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At a Glance

A Review


A new world created exclusively for Celebrity Cruises by Cirque du Soleil!

When Cirque du Soleil first announced its collaboration with Celebrity cruises, Cirque fans weren't surprised. CEO Guy Laliberte had often talked about expanding the Cirque "ethos" and style to other forms of entertainment. Cirque hotels and restaurants were early ideas, and the corporate-oriented "Tapis Rouge VIP Experience" tent has become a profitable mainstay of the touring shows. So it was really no stretch when Cirque announced that it would install "themed experiences" in two of Celebrity's Millennium-class cruise ships, Constellation and Summit.Unfortunately they didn't last...

Although we can no longer experience THE BAR AT THE EDGE OF THE EARTH, we can get a glimpse into what the experience was like in two ways. First, through some of the original character sketches and, second, through through crusiers that had the opportunity to sail on the Edge.

Premiere: December 1, 2004
Type: Hospitality | Bar & Lounge
Finale: December 1, 2005
Status: No Longer Operating

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    In "The Bar at the Edge of the Earth," surreal characters will emerge for two hours each evening to greet cruise guests as old friends, not cruise patrons. "The Wave Correspondent" will carry precious bottles containing mystical messages from the sea, and will deliver them to chosen travelers visiting the lounge. "The Lantern Tuner," whose inexplicable desire to light dark places or to harmonize with existing lighting will constantly transform the atmosphere around him. Meanwhile, the abundantly curious "Pez Erizo," a large, round being, will wander joyfully throughout the ship, seeking to meet and delight all who cross his path.

    In addition to nightly activity, a Cirque du Soleil Masquerade Ball will be presented once on every cruise. "The Bar at the Edge of the Earth" will also offer exotic food and beverages available exclusively within that venue. Representatives of Cirque du Soleil will participate in Celebrity's "Celebrity Discoveries" enrichment lecture series on dates yet to be announced, and the two organizations are designing new Cirque du Soleil boutique spaces for select ships beginning in 2005.

  • THE LANTERN TURNER is a master of light, and constantly transforms the atmosphere around him by changing colours and intensities. He walks around with a tree whose fruits are lanterns, which he hangs at his whim. His very clothes give off a strange luminescence.

  • THE WAVE CORRESPONDENT is a sea explorer. He crosses the surface of the oceans, seeking places full of stories. He gathers them from the waves, and after they have dried, he puts them in bottles that he himself has blown. The messages are revealed to the sound of an organ made of crystal glasses.

  • THE DREAM FISHER is a gatherer of rare pearls. Because he spends so much time diving into the depths, his body has changed, and the line between human and fish has blurred. The luminous pearls that he fishes for are the sea's crystal balls, through which he can read people’s thoughts.

  • THE ABYSS GARDENER, who cultivates the ocean's depths and tends a volcanic source, offers people the fruits of his gardens in the form of unusual drinks and hors d’oeuvres. His arrival, in extreme slow motion, seems to suspend time and creates the illusion that the entire bar is under the sea.

  • PEZ ERIZO, a creature with a luminous shell, is the clown of the group. Visiting from another world, he is discovering ours with kindness and awkward naïveté. His insatiable curiosity compels him to touch and feel everything in his reach, and most of the time, he creates catastrophes. His clumsiness causes chain reactions and interferes with images, sounds and even the service.

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    Cruise review site is a large site with tons of member reviews of almost every cruise ship out there. We've excerpted quite a cogent detailed report by an cruiser known as "efschlenk":

    "For those who know the Constellation, the big news on this cruise was that Celebrity launched its new association with the Canadian-based CIRQUE DU SOLEIL entertainment group, well-known to Americans for its thrilling combination of acrobatics and new-age artistry seen in traveling venues across the US and in a permanent home in Las Vegas.

    For several years, cruise lines have branded their cuisine with the names of famous chefs (Michel Roux, Jacques Pepin, et al.). Celebrity is the first, to my knowledge, to brand part of its onboard activities with a famous entertainment group. The idea is brilliant, but the execution is still in flux.

