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From Nudity to NKOTB: 10 Interesting Theme Cruises

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.

Today is October 10, 2010—10.10.10! To celebrate, we've got all our writers working on 10 lists, which we'll be posting throughout the day and night. To see all the lists we've published so far, click here.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
Michael Campanella/Getty Images
Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 


PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios

"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole

How Apple's '1984' Super Bowl Ad Was Almost Canceled

More than 30 years ago, Apple defined the Super Bowl commercial as a cultural phenomenon. Prior to Super Bowl XVIII, nobody watched the game "just for the commercials"—but one epic TV spot, directed by sci-fi legend Ridley Scott, changed all that. Read on for the inside story of the commercial that rocked the world of advertising, even though Apple's Board of Directors didn't want to run it at all.

THE AD

If you haven't seen it, here's a fuzzy YouTube version:

"WHY 1984 WON'T BE LIKE 1984"

The tagline "Why 1984 Won't Be Like '1984'" references George Orwell's 1949 novel 1984, which envisioned a dystopian future, controlled by a televised "Big Brother." The tagline was written by Brent Thomas and Steve Hayden of the ad firm Chiat\Day in 1982, and the pair tried to sell it to various companies (including Apple, for the Apple II computer) but were turned down repeatedly. When Steve Jobs heard the pitch in 1983, he was sold—he saw the Macintosh as a "revolutionary" product, and wanted advertising to match. Jobs saw IBM as Big Brother, and wanted to position Apple as the world's last chance to escape IBM's domination of the personal computer industry. The Mac was scheduled to launch in late January of 1984, a week after the Super Bowl. IBM already held the nickname "Big Blue," so the parallels, at least to Jobs, were too delicious to miss.

Thomas and Hayden wrote up the story of the ad: we see a world of mind-controlled, shuffling men all in gray, staring at a video screen showing the face of Big Brother droning on about "information purification directives." A lone woman clad in vibrant red shorts and a white tank-top (bearing a Mac logo) runs from riot police, dashing up an aisle towards Big Brother. Just before being snatched by the police, she flings a sledgehammer at Big Brother's screen, smashing him just after he intones "We shall prevail!" Big Brother's destruction frees the minds of the throng, who quite literally see the light, flooding their faces now that the screen is gone. A mere eight seconds before the one-minute ad concludes, a narrator briefly mentions the word "Macintosh," in a restatement of that original tagline: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.'" An Apple logo is shown, and then we're out—back to the game.

In 1983, in a presentation about the Mac, Jobs introduced the ad to a cheering audience of Apple employees:

"... It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM-dominated and -controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?"

After seeing the ad for the first time, the Apple audience totally freaked out (jump to about the 5-minute mark to witness the riotous cheering).

SKINHEADS, A DISCUS THROWER, AND A SCI-FI DIRECTOR

Chiat\Day hired Ridley Scott, whose 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner had the dystopian tone they were looking for (and Alien wasn't so bad either). Scott filmed the ad in London, using actual skinheads playing the mute bald men—they were paid $125 a day to sit and stare at Big Brother; those who still had hair were paid to shave their heads for the shoot. Anya Major, a discus thrower and actress, was cast as the woman with the sledgehammer largely because she was actually capable of wielding the thing.

Mac programmer Andy Hertzfeld wrote an Apple II program "to flash impressive looking numbers and graphs on [Big Brother's] screen," but it's unclear whether his program was used for the final film. The ad cost a shocking $900,000 to film, plus Apple booked two premium slots during the Super Bowl to air it—carrying an airtime cost of more than $1 million.

WHAT EXECUTIVES AT APPLE THOUGHT

Although Jobs and his marketing team (plus the assembled throng at his 1983 internal presentation) loved the ad, Apple's Board of Directors hated it. After seeing the ad for the first time, board member Mike Markkula suggested that Chiat\Day be fired, and the remainder of the board were similarly unimpressed. Then-CEO John Sculley recalled the reaction after the ad was screened for the group: "The others just looked at each other, dazed expressions on their faces ... Most of them felt it was the worst commercial they had ever seen. Not a single outside board member liked it." Sculley instructed Chiat\Day to sell off the Super Bowl airtime they had purchased, but Chiat\Day principal Jay Chiat quietly resisted. Chiat had purchased two slots—a 60-second slot in the third quarter to show the full ad, plus a 30-second slot later on to repeat an edited-down version. Chiat sold only the 30-second slot and claimed it was too late to sell the longer one. By disobeying his client's instructions, Chiat cemented Apple's place in advertising history.

When Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak heard that the ad was in trouble, he offered to pony up half the airtime costs himself, saying, "I asked how much it was going to cost, and [Steve Jobs] told me $800,000. I said, 'Well, I'll pay half of it if you will.' I figured it was a problem with the company justifying the expenditure. I thought an ad that was so great a piece of science fiction should have its chance to be seen."

But Woz didn't have to shell out the money; the executive team finally decided to run a 100-day advertising extravaganza for the Mac's launch, starting with the Super Bowl ad—after all, they had already paid to shoot it and were stuck with the airtime.

1984 - Big Brother

WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE THOUGHT

When the ad aired, controversy erupted—viewers either loved or hated the ad, and it spurred a wave of media coverage that involved news shows replaying the ad as part of covering it, leading to estimates of an additional $5 million in "free" airtime for the ad. All three national networks, plus countless local markets, ran news stories about the ad. "1984" become a cultural event, and served as a blueprint for future Apple product launches. The marketing logic was brilliantly simple: create an ad campaign that sparked controversy (for example, by insinuating that IBM was like Big Brother), and the media will cover your launch for free, amplifying the message.

The full ad famously ran once during the Super Bowl XVIII (on January 22, 1984), but it also ran the month prior—on December 31, 1983, TV station operator Tom Frank ran the ad on KMVT at the last possible time slot before midnight, in order to qualify for 1983's advertising awards.* (Any awards the ad won would mean more media coverage.) Apple paid to screen the ad in movie theaters before movie trailers, further heightening anticipation for the Mac launch. In addition to all that, the 30-second version was aired across the country after its debut on the Super Bowl.

Chiat\Day adman Steve Hayden recalled: "We ran a 30- second version of '1984' in the top 10 U.S. markets, plus, in an admittedly childish move, in an 11th market—Boca Raton, Florida, headquarters for IBM's PC division." Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld ended his remembrance of the ad by saying:

"A week after the Macintosh launch, Apple held its January board meeting. The Macintosh executive staff was invited to attend, not knowing what to expect. When the Mac people entered the room, everyone on the board rose and gave them a standing ovation, acknowledging that they were wrong about the commercial and congratulating the team for pulling off a fantastic launch.

Chiat\Day wanted the commercial to qualify for upcoming advertising awards, so they ran it once at 1 AM at a small television station in Twin Falls, Idaho, KMVT, on December 15, 1983 [incorrect; see below for an update on this -ed]. And sure enough it won just about every possible award, including best commercial of the decade. Twenty years later it's considered one of the most memorable television commercials ever made."

THE AWFUL 1985 FOLLOW-UP

A year later, Apple again employed Chiat\Day to make a blockbuster ad for their Macintosh Office product line, which was basically a file server, networking gear, and a laser printer. Directed by Ridley Scott's brother Tony, the new ad was called "Lemmings," and featured blindfolded businesspeople whistling an out-of-tune version of Snow White's "Heigh-Ho" as they followed each other off a cliff (referencing the myth of lemming suicide).

Jobs and Sculley didn't like the ad, but Chiat\Day convinced them to run it, pointing out that the board hadn't liked the last ad either. But unlike the rousing, empowering message of the "1984" ad, "Lemmings" directly insulted business customers who had already bought IBM computers. It was also weirdly boring—when it was aired at the Super Bowl (with Jobs and Sculley in attendance), nobody really reacted. The ad was a flop, and Apple even proposed running a printed apology in The Wall Street Journal. Jay Chiat shot back, saying that if Apple apologized, Chiat would buy an ad on the next page, apologizing for the apology. It was a mess:

20-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

In 2004, the ad was updated for the launch of the iPod. The only change was that the woman with the hammer was now listening to an iPod, which remained clipped to her belt as she ran. You can watch that version too:

FURTHER READING

Chiat\Day adman Lee Clow gave an interview about the ad, covering some of this material.

Check out Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld's excellent first-person account of the ad. A similar account (but with more from Jobs's point of view) can found in the Steve Jobs biography, and an even more in-depth account is in The Mac Bathroom Reader. The Mac Bathroom Reader is out of print; you can read an excerpt online, including QuickTime movies of the two versions of the ad, plus a behind-the-scenes video. Finally, you might enjoy this 2004 USA Today article about the ad, pointing out that ads for other computers (including Atari, Radio Shack, and IBM's new PCjr) also ran during that Super Bowl.

* = A Note on the Airing in 1983

Update: Thanks to Tom Frank for writing in to correct my earlier mis-statement about the first air date of this commercial. As you can see in his comment below, Hertzfeld's comments above (and the dates cited in other accounts I've seen) are incorrect. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Frank, in which we discuss what it was like running both "1984" and "Lemmings" before they were on the Super Bowl!

Update 2: You can read the story behind this post in Chris's book The Blogger Abides.

This post originally appeared in 2012.

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