It looks like cruise lines are finally heeding my advice to start promoting their star acts in advance.
While I’m not about to take all the credit for this apparent ‘light bulb’ moment, it has always seemed a missed opportunity to me to not promote cruises by the artistes appearing in shows on board. More often than not, the first a cruise passenger knows about what entertainment is being provided is when they check into their cabin and read the schedule of events laid on.
Having just retuned from the ultimate in cruise ship entertainment in the form of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic – complete with tribute acts, a blues band, a circus troupe, a Beatles sound-alike, alternative comedy and the Blue Man Group – I have first-hand experience of the quality that can be achieved.
The generic likes of classical music concerts, dance acts and guest lecturers have traditionally been promoted in advance by cruise companies but now it’s good to see specific acts being highlighted in advance to help attract fans.
In the US there are even dedicated rock music sailings as part of a long line of themed cruises. The most extreme of these that I am aware of is due to depart from Miami in January featuring alternative rock band Weezer together with a bunch of other bands and up to 2,800 crazed passengers.
The five-day sailing on Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Destiny to Cozumel in Mexico is likely to be a riot in the best possible terms. It has been organised by a company called Sixthman which has been running similar events at sea for the past decade with the likes of American rockers John Mayer, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kid Rock.
Andy Levine, founder of Sixthman, quoted in the Independent last week, says: “Bands have been looking for ways to energise their core fan base and to say thank you to them because they bring so much energy to their career.”
Festival at sea
Creating a sort of “festival at sea”, all the artists will perform a number of times on the four stages across the ship, giving passengers an opportunity to see each band at least once.
Various activities are also organised, giving the trip a camp-like feel and allowing artists and fans a chance to connect, according to the Independent. Could this be the first mosh-pit at sea, I ask myself? My kind of boat that rocks – I’m showing my age here – would be the December 1 departure to the Bahamas on Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas featuring the legendary Texas trio ZZ Top, George Thorogood and the Marshall Tucker Band plus a dozen or so others.
As a lover of all genres of live music, cruises of this nature naturally appeal to me, although I’d probably take a rain check on a Kiss cruise featuring the face-painted glam rockers departing over Halloween.
Obviously full-on rock’n’roll won’t appeal to others who understandably would prefer a more sedate cruise experience coupled with quality on board entertainment.
I see that P&O Cruises is getting its act together in this department with designated short cruises later this year featuring TV illusionist Derren Brown and opera singer Russell ‘The Voice’ Watson. I’m told that other named acts are being lined up as well by the UK company.
Fred Olsen has been a long term supporter of live music on its ships with tribute groups and sixties rock’n’roll bands on selective cruises, a move being matched by ex-UK specialist Cruise & Maritime Voyages on its two ships. Acts as diverse as the Opera Babes, soul star George McCrae and sixties hit-makers the Tornados are lined up to appear on Fred Olsen ships as part of the company’s Music & Laughter programme. Cunard Line has just introduced a four-night winter departure from Southampton on Queen Mary 2 featuring classical pop group Blake on December 8.
Squeeze at sea
All of these options are great for a diverse range of music fans, but the one I reckon tops them all, particularly for a complete non-player like me, is the opportunity to participate. As a lover of classic hits like Up the Junction, Cool for Cats and Is That Love, the opportunity to get a masterclass in songwriting by Chris Difford, one half with Glenn Tillbrook of the duo behind legendary south London rockers Squeeze, would be my idea of heaven.
Thanks to Cunard, lovers of the bitter-sweet Squeeze hits have the chance to learn from the master on Queen Mary 2 sailing to New York on September 20. Difford is to lead a team of professional songwriters with workshops with passengers forming groups with the best having the chance to record their own song on CD to take home for mega post-cruise bragging rights.
Sadly I don’t play any instrument, so I suspect my involvement in the Cunard songwriters programme would be somewhat marginal but I love the idea of sitting in to hear how he constructs songs. Time to start practising my chords.
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