From Nudity to NKOTB: 10 Interesting Theme Cruises

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iStock

Theme cruises, by their very nature, appeal to a specific subset of the population. To everyone else, they may seem like a colossal waste of money and time. What began as a means for cruise lines to attract a few extra customers during the non-peak cruising season has grown into a booming business. Of all the theme cruises currently offered, here are 10 that caught our eye.

1. Thunder in the Tropics

Thunder Roads Magazine, in conjunction with Entertainment and Travel Alternatives, is sponsoring a Caribbean cruise for bikers this winter. The private beach party in St. Maarten, which will feature mud wrestling contests and a scavenger hunt for buried treasure, figures to be one of the highlights of the trip. From the event’s website: “This IS NOT your typical bike rally cruise.” Would your typical bike rally cruise include Thunder Bingo, with huge cash prizes, or a surfing contest on the ship’s FlowRider? We’re not sure. The cruise itinerary includes a number of other contests, as bikers will compete for the title of best beard, belly-flop, chest, and tattoo.

2. Titanic Memorial

History buffs may appreciate this cruise from April 8-19, 2012, which will retrace the itinerary of the Titanic, 100 years after the world’s largest passenger ship sank during its maiden voyage.

Guests will cruise on the Balmoral, which is operated by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, whose parent company built the Titanic.

With 1,309 passengers aboard, the same number as were on the Titanic, the Balmoral will depart Southampton, stop in Cobh, and then head for the spot where the Titanic sank. A memorial ceremony will be held between the time Captain Edward J. Smith’s vessel hit the iceberg on the night of April 14 and the time the ship went under. The cruise will continue to Halifax, Nova Scotia, home of the cemetery where 121 of the Titanic’s passengers are buried.

Lectures chronicling the ship’s history and tragic end will be provided throughout the journey, while the menu will match the Titanic’s and the entertainment will be based on music and dance from that period.

3. I Love Lucy

A cruise ship is a fitting setting to celebrate the 60th anniversary of I Love Lucy, considering a 1957 episode of the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour revealed that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s characters met on a 1940 cruise to Havana. The November 2011 I Love Lucy Cruise to the western Caribbean on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas will also commemorate the 100th anniversary of Ball’s birth. The beloved actress died in 1989.

In addition to enjoying the ship’s zip-line and rock climbing walls, guests will be treated to a birthday party (with conga band, of course), Lucy trivia, impersonation contests, and non-stop screenings of the show. Keith Thibodeaux, who played Little Ricky, will be one of several featured guests.

4. Bare Necessities

Since 1990, Bare Necessities has chartered nude cruises for those who enjoy a little extra freedom on their vacations. The company’s mission is to “provide relaxing, entertaining and health-conscious vacation opportunities that offer non-threatening, natural environments where the appreciation, wonder and compatibility of nature and the unadorned human form can occur.” When Nancy Tiemann and her husband, Tom, started the company, they booked their first trip on a small dive boat. Today, Bare Necessities cruises top more than 2,000 passengers.

Are clothes always optional? “In the formal dining room we’re clothed and also when we get out of international waters and approach a country where nudity is illegal, which is most of them,” Tiemann told The Washington Post in 2009.

5. Whodunit Mystery Cruise

Whodunit Productions offers live mystery theme cruises for amateur sleuths throughout the year. As part of the productions, which are designed to be as comical as they are suspenseful, passengers are given a role to play for the duration of the cruise when they board the ship. It is up to the individual passenger how much he or she participates in the mystery, which begins on the first night and culminates with the solution being revealed on the last day. Hired actors play the most important roles in the mystery, slipping suspicious notes under cabin doors and placing clue-filled calls to passengers’ rooms. There’s often a prize for the top sleuth. Whodunit Productions is leading a Halloween-themed mystery cruise to the Bahamas later this month.

6. Backstreet Boys and New Kids On The Block

What’s a once wildly popular boy band to do when its celebrity starts to wane? Take a cruise. That’s what the Backstreet Boys and New Kids On The Block are doing anyway. The Backstreet Boys will welcome fans on a 5-day cruise to Key West and Cozumel aboard the Carnival Destiny in December. Those lucky enough to score a ticket—the cruise sold out in a day—will be treated to BSB performances and a question and answer session with the band. The not-so-New Kids On The Block are no strangers to cruising. The group’s 2009 and 2010 cruises both sold out.

