The Evolution Of Cruise Ship Entertainment

From quiet reading to live music to Broadway at sea.

According to AOL Travel, the first dedicated cruise ship set sail in 1900 from Germany. The Prinzessin, which featured a gymnasium, library and a dark room, introduced the notion that the onboard experience itself could involve leisure and entertainment, breaking away from the 19th century practicality of getting from Point A to Point B.

In the early 1900s, luxury cruise ships introduced amenities like swimming pools and Turkish baths and orchestras performed throughout the day and evening. By the 1970s, entertainment expanded to include bingo nights, concerts, Las Vegas-style musical revues and cruiser talent shows.

While concerts and performing families are still a mainstay on some of today’s ships, other cruise lines are expanding their entertainment options to include the types of professional productions vacationers seek in major cities around the world. In Royal Caribbean International’s case, that means world-class musical theater.

Since 2010, Royal Caribbean made it possible to experience the world-famous acting, singing and dancing of Broadway without stepping foot in the Big Apple. Bringing in the same talent that graces the stages of the Great White Way, the cruise line currently offers guests a seat at Hairspray, Chicago: The Musical and Saturday Night Fever. This fall, Mamma Mia will join the ranks on board Quantum of the Seas.

Christi Coachman-Orengo, Royal Caribbean Productions’ director of entertainment is excited about both the tunes and the storyline.

“Abba music is incredible, who doesn’t like Abba music? Really? Seriously? And the show is really creatively written around Abba music,” she said. “Mamma Mia is a story about a young girl who is getting married on a Greek island and she wants her father to walk her down the aisle. She does a little snooping in her mom’s diary because she’s not too sure who her father is…and you are going to have to see the rest onboard Quantum.”

Those who have traveled to New York City from around the world to see Mamma Mia agree that everything from the music to the story to the costumes was top notch. Perhaps if they were to see it a second time while cruising the Caribbean, stepping outside to take in the crashing waves and open sky during intermission, their reviews would be even more enthusiastic.

As for the next phase in the evolution of cruise ship entertainment, what the future holds is anybody’s guess. But one thing is for sure: it will have to shatter a brand new set of at sea expectations.

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