In 2009, Crystal Cruises unveiled ‘Experiences of Discovery’, a collection of theme cruises designed to enrich more than two dozen of its cruises.

Special interest classes, events and, in most cases, a destination programme augment 25 cruises, with themes including Fashion & Style, Tennis, Photography, Chance & Fortune – where gaming professionals lead gambling classes and tournaments in poker and other table games – and Ballroom Dance, where professional instructors and additional Ambassador Hosts lead daily classes and evening dancing, culminating in a friendly competition.

“Guests don’t need to have any previous knowledge or experience in the themes and they can participate as much of as little as they wish.” says Phillip Ordever, Crystal Cruises’ Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Europe. “The ‘Experiences of Discovery’ cruises offer guests more in-depth exploration of topics about which they’re passionate or simply curious.”

Fred. Olsen is another operator boasting well-established theme credentials and now ‘The ArtsClub’ allows guests to explore their creative depths in such disciplines as storytelling, creative writing and dance, or develop their interest is gardens, genealogy and antiques.

Mike Bird, Marketing Manager at Fred. Olsen says: “The ArtsClub is a light-hearted look at subjects which can sometimes encourage passengers to try a long-forgotten hobby, or discover more of a subject they have always hankered after but never actually participated in.” These new skills can stay with you once you’ve returned home after your break. “Good examples are watercolour painting and photography.”

But while all this activity may sound appealing to the budding David Bailey or Tiger Woods on board, doesn’t it mean that partners can be left feeling just a little adrift at sea? Not at all says Mike: “Our ‘Flagship Golf’ attracts the keen golfer and is of particular interest to those couples where one plays golf and the other wants to enjoy a regular holiday. On days where there is golf ashore the partner can take a shore tour with new-found friends. In the evenings and on days at sea there are also social gatherings for players and partners.”

Words: Richard Ginger