Offshore excursions aren’t the only place adventure awaits on a cruise holiday. Learning new skills on a cruise is now a common way to pass time between ports, and with good reason too.

From cooking classes with celebrity chefs to a crash course in computing, how to tango and point out the Big Dipper from the blanket of stars above the ship’s planetarium, there are lots of surprising skills you can pick up on a cruise. To get your brain going, here are 10 new things you can learn on your next cruise holiday.

How to make sushi

Onboard a cruise ship culinary events aren’t just limited to meals, they also extend to a mouth-watering array of cooking classes that put you in the chef’s hat. Many cruise ships will theme their culinary classes around their ports, while others keep things worldly no matter where you’re headed. For example, Azamara Club Cruises® offers sushi-making classes, while Norwegian Cruise Line will teach you to perfectly ice a cupcake.

Holland America Line really takes the cake – pun absolutely intended – when it comes to culinary courses. Its ships feature their very own culinary arts centres presented by Food & Wine magazine, complete with cooking classes, celebrity chef appearances and workshops that spill over to port destinations. Celebrity Cruises® offers courses in food and wine pairing, along with Masterchef-style competitions in which cruisers are paired with chefs and compete against fellow foodies over the hob.

Sip and mix

Where there’s eating there’s sure to be drinking – and on cruise ships you’ve got the chance to learn how to stir up an unexpected twist on your favourite sips. Holland America Line offers wine tasting courses, while Celebrity Cruises features Mixology 101 classes to create masterful cocktails. Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Vista even has a brewery onboard, which you can tour to learn about the beer-making process and sample some of the goods.

High-brow speakers

If you’d like nothing more than to be educated by some of the world’s leading thinkers on a cruise, then make a beeline for Cunard or Seabourn ships. Cunard regularly brings in guest speakers covering filmmakers, scientists and politicians who chat with cruisers in stimulating Q&A sessions.

Upmarket Seabourn attracts big names for its Seabourn Conversations, with experts from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, right across to famed mountain climber Paul Deegan. As Seabourn ships are so intimate, there’s every chance you’ll see the speakers at the dinner table later too.

Explore the arts

Unleash your inner artist with enrichment activities on cruises, spanning acting workshops to painting masterclasses. Doing the former extremely well is Cunard, which has a partnership with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. This talented group perform Shakespearean and other famous productions, as well as put on workshops for amateur actors. Acting workshops on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 are run by graduates of London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts too, who also regularly perform onboard.

To put paintbrush to paper, Oceania Cruises features an artist’s loft where artists-in-residence assist budding beginners and seasoned artists in everything from watercolours to oil painting. Both Seabourn and P&O Cruises also provide watercolour art classes on longer cruises.

Quickstep it to the dancefloor

If you don’t consider yourself of the Patrick Swayze persuasion in terms of dance skills, not to worry – many cruise lines offer a range of courses that cover everything from ballroom dancing to tango. Hosts are also on hand to make sure that every dancer has a partner who knows how to work their way around the floor.

Cunard – the leader in old-world glitz and glam – has cruises featuring crash courses in just about every genre you can think of, from the foxtrot to country western-style line dancing. There’s even the opportunity to strut them out on the largest ballroom at sea if you’re travelling on Queen Mary 2.

But it’s Holland America that ups the ante, with high stakes dance competitions in partnership with hit TV show Dancing with the Stars. You can compete against fellow dancers for the title of champion on your cruise. At the end of the year, all finalists will duke it out onboard a complimentary cruise holiday for the ultimate crown.

Play your best card

Wander through the shared spaces of any cruise ship and you’re sure to stumble upon tables of people playing bridge. If you’re new to the game however, you might like to get some expert tips first before joining in.

Silversea provides Bridge lectures for beginners and intermediate players to attend before you get sunk into the twice daily Contract and Duplicate Bridge sessions in their Card Room. Once you have it down to a fine art, Oceania has an American Contract Bridge League accredited master instructor onboard certain sailings to conduct classes and tournaments.

All-encompassing enrichment cruises

Taking the high seas enrichment up a notch, Princess Cruises has designed a program especially for bringing exciting courses out to the open water. They’ve partnered with Animal Planet™ and Discovery Communications™ to create the incredible Discovery at Sea™ program. It’s hands-on classes will see you learning about your destination’s ecosystem, stargazing and picking up a few style tips with a new Style at Sea series. There are also classes designed just for kids, including art projects, games and learning the secrets of their ship.

If it’s stargazing particularly you’re interested in, then Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 comes up trumps again with its onboard planetarium in the main theatre.

Get sporty

There may not be enough room onboard for a full blown football tournament, but that definitely doesn’t mean sport’s out of the question. Practice your swing at Norwegian’s driving nets, in one of Royal Caribbean®’s golf simulators or on a nine-hole course, available on ships such as Oasis of the Seas®and Navigator of the Seas®.

Other popular Royal Caribbean simulators are the FlowRider® surf simulator, where you can have a go at boogie boarding or surfing, and the RipCord by iFLY® skydiving sim. If you’re more classically inclined, Cunard gives free daily fencing lessons on the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoriaships. It doesn’t matter what level of fencing prowess you’re at, as long as you’re over 18.

In the mood to learn something new while enjoying the comfort and luxury of a cruise ship? Have a look at our new deals section for the best prices on your next cruise holiday.

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