The best cruise lines for those who love to dance
By CHRISTINE KOUBEK
Sometimes you have to explore a bit to find the dance party on these new megaships, but find it we did, everything from waltzing around elegant ballrooms to salsa in smoky Latin clubs, and even families shaking their booties with Kung Fu Panda to I like to move it, move it. The best part for dance aficionados: no need to wait for the weekend. Every day is a dancing day on a cruise.
Here is a look at six of our favorite cruise lines for getting your groove on, including what theyre best for, dance details and where you can find opportunities to learn a few new moves.
BEST FOR: quirky, spacious clubs
WHY: Where else can you dance alongside Frankenstein or beneath planetary images taken from the Hubble telescope? Carnival Miracles Frankensteins Lab has a mammoth replica of the big fellow, and Valors One Small Step lunar-themed club has moon-crater decor and a white marble floor with granite inlays for that dancing-on-the-moon effect.
Visit the jungle on Galveston-based Carnival Conquest. Henris Dance Club takes its cue from Henri Rousseaus exotic paintings with three-dimensional animal heads like those lurking in the artists works. New ship Dreams club Caliente has a South Beach vibe and 4,300 square feet (great for blending into the crowd).
Many of Carnivals clubs have multimillion-dollar sound and light systems along with a wall of video screens where you can watch music videos or videos of yourself dancing.
Note: Smoking is permitted in Carnivals nightclubs.
DANCE LESSONS: Country steps, 70s disco moves, hip-hop and dance moves from Michael Jacksons Thriller are just a few of the things you can learn in 30-minute beginner-level classes taught by Carnivals dancers. Classes for kids are offered, too.
BEST FOR: posh dance parties and futuristic clubs
WHY: Mix and mingle with Celebritys professional dancers and musicians at several interactive theme parties. Groove, a retro-style 60s party, is set to the music of Bob Fosse, Hair and the Beatles, while Sizzle is a hot Latin party.
For a Christina Aguilera-style big-band party complete with full orchestra and dancers, try Live @ Sky. Celebrity Solstice-class ships futuristic nightclub, Quasar, has a garage-style door where bon s vivants can step out into the ships adjacent Entertainment Court and watch a street performance. Sipping a drink while relaxing in Quasars retro-chic hanging bubble chairs is almost as much fun as dancing.
DANCE LESSONS: Learn tarantella (a southern Italian folk dance), salsa, rumba or waltz with Celebritys professional dancers in Celebritys Lets Dance program. Or, partake in Everybody Dance, the lines own Dancing With the Stars-style competition.
BEST FOR: ballroom
WHY: Queen Mary 2s elegant Queens Room is by far the biggest and best ballroom at sea, attracting dancers from around the world.
The ballrooms 1,225-square-foot rectangular wood dance floor spans the width of the ship and features crystal chandeliers hanging from the two-deck-high ceiling, a resident orchestra and multitier seating that offers great sightlines to the dance floor and the sea.
While not as large as its sister room on Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeths and Queen Victorias Queens Rooms are equally elegant, with cantilevered balconies overlooking the floor, ornate frescos and backlit glass panels. Royal Nights-themed balls include a Black & White ball and the Ascot Ball.
DANCE LESSONS: Social hostesses facilitate daily ballroom dance lessons in the Queens Room, all taught by professional dancers. Dance genres offered include cha-cha, waltz, fox trot, rumba, and country-and- Western line dancing, Caribbean and 70s style. Gentleman hosts are on hand for lessons.
BEST FOR: family dancing
WHY: Picture a preteen boy holding his little sister and waltzing around chipmunks Chip and Dale, moms dancing with sons, and kindergartners shaking their hips as they belt out Party in the USA on a pool-deck stage. These are the things a family can do on a Disney cruise.
Better still is the special night each cruise when the vessel is transformed into a pirate ship. The evening (worth a delayed bedtime) kicks off with Mickeys Pirates in the Caribbean, which is part interactive show, part open-air dance party, with Capt. Jack Sparrow, pirate Mickey (making a grand entrance via zip line) and an impressive fireworks finale. New ship Disney Dream will add a second outdoor night of dance fun.
Indoors, Studio Sea (D Lounge on the Dream) is a family play spot where you can compete in game shows, sing and dance to all-time favorites. After the kids go to bed, parents can head to Disneys adults-only nightclub and dance to hits across the decades. Note: Dancing is smoke-free.
