In recent weeks, cruise lines have released a number of new food and enrichment cruise itineraries, from culinary tours of French waterways to educational experiences of the architecture of Southeast Asia.

Enrichment cruises offer a world of war and peace, art, film, architecture, astronomy, sport and philosophy with on ship experts expanding your mind for proper appreciation of locations on your journey.

Voyages to Antiquity has just announced 10 cruises around the Orient aboard the 378-passenger ‘Aegean Odyssey’. Expert speakers will be lifting the lid on politics, art and architectural history at cruise destinations in India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunie. The 15 to 21 day voyages include the 16-day ‘Wonders of India and the Maldives’ on November 14, 2012, the 15-day ‘Singapore and Burma, lands of contrasts’ on December 6, 2012, and the 20-day  ‘Passage to Sri Lanka and India’ on March 7, 2013.

Crystal Cruises is also offering the pleasures of cerebral expansion with its 2012 Europe cruises. Speakers include peace activist Arun Gandhi, founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute of Nonviolence and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and, to balance the scales, General Anthony Zinni, a four-star US Marine Corps general and former commander in chief of US Central Command. Astronaut Mark Kelly, Emmy Award-winning casting director Jeff Greenberg and Congresswoman Gabby Giffords are also on the bill. The “Local Insights’ program will also bring aboard local European dignitaries and experts to provide insider information on local life and customs.

For those who find the delicate strum of their taste buds far more enriching, however, there is no shortage of culinary cruise itineraries.

Particularly enticing is Tauck’s new river cruise on the Rhone. The 10-day ‘A Taste of France’ itinerary begins with a two-day gastronomic tour of Paris before taking participants on a seven-night cruise through the Rhone Valley aboard Tauck’s rivership MS Swiss Emerald. Experiences include a workshop and blind tastings highlighting ‘The Joy of Chocolate’ in Paris and evening dinner, supplemented by local wines and entertainment in the shadow of the Roman aqueduct Pont Du Gard.

Additional culinary cruise offerings include Captain Cook Cruises’ four-night Fiji master class cruise with Kiwi Celebrity Chef Simon Gault on August 14, 2012; new food- and wine-themed shore excursions for Silversea passengers in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe this northern summer; and two cruises in P&O Cruises UK’s new 2013 programme featuring celebrity chefs Marco Pierre White and Atul Kocchar, along with wine expert Olly Smith.