• Kevin Lowe

10 Experiences You Didn't Know Existed on a Cruise!

Hold on to your bathing suits boys and girls, we're diving head-first into Summer!

Today we are celebrating all things H2O by checking out 10 surprising cruise ship experiences! Are you excited? If not, you should be!

Today's cruise excursions are diving deeper into their destinations than ever before. And with approximately 27 million people stepping aboard a cruise ship in 2018 it is no surprise that cruise lines are meeting the demand with more and more to offer their guests.

The following 10 experiences are offered by cruise lines that participate in Virtuoso Voyages - an exclusive program that offers complimentary benefits and perks to travelers who book their cruise through a Virtuoso travel advisor. Who is a Virtuoso travel advisor you ask? Simple, me!

Welcome to a new era of cruising where almost everything goes...

First up, or should I say down? Realize your James Bond fantasies with a trip on Crystal Cruises' Crystal Esprit, a 62-passenger yacht that boasts its three-person submersible as one of its water-based activities. 2 people at a time will board the vessel, expertly guided by your very own pilot as you discover the depths of the ocean to as much as 1,000 feet below the ocean's surface.

Does it just kill you to leave your furry friend at home? Well, Cunard's Queen Mary II 8-day trans-Atlantic crossing from New York City to Southampton offers as much luxury for you as it does your pup. While you lavish in rest, relaxation, and enrichment your four-legged BFF will experience VIP treatment, including a portrait session, fleece coat, and “turndown service” of freshly baked biscuits.

Thanks to my very favorite river-cruise line, AmaWaterways, you need not worry about getting in your cardio or fitness routine. As a staple on all of their ships AmaWaterways provides bicycles for shore excursions and employs dedicated wellness hosts to lead core- and circuit-training classes on board.

Raising the intellectual bar of cruising, Seabourn offers their Conversation Series where notable guests not only hold lectures, but engage with fellow guests over meals and excursions as well. Just imagine cruising with an astronaut, scholar, government official, or film maker to bring a little extra something to an already incredible cruise.

Don't you ever just want to stay out late without worry of missing the boat? Azamara has you in mind! They have perfected the overnight stay at ports of call all over the globe.

Prepare to cast away to the South Pacific for the most memorable of occasions aboard the 332-passenger Paul Gauguin. A Polynesian blessing ceremony is the most meaningful way to celebrate your love with one another. Cruise through the Society Islands – full of archeological sites, lagoons fit for snorkeling, and white-sand beaches – local onboard hosts known as Les Gauguines can bless couples in a traditional Polynesian ceremony by reciting a love poem, singing, and, after a Champagne toast, wrapping celebrants in a traditional patchwork tifaifai quilt. They’ll also teach you how to say “I do” in Tahitian, dance island-style, and make a basket out of pandanus.

Are you more the sailing type than cruising? Well, then let's go sailing! Sixteen sails bound to four masts help power the 360-foot Star Flyer, one of three throwback vessels in the Star Clipper's fleet. Friendly deckhands hoist the sails manually each time the ship leaves port. They offer knot-tying classes, ship-maneuvering lectures, and demonstrations on navigating with a sextant – a tool to measure angular distances at sea.

Often times we find exactly what we had been searching for right there, in our own backyard. If it's old Southern charm with a touch of luxury and a sense of adventure then a cruise up the Mississippi River aboard the American Queen Steamboat Company is for you. Travel from New Orleans to Memphis aboard the 436-passenger American Queen - an authentic pattlewheel river boat. Sit back and watch the Mississippi roll by from the ship’s decks, read a classic in the Mark Twain Gallery, and take in a show in the Grand Saloon.

I believe I have found for you Heaven on earth! Regent Seven Sea Cruises' ship, the Seven Seas Explorer, boasts their overly impressive Canyon Ranch Spa. Once you enter, you won't ever want to leave! Think yoga classes, seaweed wraps, hot stone massages, reflexology, and hydrotherapy features ranging from saunas to cold rooms. And don't forget that between oxygen facials and pedicures, be certain to check out the ship’s impressive art collection, including several Picassos, or learn about the healthful secrets of Mediterranean cooking in the Culinary Arts Kitchen.

And lastly, I have something for those who love food! Set sail aboard one of Windstar Cruise's culinary sailings where you will cook along side of a celebrated chef from the James Beard Foundation. These award-winning chefs will lead cooking demos, beverage pairings, and market tours.

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