Hobbies and the high seas

Theme cruises offer trips for people with all kinds of interests

June 18, 2006|By ARLINE AND SAM BLEECKER | ARLINE AND SAM BLEECKER,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

When cruise line pronouncements crow that cruising has something for everyone, it's no overstatement. Case in point: theme cruises.

Themed sailings attract people with a common interest that can range from the arcane to the zany.

You name it, there's probably a cruise devoted to it: quilting, race cars, golf, poker, mah-jongg, music, dance, art, food, cooking, antiquing, health, fitness, history and so on. With the advent of the Internet, it's a snap to find themes tailored to your particular proclivity.

Here's a glimpse of some theme cruises compiled from industry news and a quick Google search:

Apparently surfing the 'Net at sea is more appealing than lolling around a packed convention center, suggest Geek Cruise founders Neil and Theresa Bauman. The couple launched the first techie cruise in 2000. Since then, Geek cruises on topics such as Java and Linux, two popular software languages, have flooded the seas. Mac Mania and iPlay for iPods debuted last year. For details, visit geekcruises.com.

Would you spend $800 for a cup of coffee? Well, maybe, if it came with a cruise. Java junkies of the caffeine variety can perk up their cruise vacation alongside aficionados of the specialty coffee industry. Appealing to serious coffee enthusiasts or anyone thinking about opening their own coffee bar, coffeecruises.com is a joint venture of Portland, Ore.-based American Barista and Coffee School, Fresh Cup magazine and Coffee Fest. The cruises offer educational seminars and classes taught by the industry's top coffee professionals.

Stanley Newman's prowess solving crossword puzzles eventually led the former Wall Street executive to found the American Crossword Federation, an organization that arranges crossword puzzle cruises. The next maritime outing for puzzle solvers is a seven-day Mexican Riviera sailing on Holland America's Oosterdam, departing Jan. 6. The cruise will sail round-trip from San Diego. The cruise features individual and team competitions on board, as well as informal word and trivia games, seminars on a wide range of puzzle topics and the chance to create an original crossword.

Arline and Sam Bleecker write for the Chicago Tribune.

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