Louise Goldsbury takes a look at the diverse range of speciality voyages available.
The union of like-minded passengers on a themed cruise provides a purpose as well as permission to mingle, so it's a holiday style that suits solo travellers as much as couples and groups. With the broadening appeal of cruising around the world, the coming year sees a greater range of options for varied interests and ages.
Film and theatre
Crystal Symphony's 14-day Caribbean cruise from New York to Miami shines the spotlight on Old Hollywood's most legendary figures. For the first time at sea, tribute artist Susan Griffiths will bring Marilyn Monroe to life on stage, and she also hosts a dinner with Monroe's fan club president, who is bound to share a few stories about the star's life.
Other productions will honour actors such as Zero Mostel, while movie marathons will run in the ship's redesigned theatre.
Presentations are planned from actress Kate Burton (daughter of Richard), a red carpet make-up artist, and the artistic director of Los Angeles' Centre Theatre Group.
Who Marilyn Monroe fans.
When November 2-16.
Cost From $US4985 ($4870) a person, twin share.
More info wiltrans.com.au.
In Australia next month, 100 people on Carnival Spirit will experience the antithesis of cruising - a fitness cruise. This shall be quite a feat on a ship with a 24-hour pizza parlour, but it compensates with a 24-hour gym. Participants undertake daily boot camp, spin, Pilates and yoga classes, and have personal trainers to advise about healthy food choices.
The group attends motivational and practical seminars, such as how to prepare for a marathon. When stepping ashore on the various south Pacific islands they are kept occupied with snorkelling, rigid inflatable boat (RIB) rides and brisk walks.
Who People with mid-level fitness seeking to stay in shape.
When April 2-11.
Cost From $1177 a person, twin share.
More info email@example.com.
River Cloud Cruises is also appealing to the active traveller with bicycle programs on river and ocean itineraries in Europe. Departing October 28, the Sea Cloud II has a special Mediterranean voyage from Malta to Spain featuring four guided cycling tours. Bikes and a support van are provided.
On the Danube, River Cloud II has a seven-night itinerary from Passau to Budapest that allows two-wheeling through wine valleys, Austria's Donau-Auen National Park and the Old Pressburg, Slovakia. The mostly flat, car-free trails have no difficult stretches, and special deals are available for children.
Who Active travellers with good balance.
When July 13-20.
Cost From $3485 a person, twin share.
More info seacloud.com.
Azamara Quest is scheduled to spend four days in Scotland for this year's British Open at Muirfield. Passengers will have the chance to attend the event as well as play on several renowned courses.
Non-golfers will enjoy Edinburgh at the peak of summer, exploring gardens, castles, shops, pubs and distilleries. Starting in Dublin, the itinerary includes Belfast, Glasgow, Invergordon and Hamburg.
Who Golf fanatics.
When July 14-24.
Cost From $3869 a person, twin share.
More info azamaracruises.com.
Wine and beer
Taste champagne on Amsterdam's canals, sip samples at six wineries, and party at Oktoberfest in Munich. Exclusive for Australians and New Zealanders, APT's first Platinum Series 15-day Magnificent Europe wine and beer cruise is hosted by French sommelier Christian Maier.
Passengers will join a masterclass on rieslings and also enjoy a cold Kolsch in Cologne and a Rauchbier at a bierhaus in Bamberg. On-board, complimentary wine and beer are served throughout the voyage.
Who Wine connoisseurs with a beer-drinking partner.
When September 28.
Cost From $7445 a person, twin share.
More info aptouring.com.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection's new itinerary on the Venice Lagoon and Po River is enhanced by its Epicurean Adventurer Program. An executive chef, who previously worked in Michelin-starred restaurants Osteria Croce Bianca and Ristorante da Orlando, will conduct cooking demonstrations.
Guests can enjoy tastings of olive oil, a special wine and food pairing event on the ship, and a private wine-tasting session onshore.
The 13-day package includes two nights in a hotel in Florence and three nights in Rome.
Who Foodies and lovers of Italy.
When July 28 and August 11.
Cost From $5394, if booked (with deposit) before March 31.
More info uniworldcruises.com.au.
Silversea's Relais & Chateaux L'Ecole des Chefs cooking school is led by a former instructor at London's Le Cordon Bleu. When the itinerary permits, a "market-to-plate" tour of a local market is followed by a hands-on cooking class, while another escorted excursion visits a local restaurant.
The all-inclusive Silver Shadow departs Tokyo on a 12-day sailing to Hong Kong, but the program is offered on several other voyages across Asia, Africa, Europe and the south Pacific.
Who Culinary whizzes.
When October 19-31.
Cost From $US5450.
More info silversea.com.
Tauck's Danube River cruise traces the lives of Mozart, Beethoven, Bartok, Schubert, Liszt, Strauss and Haydn, inspecting their homes, concert halls and palaces.
Music scholars and performers, including current doctoral candidates in music history, accompany passengers on all of these excursions.
While sharing their knowledge about each destination visited, the "maestros" present on-board music workshops and seminars as well as special performances.
Who Classical music aficionados.
When October 10-21.
Cost From $US5190.
More info traveltheworld.com.au.