5 Cruise Lines for Cultural Cruising Experiences

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Ovation of the Seas pandas

Today’s cruise lines continue to up the ante on creative opportunities for groups on land and at sea. From innovative food and film pairings, to onboard art exhibits and port excursions, here’s a roundup of the latest cultural cruising experiences.

Celebrity Cruises

A multi sensory “A Taste of Film” experience has recently debuted on three of Celebrity Cruises’ Millennium Class ships, marking one of many new innovations for the cruise line. Taking place on the Rooftop Terrace, groups can enjoy film presentations paired with cuisine that complements the movie. The first film selection is “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” which tells the story of a feud between two adjacent restaurants, one Indian and one French, in a small French town.

“A Taste of Film activates all the senses to create a fully immersive and transportative experience,” says Chef Cornelius Gallagher who created the multi-course tasting menu that accompanies the film screening. “When the movie starts, groups enjoy Indian-inspired dishes such as beef filet Bombay with mango pickle. Then, when the setting transitions to France, they will savor items such as truffled mushroom risotto, or bites of Valrhona chocolate cake with sweet vanilla Chantilly.”

Royal Caribbean International

The first-ever kinetic moving sculpture at sea is braving the waves on Royal Caribbean International’s Ovation of the Seas, soon to become the largest cruise ship ever to homeport in Hong Kong. Handcrafted from fiberglass, the “Sky Wave” installation pivots and curves to mimic the flow of wind and water. Groups aboard the vessel can also enjoy an 11,000-piece, $4.5 million art collection, showcasing destination-inspired artwork from around the world. Highlights include a 33-foot panda and cub sculpture called “Mama and Baby,” perched atop Deck 15, and an ideal spot for the proverbial selfie.

Ovation will offer a season of five premium cruises to destinations such as Japan and Thailand. The 16-deck vessel recently completed its 52-day maiden voyage from Europe to Tianjin, China. RCI’s Ovation of the Seas comes at the heels of two other recently debuted vessels, Anthem of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas.

Azamara Club Cruises

An Overnight Adventures program launched with Azamara this year, which allows groups to enjoy immersive two- and three-day land excursions during their international cruise. The program plunges groups into the unique culture and character of the destinations where they port. Options include visiting the ancient temples of Bagan in Yangon, Myanmar, which has 3,000 temples and monuments dating back to 849 AD. An Overnight Adventure in Oman is also on offer, featuring an evening of dancing and barbecue at a Bedouin camp, followed by a night in a resplendent tent.

Silversea Cruises

Silversea has announced three new Culinary Expedition Voyages on the 132-guest Silver Explorer for late 2016 and 2017, which combine cultural exploration with culinary events. Voyages include exploring the west coast of South America, with the opportunity to fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines of Peru. Other highlights include savoring a pisco sour cocktail at one of Lima’s top restaurants, set in the ancient ruins of a pyramid, observing an indigenous ritual in Chile’s Atacama Desert, and dining in a 16th century monastery in Peru. For those hoping for a mix of naughty and nice, Silversea also has a wellness edge.

Crystal Cruises

One of many new developments with Crystal is the river cruise ship, the Crystal Mozart, aims to push the envelope for onboard tech. The ship’s 219 sf S-class suites are all equipped with iPads on the bedside table that allow groups to operate the television, call room service, check the weather, book an excursion or change the temperature in the cabin. The tablets can also be used throughout the ship to watch on-demand movies or browse excursion itineraries from anywhere onboard. Other tech touches include a touchscreen panel for adjusting lights, and setting “do not disturb” or “make up my room” indicators. Even the bathroom is replete with state-of-the-art tech and has a range of programmable settings.

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