By Anita Dunham-Potter Travel columnist
updated 3/27/2009 1:09:41 PM ET 2009-03-27T17:09:41

What’s a brocation cruise? It’s a vacation cruise that gathers a number of male friends for some manly bonding time at sea. It’s also a cruise that dudes can appreciate as it doesn’t leave the testosterone at the dock, and there are more of them than you might think.

Look past the spa treatments and the umbrella drinks, and you’ll find that some cruises offer plenty of opportunities to celebrate such traditionally male pursuits as golf, baseball, wine guzzling, fishing, swimming with big fishes, round-the-clock eating and — alas — gawking at bikini-clad women.

Here is a list of brocation cruises and cruise lines that offer some activities for the flock of dudes at sea.

Bro-Venture
Want to swim with the really big fishes? Then jump in a Zodiac and hang out with some gray whales. You can do that when you take a small-ship cruise to Baja California, Mexico’s wild side, with Lindblad Expeditions, the world leader in adventure cruising. Not feeling quite that manly? Then you can do your whale watching from the ship. Other activities include hiking along miles of uninhabited beaches and desert sands, kayaking in pristine waters, snorkeling among reef fish and sunset beach barbecues.

Bro-Golf
You can’t practice your drives off the back of the ship anymore, but many cruise lines are adding many more golf opportunities to their itineraries. For example, golfers can play a variety of beautiful and challenging courses throughout the Caribbean, Canada, Hawaii, Mexico and Europe on select cruises offered by Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Lines.

A number of cruises also offer the services of a certified golf professional, who conducts private lessons, specialty golf clinics and putting contests; accompanies golfers on golf excursions; and organizes golf tournaments. Some ships offer “V1 Digital Coaching System”, a swing-analysis software that captures the golfer’s swing and puts it up on a split screen for analysis and comparison with legendary golfers and the hotshots on tour. Additionally most cruise lines offer rentals of equipment — everything from clubs to shoes.

Bro-Pirate
It’s as close to a pirate’s life as you are likely to get: standing in the crow’s nest 50 feet above deck. And Captain Jack Sparrow would be mighty envious of the 420-foot Royal Clipper, the biggest of the world’s tall ships and the largest vessel in Star Clipper’s fleet. The ship carries just 227 passengers, and the best news is that it’s a hands-on experience. Passengers can help hoist the sails, steer the ship — even clamber up the rigging to the crow’s nest. For connoisseurs of sail cruising, the Royal Clipper offers the ultimate seagoing experience.

Bro-Fan
Baseball fans can step up to the plate on MSC Cruises Poesia’s sports-themed itineraries in the Caribbean. In fact, they can rub elbows with some of the greatest players to have ever taken the field on cruises that depart in late 2009 and into 2010. Each baseball-themed cruise includes free interactive activities with the players, including a player-hosted trivia game in which passengers test their baseball knowledge, question-and-answer sessions with the players, and a bull session where players talk freely about themselves, other players, and the game. Players will also host pitching, hitting and defensive strategy clinics for guests. Perhaps the most popular activity is the free autograph session at the end of the cruise.

Bro-Spa
OK, me hearties, the spa may not seem like the manliest place on the ship, but look at it this way: Chicks dig soft and kissable skin. Luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises has designed a “Time for Men” therapy menu exclusively for men, offering a masculine focus on what was once primarily feminine territory. Treatments include a pro-collagen shave, frangipani hair conditioning, skin IQ facial and aroma stone therapy massage. What? You don’t know what that means? Well, pluck up your courage, man! Go find out.

Bro-Wine
This fall Cruise West offers an unusual wine experience, taking its 138-passenger Spirit of Yorktown from San Francisco on three- and five-day cruises up the Napa River and Sacramento Delta for a great Napa Valley wine experience. Activities include winery tours, hot air balloon rides, local history and wine seminars, as well as expert wine-tasting tips. I think we can all drink to that.

Bro-Fishing
There’s just something about guys bonding over fish stories. Virtually every cruise to Alaska, the Caribbean and Mexican Riviera offers fishing excursions. In Alaska, there are fishing trips in every port with opportunities to catch king salmon, coho salmon and Halibut. In the Caribbean, (depending upon the island) fish for bonefish, sailfish, wahoo, grouper, snapper, and tuna. In the Mexican Riviera port stops of Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan manly guests have opportunities to seek out deep water fishing for big game fish like marlin.

The message is clear: Dude, don’t miss the brocation boat!

Sound off! Do you have a comment, an idea, a complaint or a problem for Anita to solve? Send her an e-mail and you might find yourself in her next column. And check out her blog, ExpertCruiser.com.

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