Want to learn to play the piano or become a cordon bleu cook? Sign up for classes on a luxury cruise, suggests Helen Hutcheon
PASSENGERS on a leisurely sea voyage have time to learn a new skill or brush up on an old one and edutainment is the new buzz word in the cruise industry. Shipboard lectures cover much more than information about the next port of call and napkin-folding demonstrations have been superseded by courses in everything from antique hunting to celestial science.
Crystal Cruises is top of the class with its Creative Learning Institute and Computer University@Sea. On selected sailings of Crystal Symphony and the company’s flagship, Crystal Serenity, there are complimentary workshops for aspiring actors, cabaret performers and fashion designers. Other workshops cover art history, calligraphy, Chinese brush painting, woodblock printing, interior decorating and event planning.
At the writing workshops, passengers are encouraged to pen their autobiographies or develop plots for children’s books and whodunits.
Yamaha piano lessons are on the curriculum, as are Berlitz language classes in Cantonese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Norwegian, Russian and Spanish. Specialists from the Cleveland Clinic hold health and wellness seminars.
My generation of journalists trained on typewriters and a carbon paper copy was our idea of a print-out. I was still plodding away on my trusty Remington when I joined Crystal Symphony in Barcelona for a cruise around the Mediterranean in 1998 and that is when I graduated from the Computer University@Sea.
Computer classes will be held throughout Crystal Serenity’s 108-day 2008 world voyage, which departs Los Angeles for London on January 19 next year and calls at Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns and Darwin. There is an hourly fee for private tuition.
Golf has shot to the fore in edutainment. Silversea Cruises — Silver Wind, Silver Cloud, Silver Whisper and Silver Shadow — has a hard-to-beat Silver Links program on some of its most glamorous itineraries throughout Europe, the Caribbean and Mexico. Complimentary clinics are held on board, with optional shore excursions to worldclass golf courses with the ship’s pro.
Passengers aboard Silver Whisper’s seven-day Mediterranean Medley from Monte Carlo to Barcelona, which departed last week, for example, will have had the opportunity to play at the Sainte Maxime Golf Club in St Tropez, Fregate Golf Club in Marseille and Majorca’s Club de Golf Son Vida. Did someone mention a gin and vodka martini, shaken not stirred, at the 19th hole?
Exploring ports with like-minded, new-found friends will be one of the bonuses for enrolling in what Regent Seven Seas Cruises calls a Circle of Interest during Seven Seas Voyager’s 10-night cruise from Dover to Nice on September 12.
Marta Wendlinger, an American expat living in Spain who founded One2One Fashion, will conduct the Style Circle, which costs $US250 ($311) to join and covers everything from how to camouflage figure flaws and choose the most flattering colours to the best lengths for skirts and jackets.
When the ship docks in Barcelona on September 21, Wendlinger’s exclusive group will sashay ashore for serious shopping along Passeig de Gracia.
There’s another Circle of Interest on this voyage that will appeal to male and female passengers: a cordon bleu cook- ery class. It costs $US395 and includes a market tour with the chef when the ship is in Bordeaux on September 15.
Dinner guests back home are sure to be impressed with Le Cordon Bleu chef’s hat and apron that graduates will receive at a gala presentation ceremony.
Holland America Line turned up the heat when it launched the first culinary arts centre aboard Ryndam in 2004. The whizzbang purpose-built show kitchen, now a hallmark of the HAL fleet, resembles a movie set. Film of the free one-hour cooking demonstrations by resident and visiting celebrity chefs is beamed on to overhead plasma screens so the audience, in theatre-style seating, can get an up-close look. The performances also go live-to-air on the ship’s TV channel for passengers who want to watch in the comfort of their staterooms.
Michael Bloise, the ItalianVietnamese executive chef at Wish, a dining hotspot in The Hotel Miami Beach, will be on board Statendam when the 1258-passenger liner sails from Sydney to Auckland on November 4 during its third extended trans-Tasman season. Bloise will also hold workshops that cost about $US25. Early bookings for these and RSSC’s Circles of Interest are recommended.
Orion Expedition Cruises, which showcases some of the most remote destinations in Australia, has a formidable line-up of speakers for the Art of Ancient Arnhem Land 10-night round cruise from Darwin, departing September 6. They include Howard Morphy, director of the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research at the Australian National University, and Frances Morphy, an ANU research fellow fluent in the Yolngu language of East Arnhem Land.
As Orion’s expedition program coordinator Justin Friend says, arriving by sea at seldom-visited Aboriginal art centres is a great alternative to travelling long distances over rough roads. Passengers in the market for the authentic bark and canvas paintings on sale at these outposts will have expert advice on what to buy.
Howard Morphy is the author of Ancestral Connections: Art and an Aboriginal System of Knowledge and Colin Laverty, whose collection of indigenous art has been exhibited in galleries around the world, is taking part in Orion’s enhancement program.
You don’t have to attend lectures to put leisure time to good use at sea. Cunard’s new Queen Victoria, which will visit Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Port Douglas next February on her maiden world voyage, will have a twostorey library with a spiral staircase and 6000 titles.
Look and learn: Silver Cloud glides under London’s Tower Bridge; Silversea and many other luxury cruise companies offer specialised educational experiences
Top end: See Aboriginal art and craft on an Orion cruise to Arnhem Land