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Carnival Live Surprising Performers

This was Day 2 of an 8-day Carnival Freedom cruise and Jim Berra, the line's Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer, was talking about Jennifer Hudson. It's entirely possible that Jim Berra never thought his name would be linked to Jennifer Hudson's, but this was that day.

The reason was Carnival Live, the concert series on ships in port, now just under halfway through its initial season. If there was a moment when Carnival realized its Jennifer Hudson-Carnivalproject was more than a one-off — as in one year — that moment was Jennifer Hudson.

Berra explained it this way:

"At first, the artists were asking: 'Are your guests really going to be into my performance, or is it just a cruise with a concert?' Once she — and we — found it was quite the contrary, that people were coming specifically to see the artist, we gained the confidence of the artists. Now they're calling us."

Jennifer Hudson was the biggest name appearing in the early weeks of Carnival Live. She did concerts on consecutive nights in Cozumel for passengers on the Breeze and the Ecstasy. Concert goers were paying $20 to $40 to see her perform in a facility seating 1,100.

On the shore, they might pay twice that and be in a much bigger venue.

So far, the genres have been mostly rock 'n roll and country.

"Rock 'n roll works everywhere," Berra said. "With country, we know it won't work as well in Miami as it will in Galveston. Pop is the toughest one — it's not as easy to slot."

Maybe it doesn't matter.

One passenger told the Miami Herald that she and a friend flew from New Mexico to the Bahamas to see Olivia Newton-John in concert. One Florida travel agent met people at a Chicago concert who were there because it was Chicago, not Carnival.

In both cases, none of them had ever been on a cruise.

Year One of Carnival Live winds up in December. Any day now, Carnival will be making announcements for Year Two. That's how successful it has been.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: The new AmaSonata

Caribbean Princess
7 nights
August 16, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Princess CaysSt. ThomasSan JuanGrand Turk
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64
www.princess.com

City By The Bay, Concerts By The Bay

Golden Gate BridgeIn San Francisco, there's a lot of optimism about cruising. In September, the new James R. Herman Cruise Terminal will welcome its first ship and, the optimists hope, open the door to a new era of cruising for the city by the bay.

The first ship will be the Crown Princess. It will be followed by the Star Princess, Norwegian Jewel and Silver Shadow. They will be docking at Pier 27, not far from the old pier (35), which was deemed to be not just old but also small and hard to access. Pier 27 will be much more than a cruise-ship terminal.

In fact, San Francisco is banking on it…in more ways than one.

Pier 27 is designed to be an events center. Unfinished, it was the concert venue for the America's Cup last summer and the Port of San Francisco is planning on booking 67 concerts and corporate events in the fiscal year that starts July 1, and hopefully more. Complemented by 74 ship calls, that will be considered only a start towards paying the debt incurred by building the terminal.

Break even is about 90 ships and "dozens" of events.

Curiously, there are no Carnival ships scheduled to appear at Pier 27. This is not a surprise, since  Carnival ships don't visit San Francisco. But it's curious, because the port is trying to attract concerts…and Carnival has introduced a highly successful series of port concerts called Carnival Live.

Next year maybe?

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: The Oceania fleet now more 'complete'

Celebrity Constellation
12 nights
August 13, 2014
Amsterdam (return): BerlinStockholmHelsinkiSt. PetersburgTallinnCopenhagen
Inside $1,599
Cost per day: $133
www.celebritycruises.com

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