Dancing With The Stars,the popular ABC television program draws fans from around the world, watching the show or a version of it in their home countries like no other ever. Accordingly, it should be no surprise that loyal fans of the TV dance competition would book a cruise vacation themed after the event. After all, themed cruise vacations are a popular choice among the travelers of today. On board Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam, we saw passengers come from far and wide to sail, but we see that on any given cruise vacation on any major cruise line. This was different.
It’s the experiential element of travel that gets concentrated, condensed and focused on a cruise anyway. With so much to do on most ocean cruises, choosing from what is being offered is often a difficult decision. But normally that task involves choosing between the various plentiful things to do on any given day, listed in the ship’s daily newsletter. It is the choice between the cooking demonstration or a nap; hanging out on deck or going ashore; which place to have dinner or something along those lines that cruise passengers struggle with. Adding the element of Dancing with the Stars programming, including everything from a fashion show hosted by funnyman Carson Kressleyto dance lessons from Dancing with the Stars Alum Derek Hough, Tristan MacManus and others, and the shared experience of a cruise vacation goes quickly over the top.
Basically a dance off competition, Holland America’s At Sea version of the show begins with complementary dance lessons, offered on each and every ship and itinerary in the 15-ship cruise line. Throughout the course of every sailing, passengers and judges on board choose a winner who is given a score, distilling down 600 of them to a list of 15 semi-finalists who join the champions sailing. At a press conference with those 15 semi-finalists, I asked for a show of hand for how many of them booked the cruise intentionally hoping to end up the champion. Few did. The vast majority had booked their Holland America cruise for just that; the usual and customary experience we have come to expect from a cruise vacation.
Throughout the week on Holland America’s Dancing with the Stars: At Sea Champion’s Cruise, passengers on board, fans of the show or not, drew up sides, cheering their favorites on. But like on the TV show, there could be just one winner and on the last night of the sailing, that winner was chosen. It was Allyse Ishino of Santa Ana, California that came out on top and brought home the mirror ball trophy. But every contestant and every passenger on board came out a clear winner as the intense programming element of Dancing with the Stars put that ‘special feeling’ we get at the end of a cruise over the top.