7 Coolest Behind-the-Scenes Excursions

by  Kristen O'Neal | Dec 18, 2015
Highclere Castle
Highclere Castle / Flickr / Gill Griffin

If you love immersing yourself in the worlds of your favorite films and binge-worthy TV series, many cruise lines now offer obsessed travelers the ultimate fandom experience: specialized excursions and tours of popular or iconic film and TV show locations. Here are the seven best ways you can step onto the big or silver screen:

1. "Downton Abbey"
Port: London, England
Line: Viking River Cruises
Guests on this "Explore More" jaunt receive an exclusive tour of Highclere Castle, the real-life Downton Abbey. Sip Champagne and absorb Highclere's rich history as you tour the main hall, dining room, library, and sitting rooms that double as sets for the TV series. Afterward, walk the property and parklands. (This is an extension of the "Paris & the Heart of Normandy" cruise, which includes round-trip train fare between Paris and London on the Eurostar, three nights in an Oxford hotel, daily breakfasts, and three guided tours.)

2. "Game of Thrones"
Port: Belfast, Ireland
Line: Holland America Line's Prinsendam and Rotterdam
"Game of Thrones" (GoT) devotees can finally experience the world of the cult HBO hit — without all the murder and mayhem. This Holland America Experience visits Northern Ireland's 17th-century Castle Ward Estate, which serves as the show's land of Winterfell. Try your hand at archery, watch an exclusive clip of GoT special effects, and have a photo op with actual GoT costumes.

3. "Lord of the Rings"
Port: Tauranga, New Zealand
Line: Royal Caribbean International
Using a little movie magic, this famed franchise turned New Zealand's naturally beautiful vistas into Middle Earth. During this 4.5-hour excursion (which includes walking 0.4 mile over hills), you can take a guided tour and visit Hobbiton, the actual site where scenes in the trilogy were filmed. Bilbo Baggins' Hobbit Hole is even available as a backdrop for photos. Prices start at $150 per adult and $100 per child.

4. "Jurassic Park"
Port: Kauai (Nawiliwili), Hawaii
Line: Carnival Cruise Line
Countless movies and TV shows have been filmed on the gorgeous Hawaiian island of Kauai, including "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Lost," "Gilligan's Island," and "Hawaii Five-0." This six-hour guided tour (via air-conditioned minibus) features lots of movie trivia, visits to several location sites — including waterfalls and beaches — as well as sweeping scenic views you'll recognize from "Jurassic Park." Prices, including lunch, start at $170 per adult and $130 per child.

5. "Roman Holiday"
Port: Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
Line: Holland America Line
Fans of the iconic film follow the route Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck's characters did, first spending a whimsical day in Rome. In addition to visiting well-known monuments, you can try gelato, eat at the restaurant where the characters dined, and see a replica of the Vespa they rode.

6. "The Sound of Music"
Port: Linz, Austria
Line: AmaWaterways, partnered with Disney Cruise Line
This Adventures by Disney cruise of the Danube River features options to explore Salzburg with "The Sound of Music"-focused itineraries. One such tour features several urban film locations, followed by a trip to the town of Mondsee to visit Mondsee Abbey and the cathedral where Maria and Captain von Trapp were married in the film.

7. "Ghost Hunters"
Port: Seattle, Washington
Line: Norwegian Cruise Line
This Syfy show is definitely niche, but it's spawned 10 seasons of paranormal intrigue. The Ghost Hunter's Cruise only sails a few times a year (including around Halloween), but cast members of spin-off shows guide cruisers through some of the spookiest spots in remote locations along the Alaskan coastline.

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