I love this question... mmmmmmm let me think!
In my opinion, most cruise ship entertainment is about as entertaining as the Musak on a slow elevator in an non-airconditioned building. Juggling comedians balancing on ladders and blowing bubbles while doing third grade magic tricks doesn't do it for me.
I agree that there are some real artists out there that would be far more interesting to see and hear. For instance I just saw a fairly new folk singer as an opening act for Rosanne Cash. She has only three CDs to date. Her name is Iris Dement. Although she gets little airplay on mainstream radio stations,this singer/songwriter has the gripping prose of some of the great poets together with the heart and sole of people like Loretta Lynn and Janis Joplin.
Most Cruise Ships wouldn't hire her because her material is not familiar to the average cruising patron. Why not try some "new" talent instead of tired white bread vanilla acts that don't inspire or offend anyone.
I have a friend, Joni Butler, that does some shows for H.A.L. and Princess. She is a fine singer.They often tell her they don't want female singers on the ships because "The girls are all Judy Garland wanabees."
Joni is a Grammy nominee in her own right and should be in a lot more shows because she is great. They also will only allow her to do one song in each set that is original material, Otherwise they expect her to sing worn out torch songs and show tunes which forces her to sound like a "Judy Garland wanabee. Hmmm, could this be a catch 22???
Cruise ships are often larger now with more than one show lounge. Audiences are far more sophisticated today than ever before. Why not give people some real talent that is a little more flavorful like Ben & Jerry's and a little less like Vanilla Ice Milk.
There are a lot of starving young artists out there with loads of talent. Let's not forget where Bette Midler and others got their starts. If our society wants to create more great artists, it has to give them training grounds, and how perfect cruise ships could be for such endeavors.
Thanks for the chance to respond!