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Bucket List Adventure: ‘Dancing With the Stars’ aboard a Holland America cruise

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For many of the 2,100 or so passengers on Holland America Line’s glittery “Dancing With the Stars: At Sea” theme cruises, meeting Emmy Award-winner and five-time “Dancing with the Stars” champion Derek Hough, Kym Johnson, Joey Fatone and Sabrina Bryan is an item to check off the bucket list. In fact, for one passenger on the January 12, 2014, Champions cruise aboard the ms Nieuw Amsterdam, Johnson, the statuesque Aussie dancing pro and two-time mirror ball trophy winner was the bucket list adventure.

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“A passenger told me I was on her husband’s bucket list,” said Johnson. “He wanted to dance with me.”

While the celebs appreciate they are the adventure for some – and Johnson did oblige the husband with a dance – each has his or her own wish list item, too. Carson Kressley, the Emmy-winning television star, celebrity stylist and fashion designer, wants to shop the great cities of the world. Irish dancer Tristan MacManus fancies a visit to Australia. Fatone, perhaps best known as a member of the boyband, ’N Sync, wants to see the Northern Lights. Actress/singer Bryan, who starred in “The Cheetah Girl” movies, would love to do a two-week cruise – aboard a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship, of course – to New Zealand.

“To go to different places, to experience different cultures – it’s the spice of life,” said Emma Slater, who hopes to explore Southeast Asia. The English-born dancer/actress, who joined DWTS in 2012, also played Hen in the 2008 movie, “Mamma Mia!” “It makes us who we are.”

Talk about spice. To be one among the more than 16 million viewers who tune in weekly to watch the fancy footwork unfold on ABC’s hit “Dancing With the Stars” TV show is one thing. To see the stars perform in person from one of the less than 900 seats in the Nieuw Amsterdam’s multi-level Showroom at Sea – so close you can observe the sequins from the dancers’ costumes flying loose and scattering across the stage – is something else.

Add to this the sheer accessibility of the stars featured on Holland America cruises – dance lessons with the DWTS pros; Q&As with the stars; formal photographs with the full celebrity lineup; autograph signing sessions; a fashion show with the stars glammed up in DWTS show costumes; chance encounters all over the ship – plus a chance to weigh in on the guest competitors’ performances via the “applause-o-meter,” and you’ve got one supersized bucket list adventure.

The 2013 “Dancing With the Stars: At Sea” theme cruises culminated earlier this year on the January Champions cruise. That cruise brought together the passenger-winners from each of HAL’s 15 cruise ships to compete for the legendary mirror ball trophy. The highlight? Watching celebrity judges Hough, Johnson, MacManus, Slater, DWTS dancing pro Sharna Burgess, dancer and choreographer Jaymz Tuaileva and Nieuw Amsterdam’s cruise director, Eric Dowis, critique the competitors during several elimination performances. The stars’ interactions and Dowis’ dry, mostly off-topic observations brought down the house.

The fun continues through 2014, with “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” programming on every sailing throughout the year. Once again, the program will culminate with a Champions cruise guest dance-off competition, this year set for the Dec. 6 Caribbean sailing aboard the ms Westerdam. Additionally, there are six theme cruises this year featuring “Dancing with the Stars” events, including dance lessons, a chance to meet the stars, ask questions and take photos – and a killer production number starring the celebrities and dance pros.

Scheduled to appear on all 2014 theme cruises are dancers Johnson and MacManus and celebrities Bryan and Kressley. The schedule: June 14 and June 21, seven-day Alaska roundtrip from Vancouver aboard ms Zuiderdam; July 26 and Aug. 2, seven-day Alaska roundtrip from Seattle aboard ms Westerdam; and Nov. 29 and Dec. 6, seven-day eastern Caribbean roundtrip Ft. Lauderdale aboard ms Westerdam. Other DWTS dance pros and celebs will be added to the lineup as they are confirmed.

INFO: Holland America Cruises, www.HollandAmerica.com.

Get the adventure guide to don't-miss moments aboard Holland America Line’s ms Nieuw Amsterdam with the celebs of "Dancing With the Stars" here. You'll need to pack your dancing shoes, and plenty of others, on this cruise; get the right bag.

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