Sunday, August 23, 2009

When is a Safari not a Safari?

This blog entry recounts an experience I had in Turkey earlier this year, I’ve written it in a story-telling style, and it recounts an actual example of where the tourism and entertainment industries collide. I began writing this some months ago, but my computer crashed, and I lost most of it. However, having just stumbled across a rescued text document, I have found much of it in-tact, so have now completed it, albeit a little late in the day…so here goes…

When is a safari not a safari? According to the Oxford English Dictionary online, a safari is ‘a journey; a cross-country expedition, often lasting days or weeks, orig. in E. Africa and on foot, especially for hunting; now often with motorized vehicles, for tourism, adventure, or scientific investigation’, OK so I wasn’t in Eastern Africa, I was in Turkey, but when I booked on a jeep safari, I was expecting something that was slightly reminiscent of the dictionary definition of what a safari wrong I would be…

I’d arrived with my family in Icmeler, Turkey on the 11th April, we’d gone away for an Easter break, but unbeknown to us, the season didn’t start proper for two weeks, so the majority of pubs, bars, restaurants and facilities were either closed or being rebuilt / renovated. A stroll through the deserted town, did however reveal a number of tour bookers on street front stands who were keen to swoop on the very few tourists that were about, in order to try and sell a variety of tours and excursions. One of them obviously saw me coming, ‘hello sir, would you be interested in going on a jeep safari’…well this would be a first for me, as I’d neither been in a jeep or on a safari, so against a backdrop of closed entertainment facilities and deserted streets it certainly sounded interesting. The seller went on to tell me all about the wonderful inland sights that would be seen including waterfalls and traditional rural communities, ‘are there plants and animals?’ I asked hopefully, ‘oh yes of course, said the seller, many plants and animals, you will see many’, so with that enjoyable naturtainment experience in mind, the booking was made.

The day of the safari came, and we met the jeep at the booking office where we were the first on board, I should have had my suspicions aroused when the driver commented on my very expensive HD Digital Camcorder all £1,000 worth of it, and said ‘make sure you keep that safely covered’….’er no, this is a safari, and on a safari I want to film the scenery, why on earth would I keep it safely covered’? I quietly thought to myself. After setting off for a minute we collected the next ‘family’ who occupied the seats in front of us. Again my suspicions should have been aroused when upon sitting on that seat, water began to dribble out of the back of it, narrowly missing my feet. The jeeps were uncovered and it was entirely feasible that they’d been left out overnight and got rained upon. Yes that was it, that’s exactly what happened, nothing sinister at all going on here. Then we met our tour guides…and when I say tour guides I use that particular term VERY loosely, you see these weren’t your run of the mill fonts of ‘safari knowledge’ who command your respect for the vast array of facts and figures they know about local flora and fauna, or their identification with local cultural traditions and norms, this was a man with frizzy hair wearing womens underwear and carrying a camcorder in a watertight case (eeeeek), and his half-dressed cigarette smoking compadres, I didn’t get their names so I’ll refer to them as ‘Frizzy’ and ‘Ciggy’. ‘HELLO’ ‘Frizzy shouted as he climbed into the jeep over the bonnet (the doors did work), ‘your driver is a puff’ shouted Ciggy. Why did that knot in my stomach tell me that things were going to go from very confused to very bad, very quickly?

We proceeded out of Icmeler up the winding mountain roads, the views were stunning and I have to say that I was bitterly disappointed that the jeep safari drove past a viewing point that offered picture perfect postcard views of Icmeler. I secretly hoped that this was because we were going to an even better viewing point further up the mountain. I was wrong, we ended up in the middle of nowhere at some sort of taverna where the innkeeper laid out pots of honey before us, encouraging us to taste them, including one which he described as natural Viagra! There followed the inevitable sales pitch…yawn, I took my camcorder and went to film the rugged mountain scenery and a donkey that was precariously balanced on a steep roadside verge where the grass was certainly greener.

After leaving the horny honey man we proceeded further inland. Frizzy and Ciggy shouted the odd lewd remark before Frizzy took off and ran across several gardens in the style of a Looney Tunes character, he did look quite funny, but this was certainly NOT responsible tourism practice, and whilst I smiled at his antics, I couldnĂ­t help but feel a pang of remorse towards the tennant whose garden Frizzy had just run across partuicularly if this is a daily occurrence.

