The most common theme cruises you'll see listed here at Theme Cruise Finder are those developed by some type of organization and administered by a travel agency. In the search function, you will see these listed as “private”. This means that in order to participate in the described events, guests must book through the participating travel agency. General guests onboard the ship will normally be prohibited from participating in events.
These cruises might be comprised of as few as 25-30 guests, or as many as 1,000. We would encourage you to peruse the web site, or call the travel agency or organization and ask questions to determine what you can expect on board.
It is not unusual for an organization to mark up the cost of their cruise to offset the cost of putting it on, or to generate profits (or fund raising for a non-profit). Some organizations list this mark-up as a separate “participation fee”, while others choose to make it part of the overall cruise price. Keep in mind that many (but certainly not all) private cruises may include additional cruise line fees such as government taxes, port fees, fuel surcharges, gratuities as part of their overall cruise price - which is important to note if you are comparing the cruise price to the retail price out in the marketplace.
While you may pay a premium to participate in a private theme cruise, we find that the added value normally far outweighs the additional cost.
While essentially a “private” cruise, everyone on board is part of the action. Charters are typically implemented for music cruises, religious themes, alternative lifestyle and gaming tournaments. Keep in mind that ships run a vast range of sizes, so it is possible that a chartered vessel may only accommodate 200-300 guests, or as many as 3,000.
Many cruise lines develop and implement their own theme cruises to attract guests. In the Theme Cruise Finder search function, you will see these listed as "cruise line". The advantage of these type of theme cruises is that there is normally no additional cost to participate in the event. Any travel agency can book you on a cruise line oriented theme cruise.
On the negative side, everyone on board can participate making them inherently less intimate, and as such these events tend to be more seminar, speaker or musically oriented. Cruise line theme cruises tend to take place on longer voyages or low demand sailings.