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Today’s cruise passengers are no longer satisfied by port talks that focus more on shopping than local culture.

Contemporary cruise lines have begun to add more insightful and interesting programs to their roster of enrichment programs, and many now feature stimulating lectures and seminars at sea. Others go even further.

For a hands-on learning experience, “edutainment” is a popular shipboard pursuit. Computer courses, digital photography, cooking classes (sometimes in elaborate demonstration kitchens), wine- and cocktail-tastings, and arts workshops are growing in popularity. A small fee is usually charged for courses or supplies, but some demonstrations are free, and luxury lines may offer more free options than mainstream or premium cruise lines.

If more cerebral presentations are important to you, consider a cruise line that features stimulating seminars at sea. Speakers can include destination-oriented historians and naturalists and even popular authors. On some ships, business leaders, retired politicians and sports stars, radio and television personalities, and even movie stars may be featured lecturers.

Here is a list of our favorite cruise line enrichment programs.

Un-Cruise Adventures

  • Sails To Alaska

Why It’s Wonderful

Naturalists and expedition guides are knowledgeable about the history, cultures, and wildlife of Alaska.

Cunard Line

  • Sails To Caribbean, Europe

Why It’s Wonderful

After a trip through the heavens in the only planetarium at sea, on board Queen Mary 2 you can attend lectures presented by guest speakers on wide-ranging topics or delve into classes ranging from computer instruction to wine appreciation.

Holland America Line

  • Sails To Alaska, Caribbean, Europe

Why It’s Wonderful

Guest lecturers cover a wide range of topics and the Culinary Arts Center offers hands-on cooking classes, gourmet food presentations, and tasting events.

Crystal Cruises

  • Sails To Caribbean, Europe

Why It’s Wonderful

Discover your inner artist by learning to play piano in the Creative Learning Institute. Expert instruction and lectures can be found in the areas of arts and entertainment, business and technology, lifestyle and wellness, and wine and food.