Cruise with the stars, if you dare

Cruises come in all shapes and sizes. There are big ships, little ships, long cruises and short ones too. On board we find everything from fine dining to luxury bedding and a pampering staff. Some travelers are not interested in any of that though. They want the immersive experience that only a themed cruise can provide. Themed sailings featuring bands are popular with Captain Kid Rock leading the pack for at-sea metal entertainment. Let’s take a look at a couple of other themed cruises, perhaps a bit more subdued, coming up soon.

Sixthman, the people who bring us Kid Rock’s Chillin’ The Most Cruise, and the KISS Kruise have lined up award-winning actors Ernest Borgnine, Tippi Hedren, and Eva Marie Saint, along with distinguished filmmaker Norman Jewison who will set sail on the first-ever TCM Classic Cruise, a new, one-of-a-kind event taking place Dec. 8-12, 2011.

Cruise with the starsThe four film legends will join Turner Classic Movies primetime host Robert Osborne, TCM weekend-daytime host Ben Mankiewicz and a bunch of classic-movie fans for the four-day voyage aboard Celebrity Millennium. While sailing from Miami to Key West and Cozumel, guests will enjoy a variety of movie-themed events including screenings, panel discussions, trivia contests and parties.

Also on the TCM Classic Cruise will be the Alloy Orchestra, a three-man musical ensemble that has written and performed live accompaniment to classic silent films for more than two decades.

Whatever your passion, odds are there is a themed cruise planned with you in mind. ThemeCruiseFinder.com can help narrow down the list with a comprehensive searchable theme cruise web portal available on the internet.

Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas is host to a cruise where guests can Dance With The Stars. Stacked on top of the regular cruise experience, those on board also get to see a private dance finale performance by star dancers Tony & Chelsie, dance parties with your fellow guests, Q&A sessions with Tony & Chelsie, photo and autograph sessions, welcome and farewell receptions and a bunch of Cruise with the Dance Stars’ goodies.

“Included in this amazing week of dance are exclusive master dance classes for all ability levels, dance parties, photo and autograph sessions, private theme parties, Q&A sessions, dining and socializing with fellow Dancing fans, not to mention a very exciting cruise vacation!” says DanceStarsCruise.com.

Expect to pay a premium price over and above what that sailing might normally sell for to cover onboard events, activities plus up-close-and-personal time with the stars. The Dance With The Stars cruise has prices starting at $1535 per person while today’s starting price for someone not included in the fun is $821. For some, that’s a steep premium to pay. For others, its worth every penny.

Hard rock, movie stars of yesteryear or dance stars of today, there is a theme cruise for everyone. If I had to guess who will be delivering the most bang for the buck, I’ll have to go with the Captain though.

No telling what he might think we should get included for that price.

Flickr photo by jimg944

Kid Rock cruises to a different theme

theme cruises

In the travel business we say “there is a cruise for everyone” and I really do think that’s true. Each cruise line promotes what they do to a different demographic. Some passengers like an old-fashioned lazy Caribbean cruise while others may enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle sailing using the ship as simply a method of transportation. In many ways the experience is quite similar though, regardless of the cruise line. If the difference between cruise lines seems a bit blurry you might want to consider a theme cruise.

On a theme cruise like-minded individuals gather to totally immerse themselves in a seagoing event that can last from a few days to a week or longer. Often, a lot of how it goes, how deep that immersion is, depends on who organizes and promotes the event.

Sixthman specializes in full-ship charters and recently wrapped up the Kid Rock’s Chillin’ The Most Cruise 2011. While some promoters may book blocks of cabins in a group-cruise sort of way, Sixthman does it a bit differently.

“We charter the full cruise ship, so anyone who books on one of our theme cruises will book through Sixthman, not through the cruise line” said Sixthman CEO Andy Levine adding “
The cost of a theme cruise is more than if a guest booked through the cruise line because it includes all entertainment, live shows, onboard activities, and more.”

How involved the promoter is in the onboard experience makes a big difference too. Remember, you get all the activities, entertainment and dining options that a given ship provides. The theme package stacked on top of that cruise line experience is what makes these different.

“Sixthman cruises are different from other theme cruises because we go out of our way to make sure all of the guests are happy. They get a full festival experience and end up building lasting relationships with other guests and artists. Each event builds a community.”said Levine.

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Some theme cruises have various levels of immersion that can be booked with more access to performers costing more.

“We also offer proximity to the artists – the performers who sail with us are open with their fans and enjoy hanging out around the ship. We don’t create a “VIP” environment – everyone who books has the same “backstage pass”-like advantages”concluded Levine.

So, interested in a theme cruise? Here is some more information you need to know.

Who might like a theme cruise
Have you ever been to a concert or event that was just so good you wished it would never end? Do you have a favorite author, film star or sports figure you can’t get enough of? Do you struggle to keep you hobby from overtaking your real life? Are you interested in a group of people that share the same lifestyle, focus or desires?

Theme cruises offer up close and personal time with whatever the theme might be. Sometimes called “special interest cruises” or “full ship charters” these sailings bring together people of all ages, sizes, shapes, colors and backgrounds with one thing in common: their interest in whatever it is that sailing is all about.

Who offers theme cruises
Some are organized by non-profit organizations for fund raising, others are simply put together by a small group interested in something cool then marketed to everyone in hopes of bringing together more people interested in that same something cool. The organization defines the idea and a travel agency sells it for them.

There are also travel companies that specialize in full ship charters like Sixthman who creates theme cruises with an emphasis on celebrating music and fan communities or Atlantis Events who organizes gay and lesbian cruises with being gay or lesbian the common denominator. Other travel companies do partial charters or simply book blocks of cabins on a ship as a large group. In most cases, unlike simply picking a ship and sailing date like you might with a cruise line, these have to be booked through whoever is handling them.

ThemeCruiseFinder.com is a good place to start with a wide variety of past and upcoming theme cruises listed.

Photo courtesy Sixthman

Captain Kid Rock sails again

Captain kid rock sails again

He doesn’t get to marry people at sea, drive the ship or make people walk the plank but Captain Kid Rock’s second-annual Chillin’ the Most Cruise is underway once again. Along with 2,700 of his fans, Kid Rock is on the way to Cozumel from New Orleans aboard the Carnival Triumph.

The five day charter sailing goes to Cozumel, just Cozumel, and no place else. That’s probably just what the doctor ordered for the rabidly fun-loving fans on board.

“For this heavy-drinking, heavy-smoking crowd, it’s an itinerary that includes all-hours bars, pole-dancing classes and performances by 16 acts, including Rev. Run, Gretchen Wilson and two up-close-and-personal concerts by Rock himself.” says Brian McCollum, on board, from the Detroit Free Press
Fans arrived in New Orleans early and by all accounts, the party was well underway before the ship left the dock.

“Fans had begun piling into New Orleans a day early, excited to dive in to what many returning cruise-goers described as a Kid Rock family reunion. These are the hardest of the hard-core — the fans whose Kid Rock concert counts run into the dozens and whose arms are vividly emblazoned with tattoos of the Detroit star” McCollum wrote.

But other than a few drunken domestic arguments, the crowd seems to be as somewhat-under-control as it probably could be with Rock in charge of the festivities.

“The party will be everywhere,” Rock boasted to the Free Press just after boarding yesterday adding “Everywhere you go on this boat, you’ll be walking into it.”

I bet there’s a story or two coming out of this before it’s all over. Actually, let me take that back on the “he doesn’t get to make people walk the plank” thing I mentioned earlier. I wouldn’t put anything past the venerable Mr Rock.

Flickr photo by familymwr