Denise Mullin watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer religiously until the TV series ended four years ago. Then she watched reruns. Eventually she bought DVDs of all seven seasons. But Mullin, a truck driver from Winnipeg, Manitoba, had no one she could discuss the show with—until she stumbled upon a theme cruise for Buffy fans while surfing the Web. She took the cruise and loved it. “You immediately have something to talk about—you know, what’s your favorite episode? Who’s your favorite character?” Mullin says. “Everyone’s interested in the same thing.”
Over the past decade, Mullin and others like her have fueled a boom in cruises that cater to niche audiences. “It’s building like wildfire,” says promoter Steve Wallach, who charters motorcycle cruises to the Caribbean and more recently Bermuda. “Four years ago we only did six cruises; this year we’re doing twenty-three.” Cricket fans have a cruise. World War II vets can revisit historic battle sites during a sailing. Whatever your interest, there’s probably a ship just for you.
Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas departs Bayonne, NJ; June 17–22
On this motorcycle-friendly sailing you bring your own bike. As a perk, you can personally roll that Harley off the ship in Bermuda, where you’ll get two days to explore the island’s plentiful paved roads and pink sand beaches. Like many theme cruises, this sailing is booked by an independent promoter, ETA Cruises.
Spa of the seas
Silversea’s Silver Wind departs London, Sept. 20; ends in Barbados, Oct. 6
As seasons change, many cruise ships chase the sun, which creates “repositioning” cruises. Translation: more days at sea. Aside from deep discounts, that means extra time for coconut rubs and caviar facials on this small luxury ship. Book spa treatments online before sailing so you won’t miss shopping for wine in Lisbon.
Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas departs Galveston, TX; Aug. 19–26
Mystery theater unravels around guests who all compete to say whodunit during this tour of the Western Caribbean. Shipboard Sherlocks tend to come back year after year, says organizer Shauna Hoffman: “I’m booking one woman for her eleventh cruise. We call them repeat offenders.”
MSC Rhapsody departs Genoa, Italy, Oct. 25; ends in Durban, South Africa, Nov. 15
On the Astrology Cruise, you’ll have 22 days to explore the mysteries of the zodiac, have your tarot cards read and learn to navigate by the stars. It’s not all about astrology: Shore excursions include a spice tour of Zanzibar and a half day in Alexandria, Egypt, for shopping and a visit to a Roman amphitheater.
Holland America’s Noordam departs Seattle; Sept. 16–23
This Alaskan cruise—called Linux Lunacy VI—caters to programming geeks and lovers of Linux, the widely used open-source computer operating system. The cruise is packed with detail-oriented panels (Hidden Secrets of the TCP Protocol, anyone?) and Q&A’s with top programmers; spouse-friendly options include a floatplane tour of the fjords.
Five more sailings to consider
BUFFY ON BOARD This year, Buffy fans will share their Alaskan cruise with Seatrek, the biannual Star Trek cruise. (Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas departs Seattle; June 22–29; 954-441-8735; slayercruise.com)
FORE! Golf-mad cruisers can tee up at seven classic courses in Ireland and Scotland, including St. Andrews and the Royal Belfast links. (Crystal Symphony departs London; Aug. 20–31; 888-722-0021; crystalcruises.com)
WRITERS CROSSING Three New Yorker writers—Andy Borowitz, Anthony Lane and Adam Gopnik—join this literary jaunt to the U.K. (Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 departs New York City; Oct. 7–13; 800-728-6273; cunard.com)
SOUTH PACIFIC BOATSHOW Stars from BBC’s Antiques Roadshow offer tips you can use right away in local antiques markets during this 15-day Polynesian antiquing cruise. (Seven Seas Mariner departs Singapore, Nov. 4; ends in Sydney, Nov. 19; 877-505-5370; rssc.com)
PLAY “FREE BIRD” Lynyrd Skynyrd jams for fans from Miami to Mexico and back. (Carnival’s Imagination departs Miami; Jan. 10–14, 2008; 877-749-8462; sixthman.net)
To theme or not?
Start by contacting a travel agent. If you found your cruise online, confirm it with the cruise line providing the ship, just to be safe. Not interested in sharing a cruise? Ask your travel agent if any large groups will be onboard. To learn about RCI’s cruise options, go to cruiserci.com or call 877-724-2628.
NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.