When you think of a cruise, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Lounging by the pool with a pina colada? Overindulging at the buffet? ... How about Garrison Keillor?
Your answer's probably a "no" on the latter, but maybe that will change. Themed cruises offer alternatives to the traditional sort ("Saw"-movie themed cruise, anyone?), and a new crop leaves us wondering if steampunk and the Caribbean just might be a hot combo.
There's something for every kind of cruiser, as these seven sailings attest:
Soul Train cruise
The "hippest trip in America" has become the "Hippest Trip at Sea."
The Soul Train cruise has proven incredibly popular, and is already fully booked for the February 2013 trip. But don't fret because there's another one during fall 2013.
The February sailing leaves from Fort Lauderdale, with stops in Turks and Caicos, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay. All the while, guests will take part in dancing and musical performances by an impressive list of entertainers: Patti Labelle, Kool & the Gang and Jeffrey Osborne are only a few.
The fall cruise's lineup already includes Gladys Knight and Earth, Wind and Fire.
Entertainment Cruise Productions, around $2,500/person
Paula Deen and Family 2013 Caribbean Cruise
Have you ever wanted to sail across the Gulf of Mexico with the queen of Southern comfort food enjoying a barbecue dinner next to you?
Now's your shot.
The "Paula Deen and Family 2013 Caribbean Cruise" ships out from Galveston, Texas, on January 27. The seven-day adventure features stops in Cozumel, Honduras and Belize.
While on board, guests will spend time with Paula, her husband Michael and son Bobby, playing live games (last year's "Newlywed Game" with Paula and Michael was a big hit), attending a jazz brunch and kicking it all off with a dessert pajama party on the cruise's first night.
Paula's recipes won't be served on board. According to the trip's organizers, Paula says they don't come out the same, but she will help with cooking demonstrations primarily led by Bobby and Michael.
Rumor has it, additional members of Paula's family including Uncle Bubba and Aunt Peggy will be aboard, too. We don't know who they are, but they sound awesome. Bon voyage, y'all.
Royal Caribbean cruise, starting at $1,477/person
'Saw at Sea'
Brave fans of the torture-thriller "Saw" movie franchise can get up close and personal with the films' stars aboard Twisted Pictures' "Saw at Sea" cruise.
The ship sets sail August 11 from New York, and continues along the Canadian coast until August 16, with stops in Saint John and Halifax. (The last six "Saw" movies were all filmed in Canada). The cruise departs soon, but there are still spots available.
Actors Costas Mandylor, Anna Greene, Ned Bellamy, Dan Yeager (who was not in "Saw" but will be in the upcoming "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3-D" movie), Rebecca Marshall and Mark Rolston will join the summer cruise, and offer events like autograph signings, a question-and-answer session and photo ops. Guests can even catch a glimpse of the infamous "Saw" Puppet, which will be lurking about.
Want to "play a game?"
Carnival cruise line. Starting at $779/person
Steampunk Cruise and High Seas Ball
The steampunk subculture got rolling in the 1980s, and soon became synonymous not only with science fiction and fantasy literature, but also metal gadgets, new technology and a whole lot of corset-wearing.