A saucy new show takes cruise en­ter­tain­ment to a sur­pris­ing new level

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - CRUISING SOUTH PACIFIC - JOSH WHITTINGTON

The gy­rat­ing girl in the skimpy pink la­tex cos­tume, who just sec­onds ear­lier was de­ter­minedly swal­low­ing a very, very long bal­loon, plonks her­self next to me with a big smile on her face.

The ac­tion on stage in front of us hasn’t stopped, in fact right now a bloke in a sim­i­larly skimpy en­sem­ble seems to be jug­gling, yes jug­gling, three life-size, blow-up fe­male sex­dolls but my new friend still seems happy to stay for a brief visit.

Be­fore I’ve even had time to make sure she doesn’t spill my gen­er­ously mixed Tom Collins, she’s gone in a rau­cous scream of en­thu­si­asm and elas­tic limbs, back into the throng of semi-naked­ness and in­nu­endo.

As I look around, just to re­as­sure my­self I haven’t ac­ci­den­tally stum­bled into Baz Luhrmann’s bucks party, I re­alise two things:

1. La­tex is not as sexy up close as you think it’s go­ing to be.

2. And cruise ship en­ter­tain­ment has gone to a whole new level.

When you book a cruise and think en­ter­tain­ment op­tions, you’re prob­a­bly mulling over pi­ano bar cover hits, pre-din­ner jazz, sit-down com­edy, an Adele im­per­son­ator, karaoke, acous­tic sounds in the Ocean Bar, pub quizzes and the bloke who came sev­enth in sea­son 12 of The Voice. They’re not the Rolling Stones but they’ll do the job for a hol­i­day at sea.

And don’t worry, you get all them and more on board the re­branded

Pa­cific Ex­plorer, newly re­furbed from

its past as the Dawn Princess.

What you prob­a­bly don’t think of is

Love Riot, a lewd and rude arty ex­trav­a­ganza of dizzy­ing cir­cus ac­ro­bat­ics and cheeky puns that would be quite at home on stage at the Opera House or an in­ner-city back­street the­atre.

The risque show, with its saucy hu­mour and stylised chore­og­ra­phy, is part of P&O’s bid to stand out in the ever-ex­pand­ing world of cruis­ing, where what you can of­fer that sets you apart is now the main game.

High-end en­ter­tain­ment, for which you may have to pay a lit­tle ex­tra, and with high-end food op­tions, are be­ing used to lure more non-cruis­ers, while giv­ing the es­tab­lished vet­er­ans some­thing dif­fer­ent. Think high cul­ture on the high seas.

“Love Riot is like no other en­ter­tain­ment at sea and is more in keep­ing with the spec­tac­u­lar aerial cir­cus artistry found at ma­jor fes­ti­vals around the world,” P&O Cruises’ di­rec­tor of en­ter­tain­ment Brett Annable ex­plains.

“We wanted to chal­lenge the con­ven­tional pro­duc­tion shows found on cruise ships and of­fer our guests a hi­lar­i­ous, high-en­ergy pre­mium ex­pe­ri­ence that would re­ally get peo­ple talk­ing.”

The brain­child of Aus­tralian di­rec­tor Scott Maid­ment, the man be­hind the Opera House cir­cus spec­ta­cle Blanc de Blanc, the show is a jum­ble of per­form­ers and con­tor­tion­ists dan­gling from silk sheets and trapezes, uni­cy­cling through the au­di­ence and pulling off what can safely be de­scribed as awein­spir­ing acts. Plus added sauci­ness.

“I’ve di­rected shows in Budapest, Lon­don, Bo­gota and Sin­ga­pore but never be­fore for a cruise ship. My lat­est ven­ture was about giv­ing the P&O au­di­ence an un­ex­pected ex­pe­ri­ence they will re­mem­ber long af­ter their hol­i­day,” Maid­ment said.

While the show is an un­de­ni­ably mem­o­rable part of our South Pa­cific cruise, and in my opin­ion a great laugh, the real ques­tion for hol­i­day­mak­ers is should it in­flu­ence your de­ci­sion to go on a cruise in the first place and, if your mind is al­ready made up, should it sway your choice of cruise?

Well, first you need to be aware that it does cost a lit­tle ex­tra. It’s $10 for gen­eral en­try (which in­cludes a wel­come cock­tail and sou­venir glass) or $29 for a VIP ticket, which gets you a five-course din­ner be­fore the show and pri­or­ity seat­ing in the front rows.

For the higher price, you’ll even be

es­corted to the show by its stars, who come and get you in all their PVC and stiletto-clad glory when you’ve fin­ished din­ner.

They’re car­ry­ing mega­phones, whis­tles and yelling a lot so it does feel a lit­tle bit like go­ing from a nice restau­rant to a birth­day party for a five-year-old – noisy, a bit of a shock but gen­er­ally good fun.

Sec­ond, the over-the-top raunchy el­e­ment won’t float every­one’s boat.

It will sim­ply be too risque and a bit too cheeky for some. As I said though, there are plenty of other op­tions on of­fer if that’s the case.

But for most, the hu­mour, skill and gen­eral sense of fun will be a wor­thy and won­der­ful ad­di­tion to their cruise ex­pe­ri­ence.

The bot­tom line, fairly apt on this oc­ca­sion, is that this is some­thing you just won’t find else­where on the high seas. It’s a unique en­ter­tain­ment ex­pe­ri­ence which you’ll re­mem­ber for years to come.

And this, in my view, is just what a hol­i­day should of­fer up.

So well done P&O for tak­ing a risk and go­ing be­yond the norm. In this in­stance it works a treat. So go on, put

Love Riot on the pos­i­tive side of your pros and cons, strap in for the ride and en­joy the la­tex and laughs.

It re­ally is a riot.

Just in case you were won­der­ing, I got the chance to talk to my tem­po­rary Love Riot friend, Miss PVC, af­ter the show and del­i­cately asked her to di­vulge the trick to the bal­loon­swal­low­ing act.

Un­for­tu­nately, she wouldn’t cough it up (and yes, I am con­sid­er­ing a new life as a cruise ship co­me­dian).


A sexy arty ex­trav­a­ganza prom­ises P&O au­di­ences a mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence; and there’s plenty more to like aboard the re­branded Pa­cific Ex­plorer (right).

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