Up until a few years ago, nobody spent much time talking about cruise-ship entertainment. That’s because it was always the same no matter which ship you sailed on – the standard, Vegas-style floorshows featuring high-kicking dancers in lavish costumes, a cabaret or disco, and maybe a comedy club. For those of us casting off to relax our tired brains at sea and chill out on a beach, it was merely adequate stuff (better still, it didn’t cost a nickel extra).
But all that changed with the arrival of a new generation of mega-ships, led by Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas and followed by Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian EPIC, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream, and Royal’s Allure of the Seas (sister ship to the Oasis). If you’re setting sail aboard any of these four ships, be prepared to be amazed by the diversity and quality of entertainment that’s available. People may not have been taking shipboard entertainment into account when considering a cruise in years’ past, but it’s becoming an increasingly important factor. And it’s a major reason why travelers are so excited about these new vessels (consider that these new options are still included in your cruise fare and you’ll soon realize that today’s seagoing vacation is providing an even bigger bang for your buck). Let’s take a look at some of the jaw-dropping entertainment options that are setting new standards across the cruise industry...
The worlds’ two biggest cruise ships are nearly identical, and they’re home to an almost limitless number of entertainment options. Royal Caribbean shook up the industry when it became the first cruise line to place an ice-skating rink aboard a ship. And while passengers can still skate during the day, the real draw is the rink’s evening ice show (dubbed “Frozen In Time,” it’s based on the works of Hans Christian Andersen). Equally amazing is the water-acrobatics show to be found in Royal’s AquaTheater. Think “Cirque du Soleil under the stars” – daring divers plunge from atop three platforms into a thirteen-foot-deep pool during this exciting mixture of extreme diving and synchronized swimming. In the Amber Theater, you’ll find an excellent 90-minute version of Broadway’s Chicago: The Musical. There’s also classic jazz performed nightly at Jazz On 4, live Latin music and dancing at Boleros, musical spectacles ranging from big bands to disco at Dazzles, and stand-up/improv performances at Comedy Live.
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Expect to be wowed. How long, after all, has The Lion King been a hit on Broadway?
What makes Disney shows so special is that they are honest-to-goodness theater – the kind that enchanted you as a child. These are not the typical musical revues that you’ll find aboard most cruise ships. Disney shows feature real actors in speaking roles and there are actual storylines that children, especially, will love (the spectacular Believe, for example, is about a young girl that wants her father to learn how to believe in magic). Don’t miss “Villains Tonight!,” the ship’s musical-comedy revue starring beloved baddies like Captain Hook, Cruella De Vil, and Ursula. The Walt Disney Theater is the ship’s main showroom for live entertainment, and every show is a Disney production (Disney does not fly in stand-up comedians, for example). Disney Dream is also the only cruise ship to feature fireworks during every sailing.
by Anne Campbell