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Magic To Do Just For Princess

The nice thing about new music and shows and entertainment in general is that they never end. There are always creative minds that come along with something fresh and this is Stephen Schwartz-3-Magic to Doespecially true in cruising, an industry always eager to find a unique way to entertain thousands of passengers on cruise ships.

The pendulum of innovation now strikes Princess.

It’s called Magic To Do.

This is an original musical that will make its debut on the Crown Princess in the fall. There’s always a risk in creating original shows, for the simple reason that they’ve never been accepted, or popular, or award winners. To minimize the risk, you find a proven talent.

Stephen Schwartz-2-Ralf RühmeierLike Stephen Schwartz.

Proven? Three Academy Awards and six Tony Awards. Proven? The only songwriter in history to have three shows run on Broadway for 1,900 performances — Wicked, Pippin and Godspell.

Schwartz has been doing this for 40 years so Princess believes he’s a safe enough bet to sign him to a multi-year contract. Like most cruise lines, it has ship theaters that are capable of handling Broadway-style productions, which have already captivated passengers with long-running shows on Royal Caribbean (CATS and Mamma Mia! and Chicago and We Will Rock You) and Norwegian (Rock of Ages and Legally Blonde).

Princess says Schwartz, now 67, has had a life-long fascination with magic and that the new show will combine that with some of his famous songs and one he’s writing  exclusively for the cruise line. That’s about all that’s being said right now about Magic to Do, the first of four productions that will surface on the Princess fleet in the years ahead.

There are no guarantees they’ll be hits…but that’s show business, isn’t it?

- Stephen Schwartz photro by Ralf Rühmeier

Today at portsandbows.com: More details on Princess entertainment

Carnival Fascination
4 nights
April 30, 2015
Jacksonville (return): Freeport, Nassau
Inside: $289
Cost per day: $72

Cruise Ships A Respite From Cats?

A husband and wife in Dublin had an unusual request for a travel writer this month: How could they take a cat-free holiday? The wife had a “cat phobia” and it didn’t matter where they went in Europe, there were cats…in restaurants, under tables, in hotel lobbies, even on the street!

CatMillions of us who travel on almost any cruise ship had the obvious answer, but it took the travel writer a while to get around to it.

She did her homework, because that’s what travel writers do. At Euromonitor, she discovered a graph of “cat- and dog- owning nations” but we couldn’t find it so we’re not sure if she was looking for the pet population — or nations that are owned by cats and dogs. 

Neither came up.

The travel writer did point out that cruise ships are cat-free, then went on to reveal that Barcelona is a big cruise port (really?) and that there are usually “coach or boat excursions” operated in cruise ports. She even mentioned the names of a few cruise lines…Celebrity, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, MSC.

She did miss the boat on a couple of things. One, Cunard does allow cats on its three ships — they stay in an on-board kennel and their owners are allowed regular visits. And two, she should’ve told them to avoid Oasis of the Seas, the world’s biggest cruise ship.

Because Oasis has CATS!

The musical.

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruise update — women rule!

Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
7 nights
January 18, 2015
Galveston (return): FalmouthGeorge TownCozumel 
Inside: $387
Cost per day: $55

Oasis of the Seas — More Perfect 

The fact that Oasis of the Seas has now emerged from its inaugural refurbishing means that it is, indeed, five years since the big ship became known as the biggest. There has been nary a complaint about this ship, and its sister Allure of the Seas, which will get its first makeover next spring.

So, about that encore…

For its encore, Oasis emerged from a shipyard in The Netherlands yesterday with a new Oasis of the SeasBroadway show (CATS), changes to its back end (not the stern!) to prepare it for Dynamic Dining, new specialty restaurants and the fastest Internet anywhere that land can’t be seen…according to Royal Caribbean.

All of which proves that it’s tough to improve on near-perfection.

The new dining concept won’t go into effect until spring, because Royal Caribbean wants to introduce it on new ships Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas and the new show, CATS, is a changing of the cast after Hairspray’s five-year run. If you’ve been reading comments on our blogs, you likely saw that one reader thinks the new concept will be a flop.

Whether it is or not, the first big winner with passengers is going to be high-speed Internet access because, if it’s as good as Royal Caribbean says, that’s a game-changer for an industry known for slow-speed Internet.

The refurbishing of Oasis wasn’t without a little controversy. The Dutch website DutchNews.nl reported that “hundreds of workers were flown into Rotterdam” in order to complete the refurbishing on time and that 48 of them  did not have a “work permit.” As a result, the news agency says, Royal Caribbean is subject to fines totaling 600,000 euros.

That’s probably the last anyone will hear of it.

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruise ships built in China?

Caribbean Princess
5 nights
November 24, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Nassau, Princess Cays
Inside: $209
Cost per day: $41

New Broadway show for Oasis of the Seas

Question: How many times can you see CATS, the Broadway show?

Answer: As many as possible.

Let's be clear. We're not really "cat people." Dog lovers rarely are. There's conflict that comes with the DNA. But "cats" are not CATS, unless the very sight of a feline creeps you out, in which case being in the audience of the Broadway show is not CATSadvisable.

The audience for CATS will be on Oasis of the Seas, co-holder of the "biggest cruise ship in the world" title. That means a new audience — or at least a recycled old one — will enjoy the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the story that goes with it. We've seen it three times in various settings (including Broadway) but never on a ship.

It's the latest Broadway show for Royal Caribbean, following Hairspray — which has been on Oasis of the Seas since it arrived in 2009 —and Mamma Mia and Saturday Night Fever and Chicago.

Show No. 5 in that line-up will make its debut after Oasis goes into dry-dock this fall for a refurbishment that somebody, somewhere, is guaranteed to describe as the "CATS meow."

Wait a minute…somebody already has.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Norwegian Breakaway
7 nights
May 11, 2014
New York (return): Bermuda
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85


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