People often find they have time on their hands during a cruise, particularly on sea days or during longer itineraries and many cruise lines offer guests the chance to learn a new skill or deepen their knowledge.
The options are endless, ranging from astronomy to film, bridge, computer and cooking classes, wine-tasting to history – often tying in with the region in which the ship is sailing.
Information on enrichment classes can be found in the ship’s daily planner and many of those on offer are included in the fare price.
In addition, cruises often operate sailings dedicated to a particular subject, with a professional or celebrity speaker.
Emerald Cruises and Scenic Cruises are two operators that are running themed gastronomy cruises, with reality TV star and chef Ben Robinson, best known for his appearances on Below Deck, joining Emerald in Europe on 28 October 2023 and in the Caribbean on 2 March 2024. Guests will have to opportunity to taste his food, watch demonstrations and ask questions.
Meanwhile, Raymond Blanc OBE joins Scenic on a culinary sailing in France this October, demonstrating his cooking, answering questions and signing books.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ enrichment programme is called Signature Experiences, where classes range from learning to play the ukulele, learning to dance or singing in a choir.
The company’s ships Borealis and Bolette have purpose-built studio space where guests can take part in painting and drawing classes and learn new crafts such as block-printing.
Ambassador Cruise Line runs art and craft classes and a book club on sailings of six nights or more. On selected cruises a photographic expert is on board to help guests improve their skills, while the operator also runs an ‘In Conversation with …’ programme with a celebrity guest speaker or performer, including questions from the audience.
Among Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ enrichment programme is the option for guests to trace their family heritage with genealogists from Ancestry.com.
Cunard’s Insights enrichment programme, meanwhile, offers talks, seminars and discussions by well-known historians, explorers, top diplomats, politicians, scientists and other notable experts.
Sample enrichment cruises
BBC weather presenter Carol Kirkwood joins Hurtigruten’s MS Maud in May 2024, where she’s scheduled to do a talk and Q&A session. The ship departs Dover on 26 April 2024 for a round-Britain cruise. Carol joins on 4 May in Douglas, Isle of Man, and will stay on board until the end of the cruise at Dover.
Explora Journeys runs The Book Club, on occasional sailings of ship Explorer I, featuring a particular book relating to the region in which the ship is journeying, culminating in a reading with the author.
Wildlife presenter Michaela Strachan will join the Fred Olsen Cruise Lines ship Bolette’s Intrepid Beauty of Africa and the Indian Ocean itinerary in January 2024, where she’ll host talks and accompany guests on tours in Cape Town.
P&O Cruises is running three wellness cruises in the Med with health expert Cherry Healey in 2024. She’ll be joined by stylist Kat Farmer, make-up artist Hannah Martin and fitness coach Sarah Gorman and guests can find out how to improve their mental and physical health, with advice on skin care, make-up, fitness and meditation.
Wine enthusiasts can sign up to a new itinerary in France with AmaWaterways, called Flavours of Burgundy, which starts in 2024. Guests travel along the Saone River between Dijon and Lyon, visiting vineyards along the way.