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Friday File: Carnival Live 2016

It would be nice to tell you that after we wondered aloud two weeks ago when Carnival was going to announce its Carnival Live performers for next year that the cruise line promptly reacted and made the announcement this week. It would also be presumptuous, to say the least. Nonetheless, four entertainers have signed up for what’s believed to be a popular addition to Carnival entertainment — concerts on ships in ports. However, this is the third year for Carnival Live and the number of acts has gone from nine to seven to four. So, are these to be the final four of Carnival Live?…

Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight (no Pips): February 1-2-3 on the Carnival Liberty, Valor and Splendor, in St. Thomas.

KC Sunshine Band

KC & The Sunshine Band: March 22-23-24 on the Carnival Paradise, Fantasy and Breeze, in Cozumel


Journey: Encore performances on May 5-6 on the Carnival Pride and Victory, in Nassau

Trace Adkins

Trace Adkins: July 6-7-8 on the Freedom, Dream and Conquest, in Nassau

In the news…

• Costa signs healthy food, less garbage, food sustainability protocol
• Fire on Ponant’s Le Boreal evacuates all passengers in Antarctica

Today at portsandbows.comMore from Viking river cruise in France

Costa Diadema
7 nights
January 16, 2016
Savona (return): Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Rome, La Spezia
Inside: $495
Cost per day: $70

Carnival Tunes In Top Vocal Group


Come Sunday night, a lot of us will be watching the Academy of Country Music Awards because, well, we like them. Also because it always seems to be more about the music than the awards.

Enter Carnival.

The world’s biggest cruise line is writing a huge success story with its Carnival Live series, in which well-known performs board ships in port, then perform one or two concerts for which passengers are happy to pay, given the sizes of the venues.

There are the old standbys — Journey, Styx, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie — from yesteryear. There is a sprinkling of current performers: Rascall Flatts, Little Big Town, Martina McBride.

And now, the series’ summer/fall line-up includes The Band Perry, for three concerts in Nassau on Carnival ships Sensation, Fascination and Magic.

On Sunday night at the ACMs, these two brothers (Neil, Reid) and older sister (Kimberly) are nominated for “Top Vocal Group” which they won in 2014. That was a year that began by performing at the Super Bowl pre-game show, then touring with Blake Shelton. This year, they won a Grammy and now they’re headliners on tour.

Get the message?

The Band Perry is hot in country music and that makes Carnival a winner. Make that, more of a winner. Older passengers enjoyed seeing the stars of the past. Now they’ll be joined by younger, hipper spectators…because of The Band Perry.

Today at portsandbows.com: Deals from AmaWaterways, Avalon

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
May 10, 2015
Galveston (return): Cozumel, Belize, Roatan
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

Carnival’s Voices Of Freedom

In quasi-military vernacular, what happened in Galveston on the weekend might be called the “perfect storm.”

Operation Homefront, recognizing the troops. A country singer, because country singers are the most prominent pro-military entertainers. And a ship called “Freedom.”

This was Carnival’s Freedom, of course, and it was in Galveston to begin operations from its new home-port. It was also Carnival’s Martina McBride, the country superstar who has Freedom-Galvestonbeen performing in the cruise line’s wildly popular entertainment series called Carnival Live.

And both of them were there to pay tribute to troops.

A check for $100,000 was cut for Operation Homefront, the nonprofit that supports military families, some of whom were the audience for what was called an exclusive Carnival Live concert by the winner of 14 Grammy Awards. She sang from the upper deck of a ship that last year underwent a $70-million refurbishing that enhanced its family features, such as Seuss At Sea and Camp Ocean, where kids enjoy 200 marine-themed activities.

The consensus was that McBride gave a show-stopping performance. For those of us who have seen her (twice now), this is not a surprise. She was the consummate professional the first time we saw her, in 1996, and again in 2013. All the succeeding years did was make her even better.

“Performing for these military families was an incredible honor,” she said in Galveston. “I’m so glad I was asked to be part of it.”

Carnival now has three ships based in Galveston — the Triumph, the Magic and the Freedom. While it may not be a stretch to make a military connection to the names of all three, nothing speaks to the troops like the Freedom does.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas
14 nights
May 4, 2015
Tampa, Norfolk, Cork, Cherbourg, Brussels, London
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $57

Big Doin's In Big D On Sunday

Dallas StadiumIf you’re watching the Cowboys and the Giants from Texas on Sunday, there’s a couple of performers at the “palace in Dallas” (actually, Arlington) that you probably won’t see. Both of them have to do with cruising (actually, Carnival).

One is Rascal Flatts. The award-winning country band is doing a pre-game show. The Carnival connection is that next year Rascal Flatts will be doing shows as part of Carnival Live — dates and places still unknown.

The other is Guy Fieri. He’s also doing a pre-game show — well, sort of — but it’ll be out in the parking lot, where all good hamburger chefs belong when there’s a tail-gate party and they can sell some product. This Carnival connection here, of course, is that Señor Fieri’s burgers are consumed in great numbers on all 24 ships.

Carnival has hitched its wagon (they do a lot of that in Texas) to the Cowboys in the promotional department because that’s one of the synergies, as they say, that seems to work for cruise lines and football teams alike. In one form or another, each sells its product to the other’s customers, not all of whom overlap.

This isn’t entirely new.

Carnival already co-promotes with the New Orleans Saints (at least they and the Cowboys can never meet in the Super Bowl) and has a long association with the Miami Heat. Norwegian is the “official cruise line” of the Miami Dolphins, and has a working relationship with the New York Knicks. Celebrity has been tied to the New York Rangers. And last month, Princess announced it was becoming a proud sponsor of NFL teams in Seattle, Houston and San Francisco.

The difference this time is that Carnival is marketing in a big way with a team in Dallas, which is not a cruise port.

Then again, the Cowboys are “America’s team.”

Today at portsandbows.com: Some of the Oasis changes

Carnival Dream
7 nights
December 14, 2014
New Orleans (return): Key West, Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $329
Cost per day: $47

Supply And Demand — Carnival Live 

In the first year of our marriage, a few decades ago, we paid $1.25 to see the ForeverRay_STAMPincomparable Ray Charles in concert. No, it was not during The Great Depression. It was just the going rate for concert tickets (or some of them) at the time.

When Carnival introduced its Carnival Live concert series this year, the going rate started at $20 to see and hear performers like Lady Antebellum, Chicago, Jennifer Hudson. The concerts have been staged on Carnival ships while they’re in port, and they were so successful that Carnival Live will be back for an encore in 2015.

At a different going rate.

Tickets will start at $35.

The point is that, like almost everything else, prices are dictated by supply and demand. Carnival didn’t know what people who had already bought tickets for their cruise would be prepared to add to the expense for a concert, so the decision was made to start modestly at $20, up to $100 for a meet-and-greet with the artists.

Popularity has driven that price up, too. Depending on who you meet, it’ll cost between $125 and $250, according to our Ports and Bows colleague Phil Reimer.

The only common act from this year, so far, is Styx. Coincidentally, of all the 2014 acts, Styx (below) did the most shows — six. Will Kansas or REO Speedwagon or Lady A return Styxin 2015? Perhaps, since only five shows have been confirmed…Smokey Robinson, Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town and Journey are the others.

That Carnival is charging more demonstrates what a bargain these concerts were in 2014. It also could mean even bigger names will flock to the ports as Carnival Live generates more income for the cruise line.

Supply and demand…remember?

Today at portsandbows.com: Hail Britannia!

Norwegian Jade
10 nights
January 14, 2015
Rome (return): Olympia, Athens, Ephesus, Istanbul, Naples
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $49

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