruises. The cruise line hosts a variety of themed cruises each year, including a Star Trek cruise, an ’80s cruise, and a motorcycle cruise, among other themes. These themed cruises with Royal Caribbean each sail just once per year, so if you want to get on the ship and mix and mingle with other fans, you’re going to want to book early.
3. Celebrity Cruise Line
Celebrity offers a variety of themed cruises that set sail throughout the year. Bump elbows with the celebrities on the line’s Celebrate with the CEO themed Alaska cruise onboard the Celebrity Solstice in June, or try a European cruise with goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow, whose products are used throughout the cruise line’s fleet of ships.
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Celebrity has music-themed cruises too, all of which depart from Florida. Each of the cruise line’s music cruises is dedicated to one genre, including a perennially popular Jazz cruise that’s been a Celebrity tradition for more than 20 years.
4. Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line hosts music and festival cruises throughout the year. Highly sought-after artists like KISS, The Beach Boys, and DJ Khaled headline some of the most popular themed sailings. Besides music, Norwegian Cruise Line also brings together nurses, Broadway aficionados, and wrestling fans for voyages themed just to their interests. These themed cruises sell out fast, but Norwegian offers a waiting list for those who would like to join.
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5. Princess Cruises
While the options are not as plentiful as on some other cruise lines, the themed cruises offered by Princess Cruises are still worth considering. Its 80s-themed sailings depart from Florida, California, or Texas, and they’re filled with music, movies, a deck party, a dress-up night, and other totally tubular ’80s experiences. Each of the 1980s themed cruises is four or five days. Princess also hosts comedy cruises and a seven-day “Love Boat” voyage to Mexico.
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6. Holland America
Foodies salivate over Holland America Cruise Line’s culinary cruises, which go to destinations in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Each themed cruise focuses on a different aspect of the culinary arts with a famous chef onboard, like pastry and chocolate with Jacques Torres or sushi with Chef Andy Matsuda. The sailings include demonstrations from the chefs, tastings, and over-the-top dinners where you can meet the chefs themselves.