Best of Cruising
Best Ships for
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Best Ships for Nightlife

Norwegian Cruise Line - With the advent of Free-style 2 NCL has undertaken to change the face of shipboard entertainment, for the better we say. Instead of developing the usual "cruise ship production shows" which are most often "salutes" to this or that (Broadway, Gershwin, Hollywood, the Fifties, etc etc etc..) they are putting up popular and proven shows like "Blue Man Group" which is an interactive improvisational play which first became popular off-Broadway in New York City. From there it migrated to Las Vegas anbd has now toured around the world. But Kudos to Norwegian for being the first cruise line to bring a show of this caliber to the sea

NCL has now staged a number of more unusual (for cruise ships) arts performances which while not common for cruises are already proven crown pleasers on shore - a logical idea although few cruise lines have tried it.

Another proven performance concept is the Second City Comedy first incarnated in Chicago but now working in major cities everywhere. The group is most well known for spawning talent for Saturday Night Live in New York City. Many notable comedians have come out Second City.

The cruise line also features hit production shows already proven on land such as "Howl at the Moon" dueling pianos and on Norwegian Epic the "Legends at Sea" tribute shows to various artists. There are three artists to tribute on stage at any given time, and they change the lineup about every six months.

Another aspect of the NCL entertainment that makes it uniqueis that they are no longer just offering one show each night for all the passengers. Different shows are scheduled and repeated throughout the cruise at different times. This ties in with the free-style concept of dining where cruisers may be eating at different times and places each night of the cruise. They now have the option to coordinate their culinary exprience with their entertainment experience.

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The new Norwegian Breakaway features the very first Broadway proven show premiering in full production in a purpose-built theater on an NCL cruise ship; Rock of Ages.

Like Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway will also feature a full-time jazz nightclub and a nightly comedy club.

Bar Central: In addition to the shows in the Stardust Theater and Spinnaker Lounge, Bar Central is another exciting entertainment venue. This dynamic piano lounge attracts guests from cocktail hour to late night with its engaging blend of show tunes, classical and popular music. Guest entertainers from other venues often drop in for impromptu duets and star turns. Freestyle 2.0 Offers Enhanced On-Board Activities

Royal Caribbean - Oasis of the Seas. With the December 2009 debut of Oasis (before NCL Epic hits the waves) the cruise industry already enters a new paradigm of entertainment.

Oasis exemplifies the new generation of cruise ship entertainment where "one size fits all" shows are being replaced by a series of optional venues, each unique in presentation. Let's take a look at the diversity of entertainment options for Oasis of the Seas:

Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, will have a groundbreaking approach to entertainment. No longer will one, single production show theater be meant to hold almost the entire passenger load in two seatings. Instead, there will be a variety of various-sized entertainment venues throughout the ship, some featuring high-tech productions at pre-set show times, and others appealing to more interactive audiences, such as dance clubs, comedy clubs and a jazz clubs.

Let's start by looking at the production show venues on Oasis of the Seas. There are three vastly different show venues on the ship, a proscenium stage, and ice-rink for ice skating shows and an AquaTheater for the newly popular water-based shows with high dives, trampolines, aerial fly-systems and hydraulic stage effects.

  • Opal Theater: This will be the main indoor theater showroom for production style shows. But while Oasis carries 5400 passengers, almost twice as many guests as the much smaller Voyager class, this theatre will only seat the same number of guests as the Voyager-class; 1,380.

    Opal Theater will feature a thrust stage and proscenium extending into the audience space for intimate and viewer interactive presentations. Entertainers will make their entrances from unexpected locations around the room, performing aerial acrobatics around and above the audience.

    Opal Theater

  • AquaTheater: this is the most innovative entertainment venue on Oasis. This outdoor water stage will feature professional productions similar to Vegas-style shows such as Eau by Cirque D' Soleil and Le Reve at the extravagant new Wynn hotel on the Las Vegas strip. A passenger swimming pool by day, at night it becomes a spectacular water stage with moving platforms above and below water for professional water acrobatic productions featuring heart-pounding aerial and aquatic acrobatics, as well as elaborate fountain shows synchronized to music and lights.

    Aqua Theater - Aft end of Boardwalk

  • Studio B: Oasis will also have the unlikely-named "Studio B" ice rink for passenger ice skating by day and thrilling ice capade-style production shows at night. While these ice skating shows are already familiar to anyone who has sailed on a Royal Caribbean mega-ship, if you haven't seen one of the shows then you haven't seen how diverse cruise ship entertainment can be.

    Oasis is styled with three diverse main show venues so everyone onboard will have a chance to attend each of them and see each show offered throughout the cruise. While the ship holds 5400 guests, each of the above venues will accomodate only about one-third of the ship capacity at any one time.

