Whether you're a veteran of multiple trans-Atlantic crossings or have yet to set sail on your first weekend party cruise to the Bahamas, there's plenty to learn about the history of cruise ships and the culture of cruising. Don't worry if you're prone to seasickness. Only one of these cool cruise-themed museum exhibits is not on dry land.
Five Cool Cruise Exhibits
Titanic Attractions: 5 Cool Cruise Ship Exhibits
"Nobody expects to see a giant cruise ship on the second floor of a museum," says Woody Graber of Miami Children's Museum. But once they get over the surprise, kids are welcome to board the two-story, interactive Carnival Cruise Ship exhibit and try their hands at doing everything from reading maps and charting a course for a giant ship to doing the limbo and getting dressed up in sequined outfits to sing and dance in an onboard show.
We're near the end of a year-long centennial tribute to the April 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic, yet the fascination with the doomed ship and its passengers is unabated. An Australian billionaire recently announced plans to build Titanic II, a full-scale recreation of the original cruise ship. And attendance remains strong at the Branson, Missouri and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee branches of the Titanic Museum Attraction. Co-owner Mary Kellogg says that's due in part to the addition of new Titanic artifacts, a gallery dedicated to the children who were on the ship and themed events such as a Titanic book fair and monthly Titanic Princess Tea Parties.
Opened in May 2012 and still bobbing along, Abandon Ship: Stories of Survival at the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia details the aftermath of a variety of marine catastrophes. A canvas-covered cork life vest from the Titanic is on display, along with the modern-day life vest worn by one of two Virginia Beach residents who survived the grounding of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy in January 2012. For the exhibit, the local couple shared chilling evacuation stories and photos snapped during the ship's evacuation.
Throughout the summer, a photo and text-rich exhibit about the history of cruising in Alaska is installed onboard each of the Princess Cruise line vessels that visits the Land of the Midnight Sun. Created by the Alaska State Museum, Then & Now: 100 Years of Cruising Alaska's Waters gives modern-day visitors an idea of what early steamship "excursionists" experienced and what they might have seen when they sailed these same waters. "It offers nice contrasts and, in some cases, similarities," said Robert Banghart, chief curator of the Alaska State Museums.
A major new interactive exhibition titled "Castle on the Sea – A Holiday on a Cruise Ship" opens at the Rotterdam Maritime Museum on April 6. Visitors will be invited to relax in deck chairs by the "pool," take a twirl around a ship's dance floor and sing along with the karaoke version of "The Love Boat" theme before taking a seat at the captain's table for an imaginary multi-course dinner. For historical context, the exhibition includes photographs and artifacts found in the museum's collection, including intricately detailed models of early cruise ships and passages taken from travel diaries of early cruise passengers.