7. Scrapbooking

The Strawberry Fields Scrapbook Shop in Cape Coral, Fla., has sold out its three-night cruise to the Bahamas this November. Liz Hicks leads classes on artful adhesives and different paint mediums, among other topics. Scrapbooking theme cruises have become increasingly popular in recent years. They typically feature a mix of expert-led sessions or classes, and open crops, during which participants can share scrapbooking tips and techniques with fellow scrapbook enthusiasts.

8. Pathway to Enlightenment

Famed psychic and healer Lisa Williams, who starred on a pair of Lifetime shows from 2006-2008, invites fans to join her on a 1-week cruise to the Mexican Riviera later this month. During the trip, Williams will discuss the difference between psychic and mediumship skills, and lead hands-on practice sessions with cards, pendulums, and crystal balls. Two attendees will be randomly selected to receive a free personal 1-hour reading with Williams.

9. Twilight

In August, Twilight fans took a 4-day cruise from Seattle to British Columbia and Alaska. The voyage, which included photo shoots and autograph sessions with some of the saga’s actors and actresses, was preceded by a land excursion to Forks, Wash., a key setting in the series. Plans are already in the works for a Twilight cruise to the Mediterranean in June 2011. Earlier this year, a Deadliest Catch-themed cruise followed a similar round-trip route from Seattle to Alaska. During the cruise, Captain Keith Colburn, one of the stars of the popular Discovery Channel show, taught guests how to select, crack, and clean fresh crab.

10. SpyCruise

SpyCruise is sponsored by the Northern Virginia-based Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, a private intelligence training facility. Participants attend exclusive lectures on espionage and counterterrorism given by some of the intelligence community’s leading experts. The upcoming SpyCruise to the Caribbean will feature former CIA director Porter Goss and former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden. Attendees may receive academic credit through Henley-Putnam University and potentially write off all or part of the cost of the cruise by claiming it part of professional development.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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10 Facts About Real Genius On Its 35th Anniversary

Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Val Kilmer stars in Martha Coolidge's Real Genius (1985).
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

In an era where nerd is a nickname given by and to people who have pretty much any passing interest in popular culture, it’s hard to imagine the way old-school nerds—people with serious and socially-debilitating obsessions—were once ostracized. Computers, progressive rock, and role-playing games (among a handful of other 1970s- early '80s developments) created a path from which far too many of the lonely, awkward, and conventionally undateable would never return. But in the 1980s, movies transformed these oddballs into underdogs and antiheroes, pitting them against attractive, moneyed, successful adversaries for the fate of handsome boys and pretty girls, cushy jobs, and first-place trophies.

The 1985 film Real Genius ranked first among equals from that decade for its stellar cast, sensitive direction, and genuine nerd bona fides. Perhaps fittingly, it sometimes feels overshadowed, and even forgotten, next to broader, bawdier (and certainly now, more problematic) films from the era like Revenge of the Nerds and Weird Science. But director Martha Coolidge delivered a classic slobs-versus-snobs adventure that manages to view the academically gifted and socially maladjusted with a greater degree of understanding and compassion while still delivering plenty of good-natured humor.

As the movie commemorates its 35th anniversary, we're looking back at the little details and painstaking efforts that make it such an enduring portrait not just of ‘80s comedy, but of nerdom itself.

1. Producer Brian Grazer wanted Valley Girl director Martha Coolidge to direct Real Genius. She wasn’t sure she wanted to.

Following the commercial success of 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds, there was an influx of bawdy scripts that played upon the same idea, and Real Genius was one of them. In 2011, Coolidge told Kickin’ It Old School that the original script for Real Genius "had a lot of penis and scatological jokes," and she wasn't interested in directing a raunchy Nerds knock-off. So producer Brian Grazer enlisted PJ Torokvei (SCTV) and writing partners Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz (Splash, City Slickers) to refine the original screenplay, and then gave Coolidge herself an opportunity to polish it before production started. “Brian's original goal, and mine, was to make a film that focused on nerds as heroes," Coolidge said. "It was ahead of its time."

