Tired Las Vegas-style revues and cabaret shows may have been the norm on cruise ships 20 years ago, but shipboard entertainment offerings have stepped up in recent years. Now, it's all about Broadway-esque productions and live music events.
Select Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line ships put on shows you'd expect to find on the Great White Way -- like "Grease" aboard the world's largest ship, Royal's Harmony of the Seas, and the jazzy "After Midnight" on Norwegian Escape.
Some Holland America Line vessels feature big-voiced, Memphis-trained singers and musicians at the line's B.B. King's Blues Clubs. The ships' Lincoln Center Stage program presents afternoon recitals and evening chamber music.
For those who'd like to sail with big-name artists, there's Carnival LIVE, in which headlining performers come aboard select Carnival Cruise Line ships for concerts or comedy shows while they're docked in port. The upcoming lineup includes country stars Sam Hunt, Tim McGraw, and Little Big Town, as well as comedians Chris Tucker, Jeff Foxworthy, and Jay Leno. Before you get too excited, note that the shows come at an extra fee of $30 and up; VIP tickets are priced from $100 and grant you access to the talent.
Celebrity Cruises is getting in on the action, too. It was recently announced that Demi Lovato will take center stage for an exclusive performance in St. Maarten on December 28; you'll have to be a passenger aboard the Equinox, Eclipse, Summit, or Reflection to nab a ticket (from $100).
Years ago at the annual Seatrade conference in Miami, an idea was floated -- pun intended -- for two ships, each with half an arena, to join together to form a performance space large enough to host a concert. If the improvement of shipboard entertainment is any indication, that notion is beginning to seem less far-fetched.