REVIEW: STAGES FLOATING FESTIVAL ★★★★
What a week me and my mum has last week onboard the first ever Stages Floating Festival cruise – Glastonbury for musical theatre lovers, on board the huge Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas.
With more musical theatre than you could possibly dream of, over four days the ship sailed to Amsterdam and back, providing concerts from the likes of John Owen Jones, Beverley Knight, Lee Mead, Kerry Ellis, Collabro and Michael Ball!
Musical impressionist Christina Bianco popped up all over the place, not only supporting Michael Ball on the main stage but having her own cabaret show every day and even hosting trivia shows!
Cassidy Janson, who played the role of Carole King in Beautiful the Musical in London, surprised theatre lovers with a Carole King set which was one of the highlights of the cruise for me. I hope she takes this show off of the ship and into London as it was a great show!
Also popping up for performances around the ship were Don Black, Arlene Phillips, Ferris and Milnes and Perry Grant. Bobby Davro (a surprise addition to the line up after he had had so much fun on the 80’s Throwback Cruise directly before this one that he decided to stay on board for a few more days and entertain the musical theatre crowd) went down a storm and was a surprise highlight for me on this cruise.
Q&A sessions were held throughout the days across the venues. Me and my mum were privileged to interview Beverley Knight and Michael Ball on the main stage, whist in another venue, Lee Mead and Collabro chatted to Michael Davies. There were even two West End Wilma Q&A sessions where people on board could come and find out more about the mother/son blogging team that we are.
But it wasn’t all musical theatre shows. The ship featured a Spa, several pools and even a big cinema screen, playing musical theatre classic films like The Wizard of Oz and The Greatest Showman, which could be enjoyed from a deckchair whilst sipping on a cocktail. There was even a library!
The main restaurant featured just about every type of food you could imagine and guests were spoilt for choice when it came to things to eat! But for those wanting to go a little more upmarket, several speciality restaurants were on offer for an additional fee.
And when it all got too much and you just needed to go for a lie down in your cabin to take it all in, you could relax in front of the TV, enjoying the Stages television channel, where the concerts onboard were broadcast as well as backstage interviews.
Being the first ever Stages Floating Festival, there were some issues that need to be ironed out. Demand for some of the shows was underestimated and venues has to be changed around at the last minute to accommodate the crowds and there was some congestion in the stairwells at night when people were queuing to get into the unreserved seating auditorium. Disability training also caused some problems with people being made to queue with the masses instead of being given priority access to the auditorium. Saying all this though, all the problems were clearly dealt with and unlike many producers, they were upfront and honest about having teething problems and did an incredible job in sorting things out to make the experience better.
I can’t wait for next year when it will be bigger, better and slicker. Confirmed to perform onboard already are Alfie Boe, Sheridan Smith and Collabro! Prices star at £599 per person and 75% of places for 2019 have already been booked so get in quick if you want to go!
Stages 2019 14 – 19 October
Four-night roundtrip from Southampton onboard Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas visiting Dublin