(Photo: Martina McBride performs on the Carnival Ecstasy.)
A few days away from work, escaping the usual family obligations and the routine of the daily grind, can quickly recharge our emotional batteries. There’s no better way to get some much-needed time with your spouse or special someone, or just kick back with a group of girlfriends.
But organizing that kind of escape can be tricky. Hotels are pricey. Restaurants fill up. Throw in tickets to a concert or show and you’ll make a big dent in the budget. That little escape starts turning into a big headache.
That’s what makes Carnival Cruise Lines' "Carnival Live" concert series so brilliant.
Launched in April and running through mid-December of this year, the series brings 49 shows with 15 acts --Jennifer Hudson, Foreigner, LeAnn Rimes, and Lady Antebellum, to name a few-- to the Western Caribbean, the Bahamas and Baja Mexico.
The shows are held in the ship’s show lounge and tickets are dramatically less than most arena seats - $20 to $40 for a regular seat and $100 to $150 for VIP tickets which include a meet-and-greet with the band or artist, a complimentary photo and priority seating in the first three rows.
The Carnival Live series simplifies getting away and makes it all a bargain. Instead of searching for a hotel, making a reservation in a busy restaurant and then buying concert tickets at a premium price, all you have to do is book your cruise, buy a ticket to the show, and settle in.
I experienced the new Carnival Live concept with a four-day cruise from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico, on the Carnival Ecstasy. After a day in Cozumel, country music superstar Martina McBride came aboard and performed in the Blue Sapphire Lounge for an enthusiastic audience of around 800.
It was a fantastic show, intimate and personal. McBride performed selections from her new album as well as the songs that made her a star, and fans were on their feet dancing to their favorites.
It was a great show and a fantastic way to see McBride perform. There wasn’t a bad seat in the house and after the show it was an easy stroll to my stateroom a few decks away.
No taxi needed.
While a Caribbean cruise is always a good idea, for those of us in the Northwest, the November cruise to Baja, Mexico, on the Carnival Imagination with Jewel, could make for a perfect girlfriend getaway. A group of four can share a suite for around $450 per person, it’s a relatively short flight, Jewel puts on a great show and, especially that time of year, you get the bonus of a few days under the sun.
More information about the Carnival Live Concert Series
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a Spokane-based travel journalist. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org