I was wrong. And I’m so glad I was.
For some reason, I thought entertainment on my Celebrity Millennium cruise might be curtailed a bit. I figured Celebrity Cruises might want to save some money by cutting back on shipboard entertainment. Or maybe COVID might have made it difficult to find entertainers for our seven-night Alaska cruise.
Neither concern happened. My Millennium cruise has as much – or even more – excellent entertainment as I’ve enjoyed on any of my many cruises.
Seems like live music is happening almost all day and much of the night on the Millennium. Entertainment is so varied that passengers should be able to find something they like. I have liked it all.
On stage in the huge theatre, the Millennium singers, dancers and band have presented “Boogie Wonderland,” “Elysium,” “Hollywood Cabaret” and “IBroadway.” The shows seem to have a plot, such as “Boogie Wonderland” where a young man yearns to be a rock star even though it means leaving behind his high school girlfriend. In the end, of course, he becomes a boogie star but goes back to find his true love.
The sets, costumes, music and entertainers are all fantastic. Even though the ship is less than half full of passengers, the entertainers are giving it their all. And the audience has been responding in kind. Standing ovations are not unusual. When they are not on stage, entertainers themselves are often in the audience to cheer on other performers.
Wealth of Diverse Entertainment
And talk about diversity. This morning, I listened to a four-piece band and singer from Argentina. Named Magnifica, the group – two women on guitars, one on keyboard, a guy on drums and a woman singer – play a wide range of songs. Some of their most popular on this cruise seem to be the oldies – hits by Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Frank Sinatra, Beatles and more.
Then there’s the Blackwood Duo, singer Michael Redden, the Lucky Band, Celebrity Orchestra, Drake & Tara singers, comedian Dan Wilson, vocalist Savannah Smith, acrobatic artists Vlad and Anna and the Savanneah Jack group.
Popping up here and there is cruise director Alejandro from Argentina. With his wry wit, Alejandro casts hilarious zingers right and left. He also sings and dances a bit, a very little bit.
The theater shows are presented twice each evening, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. The Savannah Smith and Savannah Jack performances were so popular that new shows were presented at 8 p.m. in the Rendezvous lounge for Savannah Smith and at 1 p.m. in the theatre for Savannah Jack.
I would pay to see Savannah Smith and Savannah Jack if they performed anywhere near my Indiana home. But on Celebrity Millennium, they are part of the complimentary cruise package.
“After having the music industry shut down for a year and a half, we feel so blessed to be here,” Don Gatlin said, introducing his Savannah Jack band and offering a “welcome back” to cruisers.
That “blessed to be here” and “welcome back” sentiment has been reinforced over and over on my cruise, from passengers to crew and to folks in the Alaska towns we visited. (See below for photo captions):
Credentials for these performers are amazing. These are only a few of the performers backgrounds that I have learned so far on our cruise. A headliner in Las Vegas, singer Savannah Smith has been featured on PBS and was recently nominated by Broadway World for “Best Performance.” She presented a very energetic one-woman show on the Millennium.
Comedian Dan Wilson has many TV appearances to his credit, including “Star Search,” A&E’s “Evening at the Improv,” MTV’s “Half Hour Comedy Hour” and Lifetime’s “Girls’ Night Out.”
Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, the Savannah Jack band was a surprise. The five-piece powerhouse seems able to perform all genres. Must admit, the country part was my favorite. No wonder considering that Savannah Jack was the opening act 66 times for Kenny Rogers, including a 21-city tour of England, Scotland and Ireland. Formed in 2003, the band also has been an opener for John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Vince Gill.
Lead singer Don Ellis Gatlin – cousin of country musicians Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers – is also a talented songwriter and has co-written songs with Ricky Van Shelton, Blake Shelton and others. One of his newest songs co-written with Dwain Messer, “It Goes So Fast,” was recently released on Messer’s 2021 album by the same name.
Sitting quietly in the back of the band on bass guitar, Buck Jarrell is a “Nashville legend,” Don says. Touring with Waylon Jennings and Dolly Parton among many top names, Buck is a talented session musician and recording engineer as well.
Never know who you will meet and what their experiences have been as you travel on life’s highway. Or in this case, cruising on the Celebrity Millennium into the glorious “Last Frontier” of Alaska.
Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch
- Savannah Smith (story cover photo)
- Celebrity Millennium Theatre
- Celebrity performers
- Ruby, one of the ship singers.
- Magnifica performs in the Sky Lounge.
- Savannah Jack
- Buck Jarrell with the Savannah Jack band.
- Jay Smith with the Savannah Jack band.
- Don Ellis Gatlin