We then seemed to go around a roundabout all the way around, I then noticed the other jeep doing the same but in the wrong direction…..but why? My worse fears were confirmed when ice cold water was suddenly thrown over our jeep, some of it got me, thankfully my Canon HG10 camcorder escaped mostly unscathed. Unfortunately the ears of my fellow passengers didn’t, as in shock at the unexpected downpour (and in defence of my expensive digital camcorder) I turned the air blue.

The jeep screeched to a halt, and the driver of the other jeep (who threw the water) came running over to find out what was wrong. After I explained that micro electronics and water were not a good combo, he replied ‘but what did you expect? This is a jeep safari’. ‘Yes’ I said ‘a safari, a journey upon which I get to observe the local flora and fauna’, he looked at me bemused ‘what kind of safari is that?’, ‘the normal type’ I responded. My fellow passengers began to mumble until one of them asked ‘did you not know about this type of jeep safari’, ‘No’ I responded before telling them about how this particular product had been mis-sold to me.

So here I was somewhere on the Dalaman peninsula, but inland and miles from civilization. I thought I was going to be participating in a rich edutainment journey, but instead, was an involutary participative audience member on a godforsaken mis-sold journey of watery banality. I guess the more academic you get, the more stupid you also become, taking things on face value, rather than reading between the lines. Mental note for next time Stuart – READ BETWEEN THE LINES. At this point my beloved camcorder was put inside a plastic bag, wrapped in a towel, buried deep in my rucksack – and placed under my seat. I was here now, I couldn’t escape from it, and despite my Mark Corrigan-esque exterior, I thought that I might as well enjoy it as much as I could – let the merriments begin then….

We headed next to a ford (the type where a river crosees a road, not the automotive type), and proceeded to drive throught it at more than the recommended speed limit, well if I was a bit wet before, I was a lot wet now, and it was kind of fun, and certainly thrilling, (after getting over the mental adjustment of what the day was about). From there we went to the lovely but very cold Selale waterfalls, where we explored, viewed and sampled the babbling and very fresh torrent, before moving onwards for lunch, and then onto a Turkish rug manufacturer, where the art of rug making was explained, bringing elements of both edutainment and culturtainment to the day, as beautifully ornate Turkish rugs were flung before us. Then the sales pitch began, adding a little sellertainment into the mix, although there was little pressure to buy from the demonstrator.

We left the rug manufacturer and headed back towards the coast at Orhaniye Bay, Turgutkoy, where fresh water from an inland lake meets the sea, but is mostly separated by a long pebble spit. This enabled people to walk out to sea to a distance of about a third of a mile, yet only be in knee-deep water. This was quite an entertaining spectacle to behold, due to its novelty value.

After a while we headed off for more watery shenanigans, including driving at break-neck speed through rivers and then driving along river beds, again this was not responsible tourism practice, but it was definitely thrillertainment. Then the jeep broke down – in the middle of a river. I wasn’t too worried as I’ve seen every episode of ‘Bear Grylls – Born Survivor’ so was confident I would be able to find something to eat – even if it did taste like ‘a sticky bogey’. However, Ciggy and Frizzy were talented individuals, and after tinkering under the bonnet we were off again.

As we headed along a nice flat, tarmacced main road towards Marmaris I felt quite smug that I was probably one of the drier people on the jeep, ‘suckers’ I thought at all those poor sodden fools who opted to sit near the driver in the false belief that they would remain drier – he was drenched too. However, my near-dry delight soon turned to fear and then utmost panic as we headed towards a suspened hose pipe that was about to drench us all. This wasn’t any old hosepipe though, this was the anaconda of hosepipes, a great big HUGE hosepipe of biblical proportions, the type that God might use to water Africa every now and again, pumping out a gazillion gallons per second of icey cold water from a hole about a foot in diameter, this wasn’t even a spray, it was a blob of water, like that film the blob, only blobbier, colder, wetter and face slappingly stingier as it emptied down on to us. I’ve never had what I consider to be a near-death experience before, but in the nano-seconds that passed before that freezing cold oceanic blob of water hit, I remembered my first day at school / sitting in a poppy field in Darfield as a toddler / eating chesse sandwiches with my Dad / stabilizers on my bike / my first kiss / my first Music festival (Reading 92) / bacpacking in Australia / living in London / Great Yarmouth / meeting Linda…..then BLLLLEEEEEUUUUUUURRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH cold was not the word to describe how that icey torrent felt as it penetrated deep to the bone, raising my heart rate to about 200 and causing breathing to become so fast that I thought hypoxia might set in, as well as of course, hypothermia. I wasn’t smug anymore, I was wet, as wet as everyone else, and possibly with a cherry on top.

