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Last month, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) launched a new set of documentary-style videos called “Embark – The Series,” which highlights the brand’s imminent return to welcoming guests back onboard. The docuseries offers a behind-the-scenes take on “how NCL does what it does,” according to Christine Da Silva, vice president of public relations for NCL.
The series debuted with two episodes delving into Norwegian’s entertainment offerings, with the first nearly 40-minute livestream showcasing “The Choir of Man.” The celebration of pub culture includes communal, albeit physically distanced, performances of upbeat numbers such as “Save Tonight,” “Escape (The Pina Colada Song),” “Hello” and “Some Nights,” all of which will then be available on-demand.
During a November press conference, Richard Ambrose, senior vice president of entertainment and cruise programming at Norwegian, shed light on what onboard performances will look like once the line’s cruises resume.
Rest assured, all of Norwegian’s productions, including “Jersey Boys,” are set to return, but the biggest difference will be how audiences are initially spaced in the theater.
We’ve had to totally rework how we operate on a day-to-day basis.
According to Ambrose, guests will be arranged “like a checkerboard,” with cruisers sitting in every other seat, in every other row. Plus, any social interactions with the performers will be distanced for a time.
Specific to, say, The Cavern Club experience with The Beatles cover band, “we’re going to most likely have a tape barrier that you can't go beyond so that our guests can’t dance so close to our people,” he said.
Other options the line is considering include having headliner comedy sets on deck.
“Our guests love being outside,” he said. “So, imagine sailing in the Caribbean watching a comedian.”
Ambrose stressed that onboard safety is of paramount importance. For indoor performances, that means creating an onstage bubble. This will require personnel to wear masks back of house but not performers out front when dancing or singing.
“We’ve been given permission by our health department in working with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” he said.
As a further precaution, he said shows will be restaged and blocked so that vocalists are not singing directly to each other.
With capacities per show limited, Norwegian plans to offer extra performances as well as reservations to accommodate all guests who are interested in seeing them.
“There’s a lot to modify, and there are a lot of rules and regulations that we have to abide by,” explained Ambrose.
That will include entertainment onboard test sailings per CDC’s “Framework for Conditional Sailing Order.”
Looking further ahead, when asked how the pandemic has changed how Norwegian plans for any new and future entertainment options, Ambrose admitted “everything has changed,” from globally recruiting talent and training them shoreside to getting them back on ships. For instance, even the line’s corporate studio facility in Tampa is now capacity-limited, and each COVID-19-free cast has to be kept “in a bubble.”
"We’ve had to totally rework how we operate on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
Ultimately, though, “the experience will be different, but it will still be amazing,” Da Silva said.
The DetailsNorwegian Cruise Linewww.ncl.com
Norwegian's Embark – The Serieswww.nclembark.com