When you think of a cruise holiday, you might think of sipping cocktails while watching the sunset over the ocean, or relaxing on deck while catching some rays - generally, most people consider cruises as a luxurious experience. What you won’t expect, however, are hordes of zombies, Captain Kirk or WWE wrestlers.
Believe it or not, you can actually find all of the above on the high seas. In fact, themed cruises are big business, and whether you’re crazy for country crooners or silly for sci-fi, there’s a cruise out there that will float your boat.
Getting to enjoy all the perks of a cruise holiday while indulging in your passion, no matter how niche or bizarre, is a huge draw for thousands of vacationers, who revel in the opportunity to set sail with like-minded people.
As the expression goes, horses for courses, and if the thought of spending your holiday dressed up as a Klingon sounds like a holiday from hell, then maybe give themed cruises a wide berth. We’ve compiled a list of some of the whackiest, cheesiest themed cruises ever - and for the traditionalists among you, we’ve also listed 10 of the ultimate in classic cruise holidays that are worth splashing the cash.
Whether your passion is disco music or simply luxury living, read on and find your next cruise holiday inspiration. Some of these are simply way too strange and out there for most of us, so we'll be staying on dry land. Others are worth every penny, and more!
23 17. Seriously Wacky: Drag Stars At Sea
If you’ve ever watched RuPaul’s Drag Race and wondered what it would be like to sail the high seas with some of your favourite queens, then why not find out for real?
Among the most popular drag cruises is Drag Stars at Sea, which is run by popular queer travel agency ALandCHUCK.Travel. The cruise offers five days circling the Caribbean on the Explorer of the Seas - there’s also a Europe itinerary - as well as a huge roster of talented drag queens, many of whom have appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Queens Overboard, aboard The Celebrity Equinox, also boasts some of the hit show’s famous alumni and is hosted by beloved queens Heklina and Peaches Christ.
22 16. Seriously Wacky: A Cruise For Cat Lovers
The Meow Meow Cruise, which takes place aboard the Carnival Liberty, has a slightly misleading name. Yes, it’s for cat-lovers but, unfortunately, none of the little critters are actually allowed onboard - they’ll have to make do with postcards sent home. This is simply a four-day cruise for cat lovers who want to socialise with other feline aficionados and talk about all things kitty.
The onboard events are all cat-themed and include cat trivia and cat scavenger hunts, a Meow Meow Mixer and Meow Meow Group Dining. Dog lovers not invited.
21 15. Seriously Wacky: 70,000 Tons Of Metal
60 Bands, four days, one cruise ship - this is 70,000 Tons Of Metal, the world’s biggest heavy metal cruise. Perfect for the metal-head in your life, who wants nothing more than to fill their days at sea with endless mosh pits and heavy metal music.
Aboard the Independence of the Seas, this cruise offers unrestricted festival access to all 120 live shows on board, 70,000 tons of karaoke until sunrise, clinics and workshops with the musicians, a belly flop contest, plus shore excursions with the featured artists. Rock on.
20 14. Seriously Wacky: The Fan-tastic Sci-Fi Sea Cruise
Now in its 21st year, the Sci-Fi Sea Cruise is all about Doctor Who and features guests from the show’s long run including Wendy Padbury, Ian McNeice and Frazer Hines. This year the cruise, which takes place on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, will make its first trip to the Pacific Northwest, taking in Seattle, Astoria, San Francisco and Victoria.
Only small groups are allowed on this exclusive cruise, where fans and the actors get to collaborate in creative workshops, producing scripts and short films inspired by the show. Don't forget to pack your sonic screwdriver.
19 13. Seriously Wacky: The Backstreet Boys Cruise
Fans of nineties pop sensation The Backstreet Boys can make all their dreams come true on a four-day whirlwind vacation from Miami to Grand Turk with their favourite band. Full of themed parties, special performances, and up-close-and-personal time with Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Howie D, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell, there is a huge waiting list to get on board, proving that the fab five have still got it.
The party takes place on Carnival’s Sensation and if you can’t find a playmate who shares your enthusiasm, you don’t need to miss out - this cruise will match single travellers to ensure it remains affordable. I promise, we aren’t playing games with your heart.
18 12. Seriously Wacky: The Truth Is Out There On The Conspira-Sea Cruise
Maybe you think climate change is an elaborate hoax or the medical community is trying to hide the myriad dangers of vaccinations, or perhaps you are utterly convinced the government is overrun by reptilian beings. If these kinds of discussions float your boat, then get yourself aboard this seven-day cruise and join other fringe thinkers to discuss everything from crop circles to mind control on the open sea.
