From Disney spectaculars to West End musicals, British pop music to game shows, on-board entertainment really is the business, says Julia McDonald.
When it comes to Disney, we’ve learned to expect great things. Whether it’s the venue, the costumes, the characters or the cast, the standard is always incredibly high – and yet, it’s only natural for one show to stand out. For us, it’s Disney’s Believe that strikes the perfect balance, boasting an original storyline that still manages to include our favourite Disney characters.
If first impressions are anything to go by, it’s hard to imagine Believe being anything but successful. Bedecked in luxurious red velvet complemented by ornate gold detailing, the Walt Disney Theatre creates an extravagant setting reminiscent of Hollywood’s golden era. The show itself follows the journey of Sophia Greenaway, a clever young girl determined to make her father believe in magic, who is given a helping hand by characters including Aladdin’s Genie, Cinderella, Peter Pan and Mary Poppins. Putting more than 300 costumes and 200 wigs to use, Believe is a fun, feel-good show that is magical for the little ones. If you’ve already seen Disney’s Believe, try to catch The Golden Mickeys, where classic Disney characters own the stage in a red-carpet awards show. Alternatively, you can catch your favourite – or should we say least favourite – baddies in Villains Tonight!, which features Cruella De Vil, Captain Hook and Ursula from The Little Mermaid in one devilish performance.
Given Royal Caribbean’s uncanny knack for pushing boundaries, it should come as no surprise to find Chicago making our list of exceptional cruise performances. Where most cruise lines resort to drastic cuts to keep the running time of their musicals under an hour, Chicagowas the first West End show to be performed in its very near entirety, running a luxurious 90 minutes.
Chicago takes to the stage in Allure of the Sea’s 1,380 seat Amber Theatre, a venue equal in both size and grandeur to London’s most impressive playhouses, and, as you settle down to enjoy the production, you’ll realise the cast are anything but average. Absolutely oozing with glitz, glamour and charisma, Roxie Hart, Velma Kelly and Billy Flynn are as seductive at sea as they are on land.
For something entirely out of the ordinary, sunset transforms the deepest freshwater pool at sea into a playground for gymnasts, divers and acrobats. Leaping from trampolines and springboards into a pool bejewelled with lights and fountains, AquaTheatre is truly spectacular. If you prefer water in its solid form, the skill and precision of figure skaters in How To Train Your Dragon will thrill the kids and leave you pleasantly impressed.
Hasbro, The Game Show/ The Punchliner Comedy Club
If the words “Come on down!” send shivers down your spine, you simply can’t miss Carnival’s Hasbro, The Game Show. Based on the Family Game Night television programme, contestants are chosen from Carnival Breeze’s live audience through a series of Trivial Pursuitstyle questions, and compete with either family or friends for Carnivaland Hasbrobranded swag.
Challenges take the form of largerthanlife Hasbro games, so if you’re lucky enough to end up on stage, you might find yourself Yahtzee bowling or playing Connect 4 basketball. If the game show ends and you haven’t been called down, don’t worry! The show takes place more than once each day, so there are plenty of opportunities to win.
If you fancy a bit of comic relief, check out the Punchliner Comedy Club, which features a lineup of crowdpleasing jokers handpicked by comedian and TV personality George Lopez. If you’re brave enough to attempt eating and laughing simultaneously, the Punchliner Comedy Brunch combines hilarity and hollandaise in a single morning’s entertainment.
The British Invasion
You know the feeling you get when you hear a really unbeatable song? The kind that starts you whistling or humming to yourself, or strumming your fingers on the tabletop? Well, if you multiply that feeling by about 20 (or however many songs feature in Princess Cruises’ The British Invasion), you should have an idea of what has placed this show in our top five.
Featuring performances of the biggest British hits from the 1960s onwards, The British Invasion leaves you rather smugly amazed by all of the fantastic music that’s come out of the UK over the past 50 years. The list of hits comes from groups including The Who, The Kinks, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Rod Stewart, Wham!, Queen, Elton John, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles – to name but a few – and when added to a sampling of hits currently topping the charts, there are certain to be at least a couple of songs you’ll love.
If you’re in search of another musical spectacle, give Stardust a try. Featuring hits from the 1950s, it may not maintain a British link, but it still manages to pack more than a few nostalgic favourites including Stardust, Qué Sera Sera, Come On A My House and Unforgettable.
Blue Man Group
Norwegian Cruise Line is consistently ranked as one of the best for on-board entertainment, and when you look at the performances they have on offer, it’s obvious why. If there’s a list of shows you need to see in your life, the Blue Man Group is definitely on it, and the fact you can see it while enjoying a cruise on board Norwegian Epic, what’s more – for no extra charge, simply blows us away.
The Blue Man Group defies simple description. The show is an incredibly entertaining spectacle that incorporates high-tech stage effects, old-fashioned comedy and even mime and clowning. Aboard Epic, the Blue Men provide a fast-paced show featuring lights, non-stop action, technomusic and lots of flying paint. The blue men often call on guests to fill in as the canvas for their artwork or the subjects of their mimicry, and the silent trio create a memorable experience.
The spectacularly acrobatic Cirque Dreams and Dinner is a close runner up and presents the unique opportunity to enjoy surreal aerial displays just a few feet from your dinner table. The show also has a penchant for audience interaction, so if you’re lucky, you might just end up on stage.
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