The wife and I recently went on a cruise aboard the Carnival Imagination. It was our third cruise on a Carnival ship, and was definitely the least enjoyable of them all. Don’t take that the wrong way, it was still an amazing vacation and we still had a great time, but on this particular ship, on this particular route, at this particular time, there just wasn’t a lot of ‘oomph’ to it. The meals were a bit more bland than our last trip (aboard the much lareger Carnival Triumph last year), the entertainment was somewhat lackluster compared to the same previous cruise, and there just didn’t seem to be the same attention to detail as the previous cruises.
That is, of course, really nitpicking.
If you haven’t ever been on a cruise, you owe it to yourself to do so at least once. Purely from a cost to value ratio, I don’t think there is a better vacation option out there. This was the most expensive cruise we have yet been on (it was the most expensive week of the most expensive month of the year when we went) and it was still only about a hundred dollars a day per person. That includes all meals, all shows, and (non-alcoholic) drinks. There is always something to do while on the ship, and if you run out of things to do, you can always slum it in the casino. I challenge you to find a cheaper vacation anywhere -including hotel stay, meals, and entertainment, and, as an added bonus, you can get off the ship at the ports to touch your toes in foreign countries (well, Mexico in this case).
While this cruise was certainly fun, what it was really lacking in was the entertainment. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing a Vegas-like show (in both style and quality) every day of the cruise. Not necessarily a fully choreographed song and dance routine every day, but at least a comedy or magic show on par with those of the Vegas strip. This particular cruise had about one and a half of them total. Half of the show on the first day featured the cast of the ‘main show’ performing, while the other half of the same show was the host talking about a whole lot of stuff that we didn’t care to listen to. An example of another show was one called the “Magic and Mystery” show. I took that to mean there would be lots of terrible 80s music while a magician sawed people in half and doves flew out. What we got instead was a “magician” whose microphone didn’t work. Which didn’t matter since all he really did was play guessing games with the audience. It wasn’t actually a bad show, it just suffered from my expectations being much higher. It’s not something I would have paid to see, but since I was already there, and it was free to watch, I didn’t walk away.
The biggest production show during our cruise was called “Epic Rock”. It was basically a medley of rock songs from the 70s to 90s. The show was pretty good, but it suffered for the songs they chose. The choreography was excellent, but the female singers -and I mean every single one of them- was either singing completely off key or continuously adding some ridiculous amount of glissando to songs we all know and love which have no glissando (it’s like when people sing the national anthem and throw in some glissando. I’ve seen the sheet music. There aren’t random portions where the notes jump up and down an octave at a time. If the singer does jump up and down an octave at a time it doesn’t mean they are a better singer, it simply means they can’t read music). I don’t think it is necessarily the girls’ fault that they weren’t hitting the right notes, since the songs being featured were standby rock songs from the heavily male-dominated 70s-90s scene, but why have the woman sing ‘Welcome to the Jungle‘ when you have a stage full of male performers standing beside them? That was the primary problem. Had the show been called “Epic Top 40” or “Epic R&B” I’m sure the girls would have carried the guys. But how epic is top 40, really? Not so much.
The male performers, on the other hand, were all simply amazing. They were singing songs perfectly suited to their voices and nailing every note. I usually love the female voices in live performances and hate the male voices, but in this particular show, it was definitely the men carrying the women. Again, this was due mostly to choosing songs from a male-dominated genre.
I’ve just spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to find the cast of the show on our ship, looking for one particular performer. I think this might be their facebook page. The images all look about right. While the male performers were all amazing, the one that really stood out was Drew Bowen. I am nearly certain he was the one who sang a portion of the Aerosmith song Dream On that was simply amazing (apologies if I am crediting the wrong performer here. I can’t find a website that properly credits the performers or has an official version of any video of the show). There was a visual element to it that added to its appeal, but it was his voice (at one point, I leaned to my wife and said, “no way he hits this” before the falsetto-like screeching, but he NAILED it). I was awed by his performance. That song hasn’t been covered since it’s release for a damn good reason: no one can reproduce it in a faithful manner -Even Tyler had trouble hitting the notes in his own live shows, which is evident if you’ve ever heard a live version of it. I can’t find a video of the song from the production on our ship Drew singing the song, but I can find one of another performer, on another ship, who almost hits the notes here:
Here is another video which features Matthew Navin … I think … performing the same song. Shame on Carnival for not making it easier to find these amazing performers. I am guessing at Matthew’s name based on the single photo on the facebook page that identifies any of the performers. I did the same with Drew Bowen, however I was able to find his actual website in only a few minutes of searching. I’ve had no such luck with Matthew Navin.
The visual production behind his was in the same vein (there are some portions which seem to have been updated since this performance) and Drew really nailed those notes during our performance, but aside from that, this was about the same as the production on our cruise.