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Princess To Name Its Top Entertainer

Without much fanfare and no politicking, voters are casting ballots this week for one of four candidates.

This is “Election Week” on the Crown Princess, where passengers will be selecting the cruise line’s annual Entertainer of the Year. There are four finalists: two comedians (Ben Seidman, Steve Caouette), one singer (Lovena Fox) and one violinist/entertainer

Entertainer of Year

(Christopher Watkins). All will be performing on the Crown Princess this week to win the audience’s affection, along with their votes.

The ship is presently at sea off the coast of Mexico, and it will be closing in on its return to Los Angeles when the winner is announced tomorrow night, the final night of the cruise.

It’s the fourth year for the awards and obviously it’s popular. When the Crown Princess had its lines pulled in at the dock in L.A., there wasn’t an empty bed on board. All room categories were sold out.

Zach WillinghamLast year’s winner (for 2013) was a singer, or vocalist as Princess calls it, Zach Winningham (right). Two years ago, the last time the Entertainer of the Year was crowned on the Crown Princess, we were among the people who watched another singer — Tony Tillman — win over two comedians and a mentalist for the 2012 title. The inaugural award was a comedian, Carlos Oscar.

It’s a fun event because the passengers are involved. It’s also rewarding for the finalists, who in the preceding year have been performing on Princess ships, which is how they become finalists. The winner goes home with $5,000 he or she didn’t have when the cruise departed.

Also a title they hope can be parlayed into more fame and more fortune.

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruising in Crystal's world

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
November 7, 2015
San Juan (return): Tortola, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Thomas
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64

Carnival's Bridging The Entertainment Extremes

You know, when it comes to concerts — and we've been to a LOT of them — there are two extremes. 

One, you can pay top dollar and take your binoculars so that you can actually see the artist you can't hear because you're screaming your lungs out, for reasons that can never be articulated to anyone with a brain.

Two, you can pay excessive dollars to see your favorite artist(s), who can be heard above the pin dropping in the theater, which if you're lucky is in a setting with some intimacy.

Carnival is bridging the gap.

With a new entertainment strategy called Carnival Live, the cruise line will import first-class entertainers to places where eight of its ships will be visiting (Cozumel, Nassau, Catalina Island), have them perform in the main show lounge (intimate) and give passengers an opportunity to buy tickets for $20 to $40. There is a limited number of VIP tickets, which include meets-and-greets, photo ops, prime seats and a laminated concert pass.

ONJ-homepage-stampSlice_02First-class entertainment?

Check this list:

Jennifer Hudson 
Lady Antebellum
REO Speedwagon 
Martina McBride 
LeAnn Rimes 
38 Special 
Olivia Newton-John (right)
Trace Adkins

All of them could command ticket prices beyond $40 in traditional concerts.

There's a couple of interesting names on the list of artists who this year will perform 49 times on Carnival ships. One is Jennifer Hudson, who happens to be the Godmother of the Dream…not the Carnival Dream but the Disney Dream. The other is Trace Adkins, who last week left the Norwegian Pearl to enter rehab for alcohol addiction.

Just interesting, that's all.

Carnival Miracle
7 nights
March 1, 2014
Long Beach (return): Puerto VallartaCabo San Lucas
Inside: $559
Cost per day: $79

Carnival Comedy in George's Hands

George Lopez is the kind of comedian who can leave you rolling in the aisles or rolling your eyes. That’s both the blessing and the curse of most comedians, isn’t it?

One of the things — and there are many — that makes Lopez a little different is he has established over the years that he has a sometimes-narrow demographic. Not everybody objects to his often-ethnic jokes or caustic humor…not everybody likes them.

Now Carnival is gambling that the cruise line and George are a match, at least when it comes to demographics.

In a massive entertainment overhaul, Carnival has made him “creative director for comedy.” Translation: Head Comedian. He will have a (taped) presence on the comedy clubs, and on all Carnival ships they’ll be called “Punchliner Comedy Clubs Presented by George Lopez” and there will be a Punchliner Comedy Brunch on sea days.

And just to make certain nobody misses his act, one of his routines will be shown on your in-room TV.
George’s act, historically, wears thin after a while. The late-night TV show “Lopez Tonight” ended its two-year run last summer. He succeeded Arnold Palmer as host of the Bob Hope Golf Classic in California, also for two years until he was shown the door in 2009.

The TV show in his name on ABC had a five-year run, which is impressive, but it has been four years since its demise.

As one of four Latinos to have his own network TV show, he has always had a huge following among Hispanics. Part of Carnival’s gamble is that more Hispanics will take cruises.

Or at least more people who like George Lopez.

Seabourn Quest
December 9, 2011
13 nights
Fort Lauderdale (return), Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, Barbados, Dominican Republic
Oceanview Suite $3,799

In Pursuit of the Byrds-Man

Okay, so I’m about to date myself. Strange expression that…dating yourself. Does it mean taking yourself to a movie? Can you have two popcorns? Does that mean you not only have the questions, but the answers? And how do you say goodnight?

Never mind.

In my youth, just a few decades ago, I was an avid listener of The Byrds. I wouldn’t say a “fan” because I always thought “fans” were something to keep you cool as opposed to make you cool. I just liked the music. Turn, Turn, Turn, Mr. Tambourine Man, The Bells of Rhimney, My Back Pages, etc.

It’s a long time since they were The Byrds, but I was enough of a fa….er, follower…to know that the lead singer and acknowledged guru of the group was Jim McGuinn. He later changed his name to Roger but it didn’t matter. Same voice. Maybe he dated himself.

For years, I have tried to co-ordinate his schedule and ours, so we could see him in concert. Well, one of us anyway. Even if I have to buy two tickets and take myself. It hasn’t worked out for us and now I’m told Jim/RogerMcGuinn is going to be performing on a cruise ship, the Queen Mary 2, twice this year, on October 7 from New York to Southampton, and on November 10 coming back to New York.

Now all I have to do is co-ordinate my schedule. But when it comes to scheduling, I’m no match for Roger. Or Jim.

Guess what he’s doing between arriving in Southampton on October 14 and leaving for New York on November 10?

He’s doing 15 concerts in England, The Netherlands and Belgium.

How smart is that?

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