Changes at Royal Caribbean Entertainment

| Sept. 19, 2013

Pictured is Two70° from Quantum of the Seas
This daytime seating venue becomes
a theater at night

Arguably the most innovative cruise entertainment executive ever, Peter Compton of Royal Caribbean retires.

It is rare that I ever see cruise ship entertainment mentioned in the mainstream media without it being followed by that Rodney Dangerfield moment, "Let me tell you, I get no respect!" But in fact there are now examples of cruise ship entertainment with levels of talent and technical expertise that rival some of the best entertainment venues anywhere today.

One of the leaders in cruise ship entertainment today is Royal Caribbean. The line has partnered with companies like DreamWorks and the producers of shows like "Hairspray" and "Chicago, the Musical" to create top-notch entertainment experiences for cruisers. But in addition, Royal Caribbean has explored completely new ways to bring truly innovative entertainment to cruise ships that other cruise lines have never even dreamed about. Royal Caribbean's innovative ice-skating shows, showcasing some of the best skaters in the world to perform on several of its cruise ships, are just one example.

The coup-de-grace for Royal Caribbean in terms of overcoming logistic challenges are the Aqua-Theater shows on Oasis and Allure of the Seas, however. These are water-based shows with acrobatics and extreme high dives done on the stern of an open deck. What they do is unbelievable, and just so you know, I have met production members for these shows and I can verify that the productions are even more challenging than they look - there are logistics behind the scenes a regular cruiser would never even think about.

Finally, Royal Caribbean brought the characters from several top movies and presented them in unusual ways particularly exciting for kids. The parades in Royal Caribbean ship's Royal Promenades featuring Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, for example, evoke images of the original Micky's Mouse "Electrical Extravaganza" parades down Main Street in Disneyland.

So, it has been barely mentioned that the person who led all of the Royal Caribbean entertainment innovation over the last 25 years, Peter Compton, just retired. He was with the company over 24 years, but spent 43 years in show business and started his cruise career aboard the Sunward, which at the time belonged to Norwegian Caribbean Lines. He was a "want-to-be" singer in the style of Jack Jones, popular solo in the 1960s and he says he "jumped at the chance" to sing on cruise ships although he had never sailed on one before. Peter Compton wrote a guest blog on the Royal Caribbean Blog site about his lifetime adventures.

Maybe I am partial to this story because it evokes my own entry into cruise entertainment as a stage manager. I was working in recording studios in Hollywood, CA, when my first offer from a cruise line came along.

His successor, Nick Weir, will start October 14, and he will take over plans for the Quantum series of ships where Compton left off, which will be coming to Royal Caribbean soon. Unlike Compton, Weir was raised in the cruise business; his parents were both cruise directors and entertainers while he was growing up. Weir has also consulted for Celebrity, Costa and Star Clippers.

I predict Quantum will be a very innovative ship in terms of entertainment. We already know about the new Two70-degree venue which will appear almost by magic in the stern facing open public rooms. The windows will go dark for a staging background and aerial artists will descend from the rafters. It was also just announced that the cruise director on Quantum will be Jimmy Rhodes, who has 10 years experience as a cruise director for Royal Caribbean now.

Rhodes said he will head all entertainment for guests 18 and older and manage a team of about 120 dancers, musicians, youth and activities staff.

While Rhodes may be the full time cruise director for Quantum of the Seas, there are other reports that Richard Spacey will be the cruise director for Quantum of the Seas during its first few cruises, with Rhodes assuming the duties afterwards.

Quantum of the Seas' inaugural cruise is set for November 14, 2014 from Cape Liberty, New Jersey.

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