FORT LAUDERDALE -- Amid a haze of cobalt blue smoke and swirling disco lights, travel agents attending the 2018 CruiseWorld event here got a rare treat: a private concert by one of pop music's big names -- Pitbull.
Mr. 305, as he is known, delivered his trademark brand of club music to a crowd that clearly appreciated the evening. "Don't Stop the Party" was the opening number, and no one had any interest in arguing the point.
Pitbull has been associated with Norwegian Cruise Line since he did an inaugural performance on the Norwegian Getaway. The partners upped the ante when Norwegian named Pitbull the godfather of its next ship, the Norwegian Escape.
"It's been a great run, a great partnership," Pitbull told the audience of 1,200-plus travel agents before the concert began.
Pitbull was introduced by Norwegian president and CEO Andy Stuart, who said listening to him for a few minutes was the price of admission to the Pitbull concert, which Norwegian sponsored and which was free to CruiseWorld attendees.
"Are we going to have some fun tonight?" Stuart prompted the agents, who were crowded 10 deep, cell phones at hand, in front of the stage. "I've never seen this at CruiseWorld before!"
Stuart called Pitbull "a great friend to Norwegian Cruise Line."
Agents said Pitbull helps draw a younger generation to cruising.
"I feel like it's helping to reinvent cruising. It's not limiting cruising to a certain age group," said Jennifer Ott, an agent with Simply Dream Travel in Macomb, Mich. "It really appeals to a wider range of customers it makes it easier for us to sell it."
Sheryl LaVine, a cruise and land tour specialist with Cruise Planners in Fort Lauderdale said she started to get excited about Pitbull after overhearing a rehearsal on Tuesday. "It sounded like it was going to be awesome," she said. "The ceiling was shaking."
She agreed that a performer like Pitbull would resonate with a younger age group. "I'm finding that my own business, I've got a lot of millennials," she said. "I've got a lot of people 25 to 40 who are like, 'What a great vacation, I want to take it.' So there is that identification there with somebody who is more like [them]."
Another agent, Cheryl Gagon, with Your Travel Bug in Scottsdale, Ariz., said she wasn't initially enthused, but she warmed to the concert idea as the day went on. She heard Pitbull puts on an amazing show and was really looking forward to it immediately preceding the performance. ""I just heard so many great things, then I got excited."
Several agents said they would use cell phone video taken at the exclusive event on their websites or would post it on Facebook Live to attract clients' interest.