Catch up on Live Cruise Review: Shore Excursions.

Holland America Line’s Oosterdam has been great, and Alaska has been great. But the main event onboard this particular cruise has been the Dancing with the Stars: At Sea sensation which has been a huge hit for the cruise line. On this our final day of the cruise, we have just experienced the last guest dance-off, and it was so much fun to see the enthusiasm from the crowd as well as the performers, summing up the Dancing with the Stars: At Sea experience perfectly.


Dancing with the Stars: At Sea Stage Marquee

The Program

The popular TV show has made ratings magic with its signature pairing of professional dancers and celebrities, and Dancing with the Stars: At Sea makes waves of its own by matching the cruise line with the hit production. The result is a set of theme cruises featuring select dancers and stars onboard – such as ours – and a fleet-wide dancing competition, on all sailings departing through November 2013, for a chance to win a free cruise.


Photo-Op with Tristan MacManus, Shawn Johnson, Sabrina Bryan, Carson Kressley and Kym Johnson (from left to right)

Across the line’s 15 ships, participating passengers will accumulate points with the single highest scorer per ship winning passage on the Champions Cruise in January 2014. Onboard, a final dance-off will commence to see who will be rewarded a special version of the Mirror Ball Trophy as seen on the show. Only two theme cruises remain for now, but the partnership is expected to renew.


Fashion Show

Dance Classes

Holland America Line has offered dance classes on its ships before, but the Dancing with the Stars brand has effectively quadrupled the interest in them with not only a full stage of students but also a full house of spectators, itself a novelty. Each session is introduced by a video clip of pro dancer Kym Johnson explaining the steps and form for each particular dance. Then the resident dancers from the ship take over to personally oversee the class.


Cha Cha Dance Class

Once the lesson is complete, the four most proficient dancers are chosen to compete with final points tallied from the judges’s scores and popular votes just as on the TV show. At the end of the cruise, six finalists gathered from the previous classes perform once more to crown the winner of the entire sailing and perhaps make it to the Champions Cruise mentioned above.


Judging Just Like on the TV Show

Fashion Show

Taking the entertainment partnership even further, the theme cruises highlight a number of the stars and pro dancers onboard with the opportunity for guests to meet and mingle with their fan favorites. One component of these select cruises is a fashion show where dozens of the dresses from the show are paraded poolside, worn by the visiting troupe – pros themselves – and resident dancers.


A Poolside Runway

The detail on these dresses is phenomenal, and they and the ladies wearing them were stunning. The vibrant colors and flowing fabrics were a sight to behold, and the high energy music and strutting of the dancers made for a fun afternoon hosted by none other than pro Kym Johnson and star Carson Kressley.


Another Great Costume

Q&A

For those fans who ever had a question to ask their favorite performers from the show, a 45-minute Q&A provides the perfect opportunity. Truly, all of the dancers and celebrities are extremely friendly and happy to interact with the fans. In fact, the cruise is as much of a treat for them as it is for the passengers.


Press Q&A with Tristan MacManus, Kym Johnson and Carson Kressley (from left to right)

Our cruise featured pro dancers Kym Johnson and Tristan MacManus as well as celebrities Shawn Johnson, Sabrina Bryan and Carson Kressley who are all lovely people. Carson in particular is an absolute hoot onboard with his constant wisecracks and playful antics. There has certainly been a whole lot of smiling and laughing occurring onboard.


Press Q&A with Shawn Johnson and Sabrina Bryan (from left to right)

Performance 

As you might expect, the highlight of the cruise is getting to see the performers dance in person. In place of one of the regular Broadway-style productions, Dancing with the Stars: At Sea takes over with a full fledged show that quickly filled up the theatre with patrons by 6pm for the 8pm performance. Also, the 10pm show was equally as popular.


Sabrina Bryan and Tristan MacManus Perform

The performance is designed to feature each individual celebrity’s best moves as well as the collective company with video clips from the TV show placed as transitions between the numbers. The show is well paced and never slows down, with every dancer giving it their all with beaming smiles. Carson Kressley acted as emcee here and there and always had the crowd rolling with laughter.


Carson Kressley and Kym Johnson Strike a Pose

The show is just plain fun and does a great job of bringing the TV studio experience to the fans in a very intimate way. A delight and certainly a crowd pleaser, it ended with thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Holland America Line and Dancing with the Stars have much to be proud of.


The Whole Company Takes a Bow

Conclusion

As someone who had only seen a handful of Dancing with the Stars episodes prior to the cruise, I can honestly say that I’m hooked on the show now, which is a testament to the brand exposure this partnership brings to existing and new fans. And what’s more, it is a perfect fit for the cruise line’s core demographic as well as an even broader one it is doing well to attract.


More from the Fashion Show

Multigenerational fans – grandparents and grandchildren alike – have packed the house for the dance classes, fashion shows, photo-ops, signings and performances, illustrating the program’s great success. “I think what they love so much about it is that they get to be a part of it,” explains Carson Kressley. Shawn Johnson adds, “It’s very intimate. We walk around the cruise all week and get to share breakfast, lunch and dinner with all these people.”


One Last Beautiful Dress

The experience is clearly a home-run for the cruise line, its guests and also the celebrities themselves. Professional dancer, Kym Johnson exclaims, “it’s my first Holland America cruise, and I love it.”

Coming next week on Popular Cruising is our final Post Cruise Review and Video Review of the Oosterdam from Holland America Line complete with Dancing with the Stars: At Sea footage.

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