Ciggy and Frizzy were delighted and filmed the whole thing as they howled with laughter, they had been filming all day long, and I will take my hat off to how hard they worked. As I sat in the jeep, shivering as the wind howled and dried us at 50 miles per hour on the way back to Icmeler, I reflected upon the day. I didn’t get what I had been sold or expected, and had I known what they day was actually about I wouldn’t have gone on it, BUT to the right customer (and in Summer NOT April) the experience of a Turkish jeep safari would be great fun, and definitely constitute being Thrillertainment.

Upon arrival at Icmeler, the reason for Ciggy and Frizzy filming all day became apparent, they were offering to sell DVDs of the day, which they would deliver to your hotel within 24 hours. I didn’t purchase as I wasn’t that bothered, but this was an excellent example of entrepreneurial activity, and one business venture, supporting another.

The day had been predominantly a thrillertainment experience, but there was also some culturtainment, edutainment, sellertainment, and of course variety, in the form of Ciggy and Frizzy’s comedic costumed antics. If you are into thrills, don’t mind getting wet, can put up with lewd behaviour and language, the Jeep Safari is definitely for you. But if you want to learn about flora and fauna, read a book – or go to Africa!

Some views of the ‘dry’ parts of the day can be found in the video below.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Entertainment Environment

The entertainment environment is the setting in which audiences interact with entertainment provided by entities with the various entertainment industry sectors and sub-sectors. The entertainment environment surrounds us, after all the very diverse entertainment offering provided by the entertainment industry can be found almost anywhere. There are nine distinct entertainment environments, these are as follows: the contained resort environment; the coastal environment; the cruise ship environment; the home environment; the mobile environment; the online environment; the rural environment; the transport environment; and the urban environment. These environments are all unique in their nature, either through size, make-up or physical presence (and sometimes a combination of these things). Some types of entertainment are more predominant in particular environments than they are in others, for example nightclubs and theatres are concentrated within the urban environment due to their need to attract custom, and theme parks are more predominantly in the rural environment due to their need for large amounts of land. Each entertainment environment is listed below along with a brief description.

Contained Resort

A contained resort is typically targeted towards tourists and consequently these are often found in locations where tourists like to visit. Contained resorts can vary in size from relatively small resorts covering less than a square kilometre such as caravan parks, to mega resorts covering vast distances, such as Walt Disney World Resort. Resorts include an array of facilities including: accommodation, catering facilities, bars, leisure amenities such as swimming pools, and entertainment venues including theaters and nightclubs. The idea being that once there, visitors do not need to leave the resort.


The coastal environment offers a unique geographical landscape in that the land meets the sea or ocean. In Britain the term ‘seaside’ is often used to describe these areas. The sea and particularly beaches attract tourists, and typically in response to this, coastal urban settlements are created to cater for visitors, which often includes an array of entertainment facilities and venues. A unique type of coastal entertainment venue / visitor attraction are piers.

Cruise Ship

Almost like floating contained resorts, cruise ships consist of accommodation, catering facilities, bars, leisure amenities such as swimming pools, and entertainment venues including theaters, nightclubs, and casinos. On a cruise, visitors are taken to a variety of destinations and often use the ship as a floating resort, so by day they may be out exploring where the ship has ported, and by night making use of the facilities on board the ship as it travels to its next destination.


The term ‘home entertainment’ gained popularity in the 1980s when home stereo units, television and video recorders became both commercially available and affordable. The home environment is media based and consists of the entertainment provision that has been purchased for use in the home.


The mobile (or personal) environment is media-based and is the entertainment that can comfortably be taken virtually anywhere, this includes MP3 players, portable media players, mobile telephones, books, e-book readers and newspapers. The mobile environment is one of the fastest growing environments as more and more media formats shrink to make them easily portable.


This is the only virtual environment, to interact with entertainment in this environment we do not need to physically travel anywhere, but thanks to new mobile technologies, we can now access the internet from almost anywhere. The online environment is classed as an environment in its own right due to the propensity of those accessing it to consider that they ‘went’ online.