DANCE LESSONS: Learn the electric slide, achy-breaky and other classic moves at a class in Studio Sea on Disney Wonder and Magic (D Lounge on new ship Dream).
BEST FOR: dancing under the stars
WHY: New ship Epics Spice H20 features lounge beds and chill-out tunes by day and a sultry Ibiza-inspired beach club party at night with a dance floor that rises from the pool, aerial performers and a huge LED screen, which displays everything from charging bulls to flamenco dancers and tap-dancing geishas.
Dress in head-to-toe white and mingle with Angel Dancers at the White Hot Party, held once per sailing (and outdoors on Epic and Sky). Rehydrate with the signature cocktail Angeltini, a combination of rum, crme de banana and cinnamon schnapps.
Indoors, Vegas-like club Bliss Ultra Lounge has a mood-lit bowling alley, shadow dancers entertaining the crowd and resident DJs spinning hot dance tunes (on Pearl, Gem and Epic).
DANCE LESSONS: A variety of classes from salsa and merengue to hip-hop for kids are offered as part of NCL University. Classes vary per sailing and ship.
BEST FOR: wide variety of dancing for teens to retirees
WHY: You could dance almost 24/7.
Bebop with DreamWorks penguins and pandas at a parade (Freedom and Oasis class ships) and salsa in Latin club Boleros. Enjoy family disco nights, pre-dinner fox-trotting, dancing-under-the-stars pool parties and shimmying to the Village People as you watch Main Streets go-go dancers on platforms . There are DJs dropping beats into the next morning at trendy-looking nightclubs and clubs just for teens ages 12-17.
Whew, it could give you dance fever.
Better still is Club 20 by Absolut, a special night on Freedom- and Oasis-class ships. These new South Beach-style dance parties for hipsters feature electronic music customized by celebrity DJs from New York Citys Scratch DJ Academy, sheer Absolut banners billowing in the breeze between the bar and dance floor, and dancers dressed as cocktail glasses flanking the DJ booth.
With all this, one cant help but sing along, Tonights gonna be a good night.
New ship Allures second party, Escape by Malibu (rum), pairs the DJ with the calypso band for a reggae vibe.
Royal Caribbeans Voyager of the Seas sails regularly from Galveston. Most dance venues are smoke-free; the exception is Boleros.
DANCE LESSONS: Learn salsa, swing and hip-hop, taught by the professional dancers who perform in Royal Caribbeans stage shows.
Cruising for a dance partner?
Single women (or those without dancing partners) can dance with a host on Cunard, Crystal and Holland America.
Cunard Line provides Gentlemen Hosts (dance hosts) to dance with female guests traveling solo. Four to six gentlemen hosts are on board (10 during World Voyages) and are available on every sailing for all Cunard ocean liners. Cunards hosts are not required to have championship training or exhibition style. However, theyre all proficient in the basic steps of social ballroom dances, including fox trot, waltz, swing, and the Latin rumba and cha-cha. In addition to evening ballroom dancing, Cunards hosts are available to assist during daily dance lessons.
Crystals dance hosts, known as Ambassador Hosts, are carefully screened, cultured and well-traveled gentlemen and, the best part, are accomplished ballroom dancers. In addition, Crystals cruises normally include a male and female dance and instructor team. These partner teams are made up of talented professionals, including many champion dancers. Each team performs several times during a cruise and holds free group dance classes on sea days. Crystals Ambassador Hosts assist during lessons. The instructors also offer private lessons for $100 per hour.
Holland America has dance hosts available on select sailings.
Royal Caribbean and Celebritys professional dancers are on hand to partner with male or female passengers for partner-style dance classes such as in salsa.
In addition, although the number of partners may be limited, dance enthusiasts can book a dance-oriented theme cruise with independent organizations such as Dancers at Sea ( www.dancersatsea.com), or Crown Cruise Vacations Jan. 7-14, 2012, Dance Celebration at Sea on the Celebrity Eclipse.
The Crown theme cruise will feature Florence Henderson and a few Brady Bunch friends, Dancing With the Stars pro Corky Ballas, Nelson Avila from Broadways hit show Tango Argentino, plus private performances and dance lessons for the group.
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