Mind Your Theater Manners — Even on a Cruise

May 3, 2013 | By | 4 Comments

This week, I went to the theater on a cruise ship, and it was a revelation. Not just because the show (“Burn the Floor,” featured on the Norwegian Cruise Line‘s newest ship, Norwegian Breakaway) was excellent. But because it was actually like going to the theater ought to be.
You want to see the show? You need a ticket (a concept introduced a while ago for the big shows on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas and taken up by Norwegian on Breakaway and on Norwegian Epic). So you’ve made a commitment to going. Which means you arrive on time (and maybe even a little early).

When the doors close, latecomers aren’t allowed in — or certainly not during a song. You won’t find waiters squeezing through the rows with trays of drinks. Most important, you won’t see rude patrons getting up to leave halfway through a number or arriving late and loudly discussing where to sit. Or bringing kids who play on iPads while the bright lights and noise distract everybody around them throughout the show. Everybody is there because they want to be there; the fact that they’ve booked a ticket, albeit a free one, focuses the mind.
Theater etiquette in general has slipped; it’s not unusual for people to walk into a show late, talk, answer their phones or eat noisily throughout performances — even on Broadway. In London’s famed West End, some theaters allow patrons to bring booze into the auditorium, which seems completely unnecessary (although back in Shakespeare’s time, this was perfectly normal theater behavior). These bad habits have always seemed amplified on cruise ships, where audiences appear to have lost all respect for the performers let alone the other people watching the show.
Of course, you could argue that if cruise ships put on better entertainment, people would sit through full shows. Norwegian and Royal Caribbean have invested serious time and bucks to bring in shows such as the “Blue Man Group,” “Burn the Floor,” “Rock of Ages,” “Hairspray” and “Chicago” — and the box office system of booking tickets is essential because so many people actually want to attend.
I confess to walking out of some of the grimmer offerings on ships, although I always sit at the back if I think I might want to leave. And I would never leave in the middle of a number. But it was gratifying at “Burn the Floor” to feel that maybe some standards of theater etiquette remain at sea after all.
Have you ever walked out of a cruise ship show? Or have you been to one so good you were glued to your seat? Let us know.
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    4 Responses to “Mind Your Theater Manners — Even on a Cruise”

    1. Brian
      May 3rd, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

      I’ve only been on one cruise, on the Celebrity Infinity. None of the performers or shows were “known” names. But the singers were so good, we wouldn’t have dreamed of leaving early.

    2. swatson
      May 5th, 2013 @ 4:17 am

      When a ship is heaving and rolling, we have seen many folks leaving the theater for obvious reasons – I hope they don’t stop these people in the future! I think the cruise ship atmosphere is more relaxed than Broadway theater – and that’s OK.

    3. MattNYC
      May 9th, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

      I have seen people walk out of Broadway shows–some truly deserve the snub. We just got off of Celebrity Reflection and one of the “head liners” (fresh from the West End) was so atrocious, that we WOULD have walked out had we been on the end of our row.

    4. Grant Merritt
      September 9th, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

      We have also been to a few on board shows that we walked out of before they ended. If the show is bad enough, I see no reason to stay and suffer through it if we aren’t in seats where leaving early disturbs many others sitting between us and the exit. Some shows on RCCL were just horrible!

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