Cruises aren't all evening dresses, tuxedos and dining at the captain's table any more. We've moved on quite significantly from the traditional picture of cruises as stuffy middle-class, middle-aged affairs that you could probably only afford with a second mortgage on your house unless you were born into money.
Traditional cruise-goers may turn their noses up at the thought but you can now indulge your hobbies or passion or just get an introduction to something you've always wanted to do on a cruise. Here's just a few of the sensible or otherwise quite wacky things you can do on one.
Anyone for golf?
The thought of a golf cruise is intriguing one. How do you recover the lost balls? It seems that most of the serious golf is played on land, in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean or the Canaries for example. Nets are available on ships as well as professionals to help you improve your swing using the latest software and technology. Getting in the way of flying golf balls can be painful, but sports injuries are covered by your cruise travel insurance.
A cruise is always a good place to do a bit of gardening
I've always thought that what a ship needs is a good garden! Again, boringly, most of the gardening is done on land. Cruise lines have teamed up with organisations like the Royal Horticultural Society or Gardener's World to provide advice and workshops (take a picture or even better a video your garden). The Caribbean or the Canaries are obviously popular destinations, Norway and the Baltic are less obvious ones.
Watch the stars from the sea
A long way from cruises in the Caribbean and Canaries, but no less enjoyable, are the increasingly popular trips to Scandinavia to look at the night sky and particularly the Northern Lights. Lectures on the deck to explain the stars, planets and comets. What more could you want? Night time only I'd imagine though. you could even end up in a hotel made from ice.
Getting married at on a cruise
This is a boom industry these days. Not only can you get married on your cruise, you can have your whole honeymoon there (with all your guests!). You can also renew your vows. It seems that the old romantic notion of the ship's captain being able to marry you on the high seas is a bit of a myth. He can only do so if he is a a judge, a justice of the peace, a minister or an officially recognised official such as a Notary Public. So much for love stories then.
Not your average booze cruise
Wine was first made around 6000 BC in a region that is now Georgia and Iran. It first appeared in Europe in the Balkans in 4500 BC and was very popular in Ancient Greece and Rome. the rest, they say is history. And there's plenty of that in the Mediterranean with thriving wine industries in Spain, France, Italy and the Eastern Mediterranean (don't forget "grey wines" in North Africa either). Expect plenty of tastings and quite a bit of good food to with them.
A mini-cruise across the English Channel
OK, I know P&O is historically a cruise company, but cruises across the Channel? That must be where the term booze cruise comes from. 30 years ago, before the Channel Tunnel, ferries where quite an experience and the restrictions on duty free were so draconian that you had to wonder sometimes if it was worthwhile. With the slackening of the laws and the generalisation of car ferries, it became easy to hop over and stock up for the weekend's parties. Much less popular these days, the booze cruise seems to be dying off, the victim of cheap supermarkets here and rising prices across the sea.
Would you really want to go on these?
It takes all types I know, but how about a computer cruise? Yes, the link has been forgotten to protect the sensitive. I'm a bit of a techie, but a cruise full of geeks? Or how about a Napoleon cruise? Bird watching? (OK, apart from the seagulls, that one must be on land as well).
The variety of cruises available these days is astounding and a sign that the industry is expanding and even becoming more democratic. If you search properly, you'll be able to find the themed cruise that will suit your passion or your hobby.