The major cruise lines have long been renowned for their entertainment – during their holiday, guests can enjoy glitzy shows in magnificent theatres that easily rival top West End and Broadway productions.
As the industry has grown and cruise ships themselves have become the ‘destination’, operators have added more options to keep people enthralled.
And cruise companies are continually pushing the boundaries of what is possible, with action-packed activities including go carting and rock-climbing for thrill-seekers, character breakfasts for young ones and meet-and-greet opportunities for people of all ages – offering something for everyone.
It’s now commonplace for cruise lines to partner with big showbiz names – one example is P&O and Gary Barlow. Another is adult-only cruise line Virgin Voyages, whose Chief Entertainment and Lifestyle Officer is global superstar Jennifer Lopez.
Fifteen-ship operator Celebrity Cruises believes: “The entertainment on board our fleet is just as revolutionary and carefully crafted as the ships themselves.
“We believe entertainment should happen 24/7. It should be fresh and unpredictable, surrounding you and delighting you with spaces and experiences never seen before.”
New premium value no-fly cruise line Ambassador Cruise Line believes ‘quality entertainment shouldn’t have to come at a high price’.
Its Palladium theatre showcases impressive performances, including Magical Movie Moments, which celebrates iconic and memorable music from some of the biggest blockbuster movies of all time.
Another Ambassador performance is Dance Dance Dance, choreographed by Strictly Come Dancing star Anton Du Beke, which takes the audience on a tour of dance through the decades, with guest virtual appearances from the star himself.
As well as putting on West End-style shows, ships’ theatres also serve as venues for dance, comedy and magic acts, as well as special appearances by guest performers.
The Den, on Azamara’s ships has a flat-screen TV and full bar, making it the perfect place to unwind with friends and watch sports events, while the Living Room is the place to go for dance music and the occasional karaoke night.
The big screen
A trip to the cinema can be arranged, with the programme likely to include a mixture of new releases and classics, to suit all tastes. The bigger ships have more than one auditorium and some show outdoor film screenings.
These include Princess Cruises’ 300-square-foot poolside movie theatre, Movies Under the Stars, which shows feature films, concerts and sporting events.
The entertainment doesn’t stop when the theatre show has ended. The major cruise lines have nightclubs, and a choice of bars and other venues that offer live music and perhaps some comedy. Virgin Voyages’ onboard night clubs are over two storeys, while guests can also book private karaoke booths.
A big draw for cruisers is the onboard casinos, where guests can try their luck at poker, blackjack, roulette or the slot machines.
There’s always something happening on deck, be it a themed party; musician or group; acrobatic show or jugglers to wow the crowd.
Cruise lines often bring local musicians, singers or troupes onboard, enabling guests to get a feel for the destination they’re visiting.
Pub quizzes, bridge sessions, deck games, sports courts and gaming rooms are now commonplace on many ships. Some of the larger ships also have attractions such as waterparks, rock climbing and ice skating to keep everyone entertained.