The Weekend Australian - Travel - - DESTINATION AFLOAT -

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: brav­ • cruis­ • choosey­our­cruise. • roy­al­ 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.

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