Cruises offer themed voyages for all interests

Special to the San Antonio Express-NewsOctober 12, 2013 

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A tourist sunbathes onboard a cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean. Every ship has a distinct personality, so consider your own personality and interests when selecting your dream cruise.

LUIS ACOSTA — AFP/Getty Images

After my divorce, my mother, Celia, sat me down and said, “Go on a cruise, and you’ll meet a guy.” I’m still single and still cruising. But Celia never stopped believing in the power of cruising.

I’m not an expert like Stewart Chiron, “The Cruise Guy,” but I’ve cruised on just about everything, from the Oasis of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, to a tiny 34-cabin Swedish canal boat and Windstar’s luxury yacht.

Every ship has a distinct personality, ambiance, look and vibe. So consider your own personality and interests when selecting your dream cruise.

Romance: Cruises have always been popular for celebrating anniversaries, and now, according to Chiron, more people are honeymooning on cruises than ever before. After dinner, you can dance the night away in one of the ships’ glamorous clubs or lounges. Once the kids are tucked in, parents can escape to Pink, Disney’s intimate Champagne bar for a “date night” and some quiet time.

History and culture: If you’re a history buff, book a “cruise to nowhere” on the beloved Queen Mary, the last of the luxury liners, now a hotel permanently docked in Long Beach. This art deco masterpiece is packed with World War II history and memorabilia. Pick from one of 346 original first-class staterooms. Be sure to take one of the ship’s historic tours.

For those interested in World War I history, European Waterways has scheduled a World War One Commemorative Cruise (May 18-25) marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the war. Guests will visit numerous battlefields, war cemeteries, monuments and museums.

Viking Cruises’ Waterways of the Czars is all about cultural immersion – from vodka drinking lessons to an exclusive performance of “Swan Lake” in the Hermitage.

Art: Celebrity’s Solstice Class ships are like floating art museums with multimillion-dollar art collections and their own art curator. Guests can opt to explore the collections by taking self-guided iPad tours. On a Solstice Class ship, I was dazzled watching a glob of molten glass transformed into a stunning masterpiece at The Hot Glass Show.

Luxury: I felt like Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis on Windstar’s 310-passenger sailing yacht in the Greek Isles. Known for exclusive events such as behind-the-scenes tours of the Monaco Palace, Azamara’s Quest builds more overnight and extended stays into the itinerary.

Food: Culinary Cruises have morphed into more than just “floating buffets” with the addition of celebrity chefs, specialty dining options and cooking classes and demos. Oceania Cruises’ Bon Apptit Culinary Center is the world’s only culinary studio at sea to offer hands-on instruction with master chefs. Holland America’s daily themed afternoon teas are delightfully delicious.

Multigenerational: It’s a family affair on select Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney ships offering an abundance of activities and events catering to all age groups from infants on up. Youth clubs with counselors provide age-appropriate activities and child care. Carnival’s water park keeps kids amused while parents chill in an adults-only quiet zone.

Michelle Newman is a freelance writer and designer in San Antonio.

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