WELCOME BACK CUNARD

•January 17, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I know, I know….sounds weird “Welcome back Cunard!”, like a grammar mistake…But is not ! And I will explain you why.

In the last 3 years we travelled with Cunard couple of times on all three ships: Canary Island, Transatlantic, Norwegian Fjords, two sectors of a World Voyage and so one. And each time, every time Cunard failed to impress us. It was nice but we didn’t find the “White Star Service” as advertised or expected. Cunard was missing something

Last year we decided to have another go, on Queen Victoria. And the result was a multiplied WOW. Everything was PERFECT. Maybe just pure luck? To be sure that wasn’t a “cruise miracle” we booked again on Queen Victoria, this year, a 7 days voyage to Denmark and Germany. When we left the ship in a cold morning in Southampton we were 100% sure that the previous experience wasn’t an exception and we can say loud and clear “WELCOME BACK Cunard!”, welcome back to what we like about you and what we expect from you.

Queen Victoria is elegance personified, an understated British style, without glitzy or loud and an ambience modest rather than striking. You can’t’ not love the luxurious furnishings and eye-catching features the air of extravagance on board atmosphere with muted colours and lots of dark wood. Is interesting the way how Cunard keep in Queen Victoria mixes the ambiance of the ocean liners of times past with the contemporary elegance of a modern luxury hotel.

Everywhere you turn there is a treat for the eyes, from the glittering chandeliers and white gloved waiters serving scones at afternoon tea to elegant restaurants and deep, rich carpets. The interior decor is ‘traditional’ in Cunard-speak, with public rooms finely decorated in Edwardian/Victorian styles, with wrought-iron balustrades on staircases and in some bars.

To be honest no matter how much blase you are, is impossible to don’t admire the stunning three-tier Grand Lobby with its unique artwork, sweeping staircase, sculpted balconies and a dramatic triple-height ceiling. A bronzed-effect sculptural representation of the cruise ship emerging from a sun motif coordinated with a marquetry relief depicting a map of the world is visible from nearly every part of the Grand Lobby.

Accommodation

Queen Victoria has 1,003 cabins. There are 143 inside, 146 ocean view and 581 balcony cabins. We had for our 7 days voyage a Penthouse – Q4 cabin situated on the 7th Deck. The Penthouse Suites feature a king-size bed a living area with sofa writing desk and chair balcony bathroom with bath and shower. Each of the 35 Queens Grill Penthouse Suites comes with a large living area, bedroom with acres of storage space and a veranda. Balconies have one large white table, one square small table, two stools, two loungers and two recliner chairs. The suite includes plush linens, a walk-in closet and a fully stocked bar. Additional amenities include butler and concierge service, fresh fruit and flowers, welcome bottles of champagne and strawberries, complimentary bottle water, complimentary broadsheet newspaper,  DVD player priority disembarkation and tender service, access to the Queens Lounge, priority embarkation and luggage delivery,  personalized stationery, Terry cloth robes with matching slippers.

 

Even if we loved the room, for sure the real star of this voyage was our butler Elvie – the personification of the service excellence and attention to detail. She was absolutely fantastic and from the moment when we arrived on board, every detail was taken care of, every need was met, and every desire anticipated with just the right level of sensitive, informed service. Elvie was the prototype of a perfect butler: trusting and trustworthy, friendly but not familiar, reliable, low-key, unobtrusive professional. Thank you very much Elvie.

The choice of daily canapes is up to you; we requested caviar on blinis before dinner and Elvie took care that the blinis change every day so no change to get bored. You can opt at the beginning of the voyage for 2 bottle of premium spirit and again the butler took care to replace the bottle before they finished.

Dinning

Cunard is respected for its cuisine and service, with a wide variety of well-prepared and presented dishes. Queens Grill and Princess Grill, two Grill Class-only restaurants, provide exclusive dining. These have a single-seating arrangement, providing an intimate, exclusive dining experience than in the two-seating main Britannia Restaurant.

On the port side, the 142-seat Queens Grill is for passengers in suites and top category accommodation grades, and provides the best cuisine and service aboard. The Cunard Grill experience also includes alfresco dining in a seldom used courtyard terrace (The Courtyard), suitably protected from the wind, and exclusive access for Grill Class passengers to an upper terrace deck, with dedicated staff as well as the Grills’ lounge and bar.

Culinary adventures aboard Cunard Queen Victoria extend beyond the elegant menus from superbly casual to sublimely creative. or guests who stay in Queens Grill accommodation, this is ultimate expression of dining excellence. The waiter will guide you through delicious possibilities. The chef does his best to fulfil all requests.

The 142-seat Queens Grill restaurant, featuring a cream, gold and blue colour scheme, is the exclusive dining venue of Queens Suite passengers. During the day, the entire length of the Queens Grill dining room is illuminated with natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows. At night, lighting comes from decorative glass uplighters. Wedgwood bone china, Waterford crystal, sterling silverware and Fili d’Oro Italian premium linens complete the scene.

The Grills are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  But the Grills experience is not limited to the restaurants themselves.  The same goes for the room service for these guests and there is no charge for that, it is all kind of inclusive. In the Grills the world “limit” basically doesn’t exist.  The caviar is available, the foie gras is available.   If you want it every night, have it every night.

