Princess Embraces Spelling Bee Craze

May 26, 2006

Can you spell d-i-s-e-m-b-a-r-c-a-s-h-i-o-n?

Hot on the heels of at-sea competitions fashioned after "American Idol" and "Survivor," Princess Cruises is bringing the latest craze to the open sea -- the spelling bee.

Like reality TV, traditional spelling competitions have found their way into the popular culture as of late with "Akeelah and the Bee," a genuine art-house cinematic hit, and "Bee Season," the movie based on Myla Goldberg's best-selling book "Bee Season." The buzz goes beyond movies and novels: For the first time in its 79-year history, the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championship Rounds will be broadcast live on ABC-TV during primetime on June 1.

Alas, "The Bee at Sea" will not be broadcast on ABC-TV, but logophiles will get their 15 minutes of fame when the final rounds are shown on the 300-square-foot "Movies Under the Stars" screen poolside! Each voyage will feature a two-day challenge for kids and another for adults, both consisting of elimination rounds with escalating word difficulty. Winners receive a dictionary signed by the ship's captain. The concept was beta-tested last month onboard Caribbean Princess to positive feedback.

Crown Princess will be the first ship to offer "The Bee at Sea," starting with its inaugural voyage on June 14 (but Cruise Critic's Associate Editor Melissa Baldwin, who'll be onboard for a special preview June 11-13, is ready to strut her stuff -- and hopefully outspell the competition -- if her fellow cruisers are interested). The competitions will be rolled out fleetwide starting in July.

And it would appear that Baldwin has some homework to do before she climbs onboard -- and especially before d-i-s-e-m-b-a-r-k-a-t-i-o-n.