Cruise Line Adds Photography- And Biology-Themed Sailings

Travelers can know more about biology and photography by sourcing knowledge in a variety of ways. Online research leads to entire websites devoted to teaching us both. Locally, area colleges and universities will have lab-grade biology experiences as well as hands-on classes on photography for all ages and abilities.

Still, nothing quite beats the thrill of capturing an image of a bear in the wilderness.

This winter, adventure travelers into marine biology or photography can choose a themed cruise catering to their interests aboard 36-guest Safari Explorer or 86-guest Safari Endeavour. InnerSea Discoveries and sister-line American Safari Cruises has added themes to ten Un-Cruise sailings in the Hawaiian Islands and Mexico’s Sea of Cortés.

“Themes bring together people with common interests and adds one more benefit for booking these dates,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Themed cruises come in every shape and size, bringing together like-minded travelers to spend up-close and personal time with a star of their shared addiction.

The new Un-Cruise photography- and marine biology-themed cruises come with an expert guest host along for the ride. Special presentations will be held on the ship or ashore and passengers are free to interact with the host throughout the voyage.

Kids in Nature departures are for families traveling with kids 12 and younger. The expedition team gears the program to a variety of ages and activity levels with a focus on educating. Hiking excursions, kayaking trips, skiff explorations and snorkeling all provide hands-on learning in a fun environment. Active explorations in nature and wildlife sightings engage all ages.

2013 Theme Cruises in Hawaii
Jan 5 – Photography and Whales with Flip Nicklin, highly-regarded whale photographer.
March 9 and 30 – Kids in Nature, a focus on spring break departures for the whole family.
April 6 – Photography with professional photographer/world traveler Peter West Carey.

2013 Theme Cruises in the Sea of Cortés
Jan 12 – Marine Biology with La Paz resident Rodrigo Rocha Gosselin, a local with passion about conservation and nature.
Feb 16 – David Julian, a 30-year veteran professional photographer.
March 16 – Ellen Barone, traveler, freelance writer and photographer.
March 30 – Marine Biology with Giovanni Malagrino, an oceanologist and professor of marine biology.
March 9 and 23 – Kids in Nature, spring break departures for the whole family.

Safari Explorer sails seven-night cruises between Hawaii, the Big Island and Lana’i with two days of activities on Moloka’i. Flexible yacht itineraries focus on explorations of four islands: Lana’i, Moloka’i, Maui and Hawaii.

Safari Endeavour sails Luxury Adventures round trip to La Paz, Baja, Mexico. While the sailing may be themed, an unstructured itinerary explores hideaways such as Isla Espíritu Santo, Isla San Francisco, Bahia Agua Verde, Los Islotes and Loreto.

In the Hawaiian Islands and the Sea of Cortés, guests can be as active as they like and activities include trekking, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling and skiff excursions. On-board naturalists provide interpretation on guided excursions ashore and at sea. The unstructured itinerary allows time for viewing wildlife such as whales and dolphins.

Sound like fun? Passengers aboard the Safari Explorer got the opportunity to jump in and swim with a whale shark last week as we see in this video:

[Photo Credit- Flickr user FelixR]

Blake Shelton Cruise Brings Country To Sea, Kid Rock Not Worried

The Blake Shelton cruise is coming up in October, marking the first-ever country music themed cruise. On a seven-day sailing from Miami, country music fans will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with Shelton and some of the hottest names in country music. Believed to be the biggest act yet to sponsor a themed cruise, Shelton is in good company.

Called the Blake Shelton and Friends cruise, on board will be 25 country music artists performing live every night in multiple venues around the ship. Shelton will perform two live concerts during the cruise, a full-ship charter of Norwegian Pearl sailing from the port of Miami on October 15, 2012.

Taking fans to San Juan, St. Thomas, Tortola and Nassau, the itinerary also includes three days at sea and performances by special guest Trace Adkins along with Neal McCoy, Lee Brice, Easton Corbin and more.As the first country music festival at sea, this one looks to be a bit tamer than some of the hard rock festivals we have reported on previously. Kid Rock’s 4th annual Chillin the Most cruise would be one extreme, along with the KISS cruise. On the other end of the entertainment at sea spectrum would be the Beatles Fans cruise or the Turner Classic Movies cruise. Somewhere in-between looks to be where the Blake Shelton version will find a home.

Sold out in several categories, cabins are still available. Information about pricing and booking is available on the Blake Shelton Cruise website.

[Photo via Blake Shelton Cruise]

Themed Cruise Vacations Heat Up With More Choices

Themed cruise vacations are special sailings when groups or organizations charter a ship, bringing like-minded travelers together to share their passion. Themed cruises appeal to groups of people varying from very broad interests like motorcycles and rock music to smaller, more specific interests like Harley-Davidson motorcycles or the Beatles. These events at sea are so popular that several repeat each year.

The Cruise for Beatles Fans (formerly known as the Beatles Tribute Cruises) is bringing back their star-studded cast of Beatles friends and musicians on a sailing of Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.