The dinner menu is a many splendored thing, with appetisers that might include sevruga caviar or seafood bisque. Typical choices for mains could be lobster flambe with Cognac truffle and wild mushroom risotto, while a choice of around six desserts (including a sugar-free option) The cheese selection is beyond magnificent. Here however, the menu functions merely as a guide because, in grand Cunard tradition, staff will accommodate any request, on or off the menu, if available.

The menus in the Grill restaurants are similar, but with a few added extras in the Queen’s Grill, such as Chateaubriand – and a genuinely ‘on demand’ service, where you can walk in and ask for whatever you desire to be prepared for you there and then!

Here is a sample of a dinner menu:

APPETIZERS & SOUPS

  • Symphony of Salmon Tartar, Shrimp Ceviche on Trumpet Mushroom & Green Asparagus
  • Sturgeon Caviar on Buckwheat Blini

SALADS

  • Baby Spinach Salad, Walnut & Crispy Bacon Bits, Balsamic & Grape Dressing
  • Endive Salad with Asparagus, Honey Ginger Dressing

ENTRÉES

  • Pan-roasted Halibut, Forked Potato, Orange & Lime Marmalade, Vanilla Beurre Blanc
  • Lobster Américaine Flambé with Cognac, Truffle, Wild Mushroom Risotto
  • Roast Duck à L’Orange, Pommes Amandine
  • Châteaubriand, Larded Peas & Gratin Dauphinoise Potatoes

DESSERTS

  • Cassis Champagne Mousse, Wild Berry Coulis
  • Mango & Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée
  • Chocolate and Raspberry Crêpe Soufflé with Oranges, Vanilla Sauce
  • Sugar-free Strawberry Tart with Fresh Berry Salad
  • A Selection of International Cheeses from the Cheese Trolley is Served at your Table

In Queens Grill, Cunard have an obsession with setting fire every second so expect around 4-5 fireworks show at your neighbour’s tables when Maître D’ start the procedure of “flambé” everything is in the menu for main course. The huge set menu in Queens Grill is also supplemented by an a’la carte menu, and then the ability to order off menu if you want. The range of dishes is huge, including dishes cooked at your table. Service is exceptional.

Afternoon tea has been a Cunard tradition for more than a century, and the brew served is a blend of Ceylon, Assam and Kenyan tea specially selected for Cunard.. Tea is served from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Queens Room certainly deserves a mention, with a small army of white-gloved waiters dancing attendance with pots of fresh leaf tea and plates of finger sandwiches, mini open-faced sandwiches, mini cakes and, to finish, a separate individual plate with a scone, jam and cream. Sometimes you have to wait in line to get a table if you don’t like to share it but the secret is to arrive around 15-20 minutes before the closing time. The reward of sharing your afternoon tea with “the crowd” is the entertainment: very good quality classical musicians, sometimes a dancing afternoon tea (ballroom of course) The other option is the Queens Lounge where unfortunately if you don’t catch a table you end in the restaurant where the story is a bit different (see the comments at the end of this review). Here is no music but at least the quality of tea, sandwiches, cakes and even scones and clotted cream is above those in Queens Room.

Of course, as on all other ships the range of restaurants is quite impressive:

  • The Lido on Deck 9 – a casual, bright and airy informal dining area with a daylong buffet selection and historic Cunard images lining the walls.
  • Golden Lion Pub on Deck 2 – the only bar onboard that sells draught ales and lagers with an atmosphere which resembles a traditional English pub with an antique-ish pressed tin ceiling and wide-screen wall-mounted TVs showing the latest news and sport.
  • Cafe Carinthia on Deck 2, named after a former Cunard ship, offers the style and sophistication of a traditional French patisserie in a classy space highlighted by Art Deco elements in shades of gold, blue and rich bronze. An ideal spot for a light lunch when quiches, smoked salmon sandwich and salads are on the menu.
  • Britannia Restaurant on Decks 2 and 3 is Queen Victoria’s largest dining venue, an elegant space with double-height ceiling offset by cornices and intimate groupings of tables that try to balance the room’s size. The room’s upper and lower levels accommodate 878 guests and a string quartet or harpist usually performs during the first hour of dining

Entertainment

I have always found Cunard entertainment disappointing. It is very dated. The production shows are predictable and rely heavily on safe routines of songs through the ages and they pull in UK based guest entertainers that are past their prime. It is unadventurous and is (in my view) unexciting. I usually avoid or end up leaving most shows. They are trying to attract a younger crowd on the ships, but their entertainment has not yet got that memo!

The 830-seat, three-deck Royal Court Theatre on Deck 3 was designed to emulate the grandeur and luxury of the spectacular designs of architect Frank Matcham, whose dramatic multi-tiered theatres made him one of the most prolific theatre designers

Two shows per night — at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. — last around 50 minutes. While on-board, Cunard had on schedule a quite good dance show), a performance by some comedians, which was sometimes rude and the British sense of humour was unsurprisingly rather lost on many of the Americans and Germans in the audience and the same blues band from P&O with the same attitude and mediocrity.

Dance Passion celebrates the exuberant world of dance. Outstanding international dancers execute superb and diverse choreography, capturing the magic of Gene Kelly – the sensual Argentine Tango, Salsa and Samba. The show delivers the grace and elegance of classic dance to the vibrant energy of Swing and Jump Jive. It was our favourite moment in the Royal Court Theatre and for the first time bot singers and dancer the reach the same level of professionalism and quality.

