From Nudity to NKOTB: 10 Interesting Theme Cruises

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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.

10 Reusable Gifts for Your Eco-Friendliest Friend

Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
DecorChic/Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

By this point, your eco-friendly pal probably has a reusable water bottle that accompanies them everywhere and some sturdy grocery totes that keep their plastic-bag count below par. Here are 10 other sustainable gift ideas that’ll help them in their conservation efforts.

1. Reusable Produce Bags; $13

No more staticky plastic bags.Naturally Sensible/Amazon

The complimentary plastic produce bags in grocery stores aren’t great, but neither is having all your spherical fruits and vegetables roll pell-mell down the checkout conveyor belt. Enter the perfect alternative: mesh bags that are nylon, lightweight, and even machine-washable.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Animal Tea Infusers; $16

Nothing like afternoon tea with your tiny animal friends.DecorChic/Amazon

Saying goodbye to disposable tea bags calls for a quality tea diffuser, and there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t be shaped like an adorable animal. This “ParTEA Pack” includes a hippo, platypus, otter, cat, and owl, which can all hang over the edge of a glass or mug. (In other words, you won’t have to fish them out with your fingers or dirty a spoon when your loose leaf is done steeping.)

Buy it: Amazon

3. Rocketbook Smart Notebook; $25

Typing your notes on a tablet or laptop might save trees, but it doesn’t quite capture the feeling of writing on paper with a regular pen. The Rocketbook, on the other hand, does. After you’re finished filling a page with sketches, musings, or whatever else, you scan it into the Rocketbook app with your smartphone, wipe it clean with the microfiber cloth, and start again. This one also comes with a compatible pen, but any PILOT FriXion pens will do.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Food Huggers; $13

"I'm a hugger!"Food Huggers/Amazon

It’s hard to compete with the convenience of plastic wrap or tin foil when it comes to covering the exposed end of a piece of produce or an open tin can—and keeping those leftovers in food storage containers can take up valuable space in the fridge. This set of five silicone Food Huggers stretch to fit over a wide range of circular goods, from a lidless jar to half a lemon.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Swiffer Mop Pads; $15

For floors that'll shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.Turbo Microfiber/Amazon

Swiffers may be much less unwieldy than regular mops, but the disposable pads present a problem to anyone who likes to keep their trash output to a minimum. These machine-washable pads fasten to the bottom of any Swiffer WetJet, and the thick microfiber will trap dirt and dust instead of pushing it into corners. Each pad lasts for at least 100 uses, so you’d be saving your eco-friendly friend quite a bit of money, too.

Buy it: Amazon

6. SodaStream for Sparkling Water; $69

A fondness for fizzy over flat water doesn’t have to mean buying it bottled. Not only does the SodaStream let you make seltzer at home, but it’s also small enough that it won’t take up too much precious counter space. SodaStream also sells flavor drops to give your home-brewed beverage even more flair—this pack from Amazon ($25) includes mango, orange, raspberry, lemon, and lime.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Washable Lint Roller; $13

Roller dirty.iLifeTech/Amazon

There’s a good chance that anyone with a pet (or just an intense dislike for lint) has lint-rolled their way through countless sticky sheets. iLifeTech’s reusable roller boasts “the power of glue,” which doesn’t wear off even after you’ve washed it. Each one also comes with a 3-inch travel-sized version, so you can stay fuzz-free on the go.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Countertop Compost Bin; $23

Like a tiny Tin Man for your table.Epica/Amazon

Even if you keep a compost pile in your own backyard, it doesn’t make sense to dash outside every time you need to dump a food scrap. A countertop compost bin can come in handy, especially if it kills odors and blends in with your decor. This 1.3-gallon pail does both. It’s made of stainless steel—which matches just about everything—and contains an activated-charcoal filter that prevents rancid peels and juices from stinking up your kitchen.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Fabric-Softening Dryer Balls; $17

Also great for learning how to juggle without breaking anything.Smart Sheep

Nobody likes starchy, scratchy clothes, but some people might like blowing through bottles of fabric softener and boxes of dryer sheets even less. Smart Sheep is here to offer a solution: wool dryer balls. Not only do they last for more than 1000 loads, they also dry your laundry faster. And since they don’t contain any chemicals, fragrances, or synthetic materials, they’re a doubly great option for people with allergies and/or sensitive skin.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Rechargeable Batteries; $40

Say goodbye to loose batteries in your junk drawer.eneloop/Amazon

While plenty of devices are rechargeable themselves, others still require batteries to buzz, whir, and change the TV channel—so it’s good to have some rechargeable batteries on hand. In addition to AA batteries, AAA batteries, and a charger, this case from Panasonic comes with tiny canisters that function as C and D batteries when you slip the smaller batteries into them.

Buy it: Amazon

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5 World War I-Era Tips for Celebrating Thanksgiving in Strange Times

Thanksgiving Day menu from November 1917 at Fort D. A. Russell in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Thanksgiving Day menu from November 1917 at Fort D. A. Russell in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
National World War I Museum and Memorial

The year 2020 has been one of hardships, sacrifices, and reimagined traditions. As the United States enters the holiday season with COVID-19 cases at a record high, this reality is more undeniable than ever.