2. Martha Coolidge’s priority was getting the science in Real Genius right—or at least as right as possible.

In the film, ambitious professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton) recruits high-achieving students at the fictional Pacific Technical University (inspired by Caltech) to design and build a laser capable of hitting a human-sized target from space. Coolidge researched the subject thoroughly, working with academic, scientific, and military technicians to ensure that as many of the script and story's elements were correct. Moreover, she ensured that the dialogue would hold up to some scrutiny, even if building a laser of the film’s dimensions wasn’t realistic (and still isn’t today).

3. One element of Real Genius that Martha Coolidge didn’t base on real events turned out to be truer than expected.

From the beginning, the idea that students were actively being exploited by their teacher to develop government technology was always fictional. But Coolidge learned that art and life share more in common than she knew at the time. “I have had so many letters since I made Real Genius from people who said, 'Yes, I was involved in a program and I didn’t realize I was developing weapons,'" she told Uproxx in 2015. “So it was a good guess and turned out to be quite accurate.”

4. Val Kilmer walked into his Real Genius audition already in character—and it nearly cost him the role.

After playing the lead in Top Secret!, Val Kilmer was firmly on Hollywood’s radar. But when he met Grazer at his audition for Real Genius, Kilmer decided to have some fun at the expense of the guy who would decide whether or not he’d get the part. "The character wasn't polite," Kilmer recalled to Entertainment Weekly in 1995. "So when I shook Grazer's hand and he said, 'Hi, I'm the producer,' I said, 'I'm sorry. You look like you're 12 years old. I like to work with men.'"

5. The filmmakers briefly considered using an actual “real genius” to star in Real Genius.

Among the performers considered to play Mitch, the wunderkind student who sets the movie’s story in motion, was a true genius who graduated college at 14 and was starting law school. Late in the casting process, they found their Mitch in Gabriel Jarrett, who becomes the third generation of overachievers (after Kilmer’s Chris and Jon Gries’s Lazlo Hollyfeld) whose talent Hathaway uses to further his own professional goals.

6. Real Genius's female lead inadvertently created a legacy for her character that would continue in animated form.

Michelle Meyrink, Gabriel Jarret, Val Kilmer, and Mark Kamiyama in Real Genius (1985).Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Michelle Meyrink was a staple of a number of ‘80s comedies, including Revenge of the Nerds. Playing Jordan in Real Genius, she claims to “never sleep” and offers a delightful portrait of high-functioning attention-deficit disorder with a chipper, erratic personality. Disney’s Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers co-creator Tad Stones has confirmed that her character went on to inspire the character of Gadget Hackwrench.

7. A Real Genius subplot, where a computer programmer is gaming a Frito-Lay contest, was based on real events.

In the film, Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite) plays Lazlo Hollyfeld, a reclusive genius from before Chris and Mitch’s time who lives in a bunker beneath their dorm creating entries to a contest with no restrictions where he eventually wins more than 30 percent of the prizes. In 1969, students from Caltech tried a similar tactic with Frito-Lay to game the odds. But in 1975, three computer programmers used an IBM to generate 1.2 million entries in a contest for McDonald’s, where they received 20 percent of the prizes (and a lot of complaints from customers) for their effort.

8. One of Real Genius's cast members went on to write another tribute to nerds a decade later.

Dean Devlin, who co-wrote Stargate and Independence Day with Roland Emmerich, plays Milton, another student at Pacific Tech who experiences a memorable meltdown in the rush up to finals.

9. The popcorn gag that ends Real Genius isn’t really possible, but they used real popcorn to simulate it.

At the end of the film, Chris and Mitch build a giant Jiffy Pop pack that the laser unleashes after they redirect its targeting system. The resulting popcorn fills Professor Hathaway’s house as an act of revenge. MythBusters took pains to recreate this gag in a number of ways, but quickly discovered that it wouldn’t work; even at scale, the popcorn just burns in the heat of a laser.

To pull off the scene in the film, Coolidge said that the production had people popping corn for six weeks of filming in order to get enough for the finale. After that, they had to build a house that they could manipulate with hydraulics so that the popcorn would “explode” out of every doorway and window.

10. Real Genius was the first movie to be promoted on the internet.

A week before Real Genius opened, promoters set up a press conference at a computer store in Westwood, California. Coolidge and members of the cast appeared to field questions from press from across the country—connected via CompuServe. Though the experience was evidently marred by technical problems (this was the mid-1980s, after all), the event marked the debut of what became the online roundtable junket.