Carnival Steps Up "FunShip" Fun

| Thursday, 15 Dec. 2011
The $500-million Funship 2.0 initiative from Carnival.

Carnival Steps Up "FunShip" Fun

Carnival Cruise Line just held a showcase event onboard Carnival Liberty to demonstrate the next step in "FunShip" vacations; a new $500-million project called "FunShip 2.0." The line will be adding new entertainment, dining and nightclub spots aboard all vessels in the Carnival fleet newer than the eight Fantasy-class vessels. The new entertainment and nightlife elements will be spotlighted onboard with centralized locations for maximum passenger interaction.

The older Fantasy-class vessels all underwent upgrades throughout the late 2000-decade.

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Cruise line entertainment has become far more competitive lately, with Disney (arguably the entertainment leader) introducing two new and bigger ships in just the last two years. This was just after Norwegian Cruise Line introduced Norwegian Epic with Blue Man Group, Legends at Sea and Second City Comedy onboard. Norwegian also has two brand new ships under construction, and we are looking forward to entertainment announcements for those new ships coming soon. Royal Caribbean added DreamWorks characters and Broadway shows to its largest ships.

In comparison, throughout the last few years Carnival has remained somewhat mute about its entertainment, choosing to stay the course with its nighttime offerings.

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But last October Carnival announced that Carnival Liberty would be the first ship to get the FunShip 2.0 makeover. What does FunShip 2.0 look like? The most apparent differentiating factor between Carnival's entertainment and the three cruise lines mentioned above is that the focus is more on night-spots; specifically bars and eateries, especially night-clubs and bars with food. Carnival is the only cruise line not to introduce extensive new onboard entertainment concepts just for kids, for example, or 3-D movie theaters.

The one aspect of FunShip 2.0 that does focus specifically on entertainment is the new "Punchliner Comedy Club." Carnival implemented comedy club-style shows in existing venues on all of its ships in the last few years, but the line is now taking them to the next level by hiring well-known television comedian George Lopez to become the "curator of comedy," the "finder of funny" and the "locator of laugh out loud."

According to Carnival, Lopez will be "hand-selecting comedic talent for our fleet" and if alliteration is any indication it sounds like Carnival "picked the perfect punch line pro." The Punchliner comedy club is live on Carnival Liberty already, with four different comedians performing during the course of the special event cruise.

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The other main entertainment upgrade is a change in the concept of production shows. Carnival has found a new creative outfit, Playlist Productions, which includes multimedia producer of renown, L.A.-based Robb Wagner, whose credits include Michael Jackson's "This is It" Tour, the MTV Video Music Awards, Academy Awards and Disney's "High School Musical" Concert Tour. Wagner will integrate video into several new stage shows by utilizing two large LED screens on both sides of the stage. Two other two production show pros coming aboard are Creative Directors Peter Flynn of New York and Paul Robert of the U.K.

Significantly, these new main shows will be far shorter than usual cruise shows - a mere 30-minutes - and they will be offered much more frequently than what is now typical for cruise ship shows - some days will offer two showings of one production and a singular showing of a different production on the same night. There will also be matinees added to the schedule.

So far, four different show themes have been announced, although Carnival says it plans to develop as many as ten different 30-minute shows all together. The new show titles include "Divas," a potpourri of music, fashion and dance celebrating popular female artists such as Barbra Streisand, Beyonce, Celine Dion, Cher, Madonna and Whitney Houston.

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"Latin Nights" brings "the passion of Latin culture to life" through the music of Gloria Estefan, Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez, Santana and Shakira. "Motor City" celebrates the R&B sound of Motown. "The Brits!" is a musical tribute to the British invasion featuring "a stunning mix of live action and video animation for songs by the Beatles, the Who, Herman's Hermits and Elton John."

There are many other elements to FunShip 2.0, especially in the area of food, which we will be describing in future articles in CruiseMates. Please stay tuned in to our site for more insight on breaking FunShip 2.0 cruise news.

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