There’s more to cruise holidays than visiting exotic locations, soaking up the sun, watching spectacular shows in the theatre, or even bingo and trivia quizzes.
You can take up a brand new hobby, or learn more about astronomy, art and antiques; even learn to dance like the contestants on Strictly.
Here are a few suggestions for a life-changing experience in the New Year:

Creative writing

Ever dreamt of writing your memoirs, trying your hand at poetry or creating your own fictional characters? Turn yourself into a writer in 2010 with Swan Hellenic’s creative writing workshop onboard The Venetian Republic cruise. While travelling around the Ionian and Adriatic Seas on board Minerva, there will be plenty of inspiration as you attend introductory workshops and interactive lessons covering topics such as travel and history. For the keenest passengers, one-to-one sessions will be available for further guidance and tuition. From Pompeii to Sicily, Venice to Dubrovnik and Athens, potential writers will not be short of inspiration.
In conjunction with the course, Swan Hellenic will be running a competition for the best piece of fiction or non-fiction writing and the winner will have their article published in the Swan Hellenic Journal. The cruise departs September 9 2010 and fares start from £1,925 per person.
Photography
Want to improve your skills with a camera? Then join Fred Olsen’s Boudicca for a cruise to the Canary Islands with expert photographer and professional painter, Alan Boyd. As well as offering one to one advice on your personal camera skills, Alan will present a series of talks on the historical and contemporary use of the lens in art. Boudicca departs Liverpool on March 23 and travels to destinations including Casablanca, Santa Cruz and Las Palmas. Fares from £1,189 per person, based on an inside twin bedded cabin with all food, entertainment and participation in Artsclub photography included.
Astronomy
If you’ve always been fascinated by outer space, then where better than a ship at sea – away from the city lights – to look further and deeper into the cosmos? Hurtigruten is organising an astronomy-themed cruise with talks by special guest astronomer, Ian Ridpath. Sailing from Tromso to Kirkenes, high above the Arctic Circle, you might even get a chance to see the magical Northern Lights. The three-night voyage departs on February 17 and prices start from £985 per person including return flights from Heathrow, three nights half board on the ship, one night bed and breakfast in Tromso.
Dancing and music
Learn some new dance styles or pick up a new musical talent with Costa Cruises. Music and dance enthusiasts will love this opportunity to broaden their artistic flair while soaking up the ancient cultures of Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt on an 11-night Return to the Holy Land cruise. Departing from Civitavecchia, Italy onboard Costa Pacifica, passengers can enjoy dance classes at beginner level or above, as well as music lessons playing a variety of instruments from guitar to the piano and the drums. Passengers can even record their own personal CDs in the on-board recording studio. Dates available: December 27, January 18, February 9 and March 3, with fares starting at£479, (flights extra).
Life Enhancement
Princess Cruises offers a ScholarShip@Sea programme on board an American-style luxury cruise ship, for a unique personal enrichment experience where you can learn a wealth of new talents from cookery to computer classes, history lectures and finance lessons, A sample itinerary for 2010 is the 14-day Mediterranean Medley cruise, which calls at Seville, Alghero, Rome and Gibraltar with fares starting from as £1,099 per person.
Visit www.discover-cruises.co.uk for more details and inspiration.