The old cliché about cruises, that the ships are filled with senior citizens playing shuffleboard and sleeping in deck chairs, is just that, an old cliché. Today, international cruise lines offer a wide variety of trips and outings directed towards various kinds of people and interests.
In fact, in economic "tough times," these packaged theme cruises are among the best travel bargains around. They have another advantage that is quite valuable to some travelers, and that is a degree of control over the people you will meet and shared interests that will make your meeting them all the more exciting.
Themes of all kinds
Among the most popular offerings are the "theme" and "special interest" cruises, also known as "lifestyle" cruises. These include specifically oriented excursions for families, the GLBT community, nudists, singles, seniors and honeymooners, as well as cruises for the disabled. In addition to cruises offered directly by the cruise ship lines many other special trips are put together by private groups that then lease the ships for the event.
Many cruise packages are all-inclusive, but it is important to read everything in the agreement before signing on and climbing aboard. There are other cruises that operate on a "menu" basis, meaning features and benefits are selected from an "a là carte" list and paid for individually. It is up to you to decide for yourself whether or not this is a good deal for you.
Making the plan
Of course, among the easiest ways to get a better price on a cruise package is to go with another person, or even a group. Room rates decrease dramatically when there are more people booking together. In yet another example of "the Internet to the rescue," there are now Web sites where travelers post their exploration plans and solicit other peoples' interest in coming along on various cruises, often at bargain rates, too.
There are many options to explore when deciding just where in the world you want to go, as there are always cruises headed for every possible destination. You can even take the lead for your next school reunion or interest club outing and start designing a custom cruise of your own. As you begin to develop others' interest and see the potential for getting a group of more than a dozen paying passengers, you can contact various cruise lines and travel agencies to see about putting your own customized package together.
In this age of "custom commerce" the theme cruise is just another way for people with common interests to form an "economic bloc" to negotiate terms with another commercial interest (the cruise line). Bring more people to the party, and you can expect greater and greater deals and discounts. Once you successfully put together one package, who knows? Perhaps you will have so much fun you want to start your own vacation planning firm – or buy an ocean liner and be the captain of your own seagoing funship!