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The end of Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Live may seem bleak, but the future of specialty entertainment still looks bright. Carnival’s concert series brought to its stages musical artists and comedians ranging from Journey to Jay Leno. However, the likes of Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) will carry on the tradition.
This leaves the door open to popular theme cruises. NCL, for one, brings entire music festivals to its ships as part of its integrated partnership with Sixthman, which creates themed cruise experiences. These include The Rock Boat and The Outlaw Country Cruise. On these often full-charter sailings, fans get to see their favorite artists as well as mingle with them. The cost of admission to multiple events is bundled into the overall fare.
There are also plenty of other theme cruises available to whet travelers’ appetites for all things entertainment. Disney hosts its own Marvel Day at Sea and Star Wars Day at Sea, and other themed sailings — ranging from the Groove Cruise to Star Trek: The Cruise — are hosted independently on various lines and ships.
Meanwhile, some cruise lines are blending specialty dining and entertainment with new programming. MSC Cruises, for example, is bringing Cirque du Soleil at Sea to the recently launched MSC Meraviglia, which will depart from the U.S. beginning next October. Clients will be able to marvel at dramatic and whimsical acrobatics. “Sonor” and “Viaggio” are two separate shows that can be booked for an extra fee to enjoy following dinner or cocktails.
Additionally, Celebrity’s highly anticipated Celebrity Edge will highlight its Eden venue come this December. I enjoyed a preview of the Eve at Eden experience (available for an additional fee), which shed light on the hybrid venue. The theatric performance brings to life a story of good versus evil amid the service of thematically matched food. For example, Descending Frost is an epic appetizer of sea urchin, fluke fish, shiso leaf and spicy melon transparently plated above a live goldfish bowl and finished with dry ice shavings.
Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., makes a point of saying Eden goes beyond dinner theater to become “performance dining.” So-called “Edenists” populate the venue, delighting passengers with performances and interactive invitations to join in. The evening has an ethereal quality that is both relaxing and stimulating.
And it’s all just the start of amazing specialty entertainment that is still yet to come.
AquaDuck Aqua CoasterOnboard: Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream and Disney FantasyStats: Some 765 feet long; loop cantilevers 12 feet over the ship and about 150 feet above the ocean; 335-foot-long river rapids; approximately 10,000 gallons of water per minute propels riders
AquaDunk Free-Fall WaterslideOnboard: Disney’s Disney MagicStats: Starts on Deck 13; bottom-drops-out launch; 37-foot-tall descent; 20-foot cantilevered loop; Deck 10 finale
IMAX TheatreOnboard: Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista and Carnival HorizonStats: Three-deck-high screen; 182-seat auditorium; screen made up of three panels weighing 7,300 pounds in total
North Star Crane PodOnboard: Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas and soon-to-be Spectrum of the SeasStats: 15-minute ride; more than 300 feet above sea level; 360-degree views
Ocean Loops Free-Fall WaterslideOnboard: Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)’s Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian JoyStats: 276 feet long; 35 feet tall; suspended 159 feet above the waterline and cantilevered 11 feet off the ship; speeds up to 35.8 mph for an average ride time of 10 seconds
Race TrackOnboard: NCL’s Bliss and JoyStats: 984-foot-long track with nine hairpin turns and 10 karts per race; speeds up to 30 mph; eight-minute duration for eight laps
RipCord by iFly Skydiving SimulatorOnboard: Royal Caribbean’s Quantum, Anthem, Ovation and Spectrum Stats: 23-foot-tall glass flight chamber; wind tunnel speeds can top more than 100 mph
SkyRide Suspended Cycling CourseOnboard: Carnival’s Vista, Horizon and soon-to-be Carnival PanoramaStats: Speeds up to 18 mph; two racing lanes; 800-foot-long track; 14 decks above the ocean
The Ultimate Abyss SlideOnboard: Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the SeasStats: 10-story descent; 150 feet above sea level; 27-degree incline; 13.14-second average ride time
ZiplineOnboard: MSC Cruises’ MSC Seaside and MSC SeaviewStats: 345 feet long; 50 feet high at the tallest point; speeds of 12 to 18 mph depending on rider weight and pulley settings