Cruise review site cruisecritic.com 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 The perimeter seating has been replaced by curtained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
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
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