Thanksgiving may look different for many people this year, but it won’t be totally unprecedented. Whether you’re connecting with people remotely, entertaining a smaller group, or trying out a new menu, you can find guidance in the records of Thanksgivings past.

As a 1918 newspaper article from the National World War I Museum and Memorial’s archives reads, “The thanks of the Yanks may differ this year from that of peace-time Novembers, but [...] the spirit of the day is always the same, however much the surroundings may differ."

Americans celebrating Thanksgiving at home and abroad during World War I had to deal with food shortages, being away from family, and, in 1918, a global pandemic. Mental Floss spoke with Lora Vogt, the World War I Museum’s curator of education, about what people making the best of this year’s holiday can learn form wartime Thanksgiving celebrations.

1. Mail Treats to Loved Ones.

Thanksgiving postcard from 1918.National World War I Museum and Memorial

Even when separated by great distances, families found ways to share food on Thanksgiving a century ago. “We have all of these letters from service members saying thanks for the candy, thanks for the cakes, thank you for the donuts—all of these foods they were sent from their loved ones when they couldn't be together,” Vogt tells Mental Floss.

If you're spending Thanksgiving apart from the people you love this year, sending them a treat in the mail can be a great way to connect from a distance. Just remember that not everything people mailed to each other during World War I belongs in a modern care package. “I would suggest you forgo the live chickens,” Vogt says. “The USPS has been through so much this year already.”

2. Try a New Recipe.

Food shortages made ingredients like sugar, wheat, and red meat hard to come by during World War I. In 1918, the U.S. government released a cookbook titled Win the War in the Kitchen, which featured ration-friendly recipes. Americans aren’t dealing with the same food shortages they saw during World War I (or even March 2020) this Thanksgiving, but an unconventional celebration could be the perfect excuse to recreate a dish from history. Some recipes from Win the War in the Kitchen that could fit into your Thanksgiving menu include corn fritters, lentil casserole, carrot pudding, Puritan turkey stuffing, and maple syrup cake with maple syrup frosting. You can find the full digitized version of the book at the National World War I Museum’s online exhibit.

3. Depart From Tradition.

This year is the perfect opportunity to break the rules on Thanksgiving. That means instead of sitting down to a stuffy dinner at a set time, you could enjoy a relaxed day of eating, drinking, and binge-watching. This excerpt from a 1918 letter written by serviceman James C. Ryan to his mother may provide some inspiration:

"Had Thanksgiven [sic] dinner at Huber's over in Newark. Collins was in Cleveland on a furlough and Huber and his wife was alone with me [...] Started off with a little champagne and I certainly did put away an awfull [sic] feed. Had several cold bottles during the day and after coming back from a movie we had a few and some turkey sandwiches."

“Starting off with a little champagne does not sound like a bad plan,” Vogt tells Mental Floss. “And it was very much a small pod. They have their variation of Netflix, and then turkey sandwiches at the end of the day. Certainly some similarities and some inspiration there.”

Thanksgiving festivities were also unconventional for soldiers serving overseas in World War I. While stationed "somewhere in France" on November 29, 1918, Hebert Naylor wrote to his mother describing a Thanksgiving with two big meals—and not a turkey in sight:

“We came back and had breakfast at 10 o’clock. It consisted of pancakes, syrup, bacon and coffee. We had the big dinner at 4:30 PM and I tell you it was quite a dinner to be served to so many men. It consisted of baked chicken, creamed corn, french fried potatoes, lettuce, pie, cake and coffee. This was the first pie and cake I had since I left home and believe me it tasted good.”

4. Find Normalcy Where You Can.

Thanksgiving 1918 for the 79th Aero Squadron at Taliaferro Field, Hicks, Texas.National World War I Museum and Memorial

No matter what your Thanksgiving looks like in 2020, making room for a couple of traditions can provide much-needed comfort in a year of uncertainty. Even people celebrating during wartime 100 years ago were able to incorporate some normalcy into their festivities. On November 29, 1917, serviceman Thomas Shook wrote about seeing a football game while at army training camp: “In the afternoon several of us went to the Army vs. Ill. U. football game. There sure was some crowd. Army lost the game first they have lost.”

Keeping some classic items on the menu is another way make the day feel more traditional. Army trainee Charles Stevenson wrote to his grandmother on Thanksgiving 1917: “We had about the best dinner I ever ate today—turkey, cranberry sauce and cranberries, fruit salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, tea and mine [sic] pie. Pretty fine eating for the soldier bosy [sic].”

5. Share What You’re Thankful For.

During the Great War’s darkest moments, some service members were still inspired to express gratitude when Thanksgiving rolled around. Thomas Shook wrote in a letter to his parents dated November 28, 1918 that after surviving the war, he had now escaped the Spanish Flu that was infecting many of the men he served with. Despite the hardships he endured, he was thankful to have been spared by the virus and be on his way home.

Wherever you are this Thanksgiving, sharing what you’re grateful for with loved ones—even if it’s by phone, Zoom, or a handwritten letter—is a simple way to celebrate the holiday.