Among the Royal Court’s most distinguishing features are the 16 private boxes that frame the stage and are furnished with armchairs and cocktail tables, two of which are wheelchair accessible. A box for two entitles you to a glass of Champagne, canapes or chocolate-covered strawberries, a photo taken with the cast and the services of a uniformed bell boy who escorts you to your seat. Is a must do experience!

Especially on sea days, passengers are offered for choice with lots of activities, including beginners’ bridge classes, golf-putting tournaments, whist, bingo and lectures. The Golden Lion Pub hosts a variety of entertainment (such as darts or trivia games), while ballroom and line dance classes get passengers moving in the Queens Room. Art classes are sometimes held in Hemispheres. There are also daily Friends of Bill W and Friends of Dorothy meetings. Wherever you go, you will encounter live music, typically harpists or pianists. The lectures must be said in my opinion were very poor. A Nigel Vardy an “explorer”? And a Malcolm Macfarlane who spoke on music in 60’s,etc!

Hemispheres on deck 10, positioned aft of the mast and adjacent to the Commodore Club, overlooks the wood-decked Pavilion Pool will play recorded ballroom and Latin music in the early evening and offer live music for late-night dancing from 10:30 p.m. onwards alternating with a DJ. The band was “alright”…maybe too much reggae and a massive obsession to change every other songs in “reggae style” music…and their go on ABBA was quite painful. Despite the 60-70-80’s type of music we loved our nights in Hemispheres and we catch early hours of the morning there.

1920s Art Deco inspired The Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar, overlooks the Grand Lobby and is a chic room sparkling with golden glass elements that form a backdrop for sandblasted Art Deco glass panels. As the name suggests, the bar serves Veuve Clicquot Champagne exclusively. This costs from $80 to $395 a bottle but no worries you cannot order Champagne by the glass.

We signed up for an wine tasting event – “Around the world in 12 wines” which was 100 times better than the similar free wine tasting dedicated to loyal guests. The Chef Sommelier (Ovidiu) and our own sommelier (Dejan) gave us in a very pleasant, relax way the chance to discover what we like and what we don’t like about wine and manage to infuse a lot of knowledge in a very entertaining and professional manner.

And the sail away from Hamburg was an exceptional event with the marching Band of Elsinor Girls (Helsingør Pigegarde) fireworks, hotels beside the river Elbe saluting the ship and a passing by Queen Elizabeth with horns in full blast. What a magic evening !

I was always impressed by the library on decks 2 and 3 which offers a selection of 6,000 books. This traditionally styled, mahogany wood, double-height room is connected by a spiral staircase to the upper level. The carpet is embedded with signatures of literary figures and there are plenty of leather sofas and armchairs

And of course the magnificent Queens Room ballroom hosting themed parties, cocktails and ballroom dance sessions every day !

The Cunard White Star Service and training is clearly very efficient and service is very good. It is a more formal, British and reserved style of service. Though I think, that it lacks some of the warmth though. The Captain, and senior crew, in all my experiences have been more distant and formal and stayed at arms length from the passengers. On recent trips there also has been more of an underlying tension about the changes that Cunard is going through to grow and become more modern that on-board seem less welcome of, and this seeps through the crew. On our last trip this feeling was not present anymore and we enjoyed every second on-board. The slickness and professionalism of Cunard, through its White Star Service credo, compensates for the less warm approach.

Couple of points where Cunard has be look in to be not only very close to perfection, but perfect:

  • Afternoon tea in Queens Lounge

Despite the fact that Queens Lounge is a lovely comfy stylish space can’t accommodate all the guests in Grills. Therefore the Maître D’ use Queens Restaurant as an overflow space which is OK. Unfortunately the service standards are not the same; the waiting time was quite long, the waiters seems to be quite annoyed when you ask for a menu or a special type of tea and you need to wave couple of times to get the attention of somebody for an extra cake or scone.

  • Purser’s Desk Staff

All over the world, in hotels or cruise ships the reception team is the interface between the guests and the rest of the team and therefore they must be a quintessence of the entire company’s customer service philosophy. On Queen Victoria, in two occasions, the receptionist manage to destroy point by point the entire list of Cunard White Star Service code and more than that when we mentioned the wrong attitude to the Purser the reaction was more or less the same; the only difference were the stripes on the jacket.

  • On-board lectures

Cunard always exceeded the expectations of traveller with very interesting lecturers and topics. From literature to art, from history to media, I always try to find a place in the theatre for a morning or an afternoon lecture. This time the two options were completely wrong. Malcolm Macfarlane talking about 60s and 70s music mastering quite well PowerPoint, Google Search engine and YouTube but leaving behind any confidence in front of the audience and any charisma and Nigel Vardy ,an “explorer”, which manage to empty an venue ¼ full at the beginning with at least 40% till the end of the presentation

Bottom line: this new experience on Queen Victoria brought back Cunard on our options list for a future cruise due to Cunard’s commitment to ensuring each guest is pampered during each voyage. Cunard prides itself on standards of service that go above and beyond, exceeding the expectations of guests. And indeed on Queen Victoria this January we rediscovered the White Star Service

Before the last Cunard cruise I was part of the pessimists concerned that Cunard is having to “dumb down” through the demands and pressures of Carnival ownership. I believe that I can observe a trend of erosion of the high standards and quality that Cunard used to strive to and maintain. Now I am on the other side, the optimist side believing that the less than superlative experiences are the inevitable challenges of having to deliver service consistently across a larger fleet. For a very long time Cunard had just one ship in the form of Queen Elizabeth 2. This meant it was easier for the company to maintain consistency. Now they have 3 ships with many more crew members and demands. But Cunard is back on the right path!

