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Cruise to the big events of 2012.

Plenty of us like to relax on board and explore ports when or wherever the feeling takes us. But cruises taking you to events of international standing that immerse you in the culture of a destination, or dazzle and amaze with sporting prowess, astronomical spectacles or nature’s peculiar delights offer a different type of experience.

This year brings many big events to cruise to, with a variety of itineraries offering enrichment and in-depth exploration of the surrounding regions both before and after the big event.

The Solar Eclipse, South Pacific

In the early morning of November 14, 2012, those of us situated appropriately in the South Pacific will witness a new moon aligning itself perfectly with the sun – two astronomical bodies that extraordinarily appear to be the same size from our vantage point on earth. Ring-shaped shadows will be caste across the planet as a dark moon engulfs the sun and glows with a ring of fire.

The best place to view the spectacle will be at sea. TravelQuest, Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line (HAL) are offering a number of cruises, with HAL’s 14-night ‘Solar Eclipse Voyage’ on Oosterdam including an astronomical enrichment program and eclipse-related festivities on board.

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

This year commemorates Queen Elizabeth’s 60th year on the throne so her Diamond Jubilee promises to be big one. With a concert at Buckingham Palace, a ceremony of light beacons throughout the country, a pageant at Windsor Castle and flotilla down the River Thames, the four-day event in early June offers an unmatched opportunity to experience British culture.

The quintessentially British Cunard Cruise Line will bring Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria together for a Royal Rendezvous in Southampton while smaller day-trip operators will be participating in the Thames flotilla.

Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix

The Monaco Grand Prix of Formula 1 is one of the most important events on the auto-racing calendar. The narrow course through the streets of Monte Carlo is considered the most hair-raisingly difficult of the Formula 1 circuits while the city’s sculpted mountainous terrain and yacht-studded harbour provide the perfect location for an event dripping with excitement, glitz and glamour.

Azamara Club Cruises and Silversea Cruises provide Monaco Grand Prix-themed cruises with visits to other ports in the Riviera, but you’ll need to act fast as they’re known to sell out rapidly.

& More…

Other big events this year include the Floriade World Horticultural Expo in the Netherlands (April – October); the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic Disaster (April 15); the Open Championship of Golf in Lancashire, UK (July 19 – 22); and the Rhine in Flames Fireworks and Wine Festival (August); all of which can be experienced on a cruise.