Carnival Glory has changed. In November 2012, it underwent an important re-vitalization dry dock which added new venues to her public areas. More than just physical changes, these new features allow the ship to present the cruise experience in a different way than in the past.
Glory's changes were made as part of a fleetwide program called Fun Ships 2.0. Inasmuch as Carnival Cruise Lines is, and has been for time, the world's most popular cruise line, the question becomes why make changes at all?
“Cruising is one of the fastest growing industries,” explained Carnival Glory's Hotel Director Alain Lopez. “People, once they cruise, become addicted. Every time you cruise, your expectation becomes higher which is why it is very important for a company to keep innovating - - to keep the people interested.”
In addition, the other cruise lines are building new innovative ships and enhancing their cruise offerings. “Competition keeps you on your toes. Every one wants to be the best. Everyone wants to offer the best service.”
“I believe what we do, we do it well and that is why the guests come back. [But] I believe if you don't offer the customer something different they become bored. We live at a very fast pace and people tend to get bored very quickly. The consumer wants more, more, more and they always want something new. Keep innovating, keep the guests interested.”
For Carnival Glory, “the change has been enormous. Through innovation the company keeps reinventing itself. On the Glory, we have been very successful doing that. We have gone to Fun Ships 2.0. It is totally different in the entertainment and in the food and beverage, everything is new. “
Changes in entertainment
The Amber Palace is the Glory's main entertainment venue. While at first glance this large theater may look the same as it always has, there has been a significant change. On stage, the traditional scenery and backdrops have been replaced by large LED screens. During a show, instead of a static drawing on a backdrop, the LED screens change constantly, showing different images, scenery and patterns. In addition, they can be moved around the stage.
With the new LED screens, the theater became more versatile. “It gives a certain agility to change things a lot quicker with the guests' demands.”
Under the traditional model, it was expensive and difficult for a cruise ship to change its production shows. Each show had its own scenery that was expensive to create and difficult to change. Cruise director Jacques De Lange elaborated: “In the old days, if you wanted to update a show, you had to redesign the lounge or the whole backstage. Now, if they want to do new shows, they just update the screens rather than refurbishing the whole lounge.”
Mr. Lopez observed: “It is a lot more practical to change. It gives us a certain agility to change things a lot quicker with the guests' demands.”
In addition, without the 20 to 30 backdrops that had to be stored backstage, the Amber Palace can be used for additional types of entertainment and as will be discussed later, new entertainment concepts.
Most importantly, the LED screens make for a more exciting guest experience, “There is more light now on stage. They are brighter, nicer, up-to-date. They are much better for the guests,” confided Mr. De Lange.
The physical changes to the theater are only part of the story. Glory's traditional production shows have been replaced by a new concept. “We do what we call Playlist Productions now. Everyone on stage is [both] singing and dancing. It is updated so that it is newer music. It is not the old music anymore. They looked at what the guests want.”
“There are three brand new shows - - one is Motor City. It just won an award for one of the best shows in the cruise industry. It is all about Motown.”
“We have Latin Nights, which is all about Latin fever. They come up on stage and they dance on tables with water floors.”
“And we have Divas as well, all about the music divas. We now have a runway platform that we set up in the middle of the guests. In the show, the dancers walk down the runway.”
“They have taken the shows to a different level. There is a lot more guest interaction now. We get guests on stage. There are pre-shows where we involve the guests before we start. The guests really enjoy it.”
The theater is also being used for another new entertainment concept called “Hasbro, the Game Show.” Here, the cruise director selects guests from the audience to compete on stage in contests adapted from the popular Hasbro board games. The theater is set like a television studio with the guests as the studio audience. It is particularly popular with young passengers.
Cruise director Jacques De Lange hosting Hasbro The Game Show in the Amber Palace theater.
“Hasbro is very exciting. When you have 800 to 1,000 kids onboard it gets crazy in there. The kids cheer and jump and want to play. We normally do three different games, completely different. They love it.”
Also for young passengers is the Towel Animal Theater. “It is a totally brand new concept. Its like the Muppet Show. It is more a family show but it is funny even for the older crowd. Something different.” Mr. Lopez noted.
The show begins with a demonstration on how to make animals out of towels like the room stewards do in the guests' staterooms each night. Children get to sit on stage and participate in making animals. Following the demonstration, the animals come alive in a puppet theater on stage.
“It is a full-on professional puppet show.” Mr. De Lange continued. “We had choreographers come out [to the ship], we had lighting and sound guys come out. The cast were professionally trained to do hand movements by someone coming out.”
The theater was not the only entertainment venue to see change. Glory's other large venue, the Ebony Lounge, now hosts Punchliners Comedy Club. Here, the changes are not so much physical changes but rather conceptual changes.
“George Lopez is involved in this. He is looking at talent out there. [Also] before we start the show, he opens with a video. He welcomes the guests and does a few jokes around that to get the guests warmed up.”
“The quality of the entertainers is a lot better now especially with the assistance of George Lopez. Very contemporary,” Mr. Lopez added.
On a typical cruise, Glory will have five comedy shows a night on the sea days; three family-friendly shows and two adult shows. Two comedians alternate performing the shows. On longer cruises, the two comedians who begin the cruise are usually replaced by two other comedians in one of the ports of call.
In addition, to make the lounge feel more like an actual club, there is a comedy club host who greets the guests and acts as the MC, introducing the comedians. Also, the ship has implemented a bar menu that is exclusive to the comedy club. It is based upon Carnival's research into what drinks people want at comedy clubs.
Another venue with a new concept is the White Hot Nightclub. “The whole concept has changed. There have been a few modifications like the TVs, lighting and so on. It is a lot more electrifying than it was before. You feel that you are in a nightclub. Before it was more the disco type. Now it is more sophisticated and in line with what the consumer is expecting.” Mr. Lopez explained. “The crew that work in there have there specific trendy uniforms, which is like a nightclub in a city. Even the security at the door have their specific uniform.”
Mr. De Lange agreed. “The atmosphere inside has definitely changed. The nightclub used to be go and dance and there is a bar. Now we have changed it into what they call 'a liquid nightclub'. Every night there is a theme. We have trained DJs now that keep the guests involved. We have a red carpet waiting for them outside. We have a host at the door now. It is themed parties in the nightclub. Everything is to get the guests more involved.”
“On the Electric White Night, the dancers come in at midnight and they perform a dance routine for the guests and get them involved. The Sky Vodka night, the dancers are all dressed in blue dresses. They walk around the nightclub, dance with guests and take pictures with guests.”
Not all the changes are inside the ship. The main pool area is also an entertainment venue. During the day, there is music for the guests to listen to while relaxing in the sun, swimming in the pool or partaking in other outdoor activities. “We used to have an island band or a calypso band. They can only play so much music. Now the DJ is up there. We have provided them with thousands and thousands of songs, different themes. They can read the crowd - - do they want country music, do they want relaxing music? They get the guests involved in activities and dance offs. The DJ provides a whole variety [of ways] to get the guests going all day long.” Mr. De Lange pointed out.
Overlooking the main pool area is a giant LED screen. “In the evening, it turns into Seaside Theater. We give the guests blankets and complimentary popcorn” while they watch movies, concerts and classic television favorites.
Cruise ship interview - - Carnival Cruise Lines - - Carnival Glory - - Hotel Director and Cruise Director