During the seven-night Eastern Caribbean sailing, guests will be enjoying private concerts, Question and Answer sessions, and picture and autograph sessions with the special Beatles guests. In addition, passengers can enjoy Beatles Trivia and Name That Tune contests.

The fourth annual Cruise for Beatles Fans sails March 3, 2013, and stops in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, Phillipsburg, St Martin and the Nassau, Bahamas. See Music In M’Ocean for details.

The Rock Boat sails for the thirteenth time as the longest running music festival at sea on February 24, 2013. The Rock Boat host Sister Hazel will be joined by Alternate Routes, Bronze Radio Return, Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers, Good Old War, Will Hoge, NEEDTOBREATHE, Ponderosa, Ben Rector, Red Wanting Blue, Rusted Root, Saints of Victory, DJ Soulman, Yacht Rock Revue and many more artists to be announced.Featuring non-stop music and two days on Norwegian’s private destination island in the Bahamas, this musical marathon will showcase both fan favorites and emerging talent across multiple stages around the ship as well as intimate activities with artists and collaborations between musicians that won’t be seen anywhere else but onboard this ocean-based traveling circus.

“We had no idea that The Rock Boat would become the family of guests and artists that it has become when began in 2001. We are fortunate to be able to host some of the most promising new artists each year and are so excited to have NEEDTOBREATHE back for an encore performance,” said Sixthman CEO Andy Levine.

The Rock Boat sails on Norwegian Pearl February 24 – March 1, 2013, from Miami to Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.

Themed cruises are not just about music either. Sailings are planned that focus on food and wine, history, intellectual pursuits, photography, film and sports. ThemeCruiseFinder has details on these and more.

[Photo: Sixthman]


First Gay Cruise To Visit Casablanca Turned Away

Currently sailing on what was promoted as “the first gay cruise to visit Casablanca,” gay and lesbian passengers on a chartered cruise were turned away by Moroccan authorities over the weekend. The Problem? Morocco’s Islamic religion and the laws of the North African country punish homosexuality.

Holland America Line’s 2106-passenger Nieuw Amsterdam was chartered by RSVP Vacations for a seven-night, round-trip Mediterranean sailing to Barcelona that began June 29 and will end July 6.

The RSVP website highlights each stop on the itinerary, saying “we’ll be the first gay cruise to visit Casablanca, Morocco’s most famous coastal city,” inviting those on the special sailing to “bargain in the New Media markets, explore the Hassan Mosque, or head over to magical Marrakech.”

RSVP Vacations specializes in organizing tourist trips for gay and lesbian travelers. As FoxNews confirmed, on Saturday, RSVP’s agent in the port of Casablanca reported, “the authorities have cancelled the scheduled July 1 visit despite having previously confirmed it.”

Scheduled during the call in Casablanca was a visit to the Hassan II Mosque (pictured) and to several traditional marketplaces in the city.

After the stop in Casablanca, the ship was scheduled to sail to Cadiz, also in southern Spain, and then to continue on to Ibiza in the Balearic Islands, then to the eastern Spanish city of Valencia before ending in Barcelona.

Sunday, the ship docked in the southern Spanish port of Malaga after Moroccan authorities prohibited it from making its scheduled port of call in Casablanca.

[Flickr photo by Alex E. Proimos]

Beatles cruise promoter asks: “What if Paul or Ringo came along?”

Lately, the focus of themed cruises has been on popular musicians like rock star musician and reality TV star Bret Michaels, Taylor Swift and Kid Rock among others. Themed cruises appeal to groups of people varying from broad interests like “motorcycles” and “rock music” in general to smaller, more specific interests like Harley-Davidson motorcycles or a specific band like KISS. Gaining in popularity, promoters book huge blocks of cabins on existing sailings or charter entire ships to meet the demand and cruise lines are paying attention.

Beatles Tribute Cruise (BTC) 2012
is on sale now and filling up fast. That’s prompting offers from other cruise lines looking to woo the annual event away from Royal Caribbean and a call to invite one of the remaining Beatles along for the ride.

“It’s a bold move….what’s happened is that the cruise’s popularity has initiated some amazing–and I mean AMAZING—offers from other cruise lines to “jump ship” and sign on with them, and they are asking if we could get Ringo or Paul to join us!” BTC promoter Woody Lifton told

What would cruise lines offer to get the Beatles cruise and Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr on board?”Basically anything they wanted, I suspect” said Lifton adding “With a private ship and (the) high quality cruisers we get on BTC, they would have a really nice time with the ability to interact with fans to the extent they wanted, in a safe atmosphere with whatever security they would need.”

An annual event, the 2011 Beatles cruise was a fundraiser for Thrive/Survive Los Angeles to support young adult cancer survivors. On-board, a raffle was held with close to 100 Beatles-related item given away during the sailing. Beatles Cruise 2012 sails from Ft Lauderdale on 2/4/12 aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and set to coincide with the 48th Anniversary of The Beatles first U.S. Television appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.

Will Beatles Tribute Cruise 2013 or 2014 be able to land the biggest fish of all, Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr?

“Yes we feel we could make this happen” concluded Lifton “and as with all of our past cruises I’m sure we’ll exceed everyone’s expectations”

Flickr photo by bluecherry74

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