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Princess Lands ‘The Voice of the Ocean’

On September 21, The Voice returns to NBC for Season 9. On October 3, The Voice of the Ocean goes on Princess Cruises for Season 1.

The competition on Princess ships is the same concept as in the TV studio. Blind auditions followed by coaching. Performances behind the three rotating chairs occupied by the “coaches.” For any number of reasons, starting with logistics, the chairs won’t be occupied by Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams or Gwen Stefani.

Because Voice of the Ocean will be on 11 ships and 24 cruises between October and next  May, those coaches will be “charismatic” people who might also be guest performers on the ships, or hotel managers or even captains.

The contestants?

That’s you!

Passengers with talent will be invited to auditions. With mentors by their sides, they’ll be polished and accompanied by back-up singers and musicians. The coaches will pick their The Voice-2teams, just like they do on TV, and on the last night of the cruise members of the audience will vote with remotes to determine who wins The Voice of the Ocean Trophy.

The first show will be on the Regal Princess when it departs from New York. That will be followed by The Voice of the Ocean performances on the Royal, Caribbean, Emerald, Ruby, Golden, Island, Coral, Crown, Grand and Star Princesses with the final departure from Vancouver to Alaska on May 14.

The inaugural cruise, on the Regal, will sail up the coast and into Canada and back during the autumn colors. The cruise is from New York, return. 

Hey, if the winners are good enough, they can go straight to Broadway!

In the news…

AmaWaterways christens AmaSerena on banks of the Danube
• Viking Star: one cruise cancelled, one delayed by mechanical repair
• Low water on European rivers still haunting ships and cruisers

Today at portsandbows.com: More big money people in cruising

Carnival Ecstasy
3 nights
September 18, 2015
Miami (return): Nassau
Inside: $189
Cost per day: $63

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

Are Cruise Ships the New Fairgrounds?

How times do change! How many years ago was it that we trekked three kids and a busload of friends (well, it felt like a busload) five hours from home to a concert featuring multiple acts, most of whom we'd never heard of…a couple of stars and a large supporting cast.

Now you can do the same kind of thing just by getting on the Norwegian Pearl.

The ship is the "fairgrounds" for a week of concerts by the star, Blake Shelton, and 24 of his closest fans. Once you get by Shelton, Trace Adkins (left, in "the hat" with Shelton), Easton Corbin and Neal McCoy, the other 21 are up-and-comers or solid performers unfamiliar to most of us…something like that concert in the wilds, many moons ago.

Is this what has happened?

Are cruise ships now the fairgrounds where interested spectators can see not one or two but a whole bunch of singers and musicians do their work, and entertain in the process?

The Blake Shelton and Friends Cruise (no, it doesn't include his wife Miranda Lambert, but that doesn't mean they're not friends) leaves Miami on October 14. On the way to San Juan, St. Thomas (Virgin Islands), Tortola (British Virgin Islands) and Nassau, Shelton and his buds will supply the music in at least three different venues on the Pearl. Country music's current biggest star will be the headliner twice during the cruise, in the Stardust Theater.

It's a promotion operated for Norwegian by Flying Dutchmen Travel and Fan Fair Country Cruises and the price to spend seven days at sea with Blake and Co. starts at $1,099.

We'd offer to take our kids but…well, they might bring their friends.

Golden Princess
14 nights
December 5, 2012
Los Angeles (return): Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai, Maui, Ensenada
Inside: $1,199
Cost per day: $92

Cruise Ships and Country Acts

In our family, we sometimes get a hard time about country music. Some people even think we like only country music, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Having said that, we’re always on the lookout for country music performances where we can hear and understand the lyrics, usually watch without obstructions and generally have a good time.

It just happens that our interest in the music dovetails nicely with our ongoing interest in cruising.

Unless it’s our imagination, more country acts than ever are being invited (or contracted) to perform on cruise ships.

The latest is Rascal Flatts, a group you won’t find among our personal favorites, but a group widely loved and decorated in the industry. Rascal Flatts performs on the Norwegian Spirit, a ship you will find among our personal favorites, on March 2.

The performance is a one-day-only show in Cozumel. The Spirit leaves New Orleans for the Western Caribbean on February 26.

This is the first step in getting big country acts connected with cruise ships. Fly them into a port where the ship stops, have them perform, fly them out. The same thing happened with Taylor Swift, also in Cozumel (Royal Caribbean), last January and Martina McBride, in New Orleans (Royal Caribbean), last month.

The second step is when a cruise line convinces a country act to take a cruise, and perform throughout the trip. That’s what Norwegian is doing in October with Blake Shelton “and friends” on the Pearl. It turns out that Blake’s friends — who will also perform — are Trace Adkins, Neil McCoy and Easton Corbin (you don’t have to know who they all are…country people do).

For cruisers who like the music, it gives them access to favorite performers they wouldn’t otherwise have. For the artists, it opens up a whole new marketplace…and, being country folk, they’ll probably have some fun doing it.

Celebrity Millennium
4 nights
January 19
Miami (return):  Key West, Cozumel
Inside: $239

TWO Jewels for Shelton Cruise?

Today in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, there is a country music festival called WE Fest. It runs for three days. There are many big names and a few little ones set to perform. One of today’s headliners is Blake Shelton. On Sunday, one of the headliners is his wife.

Fast forward.

Next October — cruise people do these things far in advance — there is a country music cruise. It leaves Miami on the 14th, tours the Eastern Caribbean, and checks back into Miami a week later. The headliner is Blake Shelton, who will entertain at least twice in the Norwegian Jewel’s Stardust Theater. There is no mention of his wife.

It’s true that the No. 1 performer in country music these days should be enough to sell out the Jewel, all 2,376 beds in it, all by himself. To enhance his presence and his performance, the Shelton people are throwing in songwriter workshops, Q-and-A sessions, impromptu performances and surprises. However, just like women drool over male entertainers, men enjoy the, ah, musical talents of the female entertainers.

“Some of my favorite country music friends are also gonna be there to make sure there is plenty of music every night in three locations!” Shelton says in the announcement. “There isn’t a lot of space, but that’s what makes it special.”

Still no mention of like Miranda Lambert. Surely a man wouldn’t go on a 7-day cruise without his wife?

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