This environment is largely devoid of human habitation with a very low population density. This sensitive environment relies on visitation from outside of its own area, which itself can cause conflict between local residents and those seeking entertainment. The rural environment has the advantage that it offers large open spaces, and therefore can cater for entertainment entities that require large amounts of space. These include music festivals, theme parks, and zoos and safari parks.


Densely populated towns and cities predominantly make up this environment that feeds off large populations of visitors from close by, as well as incoming visitors. This is the most concentrated entertainment environment in that it contains the widest variety of entertainment industry entities with representation from every sector of the entertainment industry, from cinemas, museums and theatres, to nightclubs, live music venues and casinos.


Getting from one point to another using a mode of transport can take time, and often during that time those travelling seek a distraction to occupy or entertain them. In-car entertainment systems, which were once non-existent before the car radio became available are now elaborate, and can include MP3 and DVD players. On some buses and trains, radio and television or movies are available, as is wi-fi internet access. Commercial passenger jets have a long established in-flight entertainment program consisting of films, television programs, games and radio.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Another Entertainment Portmanteau

Last night and tonight, thousands of people have and will be stood, sat, laying down, and transfixed as a captivated audience looking to the skys above us. The reason for this is the Perseid meteor shower, which the planet earth passes through annually on it’s orbit. This has been widely publicised in the media, including the BBC who have given it extensive news coverage, which has helped to generate interest in this phenomenon amongst members of the public. Images of the meteor shower have been widely distributed via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Stargazing is nothing new, and neither is participating in activities relating to this as part of a recreation experience, indeed there are many established planetarium visitor attractions that specialise in astro-interpretation globally, including: Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, UK; Carter Observatory, Wellington, New Zealand; and Adler Planetarium, Chicago, USA.

A meteor is something that the majority of us will never personally see for ourselves, so the Perseid meteor shower presents a real opportunity to see something that is both novel and unique (you’ll only ever see each meteor once if you do see one). Of course, meteors are not a part of the entertainment industry as they are not man-managed or controlled, but they can provide entertainment for audiences of onlookers that are looking to the skies. Solar and lunar eclipses, comets, planets in our galaxy becoming visible and star constellations can also provide entertainment in this way. So it’s time for another new portmanteau to define this entertaining phenomenon….I propose astrotainment.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Entertainment Entrepreneur Coaching Program

**UPDATE 27/11/09** I'm really interested to know why so many people in Germany are accessing this post - please email me to let me know, my email address is at the top of the page.

Introduction to the Program

The Entertainment Entrepreneur Coaching Program (EECP) was formed at Leeds Metropolitan University (Leeds Met) in 2008 as a business education and entrepreneur incubator. It is designed to nurture entrepreneurial ideas that have an entertainment remit, in that the tangible or intangible ‘products’ that participants within the program wish to develop are designed to captivate an audience through sensory stimulation that is capable of provoking an emotional response amongst the audience (Vogel, 2004). For the purposes of clarity, sixteen specific areas of the entertainment industry have been identified as being suitable for EECP projects, these are as follows: staged story and variety; music; bars, pubs and clubs; cinema and film; broadcast media; audio-visual media; the internet; gaming; printed media; spectator sports; thrillertainment; edutainment; sellertainment; culturtainment; spiritual entertainment; and health entertainment. The program has already assisted the set up of several entertainment related business ideas, including: a student radio station; a sustainable sound system powered by wind and solar power; and a dub-step record label. We are now beginning recruitment of student groups for the 2009 / 10 academic year.

Why is such a Program Necessary?
Entrepreneurship and particularly the creation of new enterprises is a key economic function in society, providing avenues for new methods of working and doing business, job creation, wealth generation and competition creation (Butler, 2006; Fink and Kraus, 2009; Parks, 2005). The primary aim of the EECP is to encourage entrepreneurship amongst Leeds Met students, many of whom are undertaking a program in business disciplines where aspects of the entertainment industry may be covered wholly or partially, such courses include under and post graduate: Business Studies; Entertainment Management; Events Management; and Tourism Management. Students on these courses are often required to think entrepreneurially throughout their course, and many of these courses involve modules where students are required to work on projects that have an entrepreneurial remit (Leeds Metropolitan University, 2009). With the assistance of the EECP it is hoped that students with good entertainment related entrepreneurial ideas could benefit through access to both finances and expertise.

