All cruise lines have a busy program of activities to keep guests entertained, but premium cruise lines take their offering one step further with educative and informative enrichment programs. They allow guests to pursue a wide range of individual interests such as photography, languages, dancing and cooking. They are often tailored to the itinerary, so you’ll come away from your cruise knowing more about your favourite destinations.
Cruising will take you to some fabulous places and you want to be able to bring home some equally fabulous pictures. Onboard photography courses teach you the basics of using a digital camera, then continue onshore with expert advice about composition, lighting and balance. Dedicated photography cruises will help you develop your skills over the full journey, visiting particularly photogenic locations and working on editing and visual effects.
Cruise lines have begun to focus on high-quality, innovative food and are now encouraging passengers to participate. Onboard demonstration kitchens are world class and let passengers feel like they are really cooking in a professional kitchen. Classes will be hosted by chefs from the ship or, if you’re lucky, by one of the celebrity chefs associated with the line. Some lines encourage guests to join the chef on a market shopping expedition or sourcing local specialties. At the end of the class, you’ll eat your carefully prepared meal accompanied by matching wines.
These courses are a big hit with more mature cruisers who want to improve their basic skills, learn about social media, upload photos and interact with family and friends online. Some lines go further and teach passengers how to use the latest gadgets, such as the latest smartphones and tablets. Tech classes are designed for people with almost no background knowledge, so are a great place to start.
When in Rome…
Don’t miss the chance to step off the ship at the next port and order lunch in the local language. Language is a great way to immerse yourself in a culture and help you feel confident when exploring a new city. Lines tailor language classes to the itinerary and teach first-timers the basics or allow those with some experience to brush up on their skills.
Attend an onboard lecture and you may learn from the best in the business. Guest lecturers can be world-famous actors, film directors and musicians or experts within other fields – and even ordinary people with a passion for the subject. Most lines tailor these lectures to their destination or style of cruising, so you can learn about oceanography in Tahiti, art history in the Mediterranean or the Vietnam War on a cruise along the Mekong River.
Don’t know your starboard from your stateroom? A cruise is the perfect time to learn the basics of maritime navigation and get a peek at all the high-tech gadgets on the bridge. On some adventure sailing ships, guests can become part of the crew and climb the rigging – or swab the decks if they aren’t feeling quite so brave. You can also go behind the scenes and see how the huge kitchens and laundries work to cater to thousands of cruisers.
Passengers can get into classes on everything from knitting and embroidery to bead work, jewellery-making and scrapbooking. Classes cater for different levels of experience, so you can start from scratch or use the expert advice to hone the perfect garter stitch. There are even cruises dedicated to specific crafts, so you could spend 12 days crocheting your way around the Caribbean or quilting along the coast of Alaska.
Read all about it
A cruise is a great opportunity to catch up on your reading, but it’s also an opportunity to engage in literary discussions with your fellow passengers. Onboard book clubs often set reading lists before departure so passengers can prepare beforehand, or there will be multiple copies available in the ship’s library. Some cruises even host well-known authors for lectures and group discussions on their work.