    A logical way to look at it is like this; the Freedom-class ships are roughly 1/3 smaller than Oasis yet the the main theater and the ice rink on Oasis are the same size. The guest capacity solution is the addition of an extra show venue, AquaTheater, to take on the additional 30% any given night.

    Oasis will have plenty of other entertainment options, with less emphasis on viewing and more on interactivity. While there are nightclubs located throughout the ship, there is also a central gathering point for nightlife known as "Entertainment Place" which essentially comprises most of Deck 4, the deck immediately below the Royal Promenade.

    Much like the Voyager and Freedom-class ships, the entrance to deck 4 is the aft staircase where you land in the main foyer for "Entertainment Place". An alternative entrance is down the forward staircase from the front of the Royal Promenade. When you descend you are at the entrance to the casino.

    Here you find the entrances to Blaze, the disco-dancing hot spot, Comedy Live, the urban-style comedy club, Jazz on 4, the live jazz music venue, and the entrances to two of the main productions show venues; Opal Theater and the ice rink, Studio B.

    Nightclubbing on Oasis of the Seas

    Let's take a look at the nightclubs on Oasis; a disco dance palace, a live jazz nightclub and an urban-style comedy club with live comedians throughout the night. The entrances to all three of these clubs is the foyer for "Entertainment Place" near the aft elevators on deck four.

    • Jazz on 4, Inspired by prohibition-era Chicago, features warm tones of rich walnut paneling, plush sofas and chairs and velvety drapes accented with hand-stitched Swarovski crystals, to provide an intimate experience for guests to enjoy soulful rhythms.

      Jazz on 4 - live jazz nightclub

    • Blaze, with its dramatic entrance of doors 'burning' with hot flames and a 'charred' threshold, delivers the quintessential nightclub experience where guests can dance the night away to pulsating music in a hip and trendy atmosphere.

      Blaze dance nightclub

    • Comedy Live, the comedy club, will feature headline acts interacting with the audience for engaging and customized performances each night. The décor is inspired by a New York subway station, featuring an underground theme with bright casual furnishings, glazed tiling and a ceiling map of the subway system.

    Comedy Live: Entrance and Inside

Also in the foyer of Entertainment Place is the entrance to Studio B, the Ice Rink. Instead of walking into Studio B, you can opt to walk around it to the Casino Royale (see the floorplan in part 3 of this article). The hallway on the port side contains the "Museum of Gaming" with displays of old-fashioned slot machines and roulette tables. The starboard side passage leads guests through a museum-like tribute to 40 years of Royal Caribbean history.

The elegant and stylish Casino Royale, style inspired by the classic casinos of the French Riviera, features dramatic sculptured architecture, sparkling crystal chandeliers and décor in jewel-toned hues of amethyst, aquamarine and ruby. Casino Royale will feature 450 slot machines; extensive table games including Blackjack, roulette, craps, and Caribbean Stud Poker; and a bar and lounge area from which to take in the casino action. There will also be a poker room and players club.

The live-music dance club in the rendering below is "Dazzles" spanning two decks - with expansive floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the Boardwalk below. The dance lounge will offer a variety of musical experiences ranging from 1940's big band to disco to ballroom evenings. In the evenings, the room is theatrically illuminated with a dazzling constellation of small twinkling lights reflecting off glass and mirrored surfaces above and below. During the day, Dazzles will be open for guests to enjoy the view of the bustling activity on the Boardwalk over a drink or to learn a new dance move with a professional dance instructor.

Dazzles Live Entertainment nightclub

The On Air Club, located in the Royal Promenade, will offer television monitors featuring news, sporting events and music day and night. It will also serve as the Karaoke venue where guests can put on a singing performance of their own on stage or create their own music video in a private video booth. Nearby and also on the Royal Promenade will be Bolero's Latin Club and the Schooner Bar, featuring piano-man sing-along entertainment.

High up on Deck 16 forward, the daytime adults-only Solarium will transform into Club 20 - a high-energy late night dance club experience under the stars. On the same deck but all the way aft the Wipe Out Bar resides between the two Flowrider pools. On Deck 17, upstairs from the two-story Windjammer Lido buffet, guests will find the famous Royal Caribbean Viking Crowne Lounge offering sophisticated ambience with a commanding view of the ship and the sea night and day.

Solarium at Night

Naturally, if you have ever sailed on a Royal Caribbean mega-ship you know that a big part of the attraction is simply strolling around and seeing what is going on. Oasis will be the most entertaining ship for casual strolling ever built. The entire "Neighborhood" concept is built along this idea, and the neighborhoods on offer are diverse and engaging.

A stroll along the Royal Promenade is well known to Royal Caribbean cruisers. Oasis will have the most elaborate Royal Promenade yet, with various food and entertainment venues like Boleros Bar and Sorrentos Pizzeria as well as the Globe and Atlas Pub for English Ale and a crowd-pleasing guitar and vocals busker.

