These 6 Cruise Lines Offer the Best Themed Cruises

Themed cruises run the gamut from family-friendly to adult-oriented.
Disney Wish (Photo: Disney Cruise Line)
Disney Wish (Photo: Disney Cruise Line)

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.

NO HIDDEN FEES: Kids Stay Free at These 10 Family-Friendly All-Inclusive Resorts

1. Disney Cruise Line (DCL)

Pixar Day at Sea from Disney Cruise Line (Photo: Preston Mack)
Pixar Day at Sea from Disney Cruise Line (Photo: Preston Mack)

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, Disney Cruise Line (DCL) also offers officially themed cruises virtually year round, and the options are pretty spectacular for families.

‘WISH’ COME TRUE: Why Every Day Feels Like ‘Star Wars Day at Sea’ on Disney’s Newest Cruise Ship

Every January through early March, Pixar characters take over the Disney Fantasy on select seven-night sailings with Pixar Day at Sea, while 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 

Aerial view of Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas (Photo: RCCL)
Royal Caribbean goes all-ind for themed cruises (Photo: 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.

RIDE THE RAILS: Fall Foliage Family Fun: Skip the Highway and Jump on Any of These 10 Best Fall Train Rides

3. Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity is one of the best cruise lines for families (Photo: Celebrity Cruises)
Celebrity offers a variety of themed cruises (Photo: Celebrity Cruises)

Luxury cruise brand 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.

EUROPE VACATIONS: Family Vacation Ideas: Here Are the 6 Best Spots in Europe

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 (NCL)

Pool deck on the Norwegian Bliss (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)
Norwegian’s themed cruises sell out fast (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)

Laidback 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.

HOTEL DEALS: 10 Best Hotel Booking Sites for Cheap Prices

5. Princess Cruises

Reef Family Splash Zone on Caribbean Princess (Photo: Princess Cruise Line)
Reef Family Splash Zone on Caribbean Princess (Photo: Princess Cruise Line)

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.

MEXICO VACATIONS: 5 Most Kid-Friendly Vacation Spots in Mexico

6. Holland America

Holland America's ms Koningsdam in Venice (Photo: Holland America)
Holland America’s ms Koningsdam in Venice (Photo: Holland America)

Foodies salivate over Holland America‘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.

SAFETY FIRST: A Parent’s Guide to Traveling with Food Allergies: How to Plan, Pack, and Enjoy Your Vacation

More from FamilyVacationist:

Megan duBois is a freelance writer who covers theme parks, cruising, food and drink, and family travel. Her work has appeared on Buzzfeed, Popsugar, Insider, Orbitz, The Daily Meal, Family Vacation Critic, TravelPulse, and more. Megan has been quoted as an expert and thought leader on theme parks for Forbes and other outlets. Follow her on Instagram @MinglingwithMickey and Twitter @Megand513 for theme park travel tips and tricks, and email her at megand513 [at] gmail [dot] com for story ideas.

Family Travel Ideas Delivered to Your Inbox

Love vacations? So do we! Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for ideas, tips, and inspiration.

Thank you! You are subscribed.