- Whether it’s cats, heavy metal, or wrestling, theme cruises let passengers fully immerse themselves in the world of their choice.
- Themed cruises on the Norwegian Cruise Line have been top-rated, and Holland America is looking to expand its relationship with charter companies.
- Fans of this genre are among the most loyal customers in the cruise business, and they play a key role in helping to keep ships full.
It would appear that fans of Star Trek, Chris Jericho, and Broadway musicals can all find a suitably themed cruise.
Cruises have evolved into more than just a way to see the world from the comfort of a ship. Being immersed in a group of people who share your exact same passions is at the heart of this concept. The global cruise industry is worth more than $7 billion, and capitalizing on people’s enthusiasm is a growing part.
Depending on the comedian, the person sitting next to you at a typical comedy show could be a total newcomer or a die-hard supporter. There is a good chance that everyone you meet on Bert Kreischer’s “Fully Loaded at Sea” comedy cruise in October is a massive fan of Kreischer and the other performers on board.
According to Jeff Cuellar, v.p. of events, marketing, and community for Sixthman, “these cruise-goers are super-fan club members” in an interview with Insider. The upcoming comedy cruise will be run by Sixthman. In 2012, Norwegian Cruise Line acquired the company and since then, it has run cruises with themes such as heavy metal, wrestling, and “emo’s not dead.”
In recent years, thousands of vacationers have been drawn to this concept of onboard community. And now, more than ever, trips with a specific theme are selling out.
Completely Sold Out
Cuellar claims that a number of Sixthman’s bookings have sold out in record time within the past eight months. In less than five days, the hip-hop cruise Rock the Bells sold out despite not having a publicized lineup. The three-day EDSea festival, a pun on the name of the larger electronic dance music festival Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), sold out immediately despite not having announced a lineup. They’re both setting sail in November.
Sixty percent to eighty percent of passengers who take one of Sixthman’s themed itineraries end up doing so again, making these trips what Cuellar calls “annual pilgrimages.”
The group is “doing pretty darn good,” as Cuellar put it. “There is a clear need for further development and expansion, so let’s get to it. This is why we continually develop new shows.”
Sixthman has big plans for the future, including expanding the types of events it hosts and the locations it visits.
This success is shared by more than just the Norwegian Cruise Line offshoot. Star Trek, the 1980s, and the High Seas Rally (a floating motorcycle rally) are the three cruises offered by Entertainment Cruise Productions. The 2023 motorcycle rally at sea, the 2024 Star Trek cruise, and 2024 1980s cruise all have sold-out staterooms and suites. Chris Hearing, partner and executive director of the firm, told Insider that roughly two-thirds of passengers return on their same cruises every year.
It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved when passengers book a cruise again and again, and the cruise lines love hearing that guests are coming back for more of their themed itineraries.
Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and other cruise lines’ full ships are chartered by companies specializing in themed cruises so that they can host these floating celebrations. Entertainment Cruise Productions has collaborated solely with Royal Caribbean for the past few years. Naturally, Sixthman continues to support Norwegian, its parent company.
The ship, as well as services like catering and housekeeping, are provided by the cruise line. The charter service typically provides this extra-sensory “experience.” Everything from a wrestling ring on a wrestling-themed cruise to a music stage on a pool deck for a music-themed cruise.
Holland America Line is one of Carnival Corporation’s most well-known brands and is known for its high-end cruises. It also has one of the “largest full-ship charter portfolios in the industry,” according to Rob Coleman, the company’s vice president of charter, incentive, and series partnerships. Themed cruises account for about 80% of Holland America’s full-ship charters or about 20 per year on average. The majority of these trips have waitlists because they are so popular.
Over the course of a year, the cruise line collaborates with more than a dozen charter companies. Holland America plans to grow these alliances in the future; according to Coleman, several of its charterers will be brand new in 2023 and 2024.
However, it does not solely rely on third-party vendors to offer these special cruises. This storied cruise line even has its own special-themed cruises every once in a while. In other words, this won’t be as rowdy as, say, Sixthman’s “Headbangers Boat” cruise for metalheads.
About Heritage and Culinary Cruises
Heritage and Culinary cruises will be offered by Holland America beginning in 2023. In the former case, passengers will be able to celebrate the cruise line’s 150th anniversary by sailing to iconic locations around the world. Every meal on the latter will be prepared by a different celebrity chef, such as pastry chef Jacques Torres or sushi guru Andy Matsuda. In response to customer demand, Holland America is bringing back its food-focused cruises, which were originally offered in 2022.
Motorcycle rallies at sea have nothing on the variety and fun that can be had on a themed cruise, on the other hand, there is something for everyone.
Hearing predicted that the themed cruise industry would expand even more rapidly than the traditional cruise market. “The trend towards taking “experiential vacations” continues to grow in popularity. We give them exactly that.”