Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Sun February 28 2016

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  • Amber Nolan | February 28, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    8 Best Upcoming Theme Cruises

    8 Best Upcoming Theme Cruises

    Photo courtesy of Jason Leppert

    Specially-themed cruises bring like-minded passengers together for even more fun on the water. Each year the list of these special-interest sailings becomes more varied (and unexpected), so there’s something for everyone. Here are eight upcoming cruises on river and ocean-going ships that cover film, food, music, and more.

    “Star Wars” Themed Cruise on Disney

    The Disney Fantasy will host a “Star Wars”-themed day at sea that includes meet-and-greets with Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Stormtroopers, R2D2, and other characters. Interactive shows, trivia games, parties, costumes, fireworks, and food and beverages make it a galactic day at sea. Upcoming sailing dates include March 19, April 2 and 6 from Port Canaveral on the seven-night cruise to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Disney’s private island in the Bahamas.

    READ MORE: Cruise Ship Activities That Deserve More Attention

    Antarctica Cruise Following Ernest Shackleton on Silversea

    For a true bucket-list adventure, Silversea is featuring a cruise to Antarctica and South Georgia in honor of Ernest Shackleton, a courageous explorer whose tale is the ultimate story of human survival against the odds. The Silver Explorer's 18-day “Shackleton Centenary Voyage” sets sail December 22 and follows in the footsteps of the arduous expedition with a team of expert naturalists and historians onboard.

    Pirates on Island Windjammers

    During Pirate Week, Island Windjammers’ two sailing ships — Sagitta and Vela — will sail together through the Grenadines on a six-night cruise. Onboard, there will be costumes, rum, a treasure hunt, contests, and more rum. The ships sail from St. George’s, Grenada on September 4, 2016 and September 4, 2017, so mark the dates with an “X” on the calendar.

    American Queen Steamboat Company's Elvis and Bourbon Experience Cruises

    AQSC has been a leader and a pioneer in defining the theme cruise category. Every sailing is centered around a topic, person or event that makes each a must-have ticket. We highlight two of our favorites here.

    River cruise passengers can delight in a journey on the Mississippi aboard the American Queen that incorporates an Elvis Presley theme. Onboard, Elvis-themed movies are shown in the Grand Saloon, guests can join trivia, or listen to Elvis tribute bands en route to New Orleans. The paddlewheel ship sets sail on Nov. 27 from Memphis for eight exciting days on the river.

    Nothing pairs better with the view of Southern elegance from the railing of a classic American steamboat like the iconic smoky bouquet of Kentucky bourbon. Step aboard the American Queen for a leisurely July tour down the Mississippi and up the Ohio right into the heart of Kentucky's bourbon country. You'll sample the nectar of the South in the presence of such luminaries as Maker’s Mark own Bill Samuels Jr., Buffalo Trace’s Donn Flinn, and historian Michael Veach while enjoying an unforgettable nine days along the nation's iconic rivers.

    The Kiss Cruise on NCL

    On November 4, the “Kiss Navy” gathers together in Miami to kick off the sixth Kiss Cruise on a five-night voyage full of musical debauchery. The Norwegian Pearl calls on Cozumel and Grand Cayman, and during the voyage Kiss will perform the 1982 Creatures Tour. There will also be autograph signings, activities with each member of the band and other musical performances.

    The World Poker Tour Cruise on Royal Caribbean

    Put on your poker face for the fifth annual World Poker Tour cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. The massive ship sails from Fort Lauderdale on September 24 and heads to Labadee, Haiti (Royal Caribbean’s private port); Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico. Poker take place every day of the cruise, and there will also be prizes to tournament winners, and meet and greets with the stars of the World Poker Tour.

    Crystal’s Food and Wine Festival

    Crystal Cruises is offering a “festival at sea” on a series of voyages that span the globe. On the “Flavors of the Caribbean” itinerary sailing round-trip from New Orleans on November 22, they’ll be celebrating microbrews with experts on board the Crystal Serenity. On the July 17 voyage, Serenity will be in Alaska on a 10-night journey with special guest, Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who will showcase his Japanese cooking styles and specialties. In total, more than 15 cruises are included in the “festival,” so there are plenty of options for cruisers.

    READ MORE: Cruise Outlook 2016: The Biggest Stories For The Year Ahead

    Carnival’s Nudapalooza

    The Carnival Pride will play host to “Nudapalooza” February 6 through 14 for those who want to bare it all on the ocean. Events include nudism film showings, “Naked Man” (their version of the artistic Burning Man festival at sea), a costume parade similar to Key West’s Fantasy Fest (so expect costumes to be revealing), and Jimmy Buffett-themed events on shore and at sea. The ship sails from Tampa and calls on Key West, Half Moon Cay (the private island), Grand Turk and Amber Cove — the new port in the Dominican Republic. 



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Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
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