About Dining

I’ve been cruising for over 40 years. “Back in the day” a special event on a cruise was Bingo or a horse race. Then it evolved into “The Newlywed Game” and “The Quest”.

Cruisers have gotten much more sophisticated and also used to the same old activities and events. With that in mind, cruise lines have devised special programming with big name entertainment, musical themes, and food and wine events to lure passengers. Here is just a sample:


Leading the way in Food and Wine themes are the River Cruise companies. They have proved so popular that more dates are added every year. Avalon, AMA, Uniworld, and Viking all offer these cruises.

Mirroring the current trend, the Beer sailings have proved to be the most popular.

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However, the ocean cruises are also getting in on the action. Celebrity has announced Top Chef at Sea, featuring contestants from the hit Bravo show along with challenges, special menus and activities. I recently sailed on the Celebrity Summit and really enjoyed the Top Chef challenge. The Celebrity Reflection has a November 14th sailing that will feature 6 top contestants from the series along with “meet and greet” opportunities, challenges, and meals by the contestants. It is a foodies’ dream come true.


Cunard led the way here with celebrity guests. I remember enjoying Chita Rivera and Rita Moreno years ago on the QEII. And then there was the presentation on the Queen Mary 2 by Marnie Nixon, who was the singing voice for famous actresses such as Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn.

Cunard Insights™ is an enrichment program that offers talks, seminars and discussions by well-known historians, explorers, top diplomats, politicians, scientists and other notable experts. Among the upcoming guests are award winning international broadcaster, author and writer Jane Corbin as well as Tonia Bern-Campbell who is an internationally acclaimed actress, singer and author.

Seabourn, a luxury cruise line, recently announced an impressive speaker line-up for 2015-2016. Among the notables is Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, former CBS new anchor Dan Rather and Forbes Media chairman and editor-in-chief Steve Forbes. They will not only give presentations for passengers, but may potentially participate in other aspects of the cruise, including dining and onshore events.


Many of the cruise lines have had success with theme nights from the various decades that are done regularly on each cruise. And Royal Caribbean‘s largest ships such as Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas have staged musicals such as Hairspray.

Cunard recently announced that Crosby, Stills & Nash will be performing a series of exclusive concerts on board the Queen Mary 2 during her September 4th transatlantic crossing.

River cruises take advantage of the European capitals they visit by offering shore excursions featuring concerts. A recent favorite of mine from Avalon Waterways was a concert in Vienna featuring Strauss, Shubert and Mozart.


Cruise lines aren’t the only ones taking advantage of current interests. With the popularity of Downton Abbey, visits to Highclere have become increasingly popular.

Tourism Ireland has partnered with HBO to showcase “Game of Thrones” locales for the second year in a row. In addition to cheeky promotions (“dragon’s eggs” at local markets), official signage points the way to filming locations throughout Northern Ireland.

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In Scotland, visitors are keen to follow the trail of the time-traveling female protagonist of the “Outlander” series. Visit Scotland has created an interactive map to mark film locations.

A popular tour on Danube river cruises is visiting landmarks in Strasbourg made popular by the hit movie The Sound of Music.

Holland America has much success with its Dancing with the Stars at Sea program. Every sailing features complimentary dance classes with the ship’s professional dancers and dance competitions. Winners with the highest score from each ship win a free ocean view stateroom to compete for the Mirror ball Trophy and title of Dancing with Stars: At Sea Champion. Some sailings have previous contestants and pros from the show.

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Which special interest travel would appeal to you the most? Whatever your special interests are, you can find a cruise or tour to help you enjoy it more thoroughly.

Call Diane Ross at Kingsbridge Travel to plan your next adventure.

813 972-3400 in Tampa and toll free at 877 223-4030