From spooky destinations to Halloween parties at sea, here’s a roundup (in no particular order) of the best creepy cruises
1. Dracula’s Castle
Wind your way through the Transylvanian countryside and you’ll find Bran Castle, commonly known as Dracula’s Castle, perched on a rock high above the flowing river below. Both Bram Stoker’s description of the Transylvanian Count’s hilltop residence – in the 19th century gothic novel Dracula – and the etching in the book’s first edition hold a striking resemblance to this haunting Romanian castle.
Add a three-night, Bucharest to Transylvania extension to your river cruise and you can explore Dracula’s Castle with Viking River Cruises on the Passage to Eastern Europe itinerary in 2014. Cruises depart from March to November and cost from £1,945pp, vikingrivercruises.co.uk.
2. Halloween on the High Seas
This new spooktacular experience on Disney Dream includes Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party with ghoulish games and trick-or-treating, dressing-up contests in the adults-only party, haunted stories of the sea on deck and candy galore. There’s a Halloween themed movie marathon in the Buena Vista Theatre and on the in-room television channel, and when you leave your stateroom beware of surprises lurking round the corner.
Itineraries on Disney Dream with the Halloween on the High Seas experience depart until 31 October 2013; plus you can take a three-night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral and Miami in October 2014, stopping at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay, find out more at disneycruise.disney.go.com.
3. Roman Catacombs
Explore the narrow, haunted, underground maze of tunnels hollowed out of volcanic rock where early Christians, persecuted by the Romans, buried their dead in underground chambers. The excursion can be taken from the port of Civitavecchia.
The Italian Countryside and Catacombs Tour features on a Venice to Barcelona 12-day cruise on board Marina with dates in October and November 2013 from £1,499pp (tour not included), find out more at oceaniacruises.com.
4. Ghost town
The eerie ghost town of Kolmanskop in Namibia, was once a booming, decadent hub as a result of a “Diamond Rush”, with elegant houses resembling a German town. But the fortune hunters left as quickly as they had arrived, leaving the sand to devour this long forgotten town.
Visit Kolmanskop (from Luderitz) on a five-night cruise with MSC Cruises on board MSC Sinfonia departing from Cape Town in January 2014, also calling at Walvis Bay. Go to msccruises.co.uk for more information.
5. Trick or treat?
Kids will have a ball on board a Royal Caribbean ship over a festive period, and Halloween is no exception. There’s trick-or-treating, a Monster Bash dance party, spooky storytime, a haunted house and the all important costume parade.
Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas celebrates Halloween on a four-night sampler cruise from £649pp (cruise-only) departing on 28 October 2014 from Southampton (England) and calling at Paris (Le Havre, France) and Brussels (Zeebrugge, Belgium), see more at royalcaribbean.co.uk.
6. Universal Studios
Los Angeles is a fantastic pre- or post-cruise stay, and you can delve into film history in Universal Studios. If you take the studio tour you will come face-to-face with the striking house from the Hitchcock’s 1960 horror film Psycho.
Princess Cruises do California Coastal cruises, including a four-day West Coast Getaway through October and November 2014 roundtrip from Los Angeles, on Crown Princess and Golden Princess, from $749pp (about £470pp) where you can visit Universal Studios, visit princesscruises.com.
7. The Black Forest
The unnerving fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm are entwined with Germany’s dark and brooding Black Forest. Strip the modern fantasy tales back to the brothers’ original raw and gritty stories to imagine witches, trolls, goblins and wolves prowling the forest.
Take an excursion to the Black Forest when you sail the section of the River Rhine from Basel to Breisach with Avalon Waterways on the Romantic Rhine cruise departing from March to October 2014 from £1,455pp, see avaloncruises.co.uk for more information.
8. PortAventura horror film experience
From Barcelona you can scare yourself silly with the new [REC] Experience at PortAventura theme park, where a team of 40 actors will recreate the most chilling events that make up the three [REC] horror films. For younger audiences PortAventura will welcome Sesame Street’s Count Von Count in the SésamoAventura show and they’ll be new themed shows like Rock Symphony-Mystery with dancers and acrobats, a Halloween parade and lose yourself in the terrifying Horror in Penitence maze.
Celebrity Cruises takes a roundtrip from Barcelona on a 12-night Venice Overnight Cruise on Celebrity Equinox departing 20 October 2013 from £1,671pp, visit celebritycruises.co.uk. The Halloween season at PortAventura will run from 28 September to 17 November.
9. Frightfully Fun party
If anyone knows how to party it’s Carnival, and there will be a “Frightfully Fun” Halloween celebration on every ship on 31 October. From costume contests to spooky dance parties, trick or treating along the ships’ promenades and a fun-filled Halloween Hunt, there’s plenty of entertainment for the kids. And for adults there’s a Witching Hour Tournament in the casino and special themed cocktails and desserts.
Carnival Liberty is sailing a seven-nights Exotic Caribbean Cruise itinerary departing 26 October 2013 (including Halloween celebrations) with prices starting at £329pp (fly-cruise from £1,329pp) find out more at carnival.co.uk.
10. Deserted leper colony
The haunting “Island of Tears”, Spinalonga (Crete) was home to hundreds of lepers between 1903 and 1957 who were shipped there, entering by a foreboding tunnel known as Dante’s Gate, forbidden to leave. The remains of the colony, established within a Venetian fortress, is a ghost town, with shops and houses lining the streets and an abandoned hospital and graveyard. The last inhabitant, a priest, left the island in 1962.
You can tour the island of Spinalonga from Aghios Nikolas (Crete) on a seven-night Aegean Classics cruise with Thomson Cruises departing in July and August 2014 on Thomson Majesty, with prices starting at from £939pp (saving £420 per couple) with flights find out more at thomson.co.uk.
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