    After great expense and much effort, the 11-deck forward lounge on the Constellation has been converted to the "BAR AT THE END OF THE EARTH." Rather than presenting its usual acrobatic acts, Cirque du Soleil emphasizes that this is an "experience" rather than a "performance," and they add that it is an experience in evolution. We attended three times while on the cruise, and noticed it was smoother and more refined each time, but still seemed a bit cerebral, lacking a story line or anything one could really relate to or empathize with.

    THE LOUNGE has been draped in white muslin and theatrical scrims so that laser light shows can be reflected off of almost all surfaces. The bar has been retained, but now has something of an "arctic white" appearance. The perimeter seating has been replaced by curtained platforms with cushions (which may be a problem in Alaska or Norway, where these seats are prime nature-viewing locations). The remaining seating has been draped with white linen covers. The stage and dance area have also been curtained with moveable scrims that show projected images relating to the "characters" which appear and disappear over the course of an evening. We were told by another passenger that the investment in décor alone was more than $1 million US.

    The lounge features several imaginary (symbolic?) CHARACTERS, each with an elaborate and ingeniously lit costume (one looks like a sea anemone, one a mushroom, one an intestinal parasite, one.... well, you get the picture). Each appears from behind the scrim, dancing and relating to the images on the scrim and the synchronous new-age music. The characters are not recognizable (to me at least) as anything from literature, history, or even the natural world. There is no real narrative associated with any of the characters - again, this is an "atmosphere" or "happening" and not a story or performance in the usual sense. The effect is something like [the alien] bar in Star Wars.

    This still is a bar, and drinks are served by an agile and (of course) gracious Celebrity staff dressed in Ewok-style hooded brown costumes. As usual, smoking is allowed on the port side (including the bar area), so you may wish to choose your seating accordingly. The music is very loud (as on all cruise ship venues, not just Celebrity's.

    The first night of the cruise, the BAR AT THE EDGE OF THE EARTH was open only to the cruise line representatives for the launch. The second night there was a free preview for Captain's Club cruisers, and one night there was a "masquerade party" at which those purchasing tickets ($30 per person, mask included, bookable in advance by your travel agent) were requested to wear white and were provided with masks (left in your stateroom or selected at the new CdS shop onboard). Most cruisers were elegantly clad in white, but one iconoclastic cruiser wore his bathrobe - the essence of "thinking outside the box" when good manners generally preclude wearing one's bathrobe outside the stateroom.

    What was the RECEPTION OF THE WHOLE CdS VENTURE by the cruisers? Well, there was surprisingly little discussion of it (no buzz) by our fellow cruisers after the event (except for one elite-category Captain's Club lady who wanted her money back because she bought a ticket and was also given a masquerade ticket free). At the end of the cruise, all masquerade tickets were refunded.

    MY IMPRESSION is that CdS is best known and loved for its acrobatics, and its "atmospherics" when viewed alone are too artsy-fartsy for most Americans, many of whom have unfortunately been "Disneyfied" into homogeneity.

    I think Celebrity was a generous host and investor in the project, which is brilliant in concept, but I think that CdS fell short in the product it has provided so far. I say "so far" because I think that the product can be rescued by doing some re-programming. I think most audiences want something they can relate to - preferably a story with a beginning, middle, and end. In this case, real inspiration might be found in the delightful and awe-inspiring lectures of the ship's oceanographic lecturer who demonstrated that nothing exceeds the beauty and ingenuity of the natural world. Why not base the CdS experience on creatures of the sea? It does not have to be dumbed down to a Little Mermaid or SpongeBob Squarepants, but should have something an audience can relate too.

    Perhaps it did not help that the CdS "family" on board this cruise was quite large, and although friendly, they seemed to be a bit self- indulgent both on and off stage. Ironically, the one awesome CdS experience was provided by their sole female gymnast/acrobat/adagio dancer who gave a short performance with recognizable CdS style a few times during the cruise. We shall see what the future brings to the Celebrity/Cirque du Soleil marriage. In the meantime, see it and judge for yourself."

Article features text written by Keith Johnson, as published in the "Fascination! Newsletter".

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