So to sum up this has been a trip which has seen Cunard keep up its exceptional service and standards. Cunard does keep it First Class and does rule the waves

NEW YEAR ON A FERYY WITH A HINT OF FLOATING BENIDORM

•January 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

We spent New Year 2015/2016 on P&O VENTURA on a 4 day cruise going to Zeebrugge and Amsterdam. And the bad outcome was my fault 100%. Of course the question is “why did I choose P&O ?”. Two main reasons: 1) Never been on it and I just wanted to try  and 2) Previous year I was on Queen Victoria on the same type of cruise and itinerary and I was thinking that being under the same corporate umbrella the experience will be more or less the same. On top of that my favourite cabin was not available on QV so I choose Ventura to spend the longest night of the year. BIG MISTAKE ! Why ?

Ventura, which launched in 2008, aimed apparently to transform what many people consider P&O’s somewhat stuffy ambience to one more in tune with the times. The result was a floating pub resembling more a ferry than a cruise liner. As I read, in April 2013, the ship had a multi-million pound makeover including new soft furnishings in the cabins and new carpets throughout but the result is a ferry pretending to be posh and taking you back in ’70 cheap all-inclusive sea side resorts.

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Embarkation/Disembarkation

Even if a fast track embarkation and a dedicated check-in desk are promised for suites on our arrival in Southampton a “charming lady”  sent us in a line shouting that P&O don’t do dedicated check-in….”maybe only for the Cpt”. On disembarkation we were queuing on stairs, in a very well organised chaotic way ignoring any safety rules but having an “intellectual touch” as the queue was passing twice the Art Gallery. Quite happy when we reach the shore !

 

Accommodation

Ventura has 1,555 cabins, of which 434 are inside, 1,103 are outside and 881 have a balcony. Aiming for the best experience we choose the most expensive cabin on board (£2000/person/4 days) – ORIENTAL SUITE. There are two of this kind on Ventura, side by side on Deck 12 right at the aft of the ship, 742 square feet (with a 216 square foot balcony). And the Penthouse was the first shock on board. The living area and the bedroom were very generous from the living space point of view, with a lot of storage space and big balcony and bathroom. The deco was what made us scream; a lot of unused space, with furniture that reminds me of a ‘70s all-inclusive cheap resort in Spain with some random paintings who seems to come directly from a B&Q sales. When spending a quite afternoon in the living room I had the feeling that the deco was the result of a “choose the ugliest and the cheapest stuff you can find” competition.

 

 

 

According to P&O website a Penthouse includes some “special touches: Butler service, daily canapes, and a Senseo coffee machine with complimentary pods included”.  The reality was a little bit different: the coffee machine was replaced with a kettle and the coffee pods with some instant coffee sachets, the daily canapes were randomly selected from the yesterday buffet’s leftovers. The Butler was like a drop of fresh water in the seat: very kind, polite and excellent manners. “Fortunately” his first class service was “well balanced” by the rudest steward I ever meet who has as a main duty to moan every day, sometimes twice a day about almost everything. Even the tip (50 Euros for 4 days) wasn’t good enough for him and he told us off after we had a little cocktail party with some friends in our room.

Looking again at P&O website I can see that is mentioned for Penthouse “a flat screen TV, MP3 compatible music player, an iron and ironing board and trouser press plus White Company amenities”.  And again … 25% correct! The TV hand an excellent free movies selection but the system didn’t work most of the time and the “play&pause” option was a non-sense. The music system was indeed Bose (wow, wow, wow!!!!!) but didn’t work (still pretty as a piece of furniture) and the iron was probably recuperated from Titanic after staying on the bottom of the Ocean for couple of decades. Initially I was very happy with the amenities as the 4 bottles (shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion) of White Company were a bonus for the cabin. The surprise was that after 2 days when we requested an replacement we were told by the “nice” steward that we are not entitled to get new ones – “only one set per cabin per cruise”. I was checking the P&O website again and didn’t find any information about 2 mandatory showers/cabin/cruise … maybe I missed the page!

 

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The White Company aminities

 

Dinning

P&O’s marketing blurb claims there are 10 restaurants. There aren’t. There are five genuine restaurants (Bay Tree, Cinnamon, Saffron, The White Room, and East); the rest are more casual eateries.

Having a penthouse we were entitled to have our dinner in Cinnamon (Deck 5, midships) on a freestyle basis. No difference in the menu between this restaurant and the main one – Bay Tree and to be honest I don’t believe that Marco Pierre White, the creator of the menu, apparently, will be happy with the “corner pub” style of food or “whatever, I aint bovvered” rushed service style. I think for those who will be brave enough to try P&O in the future and eat in the main restaurants the safest option is a salad and a “eat quick and run” dinner style. I manage to take a photo of the “delicious” petit fours at the end but unfortunately I missed the “alien” lamb served that night. For a company that sells its cruises on The Fine Dining experience. Silver Service has gone, but they won’t tell you. Wine waiters have an impossible work load, not leaving their previous duty until they are already required for Dinner Service and then too many tables. It’s obvious then that most tables are not even going to get their wine order taken until after they have started eating and most will not get … their wine until they have started main course. This is far from Fine Dining and nothing like the claims made in the brochure about attention to detail to the whole food and beverage experience. In the Cinnamon the portions were a bit mean – one floret of cauliflower and broccoli as vegetables on one occasion (no opportunity to reach ‘5-a-day!).

