In speaking with our jazz musicians and many guests this week, you can sense that the cruise spirit is rising.
Our Take: Thinking About the
’22 Sailings Is Exciting
Not every venture of ours has a happy ending. In the past few months, we have had one cruise cancelled and several rescheduled. Sometimes even cruises that sail have an issue or two. Not often, but it does happen. The back stories of something that goes awry are usually more interesting than the account of a success. Sort of a man bites dog quality. We love the unusual and the intrigue of what goes on behind the scenes.
Case in point is our attempt to produce live shows in Las Vegas in late February and early March of 2021. For those unaware of our efforts, we contracted with Encore Resort for the use of the Encore Theater as well as several hotel suites, restaurant spaces and other amenities. We put together an amazing lineup of both “straight ahead” jazz musicians and our “smooth jazz” musicians for back-to-back 5 day music festivals in Las Vegas. Our plan was to use the theater as our “bubble.” We had worked out some excellent programming, thanks to Shelly Berg and Eric Marienthal, and were crafting some very cool dining experiences hosted by some of the top musicians in the world (George Benson, Christian McBride, Kurt Elling, Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, etc.).
As is our custom, we were working on special logos, gifts and parties. It was fun to be working on a show product for ’21. We were loading up the event with lots of exciting production elements and special effects. We decided that if were to produce our first event of this type, we wanted it to be special. The only thing that we knew we would be leaving out would be any kind of profit! This was no time for such mundane goals. After all, with the amazing pace of subscribers to the program, we were going to have a full house, which would ensure that our lark would pay for itself and, more importantly, would make a lot of people very happy!
As for the health and safety aspect of the show, we always planned to limit capacity to 67% of the theater. Our plans could not be final until all rules and regulations were in place. Until then, it would have been difficult to outline final procedures.
The first announcement came last week. We were told that when the Encore Theater opens, a date that still remains sometime in the future, the capacity level would be limited to only 400 guests, well below the 1,000 guests we would need to cover the amazing program we were planning.
We have now either cancelled or postponed the event. I know that those are not the same, but I really cannot tell you which is applicable here. The Wynn/Encore Resort’s sister theater is currently closed as well, but the events may work if we could accommodate 400 guests in the Encore Theater plus 400 guests in the Wynn Theater. Both Nevada and Las Vegas are requesting that we submit precise plans for our shows in order to move forward.
I can see us re-upping the event if we can do so in late Spring or very early Summer, but there comes a point when the events would bump up too close to the ’22 Sailings. We have decided to take one more hard look at this opportunity. But, something almost magical happened in this process. Gauging this time frame was the first time in months that the ’22 Sailings were part of the conversation. Doing so made us smile.
Writing (actually typing) “’22 Sailings” is exciting. Yes, we are 16 – 17 months away from sailing, but to even be talking about those sailings, creating our checklists, sending out updated contracts to Musicians, and revised Cruise Confirmations to thousands of booked guests is as close to normal we have felt in more than 6 months. In speaking this week with the musicians and many guests, you can sense that the cruise spirit is rising.
The cruise spirit usually does peak at this time of the year, but the angst is directed to the cruises just 4 – 5 months away. Noting this reminds me that, for the first time in more than 20 years, I will not be spending January and February at sea with our guests and musicians. No matter what we wind up doing on land, that will be a depressing time.
The good news is we have another interim idea in our back pocket to present “live” music in the near future and the Vegas idea is not entirely lost. As you can tell, we do not handle idle time very well. As one of our wiser, and kinder, musicians just wrote to us, “Entertainment Cruise Productions is never afraid to try new things, to go after the unusual and to invest both time and money into creating special events for its guests.” With all that is going on, or, more accurately, not going on, I welcome that bit of encouragement.
So, we may have “Lost” Vegas, but we did not lose our dedication and inspiration for excellence. We have now directed those feelings fully on what will be 4 sensational weeks back at sea in ’22.
Our Take is written by Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at email@example.com.
SAVE THE DATE: WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 16 Live With Randy Brecker & Ada Rovatti, Hosted By Eric Marienthal