As I write this, I am on Disney Cruise Lines recently remodeled Disney Magic, this years host for the Turner Classic Movies Cruise. Designed to be reminiscent of the grand ocean liners of yesteryear, it is difficult to imagine a better ship for the TCM cruise, perhaps except for another Disney Cruise Line ship or maybe a classic Cunard Line vessel. Classic movies, classic ship; it all works together very well. But that is the end result. Along the way to wonderful have been a number of unique features on this movie-themed sailing.
At-sea concert promoter Sixthman along with the people at Turner Classic Movies have this whole taking movie fans to sea thing down pat now, as they should. After multiple years of doing a TCM cruise, they have worked the kinks out of what they do, to the overwhelming approval of film fans. Those attending who have been on more than one of these say it has gotten better every year too. Sally and Jim from Denver told me “They don’t miss a beat,” pointing to the band that was playing at the time but referring to whoever manages the Turner Classic Movies Cruise.
Themed cruises draw fans of everything from cooking to exploring, music, arts and more. On the TCM cruise we are seeing a particularly narrow niche of attendees; 50+ years of age, middle income, uber-smart about their particular film interests. One of my favorite films of all time stars Robert Redford in Brubaker, “the story of a reform warden sent to a backwards southern US prison to shake things up.” That last line, in quotes, took 3 hours and a number of cocktails to agree on between myself and Fred from California, Susan from Arizona and Bobby from someplace I don’t remember.
While The Theme Rules, The Regular Stuff Is Worth A Try Too
Even the most rabid of movie fans needs a break from time to time and the facilities aboard Disney Magic are perfect for that. Commonly heard around the ship, comments like “As soon as this is over I have to go to the spa for a pedicure”.
The Crew Loves (Or Hates) Themed Sailings- This One They Love
When asked the obvious question “Is it more fun to work without all the kids?”, Disney Crewmembers on board for the TCM cruise almost unanimously agreed “It’s a different kind of fun”, “Actually, we really miss them” and had comments along those lines. Not one had bad things to say about kids on board; their messes they have to clean up, handing them when rowdy, etc. Impressive. Professional. The lifeguard shown here on deck, protecting his empty pool, spent a good amount of his time talking with passersby.
Not All Themed Cruises Are Done Well
Disney cast members might have missed the kids on this sailing (I think there are two) but did not miss some other charter events. Those who had worked for other cruise lines had more horror stories than those who had not, but all agreed that the people running and those attending the TCM Cruise were great to work for. Without going into which are the worst, from a cruise ship crew member standpoint, one repeated comment of note “Never do a charter with a company that is doing it for their first time”. Apparently, things don’t go as smoothly.
An Interesting Way To Engage
This is a ship full of movie fans. To find out just how much these people know about films, all one need to do is attend a trivia session, bingo or watch one of the dozen or so films being screened each day. There will be no shortage of shop talk about films along the way which adds a totally new element to just “watching a movie”. It’s an engaging environment and everyone over the age of 50 who saw many of these films when released, in theaters, has something to say about them. But passengers would have to be nearly 100 years old to have seen all these films when released, and that’s ok too. They all came here because they love classic movies and apparently no one does them like Turner Classic Movies.
Ports Of Call Fit In Very Nicely
Even the most engaged film buffs need a break and our visit to Castaway Cay provided just that, as will our call at Key West.
Modified Onboard Programming Works Well
While the standard Disney Cruise Line fare is not offered in its entirety, there is plenty to do on Disney Magic. Actually, considering the demographic of those on board for the TCM cruise, regular programming would probably fall on deaf ears. The kids splashing water feature, for example, would be of little interest to TCM guests, focused on deciding “Shall I go to dinner or have a conversation with Shirley Jones?” Not forgetting the playbook by which cruise vacations rule the world of travel as a seamless product, planners at the TCM Cruise have packed the days with enough film-related events that we could do nothing else and have a full schedule.
The Price Is Right, For The Right Traveler
Booking any themed sailing, it needs to be the right match for each individual. It’s easy to see why Disney Magic is full on this sold-out sailing for the TCM Cruise; everyone loves films, likes to talk about their love of films with others and is ok with that engagement happening on a cruise ship. Oddly (to me), many of those I have talked to on board are on their first-ever cruise.
While it is hard to imagine someone booking this sailing without a love and working knowledge of films in their back pocket, it happens on themed cruises that are a partial charters. My best story on this topic: Returning from their long-planned family cruise, one reader told me:
“I should mention that I was a little confused when I first got on board. The sailing was overwhelmingly populated with large men. We thought it was some kind of diet cruise or something. Turned out, it was a LGBT sailing of the Burly Bears club. Nice guys, all seemed to be having a good time but kind of unexpected”
It happens and is difficult information to get from the cruise line in advance of sailing. That won’t happen on a TCM Cruise which is a full charter sailing of the entire ship. Good news for film fans, not so good news for fans of television, that lesser of arts (I am told).
Unique, Unique, Unique
If it appears that all we sail are cruises with a little extra something layered on top of what they normally do these days, that’s not mistake. CarnivalLIVE took the FunShip experience to a new level when we saw legendary rock band Styx on board not long ago. Upcoming is Seabourn’s first-ever Food and Wine Cruise with all the wonderfulness of Seabourn luxury and an extra special focus on food and wine. Frankly, I’m not sure if a normal swing through the Caribbean would hold our interest anymore. That’s not a problem when so much focus is placed on the topic of the theme, in this case films.
That’s ten reasons. I’ll give you one more too: It’s fun.
With a schedule so packed full of film-focused events that we were given a bound booklet with all the TCM-specific events, there is no shortage of things to do. After multiple years of sailing with the film crowd, Turner knows what to do with them too. They have worked out the bugs, listened to those in attendance and given them more of what resonates with them. That’s good enough reason for me to do it again, and we’re barely half-way through this one.
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