8 New Over-the-Top Cruise Ship Shows to Experience in 2017

These days, cruise lines are introducing diverse onboard amenities and entertainment options, from surf simulators and ropes courses to ice-skating rinks and snow rooms. And beyond whiz-bang features, cruise lines are redefining the cruise experience with Broadway-style revues showcasing high-tech lighting and elaborate choreography and costumes. In fact, on Nov. 10, the highest-grossing animated film of all time debuts as a musical extravaganza aboard Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder. And an at-sea “Frozen” spectacle is not the only new addition coming to the high seas. Here are eight versatile, not-to-be-missed entertainment offerings to check out in 2017.

Frozen, A Musical Spectacular, photo by Matt Stroshane, courtesy Disney Cruise Line

Frozen, A Musical Spectacular, photo by Matt Stroshane, courtesy Disney Cruise Line

‘Frozen, A Musical Spectacular’ Disney Cruise Line

“Do you want to build a show, man?” Aboard Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder, “Frozen, A Musical Spectacular” premiered this November. The production was created with Broadway talent including Tony Award-nominated director Sheryl Kaller of “Next Fall” and “Mothers and Sons” as well as Tony Award-winning costume designer Paloma Young of “Peter and the Starcatcher.” The production was also helmed by choreographer Josh Prince of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” and scenic designer Jason Sherwood of “Paint Your Wagon” and writer Sara Wordsworth of “In Transit.”

Frozen, A Musical Spectacular, photo by Matt Stroshane, courtesy Disney Cruise Line

Frozen, A Musical Spectacular, photo by Matt Stroshane, courtesy Disney Cruise Line

‘Tangled: The Musical’ Disney Cruise Line

Earlier this year “Tangled: The Musical” debuted aboard the Disney Magic. Academy-award winning composer Alan Menken created three new songs for the hour-long show that packs in seven musical numbers because you can’t have Rapunzel without her hair. In fact, over 200 feet of her golden locks adorn the stage. Just be careful that the dancing horse Maximus, created with ingenious puppetry of Michael Curry, the mastermind behind Disney’s “The Lion King” on Broadway, doesn’t get tripped up in it.

Tangled: The Musical, photo by Ryan Wendler, courtesy Disney Cruise Line

Tangled: The Musical, photo by Ryan Wendler, courtesy Disney Cruise Line

‘America Rocks!’ Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Vista, Carnival’s newest ship, recently launched in New York City in November. Onboard entertainment options include the first-ever IMAX theater at sea and a number of productions such as “Amor Cubano: A Caribbean Dance Romance, Flick: The Power of Motion Pictures,” and “America Rocks!” In the vein of Broadway musicals such as “Rock of Ages” and “We Will Rock You,” the production features classic rock anthems evoking the spirit of a high-energy concert. All three shows take place in a vibrant theater equipped with LED lighting and laser effects.

"America Rocks!" Photo by Andy Newman, courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

“America Rocks!” Photo by Andy Newman, courtesy Carnival Cruise Line

World Stage Theater Holland America Line

The audience takes center stage as Holland America’s new ms Koningsdam wraps its World Stage theater performance with innovative 270-degree panoramic LED screens.  The technological wonder is 250 feet long and two stories tall and surrounds the flexible venue that hosts five different productions with an ensemble cast. The Music Walk complex complements the World Stage, hosting live musical performances at B.B. King’s Blues Club, Billboard Onboard and the Lincoln Center Stage.

Billboard Show in World Stage on Koningsdam, image courtesy Holland America Line

Billboard Show in World Stage on Koningsdam, image courtesy Holland America Line

Cirque du Soleil Theater MSC Cruises

When MSC Cruises’ newest ship, the Meraviglia, launches in June 2017, the cruise line will become the first to partner with Cirque du Soleil in a custom-built dining and entertainment venue.  The $21 million dollar Aft Lounge will feature a 200-seat dining area and 500-seat theater where Cirque du Soleil will perform two never-before-seen shows. During its inaugural season, the MSC Meraviglia will offer seven-night Mediterranean cruises departing from Barcelona, Spain.

Cirque du Soleil on MSC Cruises

Cirque du Soleil on MSC Cruises

‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical’ Norwegian Cruise Line

When sailing aboard Norwegian Cruise Line, you’ll find a bevy of Broadway shows to pick from, includingAfter Midnight” aboard the Norwegian Escape, “Burn the Floor” aboard the Norwegian Breakaway, Getaway and Epic, “Million Dollar Quartet” aboard the Norwegian Getaway, “Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical” aboard the Norwegian Epic and “Rock of Ages” aboard Norwegian Breakaway. In addition, “For the Record: The Brat Pack,” an original production on the Norwegian Escape, blends together music from classic ’80s “Brat Pack” films, including “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty In Pink,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and more.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, image courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, image courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

‘Magic To Do’ Princess Cruise Line

Award-winning Broadway and film lyricist Stephen Schwartz of “Wicked,” “Pippen,” “Godspell,” and Disney’s “Pocahontas,” created a musical revue exclusively for Princess Cruises called “Magic To Do.”  Centered around magic and illusion themes, “Magic To Do” incorporates Schwartz’s Broadway hits such as “Defying Gravity,” from “Wicked” as well as Academy Award-winning best original song “Colors of the Wind” (music composed by Alan Menken) from Disney’s “Pocahontas.” Check out “Magic to Do” performances on Crown Princess, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess cruises.

Magic To Do, image courtesy Princess Cruise Line

Magic To Do, image courtesy Princess Cruise Line

‘Columbus, The Musical!’ Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Get chills on board Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Harmony of the Seas with the first-ever at-sea production of one of Broadway’s longest running musicals, “Grease.” In addition, Harmony of the Seas will also offer an original musical production titled “Columbus, The Musical!” which follows the exploits of Marvin Columbus, the fictional, lesser-known-cousin to Christopher, who sets sail on a bumbling musical expedition to the Caribbean. Harmony of the Seas’ maiden voyage was May 2016 in Europe, and after repositioning to the United States, the ship will offer will offer week-long Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A version of this article originally appeared on U.S. News & World Report and MSN.com. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.