Special interests: Find a cruise to suit your client

Special interests: Find a cruise to suit your client

Whether your clients love good or wine, want to learn ballroom dancing or improve their golf skills, Jane Archer finds a cruise to suit them.

Special-interest cruises, where people can pursue their favourite pastime or develop a new talent, are all the rage as cruise lines look to win more passengers.

Oceania Cruises is the latest to jump on the bandwagon, adding cruises in 2012 aimed at those who like food, wine, jazz and staying fit.

Food and wine cruises, usually with expert chefs and sommeliers on board to host cookery or wine-tasting classes, are favourite themes – so popular that Celebrity Cruises is introducing them next year – but there are many other special-interest cruises, including murder mystery and gardening.

Crystal Cruises includes film, theatre and floral design in its bumper collection of themed voyages, and under its expert speakers programme, Vistas, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has everything from comedy to antiques.

Lol Nichols, Fred Olsen general sales manager, says some Vistas cruises are particularly popular, for instance, when actors from the BBC Radio 4 show The Archers are on board. Often passengers only realise it’s a special-interest cruise after they embark – but they enjoy it so much they book to catch the same subject another time.

Exclusive this year are themed cruises to mark 100 years since the Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, and river cruise companies have included world horticultural expo Floriade, in Venlo in the Netherlands from April 7 to October 7, in their itineraries. Two are featured here but many others are offering it.

Food and wine

Crystal Cruises holds an annual food and wine festival with leading chefs and master sommeliers hosting cookery demonstrations, wine tastings and preparing a gala dinner. Top names for 2012 include Richard Corrigan, chef of Corrigan’s Mayfair and owner of Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill in London, who will be on Crystal Serenity’s 12-night voyage from Dover to Civitavecchia (Rome) on May 24. Fly-cruise prices from £2,722 including drinks and gratuities.

Silversea is offering L’Ecole des Chefs cooking classes developed by Relais & Chateaux on 20 cruises this year. Free to attend and hosted by the cruise line’s culinary trainer David Bilsland, they will cover everything from knife skills to sauces and baking, include culinary Q&As, cooking demonstrations, competitions and visits to local markets. Fly-cruise prices from £5,213 for a 16-day Baltic cruise on July 10. silversea.com

Oceania Cruises’ executive culinary director Jacques Pepin will be on a 10-day cruise from Barcelona to Civitavecchia (Rome), on Marina on May 12, answering questions and hosting cooking demonstrations in the Bon Appetit Culinary Centre. From £2,363 cruise-only.

MSC Cruises is offering cookery workshops in association with Rome-based cooking school La Prova del Cuoco on three cruises. Over the course of five lessons (£175), passengers learn everything from preparing meat and fish to making pasta and desserts. From £509 cruise-only for a 10-night cruise from Genoa on MSC Poesia on April 26.

Orion Expedition Cruises is offering a Japanese-themed cruise on an eight-night round-trip cruise from Kobe on Orion II on April 27, with classes on how to cook sushi and other Japanese food favourites as well as visits to local markets. From £4,495 cruise-only.


Hapag-Lloyd has a 10-night no-fly golf-themed voyage from Leith in Scotland to Dover on Europa on July 7. British and German golfing experts will be on board, and passengers can play at four courses for €1,250. For those who are really keen, two extra courses in Invergordon, Scotland, and Tenby in Wales are on offer for €290 and €240 respectively. From £3,750 cruise-only.


Oceania Cruises is focusing on vitality and well-being on two 2012 itineraries – a 10-night Pearls of the Aegean voyage from Venice to Piraeus (Athens) on Regatta, on August 8, and a 10-day cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Venice on Riviera, on October 24. Experts on board will offer passengers hints and tips on healthy eating, fitness and enhancing their mental well-being. From £1,072 cruise-only on Regatta.

Jazz and dance

Crystal Cruises is offering two big band and ballroom dancing cruises in 2012 – one on Crystal Symphony, on a 10-day transatlantic cruise from Miami to Lisbon on March 19, when the Glenn Miller Orchestra will be on board, and the other on Crystal Serenity’s 12-day Barcelona to Miami transatlantic cruise on December 9, with the Artie Shaw Orchestra. Both will also have professional dance classes for all levels of experience and gentleman hosts for women travelling alone. Fly-cruise prices from £2,090 on Crystal Serenity including transfers, all drinks and gratuities.

Hit TV show Strictly Come Dancing will also feature on two cruises run by P&O Cruises this summer. Judge Craig Revel Horwood and a number of other professional dancers will be on child-free ship Oriana, departing Southampton on May 28 for 12 nights to the Canary Islands (from £1,349), and on July 14 for 14 nights to the Norwegian fjords (from £1,599). Passengers can learn the jive, foxtrot, rumba, quickstep and other routines, as well as finding out some of the secrets behind the show.


Members of 1970s pop group The Osmonds will be performing some of their favourite hits on a 14-night music and laughter-themed cruise, which also includes drawing classes for budding artists. Wayne, Jay and Jimmy Osmond will be on board Balmoral when it departs from Southampton on May 12. Cruise-only prices start at £1,449.


Photojournalist Philip Dunn will be hosting workshops and escorting excursions on an 11-night photography cruise from Piraeus (Athens) to Venice on the 170-passenger Star Clipper on July 14. Fly-cruise prices from £2,820 including transfers and photographic workshops.


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