CONSTELLATION -- Julie VanDerworp of Bee Kalt Travel in Royal Oak,
Mich., came to the Bar at the Edge of the Earth to catch the first
Cirque du Soleil performance on Celebrity Cruises. She called it
I dont know how Im
going to describe it to my clients, but they must see it, she
Thats the challenge
for agents like VanDerworp and Celebrity marketers: How do you
explain a concept that isnt what most consumers think it is, namely
an after-dinner cruise show?
Very deliberately, as
it turns out: Celebritys marketers are still tweaking the way it
delivers the message to cruisers.
There has been a lot
of work [done regarding] how were going to position Cirque, said
Steve Hancock, Celebritys vice president of marketing. Were
relooking at all our communications.
One of the things we
[Cirque and Celebrity] both discovered very quickly, from a
communication standpoint: We said [it was an] experience, and it
wasnt a show. But it really wasnt clear because the name Cirque
connotates a show.
The Cirque experience
is ambitious lounge entertainment, a blend of cutting-edge
technology and artistry.
Its a nightly,
two-hour experience featuring five Cirque characters who roam about
the ships observation lounge, which is resplendent with the latest
in sound, lighting and three-dimensional, visual- effects
Its a sharp departure
from the usual lounge milieu on a cruise.
Its a special,
atmospheric experience, right down to specialty drinks created at
the Bar at the Edge of the Earth, which is what Celebrity and
Cirque call the Constellations redesigned observation
But there are also
several things that it isnt -- including a miniature Cirque
extravaganza akin to the troupes new, $165 million Ka at the MGM
Grand in Las Vegas.
Passengers who came
on the initial cruise on the Constellation in December expecting a
traditional show initially stared forward, toward the stage, but
then became aware of the activity going on around them as the
Cirque characters wandered at will throughout the bar.
If it were
predictable and easy to explain, it probably wouldnt be Cirque,
said Jack Williams, then-president of Royal Caribbean Cruises. Of
course, that makes it more difficult to manage guest
The cruise line and
Cirque, known for its otherworldly circus shows, began tweaking the
onboard concept almost immediately after its first showing, which
Celebrity billed as a world premiere but which clearly was a work
A masquerade ball,
with attendees wearing white, was intended to be the weeks
highlight, but shortly after it debuted, the balls $30 charge was
eliminated and guests could opt to purchase the $19.95 mask that
had been included in the original fee.
Hancock said earlier
this month that the masquerade ball has since been altered to
include interactive activities like face-painting and massages. Its
like a fun party, he said.
So far, the
Constellation and the Summit, which just received its Cirque bar
makeover, are the only two ships to have a Bar at the Edge of the
Earth. A decision about converting additional ships is expected
The Bar at the Edge
is a major change from the ships former lounges. A ceiling is
resplendent with hanging lights and other ethereal adornments.
Fifteen projectors create three-dimensional images throughout the
room. Combined with a state-of-the-art sound system, the effect is
clearly a Cirque manifestation.
Earlier this month,
Celebrity showcased a Cirque demo at its gathering of its top
agency accounts. And Hancock said he was meeting with the lines
advertising agency to discuss ad directions.
Richard Fain, RCCLs
CEO, said a Las Vegas-type show was never the concept.
Its not intended to
be a show where you come in at the beginning and stay until the
end, but an ongoing party with a flow of people coming and going,
reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].