We had dinner twice here and we decided to try our luck in the speciality restaurants. And there was a different story.

Atul Kochhar, the first Indian chef to be awarded the coveted Michelin star, brought his highly sought-after talent and years of experience to Sindhu, a fine dining restaurant where you can experience modern Indian cuisine with a British twist. Fabulous service, elegant deco and amazing food mad worth it the fee that you pay for dinner there. Dinner menus are changed twice a cruise and are drawn from dishes in Kochhar’s Benares Restaurant in London. For starters expect shammi kebab (spiced lamb cakes), jai tarang (pan-fried hand-dived scallops) and gosht ke dhuandhar soole (marinated smoked beef skewers). For mains we had Atul’s signature plate of lamb rogan josh, chicken murgh and cod jai pari which was sublime .And Sindhu was actually the best dinner we had on board.

 

 

 

For New Year Dinner we opted for The Epicurean, positioned right at the back of the ship high up on Deck 17. The former White Room now is an elegant space, with plush carpets and dark furnishings; the menu for kind of imaginative, creative cuisine – molecular gastronomy type – which has style as well as content. The menu presents as traditional but the dishes are re-interpreted for today’s modern palates. The New Year dinner, which has a double price than a normal one, included different types of wine with each course and lots of other fun touches: Bloody Mary lollipops to start with a dash of Worcestershire sauce in the centre; salt and pepper oyster and jumbo prawn tempura that comes with an artist’s ‘paint tube’ of sweet pimento sauce; a sorbet designed as a tube of lipstick or a ‘poached egg’ with a ‘yolk’ of mango and a ‘white’ of coconut milk. Again a great decision to spend the night there. One of the few drops of style and class on Ventura.

 

 

Entertainment

I always believe that cruise entertainment attempt to be generally of high quality but this is clearly where P&O cut costs. Very little entertainment during the day and the quality and choice in the evening was not much better. P&O doesn’t go in for the huge West End-style productions the big US ships have popularised. Instead, expect British comedy; revue-type shows where the emphasis is on the singing talents of the performer rather than what’s going on behind her; and magicians, ventriloquists and tribute acts.

On two evenings the entertainment was a film, yes that’s correct, a film. On another day a young artist called Karl Lewis was an Olly Murs (!!!) tribute who later in the week returned as himself. He bore no comparison to either. The band called “The Flyrights” were more interested in “chatting up the chicks and having some booze” than performing on stage.

Havana, the main nightclub and entertainment venue, where movies are sometimes shown, is an activities room by day and a sultry Cuban-inspired club by night, but sight lines are extremely poor from many seats. Lucky the band “Serious Souls” performed time to time there making the venue more attractive.

A video wall in the Cosmopolitan club lounge screens real-time footage of the world’s seven most famous city skylines – Sydney, Paris, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Las Vegas, Hong Kong and London but in the evening reminds me a pub in Crawley Friday night.

P&O claims the 785-seat Arena Theatre, at the front of the ship and spanning two decks, is the largest show lounge aboard a UK-based cruise ship but in fact the show lounge aboard Queen Mary 2 is larger, with 1,094 seats, as is the Show lounge aboard Independence of the Seas. But that was the place were we have a surprise. “Destination Dance” was the only real entertainment during our 4 days on Ventura. Excellent choreography and performance, amazing lighting and costume, fantastic choice of music and vocals made this show even better than the same production seen couple days later on Queen Victoria.

 

But in general to set a comparison the entertainment was at a level that would expect from a local town talent show.

Ventura Fellow Passengers

That’s a very delicate point because, based only on what I experienced on board Ventura between 29th december to 2nd of January, I think P&O build its business model around the crowd on board. Food, entertainment, service style (a lot of “All right mate ?!” and “Cheers mate !” in the staff vocabulary) are created for fans of “let’s get pissed in the pub” kind of fun.

A typical short cruise will have one formal night and the rest will be ‘evening casual’, which is defined as open necked shirt and ‘tailored trousers’ or smart jeans for men; dress or casual separates for women. Forget the rules don’t expect something like that on board. Ventura during this New Year Celebration Cruise was an invasion of bad hair extensions, massive fake eyelashes, cocktail dresses two size smaller when the dress code was formal and of course jackets, ties and bow ties removed and abandoned on chairs, sofas or necks after 5 minutes of wearing.

Class or style can hardly find a place on corridors or decks full of ladies collapsed on the floor and crying for lost love around 1.00AM, having in one hand a glass with Echo Falls and in the other the shoes. Was like they were filming a new episode of Benidorm on board! By the way Ventura is the first cruise ship where I saw in the buffet an “Enomatic wine dispenser system” … and that’s says all!

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Maybe was just one off occasion !

Of course reading P&O Facebook page and other sites I realised that P&O and Ventura in particular have a big army of fans. From this point a view P&O scored big time as they created a product for a certain type of market.

However if you look for style, class, service standards, elegance and enchanted experience for sure you have to look somewhere else.

