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“I really love the guy in the pool right now,” said Canadian pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen before launching into another song on her hourlong playlist. A temporary stage, erected on Lido Deck 9 onboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Splendor, gave the 32-year-old singer a bird’s-eye view of any aquatic activities taking place during her performance.
A change of tune for the brand’s Carnival Live concert series, Jepsen’s performance took place at sea Feb.18 during a weeklong Mexican Riviera cruise sailing roundtrip from Long Beach, Calif. Unlike previous Carnival Live performances, the concert was free for all guests and held outside under the moonlight.
“Carnival Live has been hugely successful since its launch in 2014, and we thought it would be great if we offered the same high-caliber performances to everyone sailing on a particular voyage free of charge on the Lido Deck while the ship was at sea,” said Sarah Beth Reno, vice president of entertainment for Carnival.
The concert began at 10 p.m., though passengers could begin claiming spaces an hour in advance. There was no mad rush and no long lines; guests seemed to find their way in at a leisurely pace. The location of the stage made viewing possible from three decks. Spreading out the crowd among numerous decks also helped prevent the space from feeling packed or uncomfortable.
Carnival’s Diamond and Platinum cruisers received access to the VIP area, putting them front and center. A cluster of tweens and teens in the group were just a bit shy of being able to touch the stage, but at numerous points in the show, Jepsen made a point to reach out and grab their hands as she performed. Just behind the VIP section, fans who were determined to get as close to the stage as possible rolled up the legs of their pants and stood in a shallow stretch of the pool. A brave few jumped in fully clothed.
A good chunk of the crowd got at least a little wet, thanks to a short rain shower while Jepsen sang her song “Making the Most of the Night.” But the entertainer was a great sport about it.
“I love nothing more than performing in the rain,” she said with a big smile on her face.
Though Jepsen fans were strong and loud, there were also plenty of folks who didn’t know there was going to be a concert onboard. Of the ship’s 3,000 or so passengers, there were those who didn’t necessarily know Jepsen’s songs, but didn’t rule out the idea of staying up late for the show. Guest ages varied from seniors to the stroller set, but there were some 800 kids onboard taking advantage of the Presidents’ Day school holiday that fell during the sailing. Since the concert took place while Splendor was sailing to Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas, fans didn’t have to give up any time in port to sing and dance the night away. (After two days in Cabo, the ship also had a stop in Puerta Vallarta.)
Names and dates for future Carnival Live acts are expected to be announced soon. Carnival Live programming for itineraries, regardless of where cruises originate, is essentially the same.
“We try to find acts with broad-based appeal that resonate with our spirited and fun-loving guests,” Reno said.
No word yet on whether future shows will also be open-air and complimentary. But for clients new to cruising who love to sing and dance, a free concert could seal the deal.