The premiere of the ninth season (called Cycle 9) aired for the first time last week and the episode -- "The Girls Go Cruisin'" -- was filmed onboard a seven-night Southern Caribbean cruise on Adventure of the Seas. When ANTM executives approached Royal Caribbean about filming onboard, Goldstein didn't think twice. In fact, we heard through the grapevine that he watches the show every week with his daughter (her responsible dad wouldn't let her sail that week because of school, but she did receive a T-shirt signed by creator and host Tyra Banks).
The premise of the show is simple. Every season begins with about 10 to 14 contestants. Each episode generally features a fashion challenge, a photo shoot or commercial, and a good dose of drama -- followed by critiques from Tyra Banks and a panel of judges, and the elimination of one or more contestants. After the final episode, the winner receives a modeling contract; this season, the chosen "Top Model" will net a $100,000 CoverGirl contract, plus a six-page fashion spread in Seventeen magazine.
Did you miss the premiere? You can watch it in its entirety on cwtv.com. Keep an eye out for some of our favorite moments:
Miss J, the girls' walking coach, told them right off the bat that "this is not a party cruise; this is a competition!" Still, the ship got a lot of air time. To kick off the competition, contestants used the jogging track as a runway, modeling their bright orange life vests while sashaying between rows of deck chairs in high heels.
Tyra Banks boarded a day or two into the voyage unbeknownst to the contestants, who thought they were simply there for a first round of auditions. When Banks burst unexpectedly onto the show lounge stage -- singing "My Model Sailed Over the Ocean" (to the tune of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean") with Royal Caribbean dancers -- the looks of shock on the girls' faces were priceless. Maybe it was Banks' full showgirl regalia including a bright red headdress.
ANTM shot various challenges ashore, too, in Puerto Rico and Antigua. The scenic Caribbean photo shoots deviated from typical ANTM outdoor challenges, which in the past have featured scantily clad models posing in sub-zero weather. Jaslene, the winner from Cycle 8, also gave the girls a pep talk on the beach.
Despite Miss J's commentary, the girls' cruise wasn't all work and no play; they vented their competitive feelings on Royal Caribbean's ice-skating rink by pelting each other with "snowballs" made of ice shavings.
Thirty-three contestants boarded the ship in San Juan (only one got seasick). Thirteen moved on to the next round -- and those who were eliminated during the sailing actually left the ship at the next port. There's footage of some of the girls waving goodbye from the dock!
The lucky 13 who survived the week at sea moved into the ANTM house in the Hollywood Hills. New episodes air every Wednesday; check your local listings for channel and time.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor