Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Travel: Great value themed cruises

True to the classic TV show’s theme song, “Love Boat” is not only about to play again, but it also has something for everyone.

Thousands of superfans of the beloved series, which premiered on ABC 45 years ago, will set a course for the adventure, and they may consider a new romance. From October 22-29, the newly formed Discovery Princess will replace the long-abandoned Pacific Princess on a seven-day round-trip itinerary on the Mexican Riviera from San Pedro.

This sea tribute trip isn’t the only fan-eating fish in the sea. With the wide opening of the world’s waterways, a ship of themed cruises is scheduled to lift anchor with the sole purpose of bringing like-minded people together for a good time together.

  • John Billingsley, who played Doctor Phlox on the TV series “Star Trek: Enterprise,” hosted a vow renewal ceremony during this year’s themed parade. (Courtesy Star Trek: Cruise Ships)

  • Discovery Princess will double as Pacific Princess on a “Love Ship”-themed cruise departing from San Pedro in the fall. (Photo by David Dickstein)

  • New Kids on the Block is the vanguard of...

    New Kids on the Block are the vanguard of the themed cruise craze. (Courtesy of Rose Travel)

  • It's a party, Gorn toga style, at a recent...

    It’s a Gorn toga-style party, a recent “Star Trek” themed cruise. “Star Trek: Cruise Six,” the first in Los Angeles, will air on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager from February 24 to March 3. (Courtesy of Star Trek: Cruise Ships)

  • Select Disney Cruise Lines offer Star Wars Day at Sea.  ...

    Select Disney Cruise Lines offer Star Wars Day at Sea. (Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line)

  • The surviving cast of 'Love Boat' is planned...

    The surviving cast of “Love Boat” is scheduled to take part in the TV show’s themed parade in October; Gavin McLeod, wearing a Capt. Stubing hat, died last year. (Courtesy of Princess Cruises)

  • Southern California punk band Face to Face performed during...

    Southern California punk band Face to Face performs on this year’s Norwegian Pearl “Salty Dog Cruise”. (Photo by Sarah Scott)

The increasingly popular themed cruises can be charter, where a special events company rents out the entire ship or a portion from bow to stern, while the rest are produced by the cruise line itself. Homage to music, whether it’s a specific artist or style, is the most popular genre, but in any given non-pandemic year, you can also share something dedicated to a specific TV show, movie franchise, celebrity, life Themed cruises of the way – everything from soups to knots.

A common theme among themed cruises is that when talking to sea leg veterans, one feels like each sailing becomes a love ship with a smile on a friendly ship.

A “utopian family reunion” is how Los Angeles-based Sarah Scott describes the atmosphere on the Salty Dog Cruises she’s been on since its inception in 2015. Well, aside from two cancellations due to COVID-19 and 2021, the year she recovered from back surgery. “Not being able to cruise with my family in 2017 broke my heart, and three years later, we’re all devastated by not being able to get together,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking — painful.”

Southern California punk band Face to Face performs on this year’s Norwegian Pearl “Salty Dog Cruise”. (Photo by Sarah Scott)

For the just-concluded “Salty Dog,” those feelings were reserved for those who didn’t make it off the waitlist, as all 3,000 spots soon went to a four-night punk rock festival at the Norwegian Pearl in Miami. Flogging Molly, an Irish-American Celtic punk band formed in Los Angeles in 1997, featured a stacked lineup and hosted these tours from the start.

The 2023 voyage is slated for November 8-13, again from Miami on the Norwegian Pearl, and at least one “Salty Dog Cruise” OG can’t wait.

“The time between cruises was long and it seemed like forever because we were talking about one of my favorite parts of my life,” said Scott, the film’s animal trainer. “I love getting on a boat and running up to hug someone I haven’t seen in a year.”

Whet Travel’s “Groove Cruise,” billed as the only music cruise that sails both sides of the strait, is a water festival for electronic music lovers. Live singers and musicians perform at multiple venues, with much of the sound coming from some of the hottest DJs, including Deadmau5 and John Summit. So far, six cruise lines have hosted a total of 33 Groove Cruises, but regardless of the ship, the ideal atmosphere is real.

