Forget the old jokes about the so-so quality of cruise ship entertainers: Productions at night are de rigueur on all but the smallest vessels, and they’ve gotten a lot better in the last few years. Now, on large the big ships, you’ll find Broadway-caliber productions complete with sets that rise and turn, smoke, lighting effects, and directional sound. Sure, the Tribute to ABBA! shows crop up every now and again, but they’re gradually fading into the sunset in favor of smarter and more elaborate productions.
Live music is also making a comeback on board many big ships. Carnival’s Fun Ships offer a surprising amount of music, with piano bars, pop and rock duos, and on-deck DJ’s. Cunard kicks things up a notch for classical music lovers with some of the best instrumental artists on the high seas, and themed voyages featuring the National Symphony Orchestra. Holland America Line has dedicated an entire area of their new Koningsdam to music, and even small-ship lines like Windstar Cruises employ at least a pianist to dance the night away to.
Obviously, entertainment varies from line to line and a few lines have some additional perks. Disney Cruise Line, for example, gets to run the entire Disney library on board its whimsical ships, while Carnival spearheaded some of the best comedy clubs at sea with their Punchliner Comedy Club.
And kudos to Princess Cruises for reinventing the way vacationers watch movies on board. In 2004, they outfitted the then-new Caribbean Princess with a gigantic poolside movie screen and sound system, and Movies Under the Stars was born. The technology has since been adopted by many other lines.
Will I Get Seasick?
You’ll want to choose your ship carefully if you’re concerned about seasickness. Keep in mind that big ships tend to be more stable than smaller ships, but that all ships will move around if the winds or the swells are high enough. That being said, ship stability has improved dramatically in recent years. The vast majority of cruise ships built nowadays have stabilizers: finlike surfaces that swing out from the hull underwater, much like the wings of an airplane. These help to reduce the rolling (left-to-right) of the ship, which is what causes people the most discomfort. Stabilizers, however, do not counteract pitch, which is the ship rising at the bow and the stern.