Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts 2017 departs Sydney for New Caledonia October 31November 7. A Bravo! Cruise is also planned for Europe in 2018. Choose Your Cruise has three other floating music festivals for 2017: Cruisin’ Country (October 8-16, with Lee and Tania Kernaghan, John and Ami Williamson, Beccy Cole, Adam Harvey, The McClymonts and others); Rock the Boat (October 16-23, Status Quo, Baby Animals, Jon Stevens and others); Cruise N Groove (October 23-31, KC & the Sunshine Band, Boney M, Marcia Hines, Paul Young, Go West, Cutting Crew, Songs in the Key of Motown and others). More: bravocruise.com.au. • cruising.com.au • chooseyourcruise. com.au • royalcaribbean.com.au music, several bars including a champagne bar, a nightclub with a DJ and music on the pool deck.
The Colony Club is my favourite hangout. It has the mood of an old-fashioned nightclub, with tiered flooring, upholstered banquettes and armchairs, little tables and mood lighting, and it rocks on well after midnight.
The Stomping Ivories, a cruise highlight, perform here and have been booked again for next year’s cruise. The trio — two great jazz-rock singers belting it out from their head-on grand pianos and a drummer-percussionist who also sings — really have to be seen and heard. They cover just about every great song from Johnny Cash to Leonard Cohen via Gershwin, AC/DC, Elvis and Elton John. They also lure passing performers on to their stage for what seem like accidental jam sessions.
From Nessun Dorma, arias from Tosca and Cosi Fan Tutte, rock and honky-tonk piano and German folk songs through to The Sound of Music, the program covers a diverse repertoire that will be re-enacted in October with returning and new stars led by tenor superstar Jose Carreras, all performing with the Sydney-based Metropolitan Orchestra and the always (and often-hilariously) entertaining MC and conductor Guy Noble, plus next year’s special guest Ray Martin.
On stage or wandering the ship, the performers seem to be having as much fun as the customers. Te Kanawa is sitting two tables away at breakfast. Tahu Rhodes is queuing for his omelette. Many drop by different venues to enjoy the performance or do a guest number.
Mixing with the paying guests, the artists, sound people, musicians and their families (including some beautifully behaved toddlers who charm everyone) make a diverse and interesting on-board mix.
The other all-important issue is the food. Main dining room Cascades has excellent, warm service, a nice atmosphere (including neighbourly chats with the next table) and very good food (slow-cooked lamb shanks, excellent fish, luscious desserts). Windjammer Cafe with its extensive buffet, Boardwalk Dog House and health-promoting Park Cafe are all included in the ticket as is 24-hour room service, but there’s a small service charge after midnight.
There are six specialty (surcharge) venues, including Japanese restaurant Izumi and two grills, Chops and Brazilian meat specialist Samba Grill (skip lunch for this one), Giovanni’s Italian and crab-house Rita’s Cantina.
Judith Elen was a guest of Choose Your Cruise.