Types of Cruises - Educational Cruises
The idea of mixing education and a vacation is not a new one, but the concept is growing in popularity.
More and more cruise lines, particularly the niche cruise lines, are offering more in the way of educational experiences than ever before.
We’re not talking about “theme cruises” where you get to indulge your hobby like dancing to the sound of the big bands, practicing yoga, or playing bridge all day long if you so wish.
Educational cruises are a completely different kettle of fish.
Educational cruises are at the heart of the cruise lines who offer them.
AMERICAN CRUISE LINES, for example, specifically created to explore the inland and coastal waterways of the magnificent Eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida invites carefully selected experts to join passengers onboard. Through informal lectures, open discussions and activities, they bring local history, nature and culture alive with their knowledge and passion for American heritage.
HURTIGRUTEN, whose ships sail the spectacular fjord-filled west coast of Norway carrying cargo and passengers from Bergen to Kirkenes and back, also has the idea of education at the heart of the cruise concept.
All voyages on Hurtigruten's MV Fram, for example, sport a team of experts and specialists acting as hosts together with the other crew members. The team is specially tailored to focus on culture and history in Europe, wildlife, geology and glaciology and historical expeditions in Antarctica; while in Greenland there is a focus on the indigenous peoples and their history, the icebergs and the beautiful Arctic flora.
In fact, so important is the educational aspect of these cruises, all itineraries have a built-in flexibility enabling the Captain to make 'on the spot' adjustments depending on weather conditions, ice conditions and extraordinary occasions such as during whale watching or spontaneous landings in the untouched wilderness of our remote destinations.
STAR CLIPPERS also offers a unique cruising adventure. Often tailored to the sailing enthusiast, lectures tend to take a nautical theme. Every day the ship's captain gives a lecture on deck with topics ranging from navigation to the history of tall ships. Throughout the cruise other officers and shipboard staff lecture as well, on everything from knot tying to how tall ships work. Ocean Crossings offer an expanded guest lecture program, and passengers are invited to present lectures as well.
Star Clippers' resident marine biologist, Mariano Peruzzo, sails on Royal Clipper and gives daily talks and presentations to guests on marine biology relevant to the ship's itinerary. In addition to the educational program, Peruzzo is available to guests throughout each day as he continues his research on local marine environments.
Some cruise lines and tour operators stick people on a boat or a bus give a cursory explanation of the sights and call it educational. Not so with IMPERIAL RIVER CRUISES, a New York-based supplier of river cruises and specialized travel services in Russia and the Ukraine. Besides river and sea voyages that include all meals and accommodations, its tours include fully licensed academic lecturers who are experts on the sights and places visited.
Educational cruises also take on a less intense format, however, but are no less educational for that.
Catering to those who want some education in the arts, FRED OLSEN CRUISE LINES offers “The ArtsClub” giving passengers the opportunity to develop or find an interest in subjects as varied as antique collecting, dancing, photography, gardening, wine tasting or history.
And for those interested in culinary matters, CRYSTAL CRUISES has their perennially popular Crystal Wine & Food Festival, REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES their Le Cordon Bleu Circles of Interest cruises, and HOLLAND AMERICA LINE their Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine. And OCEANIA CRUISES is well known for its culinary cruises with well-known chefs.
And for those wanting to explore the healthier side in education COSTA CRUISES offers the Holistic Holiday at Sea with renowned teachers and authors and more than 50 workshops on vegan and macrobiotic cooking, massage, meditation and health.
The idea is to find the topic that most interests you and which you would really like to explore in more detail than the 1 hour special on the Discovery Channel - and then do your research. The result is that you will come back from your cruise refreshed and better informed. A winning combination.
photo: MV Fram - courtesy Hurtigruten