Departing from Seattle, this cruise takes in the majestic glaciers of Alaska and offers roundtables hosted by famous researchers, investigators, and whistleblowers. Conspira-sea Cruise promises to uncover the lies and show you the truth - and there’s an all-you-can-eat buffet.
17 11. Seriously Wacky: I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghosts
The Ghost Hunter’s Cruise picks itineraries that are focused on areas of the world that are reported to be, well, haunted. Previous stops have included Mexico, Ireland and New Orleans.
Stars of the show, Ghost Hunters, spend a week aboard the Norwegian Pearl, educating passengers about the paranormal, giving onboard seminars, and leading shore excursions to some of the most haunted spots on Earth.
16 23. Seriously Wacky: Zombie Mania At Sea
Each year, fans of The Walking Dead flock aboard the Norwegian Pearl and set sail from Tampa to Nassau in the Bahamas. Passengers on the Walker Stalker Cruise not only get to indulge in their very best cosplay costumes, but they also get to enjoy Q&As and autograph sessions with several of the TV show’s favourite stars, which in previous years have included Norman Reedus (Daryl), Chandler Riggs (Carl), Tom Payne (Jesus), and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan).
Expect thrills and chills as zombies will jump out to surprise guests in the ship’s public spaces.
15 22. Seriously Wacky: Grab Your Bellbottoms For The Ultimate Disco Cruise
Get down to the sound of the seventies for five nights abroad StarVista LIVE’s Ultimate Disco Cruise. Each February the Celebrity Infinity becomes a floating fiesta of feathered hair and flared collars as it launched from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and heads to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. There are live game shows, costume parties and, of course, nightly concerts featuring some of the biggest names in disco.
The line-up for 2019 includes none other than Gloria Gaynor, Village People, KC And The Sunshine Band, and Kool & The Gang.
14 Seriously Wacky: Grand Prix Tours For Petrol Heads
If you ever find yourself at sea longing for the smell of burning rubber, then a Grand Prix cruise will definitely be for you. Back in the 1980s, Windstar Cruises introduced what they claim was the original themed experience, and travellers are still racing to book the Grand Prix package aboard the Star Pride during its seven-day sail around Monaco and the Mediterranean. Formula 1 fans get to visit the pit, enjoy seats at the Grand Prix’s time trials and final rounds, plus talks with a racing expert who serves as host, and a racing-themed gift bag.
Other cruise operators, such as Iglu cruise and Silversea, have since followed suit and cruisers can enjoy all the action of the track in locations as far afield as Singapore and Melbourne.
13 20. Seriously Wacky: Smackdowns And Wrestling Superstars
If you think a cruise would be more exciting with body slams and pile drivers, check out the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager at Sea. The cruise takes place aboard the Norwegian Jade, departs Miami for the Bahamas, and is the brainchild of former WWE superstar Chris Jericho.
He’s joined by wrestling legends like Mick Foley and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat for four nights of podcasts, meet-and-greets and even a wrestling tournament on an outdoor ring. Fans can also expect live music, and previous performers have included Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, Fozzy, and Blizzard of Ozzy (Osbourne).
12 19. Seriously Wacky: A Country And Western Themed Odyssey
If you’re looking for a full-on country experience at sea, you’ll be delighted to hear that country music cruises are totally a thing, and they sell out pretty darn quickly.
The Outlaw Country Cruise, now in its fourth year, has attracted an A-list line-up for 2019, with Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle headlining, and offers an onboard tattoo shop, whiskey and beer tastings, movie screenings (Westerns, duh!), songwriting workshops, plus an annual belly flop competition.
Slightly less raucous, but in no way less authentic, is the Country Music Cruise, which docks in Fort Lauderdale in January before swinging by the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. It will feature music by The Oak Ridge Boys, Patty Loveless, Ronnie Milsap, Ricky Skaggs, and Shenandoah. There will also be cooking demonstrations, line dancing lessons, and a special edition of the Grand Ole Opry.
11 18. Seriously Wacky: Star Trek - The Unconventional Voyage
For Star Trek fans, what could possibly be better than an immersive, interactive, out-of-this-world experience at sea, and sharing it with some of their favourite stars of the franchise? Star Trek: The Cruise has already confirmed big names for 2019, including Wil Wheaton, Jason Isaacs, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn and more. Trekkies can also attend speaking engagements with leading scientists, influencers and experts, plus themed parties, interactive games, screenings, and a costume ball.
The cruise takes place on the Norwegian Jade, departs Miami and calls in The Cayman Islands and Jamaica. To boldly go...