Headd (2001) identified that at least half of all new business ventures fail within their first year of operation. The EECP came about through seeing many students in Leeds having good entertainment related ideas, which when put into practice often fell victim to under-planning, under marketing, aggressive competitors and unscrupulous venue owners. Numerous student entrepreneurs in Leeds often suffer failure and financial loss due to this, and many are discouraged to try out their own entrepreneurial ideas again, this backs up the point made by Hayward et al (2009) that negative experiences in the early days for some ‘habitual entrepreneurs’ can have damaging longer term impacts upon longer term entrepreneurial activities, either by dissuading them from becoming involved in what may be perceived as too ‘high risk’ an activity, or in the case of committed ‘serial entrepreneurs’ by ‘not identifying learning effects of failure’ (Ucbasaran, Flores and Westhead, 2008, p.1) and often going on to repeat previous mistakes. ‘Failure from an entrepreneurial viewpoint is considered to be the termination of an initiative that has fallen short of its goals’ (McGrath, 1999, quoted in Ucbasaran, Flores and Westhead, 2008, p.4). The entertainment industry is extremely competitive, and the areas which a sizeable proportion of would-be student entrepreneurs in Leeds seem to gravitate towards are the nightclubs and live music sectors. Some of the most established live music and nightclub promotion companies in Leeds (for example AIM Clubbing, Taking Liberties, and Voodoo Events) are all owned and / or run by either university graduates or existing students. The live music and nightclub promotion sector in Leeds is aggressively competitive, with strong established promoters often using their superior financial position and established marketing networks to put on promotions and run ‘spoiler’ events (even at a loss) in order to ‘quash’ any new competition before it has the chance to become established (Moss, 2009).

Those wishing to participate in the program must be students of Leeds Metropolitan University (Leeds Met). Would-be participants will be invited to apply to join the EECP through completing an application form, which must then be refereed and countersigned by an academic tutor (that is both nominated by, and known to the students). It is the role of the academic tutor to act as a coach and mentor to the students, and to streamline communications between the student group and the EECP. Coaching is strongly encouraged throughout Leeds Met which is the home to the ‘UK Centre for Coaching Excellence’. In terms of assessment, learning and teaching at Leeds Met, priority five in the document ‘Assessment, Learning and Teaching Priorities 2008-09’ is ‘fostering effective coaching and teaching’ (Leeds Met, 2008, p.3). Therefore another aim of the EECP is to work towards this by furthering and developing coaching interactions between academic mentors and students undertaking project work.

Applications for 2009 / 10
Applications to the EECP are vetted by academics and industry representatives, who are looking for an idea that is not only related to the entertainment industry, but that is also: specific and clearly thought out; measurable in terms of finances; achievable in terms of students having the required skills (or access to those who do) to be able to undertake their project; realistic in the sense that this can be done, and that students have carried out research into their product, competitors and market; and timely in that student projects are mapped against a time-line with specific start and end dates. The EECP encourages working with members of the non-academic community, who may have expertise in particular business areas that are related to the entrepreneurial ideas being submitted by student groups, and in doing so fosters positive relations and shared expertise between students and those in industry.

The EECP offers funds of up to £500 per student project, funds are distributed internally within Leeds Met to the faculty of each project groups academic coach. Students are then required to present invoices and receipts in order to claim against the funding they have been allocated. Student groups whose projects make a profit beyond the amount, which they were funded are required to pay back the amount that they were funded plus 10% of any profits that they have made. This allows the EECP to grow and fund further projects in future, the remaining 90% of any profits must then be surrendered to the student group’s academic coach who will establish a Leeds Met budget code for the student group to draw upon these funds (pay and claim) for educational purposes (text-books, hardware, software, conference attendance, field visits etc). Another aim of the EECP is to support the education of the participants, so utilising the profits form projects responsibly in this way, should ensure that this aim is met. Student groups who wish to donate the remaining 90% of their profits to a charitable cause, may be permitted to do so. Student groups whose project fails to make a profit will not be made to pay back the money that they have been given by the EECP, however any funds that they have raised may be requested, therefore in order for the EECP to stand any chance of future growth, it is essential that those projects which are chosen stand the best possible chance of generating a profit.

