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singingthinker

Karaoke programming

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At the end of July I went on an Alaska cruise with Princess and I thought the karaoke programming was very poor. It was only offered three times on the cruise and the first one was specifically for families, kids and parents. As a childfree 60 year old, I boycotted it. Each time the karaoke lasted only an hour to hour and a half. The songlist seemed to be pretty small and limited, too, compared to karaoke at bars back home. The hosts for the karaoke were also crew members who usually had other duties. There was clearly way more demand for karaoke than there were opportunities on this cruise as the two times I attended karaoke there were way more people wanting to sing than there were slots to sing in the brief karaoke shows on the cruise. Also, there were no songbooks, online or printed, for the singers to look up what songs they had available. You had to stand in a line and ask the host what songs they had as the host looked them up and signed you up to sing, both on their I-Pads. Is the the new normal for karaoke on cruises? On the other hand, there were way more opportunities to listen to live bands who played music for ballroom dancing on the cruise, even tho their were only a few couple that ever participated in these events. Seems to me the cruise director is out of touch with what most people want on the cruise for entertainment options and karaoke is treated as an afterthought, even tho 15 years ago when I went on a Carnival cruise, it was very popular and done well, offered almost every night and with karaoke events that lasted at least a few hours and were hosted by a FT karaoke host who had no other duties and was very good at hosting karaoke.

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On a short cruise, 7 day Alaska?, there is little time for karaoke. I have been on many Princess Cruises. On some cruises there is just a small group that attend the sessions. Other times lots of passengers want to test out their singing ability, probably what you experienced in Alaska. Your Alaska voyage probably had some later evening sailing times. If this was the case it becomes more difficult to schedule all the different evening activities and keep everyone pleased. On longer cruises there is karaoke almost every evening. I have been on voyages where there were so few singers that people sang two or three songs in a session, or put together groups on the fly to try some of those duet songs. 

Princess must pay copyright fees to use karaoke tracks. Four to five years ago they had a much larger selection, but because of copyright issues this has been reduced. Of course Princess can obtain additional songs if they are willing to pay the copyright fees. Years ago passengers even brought their own backing tracks. Copyright enforcement put an end to this.

I agree, even with the reduced number of available songs, books are more passenger friendly then the stand there asking what songs they might have method. Many bars/DJ's really don't pay copyright fees, even though they should. Thus they have very large selections of songs. Over the years I have collected a list of songs I enjoy that Princess has in their collection. Makes it easier. Princess uses its Cruise Director staff to host all on board events, including karaoke. Never had a issue with this.

Suggest you add some comments to the post cruise review regarding increasing the song list, books and what you thought were poorly run sessions. Princess does read these comments.

Just a few weeks ago I was speaking with a friend that sails frequently on another cruise line, maybe 4 to 5 times a year. This friend enjoys karaoke. He commented that since about 4 to 5 years ago the on board karaoke library has been reduced due to copyright issues. Same as Princess.

 

Edited by skynight

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Also, with it being an Alaskan cruise, usually the demographic is usually a bit older.  I would think Ballroom Dancing would appeal to more passengers.  Maybe that cruise you were on had an unusual passenger mix (more children)

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It was a 7 day cruise to Alaska. There were a lot of kids aboard, but the older passengers wanted karaoke way more than ballroom dancing, so it appeared to be a matter of the cruise director making a wrong and poor assumption about ballroom dancing being more popular with the older passengers than karaoke. BTW, I contacted the corporate office of Princess about my complaints and they didn't seem to care at all. They said it was all decided by the cruise director. Well, how am I supposed to contact the cruise director before booking a future cruise to see what the karaoke situation will be on that ship? I highly doubt the cruise line will make the cruise director available for a chat or e-mail chat about my wishes before a cruise. Ballroom dancing appeared to only attract a handful of passengers on my cruise.

 

As for song selection, it is still possible to have a good song selection if you are willing to pay for them. You have to order the songs from UK companies or a French company called Karaoke Version. I know this because I frequently attend a bar karaoke show where the host has a completely legal collection of over 15 K songs. Not being willing to spend the time and money on getting a decent song library of at least several thousand songs is not an excuse, at least in my mind. Also, I am very aware of the issues regarding copyright and licensing with karaoke in the last 15 years as I followed it with the bar karaoke in my area. Compiling a legal collection of songs is now more expensive and more work than in the old days of illegal tracks run rampant, but it can be done. The question is whether karaoke is enough of a priority or not to the cruise line.

Edited by singingthinker

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Many years ago someone told me that Karaoke was a Japanese work for "can't sing worth a dam".

