Blue Man Group to OperaBabes – the best entertainment to be found at sea

//Blue Man Group to OperaBabes – the best entertainment to be found at sea

blue_man.jpgIt could be the fault of Silvio Berlusconi; no matter how many times he finds himself accused of sexual misbehaviour , his critics never miss an opportunity to hurl the epithet “cruise ship crooner” when they want to really hurt him.
Or it could be Simon Cowell who’s to blame, for the regularity with which he dashes a hopeful’s dreams by describing them as cruise ship entertainers. But the insult is so out of date you’d think the last time he travelled on a ship it was full of animals travelling two by two.
Cruise ship entertainment is often the subject of riicule, but in reality, ships feature some of the best shows available, in lavish modern theatres which would put many a West End stage or provincial rep to shame.
American passengers even get treated to whole cruises devoted to their favourite singers and groups – like Kiss, Donny and Marie Osmond, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the New Kids on the Block or the Backstreet Boys. No such luck for ships sailing from the UK, but it can only be a matter of time.
Best of all, instead of adding to the mounting debt on your credit card for a pair of tickets to the O2 Arena, the Apollo, or your local theatre, the show is included in your cruise fare. And there’s no need to fret about getting a train or a taxi back home at the end of the night – your cabin is just down the corridor.
Here’s our guide to some of the best entertainment at sea.
The Blue Man Group are like nothing you’ve ever seen before – a combination of dramatic drumming, high-energy rock music and the corniest of jokes, together with buckets of paint and bags of marshmallows, all performed by three frontmen with blue heads and black overalls. Think Stomp meets a caffeine-overdosed Chuckle Brothers.
The group has residences in Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, Boston and New York, plus Berlin and Tokyo, and – performing eight shows during a seven-night cruise – they are the headline act on the 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic, which sails in the Mediterranean during the summer and the Caribbean in winter.
The giant ship also features top tribute acts Legends in Concert, currently performing the hits of Janet Jackson, Neil Diamond And Aretha Franklin; Fat Cats blues band, and Howl at the Moon duelling pianos.
Kids aren’t left out of the fun; they get all the stars of Nickelodeon TV to entertain them at breakfast and at poolside parties.
Norwegian Epic sails from Barcelona, Spain until October 23. Guests have the opportunity to visit Florence and Pisa, Rome, Naples and Palma, Mallorca, as well as two days at sea. Fares from from £836 pp based on two sharing and subject to availability.
While many cruise ships feature a resident troupe performing a selection of hits from the musicals, Royal Caribbean have raised the bar by staging full-length shows on three of their newest ships. The two largest cruise ships ever built – Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas – have up-to-the-minute 1,400-seat theatres with the finest backstage facilities and are home to Hairspray: The Musical and Chicago respectively. Both premiered with British actresses in lead roles.
The Blue Planet show on Allure is a slick production with some of the most amazing special effects I have ever seen on stage anywhere in the world – one scene where a huge tree literally comes to life as hidden dancers are revealed one-by-one is a real showstopper.
The ships also have an AquaTheatre which is the venue for spectacular shows featuring acrobats and Olympic-standard high divers, and an ice rink which stages colourful ice dance shows.
The children get characters such as Shrek, Fiona and Puss in Boots, Kung Fu Panda, and the penguins of Madagascar from the DreamWorks shows, appearing on ice in a special version of How To Train Your Dragon, in a special show in the open-air theatre, and in lavish parades through the vessels’ Royal Promenade shopping mall.
Liberty of the Seas, which cruises in the Mediterranean, now features Saturday Night Fever in its own 1,320-seat theatre.
The deals for the musicals put them on the ships for three years at a time – look out for new shows like Jersey Boys when it’s time for a change.
Join Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas for a nine-night Western Caribbean fly/cruise from £1,379.00 per person (based on two people sharing an inside cabin). Price includes return flights from London Heathrow, one-night pre-cruise hotel accommodation, transfers and a seven-night cruise departing from Fort Lauderdale (Florida) and calling at Labadee (Haiti), Falmouth (Jamaica) and Cozumel (Mexico) before returning to Fort Lauderdale; meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. Price is based on 06 November 2011 departure.

Carnival’s newest ship, the Carnival Magic, has an appropriate theme for Destination: Unknown, its own big production in the 1,500-seat Showtime Theatre. Magician Jason Byrne arrives on stage in a helicopter to perform a series of illusions described in a brilliant understatement by one reviewer as “West End razzmatazz.” The 50-minute spectacular which has everything from a Vegas magic show except live tigers, has a cast of 12 dancers and two singers.
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 boasts the only planetarium at sea, which has now been adapted to screen 3D movies as well as provide a platform for speakers from the Royal Astronomical Society. They take their entertainment seriously on this grande dame of a ship, with masterclasses by a troupe from RADA. This summer has also featured songwriting seminars led by Chris Difford, of 70s pop group Squeeze – Roger Daltrey of The Who was a surprise participant earlier in the year.
Opera – or at least operatic highlights – are a popular choice for cruise ship entertainment. Russell Watson has appeared on P&O ships several times, the OperaBabes helped Fred Olsen win a Cruise International award for live entertainment and are back on board Balmoral in November, and Lesley Garrett – who performed at the christening of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth last October – has been booked to appear at a special event next May when all three of Saga’s cruise ships will be united in port at Lisbon.
Old favourite Saga Ruby will be joined by Saga Pearl II, which is about to be re-named Quest for Adventure, and debutante Saga Sapphire, which will be new to the fleet after spending this winter being re-fitted.
Finally, it’s always swing time for some, and the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, under the leadership of lead trombone player Chris Dean, returns to Marco Polo for two cruises next year. They will be sailing to the fjords in May and to France in September, featuring the big band music of Glenn Miller, Ted Heath, John Barry and Count Basie.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:01+00:00 19 September 2011|Cruise Entertainment|2 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.


  1. Blue Man Group 10 October 2011 at 5:45 am - Reply

    blue man will remain rockers for life time. i am a big fan of all of the group. i would love to be in their group as a member/.

  2. Isa 9 June 2012 at 7:37 am - Reply

    The pools were oneepd until 8:00 pm and the aft pool was oneepd until midnight. The aft pool was usually less crowded. I just came back from the Carnival Victory and the aft pool on that ship is an adult-only pool. I don’t know if things have changed on the Triumph and if there aft pool had become an adult-only pool too.

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