By Michael ColemanÂ
Celebrity sightings. World class production shows. Fireworks.Â
Thinking about Las Vegas? Think again. Entertainment offerings aboard todays modern cruise ships are rivaling those of their land-based counterparts.
“Entertainment is a top (on board) priority and a new generation of cruise ships offers state-of-the-art facilities and technology, including full-sized theaters and show lounges, said Terry L. Dale, president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association, a trade organization representing the interests of 24 member lines and some 16,000 travel agencies.
As the industry heads into the second half of 2008, passengers will be treated to a host of entertainment options.
Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice, set to debut in December, has teamed up with Poet Theatricals, producers of the first worldwide touring show of the Lido de Paris, to create three original productions including “Solstice,” a “celestial” European-style theatrical circus featuring vocalists, physical comedy, group acrobatic and aerial performances and other specialty acts. The ship also will feature a unique glass-blowing show developed with The Corning Museum of Glass.
During Cunard Line’s transatlantic crossings on Queen Mary 2, look for performances and workshops by Britain’s famous Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and a September crossing will feature the Boston Symphony Chamber Players.
Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder and Disney Magic are the only cruise ships that launch actual fireworks as part of the lines nighttime “Pirates in the Caribbean” deck party. The swash-buckling adventure features Captain Hook and his rowdy buccaneers rappelling from atop the funnels as they take control of the ship in a fun-filled evening. Disney’s newest onboard show is “Toy Story – The Musical.”
Holland America Line (HAL), meanwhile, puts the spotlight on fashion in a series of Broadway-inspired productions with 55 original costumes by the legendary Hollywood designer Bob Mackie. Titled “The Hits of Broadway, the Designs of Bob Mackie,” and “Love Songs from Broadway, Designs from Bob Mackie,” the shows highlight the most popular hits of the Broadway musical songbook and are featured on six ships: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Ryndam, Statendam, Veendam and Zaandam.
A classical music cruise on Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Symphony, meanwhile, stars Fredericka von Stade and internationally acclaimed master of the rare soprano saxophone, Anders Paulsson. Other headliners during the year on Crystal will include Tommy Tune, Marvin Hamlisch and Frankie Avalon.
MSC Cruises will feature Big Band sounds on MSC Lirica’s roundtrip Caribbean sailing from Fort Lauderdale, December 3. Look for the 15-piece Les DeMerle Big Band with vocalist Bonnie Eisele, featuring the sounds of Ellington, Basie, James and Miller, plus Broadway hits, rock Ëœn’ roll classics, hot Latin grooves and show-stoppers from the Ëœ40s through today.Â
While many larger ships specialize in producing grand-sized entertainment, others are just as impressive for their more intimate offerings. John Lithgow, the award-winning actor, for example, will perform on Silversea Cruises’ Silver Whisper this summer.