Is nobody to blame….P&O do the right thing for the right market. Was me who booked the cruise! But at the end of the day our journey was part of a learning curve. Fortunately for us after 4 days on board P&O Ventura we board Cunard Queen Victoria for a 7 days cruise. And, like in the L’Oréal advert, that will smooth the wrinkles of Ventura’s experience!

NORWEGIAN EPIC–NCL’Marmite

•December 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Is not just a metaphor is a reality.

I just come back from a 17 days “back to back” cruise on Norwegian EPIC and I realised, once again, that EPIC and in general Norwegian Cruise Line is like marmite for breakfast: you love it or you hate it! Norwegian Epic is big, brassy, bold and ballsy…and I love it!

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But let’s take it step by step

 

Accommodation

If Epic stands out in one particular area, it’s in its cabin design. From its funky “new wave” staterooms and its wildly popular solo Studios to the fact that every outside cabin has a balcony (an industry first), there’s a lot to admire and question on the ship.

We had a Haven 2 bedroom Villa – cabin 17024. Whoever had the idea of building The Haven deserves a big hug! The Haven complex, the largest “ship-within-a-ship”, nestles atop the ship on Decks 16 and 17, the space also includes a private pool, two whirlpools, a gym, sun deck and the posh Epic Club restaurant. The 60 accommodations include 46 Family Villas, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and separate living and dining areas (up to 506 square feet); eight Deluxe Owner’s Suites, with king-size beds, floor-to-ceiling windows and his-and-her powder areas (up to 852 square feet); and six Courtyard Penthouses, with queen-size beds, separate living and dining areas and a luxury bath (up to 322 square feet).

When we board the ship EPIC just got a make-over in the dry dock of Cadiz. Not a 100% successful one but you can feel it all around the ship. The Concierge area, Epic Lounge and Epic Club lost their heavy kitschy, purple velvety ambiance and now look modern and fresh with an understated elegance. Even the room had been touched by this changes and looks more elegant and modern. Of course the only slip on-board Norwegian Epic is the attention to details: a vanity mirror disconnected and left on the table with the cable hanging next to a hole in the vanity table, a smoke detector (safety please!) covered with tapes due to the loss of some screws to fix it on the ceiling, couple of doors not properly fixed and making a constant subliminal noise when the ship was moving. But at the end of the day the “little” Villa is a lovely space to spend your vacation and I love it.

The only thumb’s-down for our cabin was the location: 17 Deck just opposite the Crew Access Door. A lot of banging and noise even if we mentioned that to our concierge. But as the noise was mainly in the spare room used during the voyage only as a laptop and storage room we survived 17 day with no problems.

 

 

 

The service in Haven is exactly what you expect from a Premium Cabin; an excellent butler and steward, always there without being too much in to your face ready to assist with whatever you need: from laundry to organising a private party in your own private space. Lots of genuine smiles and polite conversation even if the guests in Haven are not all the time “Premium Guests” and the feeling of “new money-bad manners” is quite common on NCL. The Concierge, located in the heart of Haven assist us with everything we needed from bookings and cancellations of restaurants and land tours to dealing with day by day issues even if the results were not all the time the expected ones. Monica, our Concierge was great, especially when she was dealing with stupid requests from “posh guests” travelling with low-cost airlines

The space in Haven is more than generous: a private gym and spa-like area with sauna, steam room and hot tubs, an elegant modern decorated lounge, a nice partially open terrace for lunch and snacks, the lovely elegant courtyard with a not too big not too small pool, a private sun deck and of course one of my favourite spots – The Posh Beach Club. Pity that due to complaints from guests on 17 Deck the bar was closing at 7.00PM, but we were located under the Posh Club and we understand perfectly why.

Dinning

NCL pioneered the freestyle dining concept (that is, eat whenever you want with whomever you want and wherever you want), and it’s taken it to a new level on Epic. The LCD touch screens around the ship display information including deck plans and which dining rooms were the most crowded.  (Far from ideal in a Norovirus situation). Whereas most mega-ships feature a massive, swanky dining hall where strangers mingle at large tables under glistening chandeliers, Epic goes another route. Booking the speciality restaurants is advisable. If there is a queue for the main dining rooms you are given a pager. These normally go off within 10-15 minutes regardless of the staff telling you there will be a half an hour wait.

We didn’t used the main dining rooms but is a choice between Taste, set in a cool space at the bottom of the ship’s main atrium and the Manhattan Room, an Art-Deco space with a two-deck window overlooking the ship’s wake, and a bandstand and dance floor.

I prefer to have my lunches and dinner in other venues, initially paid restaurants but unfortunately now, as an incentive for new bookings, included in dinning packages:

  • Le Bistro – Contrary to the name, Le Bistro is not a bistro. In France, a bistro is a low end dining venue where the patrons eat whatever the cook has decided to make that day. Le Bistro is just the opposite. It is an upscale fine dining venue where the guests select from a menu of items prepared in the French style. The rooms are done in a charming Second Empire style with copies of French Impressionist paintings on the. The food offerings are a selection of French dishes that appeal to a broad audience. Before the dinning package Le Bistro has as a main element in his the formula the intimacy. To maintain its charm, Le Bistro requires a relatively small room, not a cavernous hall. Thus, while most things on Norwegian Epic are done to a grand scale, Le Bistro remains a comparatively small room. The place used to be my favourite restaurant on Epic. After Norwegian introduced the dinning package the standards dropped dramatically. A long wait for the food to arrive, more waiters who don’t know the menu like before, a kind of rushed service to create space for the next bookings, and even the quality of the food was not the same. The duck and the lamb needed to be sent back to the kitchen being too cold, but the escargots and the bouillabaisse were charming and spot-on and manage to balance the culinary experience of that night. However after 2 quite disappointing experience I decided to limit my booking in Le Bistro for 2/week.

