(5 p.m. EST) -- There's nothing like live music when making an announcement about onboard entertainment, and Carnival didn't hold back at its latest press conference when Academy and Grammy awards-winning singer Jennifer Hudson took to the stage to demonstrate the line's new Live Concert Series.
As part of the Live series, Carnival is bringing some of the entertainment industry's most popular singing sensations to its ships in 2014, the line's senior vice president of guest operations, Mark Tamis, announced at a media event at The Cutting Room, an intimate nightclub in the heart of midtown New York City.
"We're serious about live music," Tamis said, adding that Carnival turned to its passengers to find out which musical genres they liked and, within those genres, who their favorite artists are.
Other marquee artists Carnival will showcase in 2014 are Gavin DeGraw, Lady Antebellum, Chicago, Foreigner and Jewel.
Shortly after the announcement, Hudson came out on stage to perform for the packed crowd.
In all, 15 artists will perform some 49 concerts on eight ships in three ports: Cozumel, Nassau and Catalina Island, California. Artists will join the ship while in port, perform in the main theater and then depart after their shows.
Tickets cost $20 to $40 each, and a limited number of VIP tickets will be sold for $100 to $150. The VIP experience includes an artist meet and greet, photo opportunity, seating in the first three rows and a commemorative laminated concert pass.
The first concert will be in April onboard Carnival Fantasy.
Other singers and bands included in the Live Concert Series are Daughtry, Kansas, LeAnnn Rimes, Martina McBride, Olivia Newton-John, REO Speedwagon, STYX, Trace Adkins and 38 Special.
Concert tickets can be purchased through Carnival's online shore excursion system prior to sailing or onboard based on availability. A full list of 2014 Carnival Live concert dates can be found at carnival.com/CarnivalLive.
As part of Carnival Live, the line also is standardizing its onboard house bands so that each band will have both male and female lead singers, a more diverse set list and increased interaction with passengers. Nine ships currently feature the new bands, with all ships scheduled to receive the bands by the end of the year.
--By Dori Saltzman, News Editor