 

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It must be very different from cruise to cruise.  Was on the Regal in February and Karaoke was very poorly attended.  Wasn't more than a handful of Karaoke singers.   I don't sing but enjoy watching.  The cruise staff had to have the same singers sing multiple songs to keep it going.  Must be difficult for the Cruise Director to know his demographics ahead of time.

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I do agree that the Princess library is lacking. Many very popular artists and songs are not available. Princess needs to allocate additional $$ to purchase more songs.

Department specific comments in the post cruise survey are forwarded to that department for review. That is how you mention your likes or dislikes to the cruise and entertainment director. I know from speaking with senior officers that the staff does review and pay attention to these comments.

You can not determine a schedule of activities in advance of the cruise. If you book a repeating itinerary, same voyage week after week through the season, you may be able to get an idea of the activity schedule by inquiring on these cruise critic boards. Certain cruise lines may place more attention on karaoke than Princess.

We have been on 42 Princess cruises. Although I enjoy karaoke, my experience is that on most itineraries it isn't that well attended. Ballroom, other dancing and live music is one reason why many repeating passengers keep returning to Princess, thus it is why these sessions are planned.

On our Canada/NE voyage just this past August there were a few evenings when karaoke was scheduled for 1 1/2 hours. Almost no one showed. There were just a few of us singing to and with each other. Compare with an extended Caribbean cruise 2 years ago. Karaoke sessions were full. There were even some unusual extended afternoon sessions.

Princess offers the Voice of the Ocean competition, rotating chairs and all, where you get voted in by performing a karaoke song, and then perform on stage with the live Princess orchestra. Don't know if there are enough sea days on an Alaska cruise for the rehearsals, nor enough evening time to schedule the show. Did you have this?

Cruise lines not only have to pay to purchase songs, but they have to pay for the rights to play songs. If they don't have these rights they are in violation of copyright laws and subject to legal action. Where the song tracks are purchased is not the issue. Just because a DJ purchased songs legally does not provide the rights to play them in public. Bars, and other establishments are supposed to pay fees to publishers to play songs. This is normally done by paying annual fees to the publishers. Playing songs without rights can lead to legal actions and costs. But, since most of these establishments are not monitored they just get away with it. Some smaller establishments are exempt from these laws.

 

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17 minutes ago, 1Gizmo said:

Many years ago someone told me that Karaoke was a Japanese work for "can't sing worth a dam".

 

It actually means without or empty orchestra.

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I could mention karaoke in Crooners bar when a certain "entertainer" allowed it ... but I won't go there ...

 

and agreed , we would never go to a planned karaoke session ... but might drop in on "Voice" ...

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Yes, the cruise did have a Voice Of The Ocean competition, but I hate karaoke and singing contests, so I didn't get involved in it. I sing for fun, not competition. The Voice competition is obviously meant to be some kind of substitute for regular karaoke with the more serious singers. I heard that most of the competitors on my cruise were not very good. As far as Skynight's comments on legalities and karaoke tracks, yes, I concede that most bars don't have to worry about regulation or lawsuits over piracy that way a cruise line does, but that does still not excuse having a piss poor song collection. It only takes some time, effort, and some money to build a good library. As for Franktown's comment on karaoke attendance, again, the karaoke attendance was overwhelming, while the ballroom attendance was very poor. The cruise director obviously either guessed and chose wrongly, or else just didn't care about karaoke. Either way, it was very disappointing. I can see how it might be difficult to predict in advance which activities will be in demand and which will not, but hopefully with my comments and complaints, Princess and that cruise director will learn from the experience and do better in the future. However, I am not holding my breath and will look into other cruise lines for the future.

Edited by singingthinker

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1 hour ago, 1Gizmo said:

Many years ago someone told me that Karaoke was a Japanese work for "can't sing worth a dam".

 

Haha, that is funny, I heard it's a Phillippino thing😄

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A lot of people at karaoke can't sing worth a damn, but the majority can and some are very good. So, I don't buy into the common stereotype of all karaoke singers being bad.

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It's a joke, a little humor for the day.

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I have been to several Karaoke sessions where the singers were young, drunk and out of tune.  They were a blast.  Otherwise, I find them mostly boring even when the singers are good.

 

DON

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Different stroke for different folks. I hate country music and get turned off in general by bad singers. I prefer decent to good singers who sing interesting, non-country songs. But I realize I am a karaoke snob and more serious about karaoke than you and most others are about it. At the same time, I hate contests for karaoke and singing. I don't even watch the TV singing competitions. Boring......

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10 minutes ago, donaldsc said:

I have been to several Karaoke sessions where the singers were young, drunk and out of tune.  They were a blast.  Otherwise, I find them mostly boring even when the singers are good.

 

DON

kinda like the first week of American idol used to be --- She Bang !

