Cruise ship doesn't keep entertainment on ice

“Ice Odyssey,” the show on the only cruise ship ice-skating rink, is just one of the many entertainment options on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas.
BY JOE HIGHT jhight@opubco.com Published: August 28, 2011

Passengers on a cruise ship in the Adriatic Sea probably won't find comedians to entertain them. It's impossible to find one whose humor pleases or doesn't insult all 40 different nationalities on the ship.

However, that doesn't mean they won't find humor on the Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas.

One example is Alex Wildgoose III and Michael Craigmyle, who are featured performers in the professional ice skating show “Ice Odyssey.” Craigmyle describes his main character as a “creepy magician” who gets close to the audience, while Wildgoose is “always trying to make things up” with new tricks and juggling when he's on the ice.

They are also jokers off it.

Craigmyle showed up for an interview between shows in a white tutu while Wildgoose came in a red polka-dot dress and matching red ball cap. Both wore large glasses.

The reason: They heard they were going to be on camera.

“We wanted to provide a little comedy, a little entertainment,” Wildgoose said, as both continued to joke during the interview and even hummed a tune at the end of it.

Constant activity

A more public example of comedy on the recent cruise was the Quest Game Show where group members must exchange clothing to stay in the game. One middle-age passenger took the late-night challenge too literally and offered all of her clothing, except for her panties.

Cruise Director Mercedes Lafuente was the emcee at the time. Her response was to tell the topless woman that she could have just offered her shoes.

That was “too much and too close,” Lafuente said about the woman. “This was intense, but it does happen.”

While the humor is found in different ways, the entertainment is constant on the Voyager and starts early in the morning and lasts until early the next. It ranges from the ice-skating show to musical and variety acts, ranging from Broadway-style productions to the “Beatle Maniacs,” where white-haired women sit in the front row and wave their arms wildly to the music. The ship also has a casino, several clubs, a miniature golf course, a rock clicking wall, soccer field/basketball court, swimming pools and even a wedding chapel. And passengers can participate in a range of activities from game shows to trivia contests to karaoke to parades.

Restaurants such as Johnny Rockets also feature waiters who will stop briefly while serving large hamburgers, fries and onion rings to jive to disco music.

Perhaps that's why passengers return as early as 2:30 p.m. from their tours of scenic coastal cities in Italy, Slovenia and Croatia or stay on ship the whole time. It's like a miniversion of Las Vegas on waves.

“Everybody … has different expectations,” said Lafuente, who heads the entertainment and activities for the more than 3,000 passengers. “When they leave, we want them to say this was the vacation of a lifetime. ‘Wow, I'm going to come back. You exceeded my expectations.'”

Slick shows

Royal Caribbean touts the ice-skating show and its rink as the only ones on any cruise line. “Ice Odyssey” features 10 skaters, two pairs and six individuals from Russia, Canada, England and the United States, performing on a rink for 45 minutes four times during a seven-day cruise.

During a backstage tour for The Oklahoman, Stage Production Manager Hayley Smith discussed how she directs a crew of 13 that produces the show, as well as the 10 skaters, who sign up for more than six months on the cruise ship. She, the crew and skaters arrive in the morning before the first show at 2:30 p.m. to begin preparations and to warm up. Then, before the next show at 3:30 p.m., she does lighting and sound checks and directs the remaking of the ice where crews cut off two layers of ice and put it back on. She even will accept an occasional volunteer from the ship's entertainment division to help out.

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