As much as it’s great visiting new ports and not having to be repeatedly packing and unpacking, I’ve always thought that one of the best things about cruising is the on-board entertainment. There’s usually a big show every night, as well as numerous options for listening to music in a range of genres. Better still, it’s part of the package – no extra charge for entertainment that you would usually be paying big dollars for on land. I have, however, been on cruises where the entertainment is good but nothing to write home about or even remember. It might add to the pleasure of the cruise experience but it lacks that ‘wow’ factor.
On the cruise we did out of Barcelona with Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas, the ‘wow’ factor was there almost every night. During the cruise – which docked in Cannes, La Spezia, Rome, Athens, Mykonos, Santorini and Malta – the ship picked up some first-class European acts along the way. In addition, there was a nine-piece resident orchestra and a company of singers and dancers whose performances were vibrant and memorable.
Of the other groups that played in various locations around the ship at different times, Tropical Jam provided an up tempo, toe-tapping Latin beat while Soul Inspiration never failed to impress with an extensive repertoire of rock and pop, old and new. Classical tastes were catered for with the brilliant Villa Nella trio, while Pedro Montilla provided a lively mixture of guitar favourites across all music genres.
‘Brilliance’ is probably a good word to describe the quality of acts in the Pacifica Theatre, ranging from Broadway hits, soul music, saxophone virtuoso and a Beatles cover band to magic, ventriloquism and a record-breaking juggling act.
We’ve seen some of the magic tricks before, but Philip Hitchcock added a very funny edge and a twist to his feats of illusion. Many in the audience were laughing so much they were in tears.
The Danion family have a long tradition in France in the art of juggling and balance and Jaz Danion is the third generation to perform feats that defy logic. He holds the world record for balancing an ice bucket atop a tower of wine glasses, and the audience drew a collective breath as he staggered back and forth across the stage with it. To perfect this feat, he told the audience, it had cost him a fortune in wine glasses. Incredibly, he balanced a spoon on his shoe and deftly flicked it into the air, catching it on his forehead, where it sat poised upright on its end.
In the same season that Susan Boyle came to prominence in Britain’s Got Talent, Julian Smith rated third with his performance on the soprano saxophone. Judging from the applause and the shouts for ‘more’, his performance on Brilliance of the Seas was worthy of a first prize. His demonstration of circular breathing in playing the sax lasted way longer than you’d think a human being could possibly hold their breath.
One of the stand-out artists on our cruise was Bruce Parker, performing some of the classics of soul music and relating a beautiful blend of soul history and personal anecdotes, all delivered with a warmth and humour that had the audience totally captivated. Also exceptional was an evening with the Tango Buenos Aires Orchestra starring professional tango dancers Carolina and Gabriel, whose energetic, synchronised steps were completely mesmerizing.
On a Mediterranean cruise, you get to visit some of the iconic places that ring that sea with its special sparkling shade of blue, but when you come back on board every night to top level entertainment and highly talented artists, it just puts the icing on the cake.
Christine and Maurie travelled on board Brilliance of the Seas as guests of Royal Caribbean.
Information and bookings: www.royalcaribbean.com.au