If there’s one word beyond fun that best describes the Dancing with the Stars: At Sea guest experience onboard Holland America Line it’s interactivity.

Every Holland America sailing features inviting Dancing with the Stars dance classes and competitions, but only on the theme cruises – when pros and celebs from the TV show are onboard – can passengers literally rub shoulders with dancers like Derek Hough and Emma Slater.

Just this past week on the Nieuw Amsterdam, last year’s dance finalists competed to win a genuine mirrorball trophy, guests learned a few steps from the pros, and everyone onboard had a hearty chuckle thanks to the funniest cruise director ever.


The Dancing with the Stars: At Sea Mirrorball Trophy
(Copyright © Jason Leppert)

Dancing with the Stars: At Sea – Guest Competition Finale

Fifteen dance finalists – the best competitors from last year, one representing each Holland America Line ship – stepped onto the Nieuw Amsterdam, and only one champion disembarked with the first ever Dancing with the Stars: At Sea mirrorball trophy (pictured above).


Pro Dancers and Judges Emma Slater, Derek Hough and Sharna Burgess (from left to right) Have a Laugh
(Copyright © Jason Leppert)

The interactivity for those competing was experienced almost immediately as their dance routines were judged, complete with numbered panels, by the pro dancers onboard just as they and their star partners are judged by Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli on the TV show.


Runner-Up Kristin Capaldo (center) and Ship Dancer Ken (left) Share a Moment with Host Jason Venner (right)
(Copyright © Jason Leppert)

Dance styles were intentionally mixed to challenge the teams, with a raffle randomizing the different routines the dancers would perform each round. The final three teams could choose their own last dance performed freestyle but only after dancing a penultimate preselection with the original choreography.


Jason Venner (left) Chats it Up with Runner-Up Todd Greenquist (right) and Ship Dancer Larissa (center)
(Copyright © Jason Leppert)

In the end, it came down to a masterful tango that raised the bar far too high for the runners-up to surmount. Performing the best Dancing with the Stars: At Sea routine that pro Jaymz Tuaileva said he had ever seen, guest competitor Allyse Ishino and ship dancer Tiago were crowned the winning team, based on a combined score of all 10s from the judges and thunderous applause from the audience.


Guest Champion Allyse Ishino (center) and Ship Dancer Tiago (left) are All Smiles with Jason Venner (right)
(Copyright © Jason Leppert)

Dancing with the Stars: At Sea – Dance Classes

Not all interactions were had only by the fifteen finalists onboard. In fact, Emma Slater and Derek Hough personally taught a dance class in the show lounge that drew out quite the crowd of passengers to the stage (as seen in the header image above). Even when the pros are not present, the Dancing with the Stars: At Sea classes are just as popular. For those, the session is introduced by a video of Kym Johnson outlining the steps that are then demonstrated and taught by the ship’s company of dancers.


Emma Slater and Derek Hough Teach a Dance Class Onboard
(Copyright © Jason Leppert)

This time, however, the class was a great opportunity for Derek to impart his wisdom about the importance of movement in daily life before expertly instructing the class along with Emma as his partner. Just when the class was about to wrap up and they were meant to present the dance one last time in its entirety, Derek and Emma were instead amusingly called upon by the guests to dance with them, which they were gracious to do. In fact, the friendliness and approachability of the pros and celebs on these theme sailings are part of what makes them so enjoyable.


Derek Hough (right) Makes a Guest’s (center) Day as Emma Slater (left) Applauds
(Copyright © Jason Leppert)

Dancing with the Stars: At Sea – Cruise Director

On a final note, little did we expect a highlight of this Dancing with the Stars: At Sea sailing to be the cruise director. Nonetheless, Eric Dowis had the entire ship rolling in the aisles with his Southern charm and snappy wit as a tongue-in-cheek judge of the dance competition.

When egged on to show off his own moves, he put together an extensive comedic number for the finale. Featuring every music genre imaginable, Eric let his humor shine in a medley that included a whimsical reference to the film Titanic to the song “My Heart Will Go On,” while supported by Dancing with the Stars: At Sea host Jason Venner and wearing a lifejacket no less. Encore!


Host Jason Venner’s (back) and Cruise Director Eric Dowis’ (front) Hearts Will Go On
(Copyright © Jason Leppert)

For additional information about the Dancing with the Stars: At Sea theme cruises, visit Holland America Line’s website here.

What do you think about these Holland America Line theme cruises? Please feel free to share your opinion or ask us a question about them in the “Leave a Reply” section below…

HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: JASON LEPPERT

9 Responses to Dancing with the Stars: At Sea Guest Experience Is Tops Onboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam

  1. Mike M.

    We were on the DWTS cruise the week of Jan. 4. We had a blast. Eric Dowis was hysterical throughout. The DWTS celebs and dancers were friendly and gracious. It was a great vacation!

    • Jason Leppert

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m glad you had a wonderful vacation and that you enjoyed the time with the celebs, dancers and Eric.

      All the best!
      Jason Leppert
      Captain & Editor, Popular Cruising

  2. Mary

    I was on this cruise and wonderful does not begin to describe the experience. It was our second cruise with Eric the cruise director and we loved him the first time we cruised. One word for cruisers, patience, waiting in line for star activity was a great time to meet new people

    • Jason Leppert

      Hi Mary,

      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m thrilled you had a great time onboard and once again with Eric. He certainly is a hoot. And you’re right about taking the time to get to know people. Good suggestion.

      All the best!
      Jason Leppert
      Captain & Editor, Popular Cruising

  3. Barbara

    The Grand Finale was the most fun we’ve ever had on a cruise – in fact, we’ve already booked the 2014 finale on Dec, 6. I can’t imagine who will be replacing Eric – he was by far the best cruise director we’ve ever had, and we cruise ALOT!

    • Jason Leppert

      Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the sailing so much that you’ve booked the next champions cruise. I agree. It will be hard to find a better cruise director than Eric.

      All the best!
      Jason Leppert
      Captain and Editor-in-Chief, Popular Cruising

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