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  • Cagney’s – a classic dark, woody steakhouse with an amazing menu and service. Cagney’s menu selections begin with starters such as shrimp cocktail or oysters, soups and salads including lobster bisque and Caesar salad, mains of 10oz New York Strip steaks, Salmon Oscar or vegetarian saffron casserole amongst other dishes with the option of 6oz lobster tails, sides ranging from baked potatoes to steamed asparagus and fries with white truffle oil and parmesan cheese and desserts including raspberry crème brûlée and warm espresso chocolate brownies served with macadamia ice cream. Always during those 17 days Cagney’s was the best choice for dinning.

Two words: Go hungry. The Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes appetizer was a hit at our table! The crab cakes were soft, creamy and warm. The perfect combination for crab cakes. I can confirm that Cagney’ uses ‘Premium Angus’ steak which is of a higher quality that the steak used in the ships other restaurants. Not only are the steaks amazing, the sides are spectacular as well. The signature Chagney’s fries are dressed to impress in truffle oil and parmesan cheese. They won’t disappoint. The creamy corn is also one of our favourites.

  • Moderno Churrascaria – South American-style steakhouse where servers keep bringing slices of grilled meats to you until you pop (or tell them to stop).Is an all-you-can-eat meat fest. Again due to the dinning package the ritual was change and now the different types of meat arrive in a quite chaotic way but the taste is unbeatable. The restaurant serves succulent skewers of barbecued meats which are carved tableside. Guests control how much they want with their green and red card, green means the carving continues and red is shown to indicate when guests are full. The signature cuts of beef, lamb, pork and chicken are served along with rice, black beans, mashed potatoes and sweet fried bananas on the side, a wide selection of salads, Brazilian cheese bread and desserts including coconut flan, papaya crème and mango rice pudding. My favourites: Ceviche from the salad Bar, Picana and Garlic Beef. A big plus for the restaurant this time was the charming Maître D’ Mihaela who control the entire venue with a massive genuine smile and made us return more than we expected in Moderno
  • La Cucina – is Norwegian Cruise Line’s Italian specialty restaurant and on Norwegian Epic, the concept has been enhanced to become a much more substantial, located in the front of the ship overlooking the bow. There are large picture windows both to the front and to port and starboard. Since the restaurant is high on the ship’s superstructure, the views from these windows are panoramic. While there has been an overall upgrade to the menu, popular favourites remain. The fried calamari was again fresh. It was lightly breaded, tender and not at all rubbery. La Cucina’s entrees now include a rib eye steak prepared with garlic butter. This was perfectly prepared – – tender and flavourful. For dessert, I had chocolate ice cream with an espresso sauce. The ice cream provides refreshment while the espresso provides zest.
  • The Epic Club – Epic’s first class dining room. Located within the precincts of the luxurious Haven section of the ship, it is open exclusively to guests staying in the suites that make up The Haven. And if you want you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Epic Club. The Epic Club is indeed a club and the guests in the Haven “all come to know one another.” Thus, the atmosphere in the Epic Club is enhanced, not only by the intimate size of the room but by familiarity with your dining companions and the 5 stars Maître D’ Diana who was always the perfect host. The cooking here also resembles a specialty restaurant. Each item is prepared ala minute. Moreover, the use of spices and the care in preparation makes this a gourmet experience. Because of the speciality restaurants on board we didn’t use Epic Club too often but one of favourites was the butternut squash soup, which contained pieces of duck to balance the flavour of the vegetables. The Black Angus strip steak on the lunch menu is a straight forward dish. It is not the best cut of beef but through the use of pepper and other spices, the Epic chefs render it quite flavourful.

    We didn’t missed again the amazing The SVDEKA Ice Bar with its 8 degrees below zero temperature and features ice sculptures and furniture carved out of ice. Wearing our poncho and drinking the included s two cocktails served in an ice glass we enjoy it so much and went back couple of times. My favourite cocktails: Cobalt Blues and Nordic Apple .

Entertainment

I don’t hesitate to say that Norwegian Epic offers the best entertainment at sea today. NCL has been in my top for entertainment form the beginning. With Epic, NCL sets the bar to a new height, industry-wide

Epic Theatre now hosts the double Tony Award winning (for costume design) musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Based on the flamboyant comedy movie, this colourful extravaganza features over 500 dazzling outfits, including 200 headdresses and an array of feel-good dance floor hits. I saw the show 3 times in 17 days and I will go back again and again. I didn’t have the feeling for one second that I was watching a cruise ship show…it was 100% West End or Broadway. Burn The Floor, the second main show on Epic featuring 14 dancers, a live band and two singers and brings their Ballroom Blitz show to the Epic with sizzling and steamy dance routines taken straight from their hit Broadway show.