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singingthinker. Just for information. Yes, Voice is technically a competition where one person walks away with a trophy. But for the 6 to 8 participants it is really more a show experience singing on stage with an orchestra of very accomplished musicians. Something amateurs don't experience very often. On the negative side you can only choose from approximately 150 songs for which the band has charts and license. Each song is a shortened version around 1 1/2 to 2 minutes long. Also not much of a chance to change keys. I've done it 4 times. Each time was fun.

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I hope it's better on our cruise in May.  Karaoke is the only onboard activity we love to do.  I'm not interested in the shows, trivia, cooking demos, etc.  I'm a singer who loves to sing.  I don't need a book to figure out what to sing, I already have a list of my songs and they range from classic rock to country, with a few exceptions.  My late husband was a professional musician at one time in his life and he was my wonderful mentor.  

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Personally I never have nor ever will attend a karaoke session.  As has been noted in several previous replies it is generally not well attended on many Princess cruises.  Yours appears to have been one that was.  Most passengers book a cruise for the experience of seeing places that they would not get to otherwise.  Many others cruise just for the shipboard experience nad I think it has been shown that they do not typically attend karaoke sessions.  You might want to consider a different cruise line if karaoke is that important to you.  Not downgrading your desires nor being snide about this but just stating reality.

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2 hours ago, singingthinker said:

But I realize I am a karaoke snob and more serious about karaoke than you and most others are about it. At the same time, I hate contests for karaoke and singing. I don't even watch the TV singing competitions. Boring......

 

This pretty much answers all of your questions.  9 posts here on CC and every one pertains to karaoke.  You are definitely up there in the "1%" when it comes to karaoke and it will be impossible for a cruise ship to live up to your lofty standards.  You agree that 15 years ago, things were better for you.  But time marched on and karaoke has been supplanted in popularity by singing competitions that you detest.  And yet American Idol, America's Got Talent, (and their respective European counterparts),  and The Voice are among the highest rated shows on television, (not to mention the Masked Singer, last year's ratings phenomenon.  Go figure.)  So what is a cruise director supposed to do?  Cater to the "been there, done that" karaoke crowd, or create entertainment that riffs off of American Idol (Cruise Ship Idol) and The Voice (The Voice at Sea)?  Can the Masked Crew Member Singer be far behind?  Seems like an easy decision but one that unfortunately left you behind.  Join the crowd who a) used to enjoy hosted Bridge games; b) used to enjoy real wine seminars with actual sommeliers; and c) used to enjoy ballroom dancing on purpose-built dance surfaces instead of polished marble.  Your tastes and the general cruising public's tastes just aren't intersecting the way they used to.  I believe you when you say that there was a lot of interest in karaoke on your specific cruise.  But that would be an outlier if my experiences over the past 10 years are any indication.  The CD staff has no way of knowing if a particular cruise is going to host an unusually high number of fans of any one form of entertainment unless it is a specialty cruise.  On your cruise they planned for a "normal" amount of interest and participants in karaoke and they guessed wrong.  Not much can be done about that. 

 

 

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You are right in that they guessed wrong for my cruise and that the times on cruise lines have left me behind as far as karaoke. I should probably choose a specialty cruise that emphasizes karaoke or just pick my cruises with the assumption that the ship's karaoke will be poor, since I refuse to do contests.

 

Skynight- I see the Voice competition on the ship, as you describe it, as similar to when I have sung live band karaoke. It is a fun change of pace to do once in a while, but it is not that satisfying for me as a regular thing because I like a large selection of songs to choose from and I almost always need the key lowered for me to do the songs I like. So, the Voice thing would not be for me.

 

Laurie S.- You seem to be on my level. I hope you have better luck than me when you sail next time.

 

TM- I agree with you. Princess is probably not the line for me if I care about singing during the cruise. I will look into other lines.

 

You have all answered my original ?. which was, is this the new normal? At least for Princess, it apparently is......

Edited by singingthinker

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Our Alaska cruise this July on the Royal Princess had the same amount of Karaoke sessions as you.  Didn't go to the family one but the other two were poorly attended.... just like most of our cruises.  Our cruise didn't even have Voice of the Ocean because the first time they had the tryouts only 3 people showed up.  I know you enjoy karaoke, as does my dh, but it seems to me that most people do not.

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I guess everybody's different and we are now the minority of cruise passengers. But on my cruise it was clear that the demand for karaoke far exceeded the opportunities provided. I don't know how many people tried out for the Voice Of The Ocean competition on my cruise, but I heard they had enough people to hold the full competition's different stages, tho most of the singers were not very good, based on the gossip passed on to me by passengers who attended the auditions and later stages.

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