Cunard, Queen Anne

Cunard: A new era of entertainment awaits


Come next May, Cunard will welcome its newest ship, Queen Anne, to the fleet, complete with a range of new guest concepts, including in its entertainment offering.

The line’s director of entertainment Dave Webster, musical director Dave Desmond, and Olivier Award nominated singer Amy Lennox – who performed at the CLIA Conference 2023 and held workshops on board Queen Elizabeth earlier this year – speak exclusively to Cruise Trade News about how the world of cruise entertainment is changing.

Dave Webster and Dave Desmond

How important is on-board entertainment to the overall cruise experience for guests? 

Dave Webster: Cunard has a reputation for delivering world-class entertainment. This includes collaborations with Royal Shakespeare Company, Anthony Inglis and the National Symphony Orchestra.

We also work with internationally renowned personalities as part of our Insights Speaker Programme such as Bear Grylls, who is on board Queen Elizabeth next month.

The opportunity to be exposed to such variety of entertainment and enrichment under one roof is unique and a definite attraction for our guests.

By night, we offer the opportunity to see a great stage performance or guest entertainer, enjoy a live band or dance into the early hours.

How important is entertainment to the decision-making process for guests looking for their next cruise?

DW: Entertainment is a key driver of our guest satisfaction scores, in conjunction with destination and dining.

When guests are looking for that something special, this is where Cunard’s entertainment offering steps up. Our Event Voyages, for example, offer the opportunity to be immersed in a range of topics, from the arts and literature to food and wine.

Opportunities to witness enriching partnerships with English National Ballet or Cheltenham Literature Festival at Sea are going to be reasons for many of our guests to book.

Featured performers and celebrity speakers also add to the appeal of guests coming back time and time again.

Cunard, entertainment Dave Desmond
Cunard’s Dave Desmond

How is Cunard innovating when it comes to its musical offering? 

Dave Desmond: Our ethos is to provide a varied and world-class live music offering to our guests.

As such, we are introducing a host of new themed party nights for our Queen’s Room Bands to perform, which are geared towards a more general dance offering, as well as the more traditional ballroom offering that Cunard is renowned for.

Even our ballroom dance music has now evolved to a more contemporary/pop repertoire (arranged in ballroom styles), to align it more with current popular TV dance shows.

We also offer a DJ & Sax experience on certain ships and new on each ship is a Ceilidh/Folk Duo to bring an essence of traditional Gaelic music to our guests.

What are the challenges of changing and updating the musical experience? 

DD: We always strive to find the right balance between the traditional and the modern.

However, what I can say is that we are continuing to source a wide variety of high-quality entertainment for each of our voyages, as we’re constantly adapting our programmes with a range of new entertainment options.

Amy Lennox

How did it feel to perform at the CLIA Conference?

It was an absolute privilege to have had the opportunity to perform at the CLIA Conference and to share my passion for music with such a wonderful audience.

I was thrilled to be part of such an important event for the cruise industry and I look forward to delivering more memorable performances at sea in the future.

Amy Lennox
Amy Lennox performed at the CLIA Conference

Why does entertainment play into people’s decision-making process?

Music is storytelling and that is something inherent in human nature. We’ve been doing this since we were all huddled around in caves – it’s part of life.

I think for people on a cruise, they want top notch creativity and that helps attract people.

How do you think cruise ship entertainment will change?

If you look at theatre now and compare it to the 1980s, there is a different energy.

Musical theatre is a huge spectrum, with different demographics and tastes. So, I think it’s important that cruise lines keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry as a whole.

In the past, it’s been easy to set up a show for 20 years and think ‘yeah, it works and that’s fine’.

However, people want to attract a younger demographic so it is changing. You’ve got all these different cruise lines targeting younger people, therefore it’s important for them to speak to people who are in the theatre world.

If you don’t, you lose momentum and energy. What gives people the edge is injecting a new perspective.

Sign In

Lost your password?