Cruise ship dance parties: The new party scene on the seas

The deck lights are dimmed, the laser show kicks off, and a smoke cannon blasts the dance floor as the DJ pumps tunes from the huge sound system. A throng of partygoers, all decked out in white, begin to move their bodies to the beat. There are selfie sticks and white cocktails and everyone is wearing a smile. Oh, and if you haven't worked it out, this scene is on a cruise ship.

Bianco, the P&O Cruises White Party, was launched in May this year and the lucky revellers who were on board cited it as one of the best nights on the Pacific Dawn.

While cruising was once the domain of retirees and budget-savvy families, the latest CLIA stats state that over one million Aussies took a cruise holiday in 2014 – and it's all kinds of people spanning a diverse range of age groups. The interest is projected to keep on growing fast, so it's no surprise that cruise companies are catering to an ever-diversifying audience.

P&O Cruises is leading the charge. The Bianco White Party is one of four new party concepts (the next three – a Gatsby-themed event, Vegas pool party and Back to School party – are scheduled be rolled out across the P&O fleet over the next few months) and attendees have been raving on about how epic the launch party was on the P&O Cruises Facebook page. "We were there!!!! Amazing," wrote Ruth Jones. "Hannah Short, this could be us – but you reckon cruises are for old people," wrote Sweettilly Chambers. "Vicky Fle, make sure you and dad pack white for your cruise – there is a white party," wrote Katie Chinofluffy. 

P&O Cruises Entertainment Director Brett Annable​ explains: "We've always offered great parties on board our ships and our latest offerings reflect what's in vogue in modern Australian venues. We've introduced the Bianco party to give our guests the chance to dress up and dance the night away with friends and family – which is the most fun you can have at sea."

Dance parties on cruise ships aren't a new concept. Norwegian Cruise Line is well known for its White Hot Party, a pumping dance party on the pool deck where guests sporting white outfits groove alongside angels under a blanket of stars. Norwegian Cruise Line is also famous for its Glow Party, another high-energy dance event on the pool deck, where a light show spectacular (think Vivid-esque fluoro lighting) is combined with energetic dance routines to electronic dance music.

It’s a white-out! Last week P&O held its inaugural Bianco party, lighting up the top decks of Pacific Dawn. There were...

Posted by P&O Cruises Australia on Sunday, 31 May 2015

Although Europeans are notorious for their partying antics (anyone who has been to Ibiza appreciates they know a thing or two about nightclubs), Australians are catching up. In fact, 2016 will see Australia's first floating festival launched.

America has been leading the multi-day cruise party scene (just Google images for "Holy Ship" and "The Groove Cruise" to get an idea of what it's like) and Australia is joining the ranks. 

Electronic dance community inthemix.com.au and travel company Travel Superstore have teamed up and shaped Sea 'N Beats, Australia's first cruise festival, kicking off on March 5, 2016 in Brisbane. There's a great line-up, seven stages of entertainment spanning all the usual festival stuff (DJs, music, lights), and various other cool and unique additions for the party crowd, including racecar simulators.

Of course the fun factor isn't just about exceedingly loud music and funky dance moves. Most Aussies who book a cruise holiday usually want the option to party while enjoying all the features on the ship.

Themed nights have long been popular on ocean cruises and many guests look forward to these parties (just head to any of the big cruise liner Facebook pages and you'll probably see conversations about what theme nights are coming up). Carnival (even the name implies life is a party on board) is known for holding some of the best themed nights around and guests recall these nights as some of their best cruising memories. 

Carnival is also known for its bars and the new RedFrog Rum Bar (one of a number of new additions thanks to the $US44 million/$A57 million-dollar makeover), slated to be opened in August on the Carnival Spirit, will entice guests with tropical rum-based concoctions such as daiquiris, mojitos and coladas.

Of course, the two largest ships at sea, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, have the size factor going for them – so whatever party hat you want to wear, Royal Caribbean has it covered. Bars, nightclubs and lounges aplenty, casinos, theatres, ice rinks … it's a continual party haven for those who wish to stay up late.

In the end, a holiday – whether it's a cruise holiday or not – it about getting away from the everyday. And cruise companies are recognising that for many of their guests, getting away from it all often means partying it up. Cheers to that. 

See also: Top 10 most luxurious cabins on cruise ships
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