|By Paul Motter
There are two styles of luxury cruising - the first focuses on onboard enrichment with lectures, shows, classes, music and entertainment. The latter puts more focus on destinations.
The first category is mostly defined by the two luxury lines with larger ships; Crystal and Cunard Line. The destination-oriented cruise lines with much smaller ships include Seabourn, Silversea and Regent.
Queen Mary 2 - Classic Crossings
Now, Cunard Line has upped the entertainment ante even more with new offerings for Queen Mary 2, considered the only authentic, purpose-built ocean liner still in regular service. Queen Mary 2 entered service in 2004.
Ever since Cunard introduced its two smaller sister ships, the Queen Victoria (2007) and the Queen Elizabeth (2010), the oldest and biggest Cunarder, Queen Mary 2, now spends the majority of each year making transatlantic crossings. These trips between New York and Southampton (U.K.) generally last six or seven days depending on whether you are eastbound or westbound. The only exception cruises are the yearly world cruise which starts in January and lasts 90 to 100 days, and a few special additions to crossings the ship makes from its regular homeports, such as a roundtrip sojourn to the Canary Islands from Southampton and a few special trips up the Canadian coastline from New York.
Because there are no ports of call on ocean crossings the ship itself becomes the main attraction. Therefore Cunard has put extraordinary effort into creating the best entertainment offerings possible for Queen Mary 2.
New Entertainment Offerings on Queen Mary 2
Queen Mary 2 has always had the Illuminations Theater, also known as the planetarium. This very unique movie theater has four projectors to fill a dome shaped screen that descends from the ceiling and envelopes the viewers sitting in seats that tilt back almost to a fully reclined position.
Cunard just announced that it is adding an additional 3-D movie projection system to Illuminations to show specially designed movies in the 3-D format. The system is provided by RealD, a leading global licensor of 3D technologies.
Beginning in May, Queen Mary 2 will be showing the opera Carmen as produced by London's Royal Opera House. CARMEN IN 3D is a dazzling film, filled with some of the best-loved music ever written and performed by a world-class cast. With English subtitles throughout, it is the perfect event for life-long opera fans and first-timers alike.
In addition, upcoming summer 3D blockbusters will be shown, including Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
The next new enrichment offering has me especially excited, as a musician and songwriter myself. Also new this year, professional songwriter and music producer Chris Difford, formerly of the 1970's British new wave band Squeeze, will conduct songwriting workshops with four other professional songwriters as part of the Professional Insights series. With Difford's songwriting program, guests will collaborate in small groups with guitarists, pianists, singers and bass players from Queen Mary 2's orchestra. The best songwriters will then have the opportunity to record their songs in a studio on board and can take the final recording home. Difford and the songwriters also will be performing well-known Squeeze favorites during the voyage. Difford's Professional Insights songwriting program will be offered on the following voyages:
- 10 - 17 May (Southampton - NY)
- 24 June - 1 July (Southampton - NY)
- 15 - 22 August (Southampton - NY)
- 20 - 27 September (Southampton - NY)
- 27 September - 7 October (New England and Canadian Sojourn)
The Dramatic Arts on Queen Mary 2
Finally - Cunard has had a long affiliation with RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. This group of actors provides interactive events with the quests in what are called "street theater" performances onboard. The group also provides acting workshops and lessons, and also performs special shows in Queen Mary 2's Royal Court Theatre.
But now RADA is adding a few new components to its onboard offerings. The troupe will appear in two of Queen Mary 2's lounges, blending musical components with performances featuring poetry, piano and jazz including:
Jazz Poetry with the Mark Hodgson Trio: The RADA actors will perform rhythmic, jazz and rap poetry accompanied by the musical trio in The Chart Room.
Passion and Piano: The actors will read passionate poetry and prose accompanied by the piano, and will also read chosen pieces and take requests from the audience. This will take place in the Winter Garden.
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