“It’s an amazing experience when you have everyone sharing the same passion and lifestyle,” said Whet owner Jason Beukema, who has expanded his interest-focused cruises to include salsa, rock, Rustic and Zen, with a yoga and therapeutic arts host. “Imagine ‘Burning Man’ on a cruise ship where everyone lives in the same subculture in a no-judgment zone. There’s nothing like it.”

The surviving cast of “Love Boat” is scheduled to take part in the TV show’s themed parade in October; Gavin McLeod, wearing a Capt. Stubing hat, died last year. (Courtesy of Princess Cruises)

According to Beukema, the most recent “Groove Cruise” in January featured not only “24/7 from the time you step on board to disembark” music, but also six marriage proposals and three weddings. It’s not even a “Love Boat” cruise, which will star surviving actors Lauren Tevez, Bernie Coppell, Fred Grandi, Ted Lange and Jill Whelan in October. The week-long festivities will include a celebration of Gavin McLeod, aka Captain Merlin Stubbin, who passed away last year.

Changed the channel from ABC to NBC and none of the “Golden Girls” stars stayed with us, but that didn’t stop the drag queens of Golden Fans at Sea from throwing parties and inviting everyone they knew. Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia lookalikes are expected to make a ton of drag appearances between Miami and Cozumel at the April 8-13 Celebrity Summit.

Select Disney Cruise Lines offer Star Wars Day at Sea. (Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line)

Catering to fans of different galaxies, “Star Wars” fans enjoy floating fun on a selection of seven-night Caribbean itineraries aboard Disney Cruise Line. They’re dubbed “Star Wars Days at Sea,” and while only one-seventh of the sails are used for everything “Star Wars,” these special runs are probably the closest to empowering fans of themed cruises.

Meanwhile, with five “Star Trek: Cruise” voyages, Trekkies lived long and prospered at sea — or at least we can assume. At the most recent event in late February and early March, a star-studded lineup from many “Star Trek” iterations dropped “ships” into “Starship” aboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas.

New Kids on the Block boldly went where few bands had been before 2009. Pioneers of the theme parade, the “You Got It (the Right Stuff)” band still does four years later. For their fans, who were able to get up close and personal with their tens of thousands, these voyages offered a different kind of onboard romance.

New Kids on the Block are the vanguard of the themed cruise craze.  (Courtesy of Rose Travel)
New Kids on the Block are the vanguard of the themed cruise craze. (Courtesy of Rose Travel)

“The new kids are usually playing in huge stadiums and fans keep their distance, and on these parades, 2,000 people, 98 percent of them women, can be seen everywhere taking pictures, partying, playing in Intimate concerts on a private island and Donny Wahlberg made a point of taking selfies with everyone on board,” said Sean Mscisz, Events Manager at Rose Tours.

NKOTB’s 2020 cruise, which has been postponed due to COVID-19, is now scheduled for the Carnival Conquest in Miami, October 20-24. Organizers also announced that “Jamrock Reggae Cruise 2021” has been rescheduled for December 7-12. Spreading the spirit of love and solidarity from Florida to Jamaica, more than 20 artists, two of whom are the sons of the late legend Bob Marley, will perform on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas.

UK-based Cunard Line offers higher-level themed cruises. “Event Voyages” immerses passengers in the worlds of art and literature, food and wine. The 2023 list includes Queen Elizabeth hosting the series’ first ‘Australian Gardening Tour’, as well as a celebration of Britain’s best music called ‘Beatles and Beyond’.

“These carefully curated voyages are tailored to bring popular themes to life, with a creamy approach when it comes to special guests and partnerships,” said Cunard spokesperson Jackie Chase.

While there aren’t enough themed cruises to cater to all walks of life, if those with enough enthusiasm keep their eyes and ears open, eventually their ships should come in.

US News.

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