from opera to gardens, the best themed cruises
Whether you’ve taken 10 cruises or are contemplating your first, a themed cruise is a great way to combine your passion with dream destinations. What mad-keen gardener could resist a cruise that takes in Monet’s gardens at Giverny, private tours of French and English estates and a day at the Chelsea Flower Show?
Gardening, golf, music and wineappreciation are among the most popular themed cruises but you can also find itineraries specialising in cinema, quilting and even the stock market. There are experts on board hosting workshops and giving lectures, tailored shore excursions and fellow passengers to bond with over your shared interest. Here are a few to inspire your holiday plans…
Fitness and wellbeing
RIVER: Cycling around cities or alongside Europe’s waterways is all the rage on river cruises and some lines now offer canoeing, hiking, Segway and jogging tours as well. APT’s new cycling cruises on its Bordeaux itineraries are designed for all levels of ability, from novices to the super-fit. Distances vary from 18 to 100km and guides take you through villages, vineyards and unspoilt towns. All bike tours are graded by length, intensity and duration and support vehicles follow “just in case”. See www.aptouring.co.nz, phone 0800 278 687.
OCEAN: Wellness is the buzzword of the moment. Silversea Expeditions runs “Wellness Expedition” voyages dedicated to improving your health while you explore South-East Asia and the South Pacific. Off-ship activities can include hiking, scuba diving and kayaking; on board, you can take classes in yoga, Pilates, stretch and aquarobics with nutritionists and lifestyle consultants. See silversea.com, phone 0800 701 427.
RIVER: As its name suggests, Botanica World Discoveries specialises in cruises and tours focusing on gardens, led by expert botanical guides. Art and architecture are part and parcel of Botanica’s itineraries, which are designed by the company’s director, Judy Vanrenen, a very well-travelled garden enthusiast and author.
In 2018, the 12-day cruise-land package that visits Monet’s garden at Giverny and London’s Chelsea Flower Show starts in Paris on May 17. The seven-night Seine cruise on APT’s AmaLyra includes tours of exquisite gardens in Normandy and Napoleon Bonaparte’s Château Malmaison, famed for the roses planted by Josephine. In England, you will spend five days exploring some of the country’s outstanding historic homes and gardens.
OCEAN: Botanica runs gardenthemed cruises on APT’s small ships in Asia, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. As on the river cruises, you’re accompanied by a botanical guide and cruise director, who host excursions and present lectures on board. Perennial favourites include cherry blossom cruises to Japan and South Korea; castles, gardens and wildflowers in Scotland and Norway; and romantic palaces and gardens in Italy and Croatia. Visit botanica.travel, phone 0800 525 300.
“Favourites include cherry blossom cruises to Japan; castles, gardens and wildflowers in Scotland.”
RIVER: If you enjoy all things cultural, check out the music and art cruise Australian radio host Christopher Lawrence is taking in June 2018 on Germany’s Elbe River. The eight-night itinerary will feature museums and galleries as well as music events. High notes are performances at Berlin’s Philharmonie and Konzerthaus, opera at the Berlin State Opera and a concert at Lobkowicz Palace in Prague.
Elbe Princesse is a new CroisiEurope ship and this cruise sails from Berlin to Prague. She only holds 80 passengers so you may want to book soon. See renaissancetours.com.au, phone 0800 403 621.
OCEAN: José Carreras is headlining this October’s Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts on board Radiance of the Seas as part of his farewell tour. The world-famous tenor will be joined by stars from musical theatre, opera and classical music, including renowned maestro David Giménez. The seven-night round-trip cruise from Sydney calls at Noumea and the Isle of Pines. See bravo2017.com.
RIVER: In Europe you are surrounded by Roman ruins, gothic cathedrals and ornate palaces but a history-themed cruise offers a much more detailed perspective. This year, Uniworld has two new itineraries for history buffs.
The Monarch Collection is all about European royalty and celebrates the 300th anniversary of Empress Maria Theresa’s birth. You’ll be invited to a concert and dinner in a Renaissance palace and join a princess for drinks in her castle, among other one-off events.
Jewish Heritage cruises cover the gamut of Jewish history from the Middle Ages to World War II and modern times. Historians and knowledgeable local guides will take you to sites that will make you weep and others that will inspire you. See uniworld.com/nz.
OCEAN: Learn how to trace your family history on Queen Mary 2’s A Journey of Genealogy in November 2018. Experts from Ancestry will be on board the transatlantic crossing, holding workshops, presenting lectures and revealing fascinating facts about selected guests and ship’s officers. See cunardline.com.au.
“Local guides will take you to sites that make you weep.”
The majestic Lofoten Islands in Norway. BELOW: Cycling in Bordeaux, France.
Cycling around Europe
A delightful garden bench at the Chelsea Flower Show in England.
Pfalzgrafenstein Castle on the Rhine River in Germany.
Join José Carreras