So my recent cruise on board Azura around the Baltic, was also a strictly theme cruise, which as a big fan of the show I was looking forward too, but I will just point out unlike some people on this cruise we did not book specifically for it being a Strictly cruise but for me was a nice added little bonus. Those who had booked it specifically for the strictly theme had brought their own dance outfits etc on board to compete in the passenger show.
Before we boarded we knew our professional dancers would be Robin and Kristina, Pasha and Anya, and our guest judge for the passenger strictly show was Anton Du Beke. We also had Lisa Riley on board for a few days. We had Robin and Kristina from Southampton to Stockholm where they disembarked and Anton embarked, he sailed with us to Helsinki where he then disembarked and the other 3 embarked.
So what actually happens on a strictly cruise? One of the first things you will spot whilst working around atrium on decks 6 and 7 are mannequins displaying some of the dresses which were worn by the dancers in the show, these did change every few days so was always something to look at. For me being honest the dresses didn’t seem quite as fabulous as they do when seeing them on the TV.
There is also a passenger strictly come dancing show, where couples can sign up to dance and compete against each other and been marked by the panel of judges (which on our cruise was the Captain – Robert Camby, Anton de Beke, and then Lance Ellington who is one of the lead vocalists on the show itself) On sign up day we went to be nosy and they had over 30 acts sign up to compete – I say acts because some were single ladies who were looking for a partner to compete with so if there was any single men they would be partnered up with. As there were so many people they announced they would be having a semi final (this wasn’t advertised and was by chance we stumbled across this one afternoon). At the semi final not everyone turned up so everyone then made it the final – those who had brought their own outfits on board were all dressed up ready to have danced. For the single ladies there was no partners for them and so the officers on board were approached to help but alas no-one stepped forward so it was up to 3 of the headlines and 2 of the entertainment hosts to step in and save the show. Each couple could then choose their dance (ie cha-cha, rumba, waltz etc) and then had 3 pieces of music to choose from which had been played in the show, and then had to go off and make their choreography too (think this had put a few people off who had originally signed up as they thought they would be given help) – they were given a CD of the music and a CD player and were told which venues would be available to practice in. There was two finals with 8 different couples dancing in each show. I watched the second show and have to say the banter between the Captain and Anton was very funny, obviously they weren’t as mean as the judges on the TV show but they did give polite/nice critic. Each couple were scored with the top two couples in a clap/cheer off from the audience to determine the winner, and then the winner got to lift the glitter ball trophy.
There was also question and answer sessions with the pro dancers and producers of the show, and after feedback that not everyone could have watched the show in the theatre so missed out, they did record the shows and then put on one of the TV channels in the cabin.
The pro dancers did also do their own shows which tickets were delivered to your cabin with your a date and time to make it fair for everyone to be able to watch it, so they had four shows over two nights. The first show with Robin and Kristina did leave me disappointed as I thought we were going to be watching 45 minutes of a dance show but what we got was about 6 dances about a minute long and then whilst they were doing costume changes we got to watch some of their strictly highlights over the years which took up 3/4 of the show. So when it came to Pasha and Anya’s show we almost didn’t bother to go but decided we would and after the first song my partner said to me they have just danced longer than the whole of Robin and Kristina did. Yes we saw some of their strictly highlights but was nowhere near as much as the first show and each dance lasted about 4 minutes each.
Anton Du Beke was also down to do a dance masterclass, which unsurprisingly half the ship turned up to be taught by Anton, so he asked who had turned up just to check he was really on board and for those who had come to learn to dance to step on to the dance floor – half the room proceeded to the dance floor and swamped it and him, poor Anton did not know what to do and did ask if there was a larger venue he could go to as there was too many people but was told no.
Other things on board were strictly theme quizzes, there were two dance host couples who taught different dances nearly every day and hosted the dancing in the atrium in the evenings. There was also fashion shows with the headliners modelling the dresses which had been on display. Everything that was to do with strictly was shown in the daily Horizon with a glitter ball by the side of it, so if its not for you then you knew what to avoid.
For me I found this enhanced the on board entertainment, having cruised with P&O a few times now and seen majority of the headliners shows it was nice to see something different. There was some people who didn’t know before boarding it was a strictly cruise and some people who will never sail on one again. The strictly theme is great for people who like to dance in the evenings and there was even the dress designers selling the dresses and you could also buy some new shoes from them.