Entertainment on board cruise ships is frequently mocked by people who have never spent a day at sea. Simon Cowell is fond of insulting X-Factor singers by telling them they have cruise ship voices, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is derided for his early career as a “cruise ship crooner” every time his alleged philandering makes the news.
But in the 21st Century world of floating mega-ships which are resorts in their own right, entertainment is a vital factor in attracting passengers, and it gets more important every year.
West End-style “greatest hits” musical productions are all well and good, but the demand is now for Las Vegas-style spectaculars.
Which is precisely what Norwegian Cruise Lines have announced they will be providing on Norwegian Epic which launches next year.
Their big ticket act will be the Blue Man Group, performing nightly in the ship’s 685-seat main theatre. The group, which is touring its music, comedy and multi-media show in the UK this month, has theatrical residencies in New York, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Orlando, Berlin, and Tokyo.
You could be forgiven for thinking a 685-capacity theatre is a bit small for a ship carrying 4,200 passengers. It is indeed nowhere near the size of the main entertainments venue on smaller ships like Arcadia, Queen Victoria or even the Royal Caribbean giants.
Norwegian Epic will, however, have a number of alternative entertainment venues, all announced at a press conference in New York yesterday. There’s the Fat Cats jazz club, the Headliners comedy club, and the Cirque Dreams and Diner, for example.
Plus an ice bar, a nightclub with bowling lanes, the Spice H2O open-air disco, the Manhattan Room supper club, and many more.
There is a $15-a-head cover charge to dine in the Cirque, where waiters could double as jugglers and acrobats. The other venues and entertainments are all included in the cruise fare.
Which is pretty good if you bear in mind that tickets for the Blue Man Group’s tour of UK arenas cost from £39.50 each – with no dinner included.