Themed Cruises That Don’t Suck - IMBOLDN
Go to Top

An all-inclusive vacation sounds like a grand idea, but the thought of being forced into another conga line or trapped at a lackluster resort is enough to make you book yet another staycation. Sound familiar? Cruises have long been maligned as the vacation of choice for senior citizens or families looking for a safe place to stash hyperactive kiddies, but today’s ships offer more amenities, more hospitality, and more exciting themes than ever before.

When you’re searching for cruise ideas that doesn’t suck, look beyond the formal nights and shuffleboard contests and take a gander at the outside-the-box expeditions below.

For Foodies: Top Chef at Sea

Anyone who has watched Tom Collichio and Padma Lakshmi whittle down a heap of chefestants and crown a winning cook knows three things: never make a risotto when elimination is on the line, presentation matters, and Tom hates okra. Now it’s your chance to test your culinary skills as part of Celebrity Cruise’s Top Chef at Sea. Each program includes Quickfire Challenges (in which guests are the participants) as well as appearances by former Top Chef stars like Doug Adams, Tiffany Derry, Jeremy Ford, and Ash Fulk.

Book a ticket and you’ll enjoy one-on-one time with the chefs, exclusive foodie events, shore excursions hosted by the stars, and private cooking classes.

Book a ticket and you’ll enjoy one-on-one time with the chefs, exclusive foodie events, shore excursions hosted by the stars, and private cooking classes. There’s even a Top Chef night in the ship’s main restaurant, with a tasting menu boasting gourmet dishes like Togarashi Roasted Carrots with Cucumber Nori, and Sesame Miso and Braised Beef Cheeks with Celery Root Puree, Crispy Shallot, and Herbs.

For Comic Book Geeks: Marvel Day at Sea

If the slew of box office-topping superhero movies has taught us anything, it’s that comics aren’t just for kids. Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye and all the rest inspire us to infinity and beyond, and now you can enjoy their captivating caped escapades and soak up the sun on a cruise at the same time. Disney Cruises is offering Marvel-themed adventures on select 5-night cruises running from Miami to the Bahamas as well as the Western Caribbean. From photo ops and random character sightings throughout the ship to stunt shows and movie screenings, the trips are infused with heroic encounters. Take your kids or go with your guy friends – we promise, no one is going to judge.

Marvel Day at Sea Cruise

For Zombie Apocalypse Survivors: The Walker Stalker Cruise

Ever since Rick woke up in his hospital room surrounded by a very ugly herd of the undead, the world has never quite been the same. Thanks to the riveting storyline and a lot of unexpected deaths – sorry Dale… and Amy… and Shane… and Lori… and Merle… and Andrea… and… well, you get the picture – The Walking Dead has won a legion of fans. Spoiler alert: The action isn’t over yet. Talk upcoming seasons and discuss past events with the people who lived them on the Walker Stalker Cruise, a four-day jaunt hosted by mega-stars like Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chandler Riggs (RIP, little buddy), and more.

Once aboard the Norwegian Pearl, you’ll enjoy dozens of activities including Q&As, photo ops, autograph sessions, theme nights, live music, and more. Always wanted to dive into a pool of “walker blood”? Go in head first before you hit port in Nassau and you’ll really have something to tell the folks back home.


For Those Who Can’t Get Enough EDM: Holy Ship!

Electronic dance music hits the high seas, and even the fish are lining up to hear deep house and dubstep played by some of the masters of the niche. Holy Ship is an EDM extravaganza complete with seven stages and a dance-friendly community that typically tops out at about 4,000 people. It’s one big dance party at sea, and the soundtrack is provided by headliners like Skrillex, Kaskade, DJ Snake, and Fatboy Slim as well as up-and-coming acts with addictive beats all their own. When you’re not on the dance floor, you can check out a theme night, sign up for a flip-cup tournament, or hit the beach for a daytime set and a wicked suntan.

Sun, sand, and EDM at Holy Ship!

For Football Fans: The World’s Largest Super Bowl Party at Sea

Tired of elbowing for space at your local bar or being tethered to the grill for the entirety of the big game? When your neighbor’s Super Bowl party just isn’t cutting the mustard anymore, gather your bros and book a getaway on Carnival Cruise’s Super Ship. The entertainment, dining, and accommodations are on point, but let’s be honest – you’re not here for the crudité and towel animals. No, the Super Cruise is for people who want to win big and watch the main event amongst like-minded people. There are tons of contests and more than $200,000 in prizes to give away, plus stops in Mexico, Isla Roatan, and Belize. It’s not a seat on the 50-yard line, but it beats the heck out of your parent’s couch.

Heidelberg is one of the stops on AMA Waterways' Captivating Rhine cruise.

For Oenophiles: AMA Wine Cruises

Cruises often take intrepid travelers to sunny locales and typically stick to oceanic routes – or at least that’s the traditional expectation. AMA Waterways is doing something a bit different. Their cruises trek up and down some of Europe’s biggest rivers, dropping guests at the doorsteps of some of the most respected wine regions in the world. 

Itineraries differ from trip to trip, but excursions are consistently heavy on wine and history, two things that so often go hand in hand.

Choose from a romantic cruise up the Danube, glide up the Rhine, take the Seine around Paris and Normandy, explore the Douro and Portugal, indulge in a Taste of Bordeaux – all viable options, and those are just the beginning. Itineraries differ from trip to trip, but excursions are consistently heavy on wine and history, two things that so often go hand in hand.