Cultural experiences in the spotlight
From flamenco in Seville to jazz in Copenhagen, Anna Crane shines a light on some of the top cultural shore experiences available on a P&O Cruises holiday
One of the best ways to enter into the spirit of a new destination is to be swept up in its culture. Feel your heart swell, your mind expand and your toes begin to tap when you join an entertaining shore experience featuring local music and dance.
Shake those hips
An evening of flamenco is a must during a visit to its spiritual home, Seville (tours from Cádiz). This Andalusian dance combines a dramatic blend of guitars, singing and impassioned foot stomping and takes its rhythms from North Africa, blending with the music of the Romani people to produce a compelling and incredibly complex art form. Experience an authentic performance in the intimate courtyard of the Museo del Baile Flamenco, a museum dedicated to the art of Flamenco, on the In the Footsteps of Flamenco shore experience – there is both a daytime and evening shore experience.
While Spain’s most famous dance takes its disciples years to master, you can get a handle on salsa in just four easy steps on the Salsa and Salsa shore experience in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. This is the ideal experience for fun-loving foodies. First, don an apron and learn how to mix up tasty homemade salsas in a quaint local restaurant, then (after a margarita or two), join the chefs on the dance floor for a speedy salsa lesson.
Sing, sing, sing
Norway’s most northerly city of Tromsø is the setting for a magical, candle-lit evening recital in its iconic Arctic Cathedral. This striking modernist example of a traditional ‘boat church’ looms large beneath a mountain at the end of Tromsø Bridge. Its interior, with crystal chandeliers inspired by icicles and a vast stained-glass window, has been designed to provide sublime acoustics as you listen to Norwegian folk songs, classical and sacred music on the Arctic Cathedral Evening Recital shore experience.
Further uplifting harmonies await you with the Harlem and Gospel Experience shore experience in New York. After a tour of the famous African-American neighbourhood – where you’ll see famous sights including the legendary Apollo Theatre, the Cotton Club and the Schomburg Centre for research into African-American Culture – you will stop at a local church to listen to the wonderful a capella sounds of the ARC Gospel Choir. The choir will sing the praises of the Lord in their ‘hour of power,’ where their inspiring voices will fill the church with wonderful, affecting harmonies.
All that jazz
Copenhagen is a maritime city and one of the most enjoyable ways to experience it is from its canals. The city is also famous for the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, which takes place every summer and is one of Europe’s most important international music events. Experience both the canals and jazz on the Evening Jazz Canal Cruise shore experience, where your boat trip will be made even more memorable with the backdrop of a local jazz band. Accomplished four-piece the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys have been going for nearly 20 years and cover the gamut of early jazz styles, from ragtime to blues and ballads, with wit and verve.
If you’re a real fan, don’t miss the big daddy of all jazz cities: New Orleans. The city has produced some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, including Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and Sydney Bechet, and to many is the undisputed birthplace of jazz. Get into the swing of it on the An Evening of Dixieland Jazz shore experience, where you’ll dine on a delicious three-course classic Creole menu in the elegance of the Palm Court Jazz Café while musicians play flamboyant, joyful jazz sets.
Rum punch, steel pan beats, carnival costumes and limbo dancing. Yes, you’re in the Caribbean. Specifically, the gloriously vibrant island of Barbados, where the Bajan Floorshow and Dinner shore experience by the beach offers everything you could wish for when dreaming of tropical holidays back in grey old Blighty. Take a seat under the stars and enjoy a traditional Bajan floor show and a delicious local-style buffet dinner to the sounds of steel pan music.
From the Caribbean to southeast Asia, relax in one of Thailand’s most popular resorts and soak up the Thai culture on the Highlights and Thai Show shore experience in Phuket. Visit Wat Chalong, the largest, most important and ornate of the 29 temples in Phuket, followed by an exotic and magical Thai dance performance at the Phuket Thai Village and Orchid Garden. You’ll get a glimpse of the traditional life and culture of Southern Thailand with the colourful costumes and folkloric dances on show.
These are just a taster of the wonderful array of entertaining shore experiences on offer on a P&O Cruises holiday.
Journalist Anna specialises in food and travel writing and has worked with the Canadian Tourist Commission as well as some of the major names in the food industry such as Waitrose and Weight Watchers.