"Strictly," Other TV Talent Shows Inspire Wave of Cruise Ship Contests

October 23, 2009
Senior Couple Ballroom Dance (12:24 p.m. EDT) -- P&O Cruises is the latest line to jump on the talent-search bandwagon with its announcement today that it is searching for a pair of dancing stars to perform on the evening of the naming ceremony for its newest ship, Azura.

The cruise line will hold heats on 12 cruises across the fleet throughout the winter, with the winning couple from each cruise invited to the semifinal in Southampton on 9 April, 2010. The top six couples will then spend the night onboard to face a final competition the following day. The winners will stay on for their big performance at the VIP naming ceremony on 10 April, 2010.

Again, this is just one in a seemingly never-ending succession of talent events launched by cruise lines this year -- and is not the first of its kind, either. Thomson has been running a "Strictly Come Dancing"-inspired "Get Up and Dance" contest for three years now. The 2010 event kicks off in January on Island Escape.

Other cruise line talent competitions range from modest bits of fun to serious opportunities that could change the winners' career. Here are a few coming up:

Fred. Olsen is running a photographic competition until the end of the year, with a camera as first prize, a watch as second and £75 onboard spending credit as third. This one's relatively simple; all you have to do is submit a picture of a Fred. Olsen ship or destination; details are on www.fredolsenphotocompetition.co.uk

Cunard, meanwhile, is looking for a talented sculptor to provide a five-metre-tall sculpture to adorn the Royal Arcade, the shopping area onboard the line's new art deco-themed Queen Elizabeth, due to enter service in October 2010. The competition, which closes in December, will be judged in January by an eminent panel including Charles Saumarez Smith, chief executive of the Royal Academy of Arts.

This isn't going to be a case of fiddling around with modelling clay or creating an avant-garde pile of empty Coke cans; the ship's art consultant Amy Lucena told co-sponsor The Daily Telegraph: "For inspiration, think of the great hotels and shops of that time: Claridge's, Selfridges or the Savoy. But we don't want fusty, musty. This is a 2009 version of art deco."

The winning piece will stand in the space where there's currently an ornate clock on Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth's sister ship. Entrants don't actually have to build the sculpture yet; only drawings need to be sent in.

Finally, German cruise line Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is staging a spectacular opera talent competition on its flagship Europa during a cruise departing Venice on 25 October. Young, up-and-coming singers from opera houses in New York, Toronto, Hamburg, Dresden, Zurich, London, Milan and Paris will sail onboard and compete, "X Factor"- or "American Idol"-style, for prizes including a performance at the Vienna Opera House and €15,000 in cash.

Passengers and big names from the world of opera will vote for the winners onboard -- but you, too, can have your say. Cruise Critic has teamed up with Hapag-Lloyd Cruises to bring the competition shoreside. You can watch each performance via video and vote for your favourite; the winner will receive a special Cruise Critic Members' Choice Award. Cruise Critic members from the U.K., U.S. and parts of Canada can also enter to win opera-related prizes, from DVD's to concert tickets. Get started here!

--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor