Travelers who enjoy cruising but who’ve already hit all of the major Caribbean or European stops might wonder, what else is there? Folks who’ve never taken a cruise might be wary of committing to 7 days at sea, or worry that there just won’t be enough to hold their interest. But cruising is so much more than the stereotypical tropical island-hopping vacation! There are a wide variety of specialty cruise vacations to suit every interest and budget. All usually offer standard amenities, including housekeeping, entertainment, fine dining, shore excursions, and on-board programming, as well as attentive guest services.
River cruises typically follow a geographic itinerary, such as the Mississippi River or New England in the U.S. and the Rhine Valley or the Danube in Europe. Travelers can enjoy a more low-key and ozy experience where they can visit multiple riverside destinations from a unique vantage point. On-board programming often includes specialty lectures that introduce travelers to the history and culture of the region. Explore the cruises from American Cruise Lines for U.S. sailings and Avalon Waterways for European sailings, for starters.
Some travelers are eager to make a positive contribution to the ports of call they visit. A service cruise allows them to combine vacation with humanitarian work. Tour operators arrange on-board prep work and field work through hands-on assistance opportunities in local communities where help is needed. These trips may also be called voluntourism, a volunteer cruise, or a humanitarian cruise. Some service cruises also offer traditional excursions too. Special on-board activities include programs and seminars as well as meet-and-greets. Revive Humanity and Fathom are two examples of service cruise programs.
All the fun of cruising without having to leave your own back yard! Sightseeing cruises are geared toward tourists and showing locals a side of their hometown they’ve never experienced before. Two of the most well-known might be New York City’s Circle Line or Chicago’s Chicago Line. In addition to general tourism, these shorter trips might focus on architecture, history, landmarks or the evening skyline. These cruises are often offered daily, and some might be offered multiple times per day. Advance ticket purchase is common but not always required.
Many of the major cruise lines offer niche trips, either that they arrange themselves or in collaboration with promoters. Examples include celebrity or special interest cruises, faith-based cruises, and cultural or educational trips. Think ‘week-long theme party’ and you’ll get the idea, whether it’s a Star Wars or Walking Dead cruise, a culinary cruise, or ‘80s cruise. A good place to look for these is cruise ship company websites, as well as Internet searches for your topic of interest with the keyword “cruise”.
Cruises to Nowhere
Trips that begin and end in the same port without other stops are often affectionately called “cruises to nowhere”. They usually last 1- or 2-nights and offer all of the dinner, dancing, entertainment, and pampering of a longer cruise. For travelers who’d enjoy a hotel getaway for a weekend, this is a nice change of pace. Just look up your favorite cruise line’s website to check availability.
Cruising really does have something for everyone. Just when you thought you’d seen it all, consider a local, niche, themed, service, or weekend cruise to nowhere for a new adventure.