If you are a student at Leeds Met and you would like an EECP application form for 2009 / 10, or if you are from industry and would like to become involved in the program as an industry expert or advisor please email for further information.


Butler, D. Enterprise planning and development: Small business and enterprise start-up survival and growth. Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann.

Fink, M. and Kraus, S. (2009) The management of small and medium enterprises. London, Routledge.

Hayward, M., Forster, W., Sarasvathy, S. and Fredrickson, B. (2009) Beyond hubris: How highly confident entrepreneurs rebound to venture again. Journal of Business Venturing. May 2009.

Headd, B. (2001). Business success: Factors leading to surviving and closing successfully. Washington D.C., Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Leeds Metropolitan University. (2008) Assessment, learning and teaching priorities 2008-09. Leeds, LEEDS MET.

Leeds Metropolitan University. (2009) Undergraduate courses 2010. Leeds, LEEDS MET.

Moss, S. ed. (2009) The entertainment industry: an introduction. Oxford, CABI.

Parks, S. (2005) Small business handbook. London, Prentice Hall.

Ucbasaran, D., Flores, M. and Westhead, P. (2008) Entrepreneurial optimism and experience: Does the nature of experience matter?. [Internet] New York, Social Science Research Network. URL available from: Accessed 3rd June, 2009.

Vogel, H. (2004) Entertainment industry economics: A guide for financial analysis. 6th ed. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Entertainment Environment: The Cruise Ship Environment

The entertainment environment is the location where audiences interact with entertainment provided by entities within the various entertainment industry sectors and sub-sectors. The entertainment environment surrounds us, after all the very diverse entertainment offering provided by the entertainment industry can be found almost anywhere. There are nine distinct entertainment environments, these are as follows: the urban environment; the rural environment; the coastal environment; the resort environment; the cruise ship environment; the home environment; the mobile environment; the transport environment; and the online environment. These environments are all unique in either their geographical nature, physical size, or physical presence (and sometimes a combination of these things). Some types of entertainment are more predominant in particular environments than they are in others, for example nightclubs and theatres are concentrated within the urban environment due to their need to attract custom, and theme parks are more predominant in the rural environment due to their need for large amounts of land. Of growing significance internationally is the cruise ship environment.

Cruise ships are already considered a major part of the global tourism industry, with the Caribbean and Mediterranean being the most popular locations for cruise holidays. Major players in the cruise market include: Royal Caribbean Cruises, Thomson Cruises; P&O Cruises; and Carnival Corporation. The largest markets globally for cruise holidays are the North American and European ones, with North America being the dominant provider of cruise ship passengers, however since the early 2000s an increase in European passengers has lead to a shift in cruise provision to more European locations, including the Mediterranean countries, Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands, and also Baltic Sea cruises. World-wide cruise ships are considered a ‘boom’ area of the tourism industry with 15.5 million passengers cruising in 2006, and an expected 20 million cruise passengers globally by 2010 (Mintel: European Cruises, August, 2007).

The 'Splendour of the Seas' (Royal Caribbean) and 'Celebration' (Thomson) Cruise Ships.
From an academic perspective, where cruise ships should ‘fit’ within the tourism industry is debatable. In 1983 Leiper developed a tourism system model, which identified three distinct tourism industry ‘zones’, these include: a traveller generating zone; a transit zone; and a tourist destination zone, cruise ships could possibly feature in both the transit zone, and the tourist destination zone, as they are both a mode of transport and a destination venue, cruise ships highlight a weakness in Leiper’s model. Whilst cruise ships are acknowledged as being an established part of the tourism industry (wherever they should fit), their inclusion within the entertainment industry is often overshadowed by their tourism identity. Whilst cruise ships themselves are not entertainment entities, they do provide a unique environment that features a significant entertainment offering, and are an entertainment environment in their own right.

