First time cruisers, late 50's, recently back from Alaska trip.
Entertainment we enjoyed:
Classical pianist who was very good in the Main Showroom
Classical strings trio in one of the bars
Small combo with good lead singer in another of the bars
The navigation channel on the TV which kept us abreast of where we were until it died.
The "Wheel of Fortune" style blackjack table in the Casino (made money there)
Entertainment we walked out on (or tuned out):
Musical show in the Main Showroom after a very young singer mangled "Margueritaville". The cast was energetic but the talent wasn't there.
The park naturalist in Glacier Bay trying to convince us that the glaciers were melting because they were in "warm seawater".
Movie selection in the theatre "White Fang" - just because it was supposed to be about Alaska didn't make it an entertaining movie.
I'm guessing you were in Holland America. They always have a string quartet, and a movie theater. Their small combos are usually Filipino. These people are generally excellent musicians, I agree. I also see them on Carnival.
You cited a singer in the main production show who mangled Margaritaville. Once again, as I said in my article, it is the so-called "Las Vegas" extravanza shows where we get disappointed.
Finally, a board for something that totally frustrates me about cruising!
I've been on 9 cruises now, and honestly the way I look at the shows are "they are a way to pass the time" and frankly, they seem more to me like "theme park" shows and not "Las Vagas" style shows.
Now, quite frankly, when was the last time any of the people who claim that cruise ship entertainment is Las Vegas style actually visited the place. was it in the 70's? Las Vegas has 2 Cirque du Soleil shows, a third about to open (erotic no less), a forth in less than a year and a fifth similar show created by one of the original cirque founders for Steve Wynn's La Reve when it opens. Blue man group plays at Luxor. Du La Guarda swings at the Rio. Even Celin Dions show was designed by a Cirque Du Soleil director to have that "other worldly" feel to it. All the erotic shows are making a comeback (Vegas' breif experiment as a family destination failed and frankly, keep the kids at home!) The magic shows all have amazing production values, and now hit broadway shows are giving it a try.
In short, the most popular shows are modern, imaginative, other worldly, interesting. I have little to no interest in seeing another "gotta sing, gotta dance" show, but I've paid over $100 a ticket to see some of the new masterpieces on the vegas stages.
Also, there is lots of incredible dance and world music shows I've seen that put cruise ship dribble to shame. Momix is amazingly physical and exciting to watch, as is Diablo Dance company. Ever go see japaneze or african druming, it can be sensational. A couple of latin american dance troupes have produced wildly good shows lately, sensual dark acrobatic and moving.
Would I pay more for a cruise to see a show of this calaber? Maybe if it was a brand name. Trust me, the minute Cirque du Soleil lends their name to a cruise ship show I will be one of the first to buy tickets, and I wouldn't mind seeing Blue Man Group on the Blue Seas. Would I pay more A la carte like the dinner restuarants appearing on more and more ships? Unlikely. The all inclusive aspect of cruising is one of the things I like best.
Personally I think some lines are trying. NCL has their broadway shows, but Guys and Dolls? Come on! Give us Mama Mia or Contact or even Forbidden Broadway! A few lines have done half harted Cirque knock off's, but did you know there are a tonne of small circus troupes like Cirque EOS and Cirque Eloize (not to mention the witty Circus Oz and the dozens of french circus/theater troupes) that do amazing small scale shows?
Frankly, most cruise lines aim for the lowest common denominator. But entertaiment directors beware. I'm 35 and I represent the next wave of passengers. I've seen some incredible morden entertainment and frankly cruise ship shows don't cut it. You better start upping the level a bit or instead of taking that second cruise this year I might find myself in NV taking in a real "Vegas style show!"
Rob!!! Great Comments. Thank You so much for your perspective.
Theme park is right on the money, that is where Jean Ann Ryan comes from (producer for many ship shows for NCL, Celebrity & others).
"Now, quite frankly, when was the last time any of the people who claim that cruise ship entertainment is Las Vegas style actually visited the place. was it in the 70's?"
A friend of mine summed it up after seeing a cruise ship show, "Yeah, it's like a Vegas show, like the ones they give away free as part of a hotel package." They are like "Follies Bergere" which has been playing at the Tropicana since the 50s, the only thing missing are the breasts.
Many of the cruise lines made a stab at the Cirque D' Soliel genre, but it did go over the heads of many of the passengers, but we have to give them credit for trying. However, I like your idea of getting ESTABLISHED similar companies on board, why re-invent the wheel with kids from Dollywood when there are already professionals doing it?
Blue Man Group is excellent. I have seen them 3 times at their original black box theater in Astor Place, NY City (holds about 200 in dilapidated seats). But the show rocks enough that Las Vegas sells it out at $100 ticket. The show WOULD fit and work on a cruise ship, kids LOVE it, but it has very sophisticated adult humor as well. I have mentioned this to the cruise lines.
Momix is fantastic - but even the best modern dance is probably too intricate and sophisticated for cruise ship audiences. But I'm impressed you know who they are.
"Would I pay more for a cruise to see a show of this caliber? Maybe if it was a brand name... like Blue Man Group" Bingo! Entertainment is a big revenue drain that could potentially make money. Let me ask you, would you also pay to go to a "Improv" type comedy club on a ship to see really funny cutting edge comedians? I would.
"NCL did try Broadway, and succeeded, but Guys and Dolls?" It goes back to my essay where I ask "ad agencies know you can sell young to old, why do the cruise seems to want to sell old to their young target market?"
You are 35 -- and that also relates to my essay. You grew up on rock concerts, stand up comedy, and blockbuster movies. You did NOT grow up on "revues" and "salutes to Broadway." Can you relate to what the cruise lines are presenting? Even I can't relate, and I am almost 50.