Royal Promenade with Decks 6 and 7 above, and Central Park (deck 8) through the glass

For more strolling, day or night, there is Central Park with real grass and trees and views through the skylights to the Royal Promenade below. At night Central Park will truly come alive with the stars above and Tivoli lights in the trees and bushes. Restaurants offering al fresco dining will punctuate sidewalks with benches.

Royal Promenade view from deck 6 with Central Park visible through the skylights above

Rising and falling between the two neighborhoods, Royal Promenade and Central Park, will be the "Rising Tide Bar", a moving watering hole that is a bar and a non-stop elevator spanning three open decks to move guests off and on at either level.

The Rising Tide Bar at rest in the Royal Promenade

While Deck 4 is "Entertainment Central" and Deck 5 is the Royal Promenade, Deck 6 is not to be ignored. At the aft end is the Boardwalk with its carousal, ice cream parlor, candy shops, donut shop, fortuneteller, Johnny Rockets and the Seafood Shack. The Boardwalk ends with the seating area for the AquaTheater pool area and stage. But in what is a nice departure from all previous Royal Caribbean ships, the area directly forward of the Boardwalk on Deck 6 is also a large strolling area encircling and overlooking the Royal Promenade also featuring three popular nightspots along the way; the Schooner Bar, Focus and the Diamond Club.

Mid-section views of the entertainment areas of Oasis:
Deck 4 is Entertainment Central, Deck 5 is the Royal Promenade, and Deck 8 is Central park.

Deck 4

Deck 5

Deck 8

Carnival Cruise Lines -

Under the tutelage of Carnival's new president and CEO Gerry Cahill, the line now has a new style of onboard entertainment called "Fun Ship 2.0," a multi-year initiative to bring new dining, bar, lounge and entertainment experiences to the Carnival fleet, one ship at a time. The new project includes innovative partnerships with celebrity personalities in order to create new entertainment and culinary experiences. The first phase of Fun Ship 2.0 extends through the end of 2015 and includes an investment of more than $500 million across 14-ships of the Carnival fleet.

George Lopez is now Carnival's Creative Director for Comedy.
Lopez will act as consultant on the vetting and hiring of comedic talent for The Punchliner Comedy Club on each Carnival ship and advise on decor, lighting, music and other aspects of the overall comedy club experience. A new Punchliner Comedy Brunch will be introduced, bringing live comedic entertainment to the line's main dining room.

Guy Fieri's Burger Joint.
Guests will soon have a choice of delicious, fresh-off-the-grill gourmet burgers designed by the Food Network star at Guy's Burger Joint, a new laid-back poolside dining venue modeled after a roadside burger joint off an iconic coastal highway. Best of all, these burgers will come at no additional charge to the guest.

New Bars.
Carnival is partnered with EA Sports on an exciting new sports bar concept where guests can play their favorite EA Sports videogames, watch live sports on a massive video-wall and keep up with real-time sports scores 24/7.

Shorts and flip flops are welcome at two new poolside destinations: The RedFrog Rum Bar and RedFrog Pub. Both will specialize in Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival's new private label draft brew, ThirstyFrog Red. Across the deck will be the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar, a Mexican-themed watering hole offering tequila-based frozen drinks and Mexican beers.

Alchemy, a vintage-themed cocktail "pharmacy" will "prescribe" concoctions from fun categories while The Library Bar is designed for guests seeking a more relaxed and quiet venue.

The Blue Iguana Cantina is a new, no added cost dining options with fresh Mexican cuisine. Poolside, Blue Iguana offers guests freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas with a variety of salsas and toppings. An innovative addition is the Cantina's automatic tortilla maker, fresh wheat or jalapeno, and all the accompaniments.

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Carnival is now partners with Hasbro, DJ IRIE and top Broadway producers to develop high caliber entertainment with a focus on interactive shows.

Under license from Hasbro, Inc., Carnival's Hasbro, The Game Show, based on the popular Family Game Night television show from the Hub, will put guests right in the middle of favorite Hasbro games like Sorry, Operation and Yahtzee.

Playlist Productions offers music-driven revues featuring a wide range of musical styles, genres and eras in 30-minute shows created by leading producers, directors and choreographers of Broadway and West End productions. Guests on 2012's Carnival Breeze will be the first to enjoy a variety of musical productions dedicated to R&B Motown, Latin, Female entertainers, the British Invasion and more.

DJ IRIE, known for keeping Miami and Las Vegas crowds on their feet, was named Official DJ of Carnival Cruise Lines and will lead up Carnival's DJ IRIE's Spin'iversity--a program designed to train the musical skills and personalities of on-board DJ talent.

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The Carnival Liberty will be the first ship to feature many of the new dining and bar venues when it returns from a scheduled refurbishment later this month.

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