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Entertainment on Ships All aspects of shipboard entertainment.

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Old July 25th, 2003, 07:47 PM
David St John
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Default Cruise entertainment in a rut?

Hi Cruisaholics!

My name is David St John, and I have been in the entertainment business for most of my life! I am a well established professional comedy entertainer, based in the UK, having previously spent several years as a lead singer/frontman in semi-pro pop groups, before launching into a solo career back in the 70s.

If you want to check me out, then surf on by - www.davidstjohn.co.uk - you should find it interesting to see what I have been up to for many years!

Like many entertainers, I have done some cruising work over the last few years - mainly as a visiting guest comedy act, flown in to do a 14 day run, on the passenger changeover basis ie 7/14 day duration around the Mediterranean itineraries. We usually have to offer a couple of alternating and different routines over the two-week period - basically a 50 minute routine, and performed twice nightly to cater for the two meal sittings. I am talking about smaller ships, unlike many of the larger vessels which you US passengers normally talk about! As some passengers stay on for two weeks, then the entertainment must also change to cater for this element.

I have generally found that many passengers seem to grumble about the general standard of live entertainment, as I often surf by a few cruise-based websites, such as this Cruise Mates - excellent! I do sympathise with the usual criticism of yet another 'Broadway' type revue shows, although most of them are very well staged, and use talented singers and dancers.

Maybe I'm biased, but people need to see REAL variety, and many passengers enjoy something different, and maybe more relevant to their age, background, taste etc. Unfortunately, I have noticed a reluctance within the smaller market UK based cruising trade, to when it comes to booking 'new faces' like myself, despite a wealth of different talents! On my last cruising work , I did my usual contracted comedy cabaret spots in the main show lounge, in between the usual nightly productions shows, and mainly working for English-speaking passengers, mostly UK based, who enjoyed this contrast.

In addition, I also did a few unscheduled late night shows in the small intimate piano lounge, which was really appreciated. This was more of a comedy/vocal act, and I have a wide repertoire of songs to offer, and take requests, plus interactive chat and really got everybody singing away! Many of the audience mentioned how refreshing it was to have a ship's guest entertainer doing more than his allotted times and giving them some classic 60s and 70s music, that many of them grew up with! They were never a 'Broadway' type audience anyway, so enjoyed hearing their requests for stuff like the Eagles, Nilsson, Beatles, Byrds, Dylan, Don McLean, The Doors etc - all amongst the usual requests for Elvis, C&W classics etc. The audience even get 12 string electric guitar and blues harmonica - Straw hats and canes? Nah......

I was just wondering if any of you guys get the same impression, when enjoying your own cruising breaks? My main interest lies with me being a solo entertainer, and curious to know of the difference between our European market and your own US-based arena? I'd like to hear of any comments. Have you seen many Brit-comedians (or understood them??) There is a Transatlantic difference in humour - sorry- humor!

I note, from several UK-based cruising websites, that there is a general dis-satisfaction when it comes to onboard entertainment, as many passengers seem to find that the same old acts follow them around different ships, as the tight-knit agents and shipping bbookers seem to 'play safe' with tried and tested artistes? It's obviously a smaller market than the American based cruise industry, so may explain the familiarity of certain entertainers, working between a fairly small circuit?

I'm seriously considering an exploratory business/pleasure trip to Florida, to checkout the scene, and maybe kick some bookers' butts into trying a fresh approach. I adapt my comedy to suit any type of audience, and many an American passenger has commented that I should cross the Pond - mind you - I am Southampton born, so am nearly there. Many of my family went to sea, although my great grandfather was unlucky, and got shipwrecked in the Mid Atlantic - then got picked up by the Titanic!! ;o)

Look forward to hearing from y'all! (See - a multilingual Limey!

David St John
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old July 30th, 2003, 03:47 PM
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Default Re: Cruise entertainment in a rut?

I personally think British humor is great, and many of the popular cruise directors on ships are British. John Heald is hilarious, and he is British.

You are right on target. The cruise lines THINK they have to deliver Broadway style shows, when what people appreciate more is the songs they remember.
I would love to hear a talented singer/guitarist do some of those 60s songs - Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, Bob Dylan, even.

What I don't need is another chick singer doing "I will Survive".

And I definitely never want to see another straw hat and cane on anyone, unless its a donkey.

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Old August 1st, 2003, 10:07 AM
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Default Re: Re: Cruise entertainment in a rut?

I agree i would much rather see cruise ship entertainment in the form of a concert venue. Get really good, talented people/bands and different styles of music (country, r&b, etc, etc) I wouldn't mind seeing a broadway show, not a broadway or Las Vegas style reveue but an actual brodaway musical - hmmm Phantom of the Opera on a cruise ship???
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Old October 10th, 2003, 03:32 PM
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Default Re: Cruise entertainment in a rut?

Hi. I am a female singer on one of the cruise ships andIagree I will survive is the song that I hate the most and I never ever want to sing anymore , but you also got to understand that most of the time the passengers are the one asking for it.Of course we gotta give what the passengers want.But if I have a choice I do not want to sing the song anymore.
Also about the main shows, it's kinda sad that some of the cruise ship would hire performers for the big stage that are really bad and people would watch this kind of show because they paid for and they have no choice but to watch it. Most of them are full of vibrato that I think is really annoying.I think they should also think of something else to show people on almost all the ships the shows are all identical. Some passengers cruises ship to ship and of course they don't want to see the same shows over and over again.
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Old October 11th, 2003, 04:32 PM
Bob Boucek
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Default Re: Cruise entertainment in a rut?

I have to add my 2 cents worth. About four years ago we sailed out of Fort Lauderdale on the Italian ship Melody. It was a great cruise. It was an 11 nighter. One night we had an abreviated show of "CATS" it was extra good, I would say it was great. The other shows were also great, the Cats one stood out. The cruise director was an Irish gal.
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Old October 12th, 2003, 10:38 AM
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Default Re: Cruise entertainment in a rut?

Hello, David, I've cruised P & O to the Med for the last couple of years, and I think some of the entertainment is getting a little tired, and is aimed at the older age group. One comedian (who shall remain nameless) was doing 'remember when' stuff...and he was remembering back to the 40's. I'm only 43 ....it got a little tedious after a while. I think cruiseships, in the UK market, should start aiming their entertainment at a wider age group.
Incidently, have you been watching Fame Academy and Pop Idol recently ? How does it make you feel when the term 'cruise ship entertainer' is used in a derogatory way. I find it quite annoying myself !
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Old October 25th, 2003, 04:27 PM
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Default Re: Cruise entertainment in a rut?

Hi David
I know and have used you!
I have just returned from a cruise on P & O, the Oceana.
The cruise director,Neil Oliver, was about the best I have seen in years of cruising.
I do agree with you, and I think that you know, that I know, entertainment and shows from what I have presented in the past.
True it was the same old faces that I have seen on ships time and time again.
The bookers do not look at new acts, they are not sure about taking a reliable manager/ agent's word regarding an act that would be suitable. On the other hand I wonder if any of the agents or manager has been on a cruise like I have to be a judge of what people want on board?
I, like you, would like a chance to show cruise lines what entertainment and customer satisfaction is all about. As you know I have booked and presented all kinds of shows for many years. It is a " gift" to be able to book the right thing, and in your case a "gift" to be an act.
You may recall that I do sing as well, and on the Oceana, I had a standing ovation after singing 3 songs......just for fun in my case!
Rod Taylor ex Denehurst Shropshire
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