Cruise ships make more waves with grander entertainment

The cruise liner MSC Meraviglia is seen berthed in Valletta's Grand Harbour, Malta, on Aug 2, 2017.
The cruise liner MSC Meraviglia is seen berthed in Valletta's Grand Harbour, Malta, on Aug 2, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) - Somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean, a painter seeks to find his muse in an original new show. It involves flying bicycles, a beatbox musician and acrobats hanging from silks and ladders.

If the show sounds Cirque du Soleil-ish, it is. The Montreal-based troupe just launched its first at-sea extravaganza onboard the new 4,500-passenger MSC Meraviglia.

When the 2,908-passenger Celebrity Edge is launched next year, it will feature an interactive spectacle created with producers of off-Broadway's experiential Queen Of The Night dinner theatre.

As ever-bigger cruise ships mean that a more diverse crowd is lining up to be entertained, the world of cruise-ship performing arts is evolving.

Turns out entertainment can be a key factor when it comes to acquiring and retaining customers -and people love to be surprised.

Executives are also betting passengers will even be willing to pay for premium shows, like the Eden event, unlocking a potential new revenue stream.

On its new 4,140-passenger MSC Seaside, MSC is also testing improvisational comedy shows by Toronto-based troupe BeerProv. 

On their latest ships, both Norwegian and Royal Caribbean have been replacing revues with more glitzy options.

Some are slightly shortened versions of Broadway musicals.

They include such classics as Grease and Saturday Night Fever on Royal Caribbean, or more recent hits such as Rock Of Ages and After Midnight on Norwegian.