On a cruise ship, the tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries meet head-on, where transport, accommodation, food and beverage, and entertainment / recreation facilities are all contained within the ship’s generous ‘confines’ (for want of a better word). Cruise ships often have the same facilities as a luxury resort or an entertainment destination visitor attraction, such as Bouganvilla Park in Majorca (albeit on a much smaller scale), and are packed with entertainment venues, and facilities for their captive audience of passengers.
It is probably fair to make the assumption that the majority of those on-board a cruise ship consider it a floating luxury hotel that takes them to a new location each day (or thereabouts), allowing the majority of passengers the opportunity to explore the locations visited en-route. There are however, a number of cruise passengers who spend very little time away from the ship, this may be purely down to choice, but also to physical ability. Cruises are popular amongst the elderly (who are often less mobile), and also attract a number of people with disabilities who may have difficulty travelling too far from the ship, but are happy to enjoy new surroundings and the plethora of entertainment on-board. Cruises often offer excursions to their passengers (usually at an additional cost), but not all passengers are physically able to go on excursions, and additionally some may not be interested in excursions, instead preferring to stay aboard or close to the ship. Cruise ships often spend a good deal of time ‘at sea’ either on full-days travelling between destinations, or more commonly overnight, during this time the passengers are all on-board and need to be occupied so as not to become ‘bored’, which may lead to them feeling negative about their cruise experience. Cruises are often aimed at the ‘high’ or ‘luxury’ end of the tourism market, with customers paying a premium price for their vacation experience, and so passengers typically expect to have extensive facilities, as well as a full itinerary of optional activities and entertainment offerings.

I have just been fortunate enough to spend a week cruising the Eastern Mediterranean, the Agean, and the Ionian Seas around Greece and Turkey on-board the Thomson Celebration cruise ship, this was my first experience of the cruise ship environment, and I have to say that it was a very enjoyable one indeed. I had intended to use the ship as a ‘moving hotel’ from which I would explore destinations, and whilst I expected to find some entertainment on-board, such as live music and cabaret, I was not prepared for just how many sectors of the entertainment industry would be represented within this environment. In fact, information displays on the ship gave the following statistics with regards to some of the on-board entertainment:
· 864 hours are spent rehearsing a two week programme per ship.
· 2,100 lyric sheets are used on each ship per season.
· 1,232 costume files have been opened this season per ship.
· 80 show-based dance routines are learned per person per season.
· 2,350 is the number of costumes and accessories on board the ship.
· 56 costume changes take place per person each week.
· 60,000 miles will be covered by the entertainment team each season.
· 2,500 batteries are used in microphones (and recycled) each season.
· 27 is the average age of the entertainment team, with the youngest being 18 and the oldest 60.

The majority of the entertainment team were provided by PEEL of Skipton, North Yorkshire, UK, a specialist entertainment and event agency who are tasked with recruiting the best people for a number of on-stage and behind-the-scenes roles, as well as devising, scripting, and choreographing the shows.

Having had the opportunity to immerse myself in the entertainment on board the ship, I have outlined (and reflected upon) a number of the entertainment sectors that are represented on the Thomson Celebration cruise ship environment.

Staged Story and Variety

This is by far the largest entertainment sector that is represented on-board the ship. The ship’s entertainment team provided a number of shows, these included plays, musicals and cabaret, including ‘Oh Boy’ The Buddy Holly Story and ‘Moulin Rouge’. This took place in the ‘Broadway Show Lounge’ a good sized theatre with two levels of seating. Thomson promotional material described the shows on-board as being ‘Broadway standard’, I had previously read on Trip Advisor (prior to boarding) a review that said ‘more Butlins than Broadway’, personally I would say that the standard of the main shows in the Broadway Show Lounge was somewhere in-between (but nearer Broadway and certainly very good indeed). The performance space simply wasn’t large enough for the spectacle of Broadway standard shows, but a great deal of talent was very evident in individual performances from those on stage. The girls particularly shone with their well choreographed dance routines and lavish costumes, and I foresee a bright future for some of them (possibly in other sectors of the entertainment industry also).

A scene from 'Oh Boy' the Buddy Holly Story

Also featured on the main stage in the Broadway Show Lounge was stand-up comedian Paul Eastwood, who put on some excellent shows, firing off joke after joke in a series of well rehearsed observational stories and routines.

Liberties is a venue that featured live game shows based upon television classics such as ‘Family Fortunes’ and ‘Catchphrase’ (which in all fairness was a bit ‘Butlinsesque’), these shows were run and compered by young male presenters who were evidently in the infancy of their variety careers. The more senior presenter was called ‘Dave Beatie’ and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make the position of Cruise Director, or even on television at some point in the future. All of the presenters however could learn a thing from the ship’s current Cruise Director - Kane Davies who would act as Master of Ceremonies in the Broadway Show Lounge, and who had the confidence, charisma and wit to speak to an audience and get them on his side. Kane holds a Senior position on the ship after a career in the hospitality industry and the licensed trade, and his experience shows.

