September 24, 2023

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For splendid leisure

On Royal Caribbean’s ‘Wonder of the Seas,’ How Vegas-Worthy Performances Come to Life

3 min read
Condé Nast Traveler

Entertainers appear at every turn, but how do they get to this point and what else do they do on board?

Fierce competition and weeks of training

The more than 100 entertainers and technicians on board Wonder of the Seas are hardly novices. Each one auditioned and competed for their spot from a pool of some 26,000 applicants vying for 1,600 roles across the Royal Caribbean fleet. But once selected, they don’t immediately set sail.

Instead, they hone their craft at the Royal Caribbean Production Studio in North Miami Beach. Known among company officials as a “a revolving door of talent,” this is where performers from the company’s ships spend more than 300 hours across six weeks rehearsing. As one of the largest facilities of its kind in the world, it’s a massive hub of the performing arts. It has its own theater, 14 dance studios, 15 vocal practice rooms, three aerial studios, a 20,000 square-foot costume-making facility, a gym, and dorms where entertainers live before moving to their assigned ship.

The land-based team includes choreographers, composers, music directors, vocal coaches, producers, aerial trainers, set designers, and even wig stylists. All of the costumes are made in-house by six tailors and seamstresses plus a roving style team of 100 people who travel to various ships for costume updates.

The performers are often learning as many as three production shows simultaneously before they move to the ship. On board, they will continue to practice in between performances and handling other onboard duties including passenger-facing safety and customer service roles.

As a spectator watching these shows, it’s easy to forget that you are aboard a floating, moving vessel. But, the performers certainly don’t. Part of their training involves performing on stages that move, vibrate, or bounce with the motion of the ocean. This requires talent, but also involves risk.

The safety of performers is paramount, and onboard producers regularly check in with the nautical team on the ship’s bridge for a weather update before moving forward with any performance. The direction of the wind and intensity of waves can affect shows like the Aqua Theater (and the ability for those 55-foot dives, often with laser-style lighting effects, to be perfect).

The captain can steer the ship in a particular direction to avoid going against the wind during the performance. Other times, stabilizers can be deployed to reduce any sense of motion on the ship. At the aqua show, there are even scuba divers under the water that serve as emergency backup below the performance pool’s surface.

It’s all adds up to one of the most unique entertainment lineups at sea. “No other brand—cruise line or otherwise—is producing this level of innovative entertainment programming, from scratch, all the way through opening night and beyond,” says Nick Weir, Royal Caribbean’s vice president of entertainment. “Royal Caribbean has become a destination for creators, talent, and audiences worldwide.”

Whether you are looking for destination experiences on land or encore acts with Vegas-style flair, the largest cruise ship in the world has the vision and talent to sweep you off your sea legs and change your perception of cruise entertainment.

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