Cruise Ships a Haven for Entertainers

It seems to us that two things have been a boon to the concert industry over the past few years — casinos and cruise ships. You could say to the “small” concert industry, for entertainers who never have, never could or can no longer fill 20,000 arenas.

Casinos more than cruise ships have provided them with a venue. Cruise ships are starting to catch up.

These are people like Chubby Checker, Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, Little Anthony, Charley Pride (left), Lesley Gore, Bobby Rydell, The Crystals, Frankie Avalon, The Drifters. All have played or will play on cruise ships around North America. All have known varying degrees of success. All have maintained the ability to entertain, at least that’s been our experience, and we’ve gone out of our way to see many such oldtimers.

The latest such theme cruise to surface is another Malt-Shop Memories Cruise from Time-Life and Sixthman, a theme cruise organizer. It’s on the Carnival Sensation, it’s four nights of doo-wap and dancing after leaving Port Canaveral, and there’s a stop in the Bahamas along the way. Performers include Chubby — celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Twist — Little Anthony & The Imperials, The Crystals and The Drifters.

Cruise entertainment also help the not-so-famous. A Washington State songstress, Brandi Carlile, impressed Norwegian Dawn passengers earlier this year. A long-time, under-the-radar singer/songwriter named Jo-El Sonnier, who has a Grammy-nominated song in his arsenal, impressed us on the Celebrity Millennium…he’s been around for two decades but we’d never heard of him.

Musically themed cruises aren’t for everyone. USA Today’s Gene Sloan fielded a complaint from one cruiser who claimed shipboard activities were altered on a Carnival cruise with a country music theme (Charley Pride) that ran throughout the ships’ bars and shops. The author, who warns cruisers to ask about themes before booking, hates country music.

Hard to believe that, isn’t it?

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