10 10. Worth Every Dollar: The Gauguin - A Small-Ship Cruiser’s Dream
The Gauguin is the flagship of Paul Gauguin Cruises and is designed specifically to glide through the shallow seas of the South Pacific and dock in ports inaccessible to larger cruise ships. The onboard experience that is nothing short of luxurious, with 70% of suites enjoying private balconies.
Guests can enjoy an onboard watersports marina, three dining venues, an extensive spa, five-star service, and even a beloved troupe of Gauguines and Gauguins - local Tahitians who serve as cruise staff, entertainers, and storytellers.
9 9. Worth Every Dollar: A Sojourn In The World’s Largest Onboard Luxury Spa
Seabourn Cruise Line’s Seabourn Sojourn is home to the largest onboard any luxury cruise ship in the world, taking up 11,400 square feet of indoor and outdoor space over two decks. There are also six jacuzzis and two pools for the ships 450 guests to enjoy.
About 90% of the ship’s 229 ocean view suites come with private verandas, so you won’t miss a thing on its 20-day African Nights and Indian Ocean Isles, for which prices start at around $7,790.
8 8. Worth Every Dollar: Yachting Is a State Of Mind
Named “Best Small Luxury Cruise Ship of 2015” in ForbesLife, twin ships - sorry, mega-yachts - SeaDream I & II are exclusive boutique vessels that provide a unique travelling experience unlike any other cruise vacation. According to SeaDream, “yachting” is not only a statement about size; it’s a lifestyle, and with a maximum of 112 guests, pampered by a crew of 95, passengers will feel like they are on their very own private luxury yacht.
Sail around the Caribbean or Mediterranean and take out a glass-bottom kayak, try a stand-up paddle board, or go water skiing off the back of the yacht. Best of all, you’ll enjoy highly personal service, inclusive open bar and gratuities, luxury accommodation and world-class cuisine.
7 7. Worth Every Dollar: Enjoy Antartica With Butler Service
Fancy combining the ultimate in pampering with spectacular scenery? Let Silversea’s Silver Explorer and Silver Cloud Expedition spoil you rotten. Both are all-suite and all-inclusive, including complimentary Wi-Fi, and offer designer perks like Bulgari toiletries and Pratesi linens. There's even a nine-choice pillow menu, no less.
All accommodation comes with a white-gloved butler, who can stir a custom martini, and can serve dinner course-by-course in your cabin. Silversea offers 10- to 18-day luxury cruise itineraries, mostly round trip from Ushuaia, Argentina. Longer cruises include visits to the Falkland and South Shetland Islands. Price start from around $15,000.
6 6. Worth Every Dollar: The World’s Most Luxurious Ship
The Regent Seven Seas Explorer has been dubbed the ‘world’s most luxurious ship,’ which is quite the claim, considering its competition in the cruise market. While we can’t verify its claim, we can tell you that if you’re willing to splash the cash, you can certainly experience all the trappings of the world’s most indulgent hotels aboard this floating palace.
The ship boasts 375 suites, the biggest of which is 3,000 sq ft in size, has two balconies, its own private spa and solarium, and three walk-in closets. The Explorer also has a Canyon Ranch Spa on board, a branch of the hyper-luxury spa and wellness resort in Arizona where the rich and famous go to detox and unwind.
5 5. Worth Every Dollar: Sip Whiskey With Underwater Views
French operator Ponant’s Le Lapérouse embodies a subtle blend of refinement, exclusivity and comfort. While it offers just 92 staterooms and suites, which boast Hermes products, butler service and expansive verandas, one of its biggest draws is the Blue Eye Lounge, the first-ever multi-sensory underwater space on a cruise ship.
This underwater bar/enrichment space is designed to expose passengers to marine life. The windows, shaped like whale eyes, let you see what's going by, while hydrophones, integrated below the ship's keel, capture ocean noises up to three miles away; the sounds also vibrate on the room's sofas.
Prices start at $12,460 and itineraries include Iceland, India, Asia, Seychelles, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Greece, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Mediterranean, and Scandinavia.
4 4. Worth Every Dollar: Penthouse Living Aboard The Crystal Serenity
A welcome bottle of Cristal sets the tone in the aptly named Crystal Penthouse on board the Serenity as it sets off for a 101-night round trip from San Francisco.
The 1,345-square-foot suite is one of the most spacious at sea, with incredible Italian marble mosaics, heated flooring, and a TV embedded in the bathroom vanity. That kind of money will definitely give you bragging rights over your 1,000 fellow passengers, and butler service also ensures you never need meet them, if privacy is your bag.
All this costs a whopping $199,370 per person, and you get a good look at Alaska, Asia, Australia and the South Pacific, with overnights including Tokyo, Sydney and Shanghai.