The formula for having a good time on a cruise ship has grown to a complicated equation over the years, but the simple math stays the same: People want dinner and a show.
So one of the top-drawer draws for a cruise line is putting on extravagant Broadway-style productions. Every few years, the cruise lines change things up to entice new customers and satisfy returning clientele.
This year brings a slew of new productions to new ships that will call Florida home.
Returning to Fort Lauderdale after sailing in Europe this summer is Royal Caribbean's revamped Allure of the Seas featuring a full-length licensed version of the Broadway hit "Mamma Mia!" The show had been on Quantum of the Seas, but jumped ships when Quantum headed to China.
"I do think our show's a great match for Allure," said Mark Whitmore, international manager for the show. "For us the most important thing is that anyone on the ship who's seen the show tonight has seen the proper version that they would see in London or on Broadway."
Royal Caribbean is the only line putting on full-length versions of Broadway shows including "Cats" on Allure's sister ship and Port Everglades partner Oasis of the Seas. Most cruise lines have only offered up condensed productions that run about 45 minutes, although Norwegian Cruise Line serves up 90-minute versions of several popular titles.
Coming in November on the new Norwegian Escape will be "Million Dollar Quartet," the Tony-Award winning musical about a legendary jam session featuring Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley. Escape will sail year-round from PortMiami alongside Norwegian Getaway, which offers up "Legally Blonde." Currently sailing in Europe, but coming to Port Canaveral in 2016 is Norwegian Epic, which recently debuted a version of "Priscilla Queen of the Desert."
Princess Cruises has tapped Oscar-winning composer Stephen Schwartz, known for "Wicked" and "Pippin" to create original shows for the line. First up this fall will be "Magic to Do," which will be performed on three ships including Emerald Princess sailing out of Port Everglades.
Also new on the horizon is "Tangled the Musical," Disney Cruise Line's first original production since 2012 that will debut on board Disney Magic in November when it begins sailing from Miami.
"Coming back to 'Tangled' is a lot of fun," said composer Alan Menken, who co-wrote the songs with Glenn Slater for the 2011 film based on the Rapunzel fairy tale. "Revisiting it and getting to open up that treasure trove and bring out the pieces and expand it, that's always the excitement for me."
The duo have written three new songs to go along with the popular and Oscar-nominated ones from the film while the production will feature 11 locations and the introduction of a unique full-size puppet to portray Maximus the horse. The new "Tangled" show replaces "Villains Tonight!" on the ship, and is one of three stage productions featured on the ship's seven-night Caribbean itineraries.
Slater said he's excited about putting on the world's first stage version for "Tangled" for Disney Cruise Line.
"I hope that people will leave the theater and go back onto the ship and feel like that they have been transported to a Broadway theater and come out buzzing and telling everybody, 'Go on that ship. Go see that show.'"