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Entertainment on Cruise Ships
You can trace it back to the Big Red Boat from Premier Cruises, the first liner to sail out of Port Canaveral with a licensing agreement from Disney to have Micky Mouse and Goofy in character on ship. This idea was first conceived by a Bruce Nierenberg, first to see the potential of "drive-to" cruise ports like Port Canaveral, now the home of Disney Cruise Lines and Carnival's largest cruise ship, Carnival Dream, especially when you combine cruises with the entertainment capital of Florida; Orlando.
Disney is a very smart company; essentially entering the cruise market because of Bruce proved the formula first. Disney launched their first cruise ship in 1998 and the mainstay of their cruise experience has been the presence of Disney "character experiences" onboard ever since.
When Disney first entered the market there was little effect on the rest of the cruise lines. Disney has limited its fleet to just two ships for the last 12 years (two new Disney ships will debut in the next two years). It certainly isn't as if Disney has taken over the cruise industry. But there has been a subtle change.
There are two areas where Disney has definitely upped the ante for the rest of the cruise industry - inspiring changes to children's programs and the introduction of far better cruise ship entertainment. Disney was the first to put big shows like Toy Story, the Musical on cruise ships. Suddenly other cruise lines all started reaching higher - more effects, better scripts. The next Disney cruise ship, Disney Dream, slated to arrive in January 2011, will feature an all new musical called "Villains" with all of the great Disney villains of the past; Captain Hook, Cruella de Vil, Ursula from Little Mermaid and Jafar from Aladdin.
Now we have Norwegian Epic, the first non-Disney cruise ship where entertainment is the number one reason to book the ship.
Royal Caribbean licensed the Broadway versions of Hairspray and the original Broadway version Chicago slated for the Allure of the Seas when she arrives. Now Cunard has just announced that it plans to hire real actors for the forthcoming Queen Elizabeth cast - rather than forcing singers and dancers into acting roles. The QE shows will have a cast of 29 singers, dancers, actors and musicians.
Taking even more cues from Disney, Royal Caribbean has reached into the kid's character world in a BIG way. In a new alliance with DreamWorks Animation, Royal Caribbean's four biggest ships sailing out of the U.S. (Oasis, Allure, Freedom and Liberty) will soon feature live interaction with the most recognizable DreamWorks characters like Shrek, Fiona, Puss in Boots, Po the King Fu Panda and Marty the lion from Madagascar.
Here is a "feel good" story; Micky Mouse and other Disney characters have been alive on Disney cruise ships for decades. Just like the new Disney Cruises' musical, the latest DreamWorks movie, Shrek 3, pays homage to several animated Disney villains; Snow White's evil step-queen, Captain Hook, Gepetto and Cinderella's jealous stepsisters. But in Shrek 3 these characters are portrayed in the cartoonish two-dimensional animation style used in the original Disney movies. As they interact with the more realistic DreamWorks characters they finally come alive at the end of the movie. They live happily ever after in the land of "Far Far Away."
Now Royal Caribbean is bringing DreamWorks characters to life on its ships just like Disney characters have been alive on Disney cruise ships for years. It's a full circle where everyone lives happily ever after.
Royal Caribbean will have ice shows featuring DreamWorks characters from the film "How to Train your Dragon" and the two newest ships, Oasis and Allure, will present "AquaTheater" water-themed shows based on the animated movie "Madagascar."
And in perhaps the biggest move inspired by Disney Cruise Line, Oasis and Allure are installing 3-D movie theaters with the most advanced style of 3-D, the polarization method, to show 3-D films by DreamWorks such as "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Monsters vs. Aliens," just as Disney ships have had for years.
The full implementation of the DreamWorks program on Royal Caribbean is set to be in full swing on Allure this December, 2010, coinciding with its debut. Sister ship Oasis and Liberty and Freedom should have their enhancements in place by March, 2011.
NCL also announced a formal agreement with Nickelodeon last January, and Nickelodeon characters like SpongeBob Square Pants and Dora are already on the larger NCL ships as part of their children's programs. Getting slimed on NCL is now as common as eating at Le Bistro. Learn more about NCL's Nickelodeon at Sea.
NCL features a "Breakfast with Nickelodeon" where kids can interface with all of the famous characters from the Nickelodeon channel. Royal Caribbean is also planning to have character meals in its main dining rooms on Oasis, Allure, Freedom and Liberty.
Care to discuss this topic in our forums? Which Cruise Line has the Best Entertainment?
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