Other variety performances were dance and exercise performances that were held on the outside stage, as well as cocktail flairing demonstrations, which were also held outside.


Live music was offered every day, this included: the resident band ‘The Nightbirds’ who provided cover versions of classic oldies; live piano and song in the Horizons piano bar; easy listening classics from the Vedasz Duo in the Explorer Lounge; singing waiters in the Meridian restaurant; and the music highlight of the week, the six female entertainers who together formed a ‘girl-band’ and gave a performance in Liberties bar that looked and sounded every bit as good as a number of established chart acts. This was only a 30 minute show, and it was a shame that it wasn’t on the main stage rather than tucked away in Liberties – it’s also a shame that it wasn’t a longer performance.

The Nightbirds

Bars, Pubs and Clubs
The ship has six different bars, including Liberties, which also becomes a nightclub later on. Each bar has a different style or theme, but they all charge the same price, examples include £3.40 for cocktails, and £2.90 for a pint of Stella, which I considered very reasonable.

Dancing in Liberties, which becomes a nightclub after dark.

Audio-Visual Media
A DVD of each cruise is filmed and put together as a montage of clips, this is available to purchase at the end of the week for £19.99. Photographs are also available to purchase.

Broadcast Media
Each cabin has a television that features eleven channels, three of which are music only, along with two news channels, two movie channels, the view from the bridge, a safety information channel, a sales channel for excursions, and a channel dedicated to photographs taken on the ship.

Cinema and Film
The ship has its own cinema, and shows a different film each day at regular intervals throughout the day. The films being shown were all ‘big-screen’ movies, but most were at least six months old.

Printed Media
The ship has its own library, and considering we were cruising around Greece and Turkey, it was a shame that there were no books in the library about these countries or the destinations that we would be visiting. The ship also produces its own daily newspaper, delivered to each cabin by a team of cabin stewards, the paper is called the ‘Cruise News’ which features information about the destinations being visited as well as what is going on aboard the ship. This turned out to be a very worthwhile effort on behalf of Thomson Cruises, and was an interesting read each night before bed.

The library
The Internet
The ship has its own internet zone with fixed PCs as well as a wi-fi network, allowing for users to go online (at a cost), the ship uses satellite communications to connect to the internet.

There are traditional boxed and board games available that can be played in a dedicated game and card room, there are also consoles available including the Nintendo Wii, these are also used in big-screen game tournaments.

Commercial Gambling
The ship has its own casino with several gaming tables and slot machines, this is one of the few areas of the ship where cash can be used.

Hemmingway's Casino
Spectator Sports

There are tennis and basketball courts on deck, with benches around them for spectators.

There are a number of educational talks and displays throughout the week including a guest lecture by Dr. Laurence Carter, a classical historian and romantic novelist (he writes under the name Charlotte Hardy). Some educational talks are particularly targeted towards the majority over-50 market on the ship e.g. arthritis advice, and how to keep your teeth white, where as others are targeted towards anybody including cookery demonstrations, napkin folding, ice carving and cocktail making.

On the first day of the cruise, the destination services team put on a staged sales show to highlight what excursions are available for sale, as well as this, a television shopping channel, brochures, leaflets and flyers highlight Thomson products for sale.

Cultural gastronomy is available through themed food nights, as well as this, cultural information about destinations being visited is available on-board.

Health Entertainment
Health treatments including massage and other relaxing therapies are available in the ship’s spa.

Treatment area in the Beauty Spa

All of the above are merely examples taken from one particular cruise ship, but they serve to highlight what a diverse entertainment offering the cruise ship environment has, and the important role entertainment plays upon cruise ships, which is undoubtedly one of the reasons for the popularity of cruises. It also highlights the significance of the relationship between the tourism and entertainment industries, with cruise ships holding large captive audiences that require entertaining. The cruise environment is an entertainment environment that will continue to grow in significance (and value) for now, and for the foreseeable future, offering increasingly diverse forms of entertainment on ships, which are growing in size to hold not only more passengers, but more facilities and amenities, particularly those dedicated to keeping passengers entertained.

To view the Thomson Celebration cruise ship, see the video below.