Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Want to hear a history professor bring ancient Greece to life or learn how to make a mean shrimp scampi? Look for cruises with great enrichment programs. The Crystal Cruises Creative Learning Institute lets you use your time to sharpen your mind or your skill set. Passengers can take a series of seminars ranging from personal wellness sessions led by Cleveland Clinic doctors to painting and sculpture classes. Or, through the Crystal Visions program, you can listen to lectures from well-known authors, politicians, scientists and others. (Hugh Downs and James Carville have been on past lineups.)
Crystal and Seabourn are luxury cruise lines, and you'll pay a premium for the experience. Prices start at $10,000 per person for the Baltic Sea cruise. Booking a 12-day segment of a 2016 Crystal cruise of the Pacific that includes Creative Learning Institute classes recently started at $4,395 per passenger.
But you don't have to be on a high-end ship with an intensive enrichment program to feed your brain -- or your stomach. Holland America features cooking classes through its Culinary Arts Center, such as demonstrations of how to make jerk chicken on a Caribbean cruise. And prices for Holland America cruises aren't as lofty as those for the luxury lines; many are available for less than $1,000. Princess Cruises' ScholarShip@Sea program includes lectures, wine tastings and art-history presentations (extra charges may apply for certain activities).
Get the Best Deal on a Cruise
For the best deal, hop aboard when a ship relocates. These so-called repositioning cruises might ferry you from Boston to Florida or from New York across the pond to England. You'll spend more time on board and pay a reduced fare, but you'll have to make your own arrangements to get home. Recently, a 13-night repositioning cruise on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas leaving from Boston in October and arriving in Florida started at $949 per person. Royal Caribbean ships offer a wealth of activities. You'll find mini golf, rock climbing and exercise classes on the line's Brilliance of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.
(Lisa Gerstner is an associate editor and Susannah Snider is a staff writer at Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.)
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