The Cavern Club invokes the spirit of the iconic Liverpool nightspot made famous as the venue for The Beatles early shows. Moodily-lit with plenty of red brick, it makes a good stab at recreating the atmosphere of the 1960s club, though some modern decorative touches do break the spell. One of the bartender told me that the venue is designed in partnership with the owners of the real 57-year-old club.

Bliss Ultra Lounge suffered a make-over during the last dry dock and now looks a little bit less glitzy, more modern and more inspiring. Great DJs feeling the vibe and knowing the audience when they were choosing the music and good cocktails even if the service was quite slow – again a consequence of free drinking package and shortage of the crew. I miss the cages but I was happy to see the old horse at the entrance retired.

The main feature of the Pool Deck is the Aqua Park with its ‘Epic Plunge’: the only tube slide with a bowl slide and a 200-foot long tube. The Aqua Park also includes two main pools five hot tubs, a wading pool and a kid’s pool that features whimsical sculptures, water sprays and a slide.  Behind the twin funnels are two rock climbing wall. Even if the weather wasn’t great we couldn’t miss the chance to jump on the slides….AMAZING!

Even if for the general concept of entertainment Epic got a massive thumb’s up for this cruise I still need to give a thumb’s down for the Cruise Director and his team. A massive obsession for line dancing: anywhere, everywhere, anytime and doesn’t matter the music! Same steps and same screaming with an Assistant Cruise Director, Nacho, desperate for a promotion.  This “get involved” of animators not guests destroyed the genial idea of themed parties: White Hot, Night Out, Fabba. Instead of listen and dancing on ABBA music (great for the gay crowd on this cruise) we were locked as spectators on a boring amateur-ish dance routine of Nacho&Co. When finally the line dancing finished and we were ready to Fabba party the music change and the DJ returned to his normal playlist. Do something about that NCL: you have genial concepts but …explain the concept to cruise Director team…in details!

Another thumb’s down: SHORE EXCURSION Department. I am not a big fan of excursions booked on board and normally I want to organise my private exploration sessions. This time I put everything in the hands of Epic Shore Excursion Department. BIG MISTAKE ! The only few port-talks were boring and un-professional done, the logistic of each trips chaotic and the customer service of the ShoreEx Manager was … inexistent. When trying to give some feedback after one experience the answer was: “too busy to speak with guests” and 25% discount “if they are not happy”. And once again, our amazing concierge Monica has to deal with the rudeness of the ShoreEx Manager and cover the damage. Some training is needed in this Department for sure.

In my opinion ‘freestyle’ matches the tastes of the modern passenger better than the traditional inflexible system: ‘two sittings’ for diner followed by a main show.  However ‘freestyle’ is not perfect and restaurants can become crowded at peak times and queues can form.   Ideally popular shows need to be booked and entertainment options can clash.  Some traditionalists may simply not warm to ‘Freestyle’. Especially when you meet shorts during dinner, white socks in sandals or somebody taking his tie off after 5 minutes at Captain’s Cocktail Party.

Epic has all the advantages and disadvantages of a big ship. For example the corridors are endless and the stair cases go on forever, so Epic may not be an ideal ship for those passengers with mobility problems.  Epic can feel very busy at times and the pool deck was often crowded.

So how to sum up a ship called Epic? She has her good sides, and she has her not-so-good sides and with upgrades to entertainment, activities, and the lovely haven, she’d probably have been met with near-universal praise aside from those little slips to Carnival’s style.

I am not afraid to say that I like EPIC and I like NCL. The company is, in my mind, the most mainstream of today’s cruise lines. I mean that in a good way. They’re centrists, offering a huge swath of people a chance for a fun, social vacation at a decent price. Accessing some of Epic’s better activities will require you to plan ahead, and in a few cases will cost extra. But you won’t break the bank, and you sure will get a lot of wow for your pounds.

I realised, once again, that EPIC and in general Norwegian Cruise Line is like marmite for breakfast: you love it or you hate it! Norwegian Epic is big, brassy, bold and ballsy…and I love it!

So what about another cruise on board of Norwegian Epic?! Done….and booked for February 24 2016.

EPIC here we come!

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REINTALNIREA CU DAVILA

•December 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment

 

Prin anii ’80 apasam pe pedala notelor mari sperand ca ma vor lasa ai mei duminica sa ma duc la teatru. Purtam si cravat desi nu imi suradea idea. Si era o sarbatoare in fiecare duminica seara cand avandu-le la brat pe Stela si Roxana, iubirile mele (!!!) din anii de liceu ne repezeam in Sala Mare asteptand cu sufletul la gura ridicarea cortinei. Era momentul care ne elibera saptamanal “fluturii din stomac”. Si asa am descoperit si repertoriul si scena si actorii de la Teatrul Davilla. Putin mai tarziu ne-am si urcat pe scena ca amatori si ne-am si indragostit de cativa actori: Mihaela, Ion, Angela, Wilhelmnina…

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Asa ca de data asta cand am poposit in Pitesti mai multe zile m-am decis sa ma reintalnesc cu Davila. Iar optiunea, sugerata inspirit de un amic pe care-l admir, a fost „Leonce şi Lena”, proaspăta premieră a Teatrului „Al. Davila” Piteşti.

Leonce și Lena a fost scrisa de Georg Büchner si este de fapt o satiră învăluit în umor. A fost scrisă în primăvara anului 1836 pentru un sponsorizat de Editura Cotta din Stuttgart. Büchner a ratat termenul limită de depunere și scriptul a fost returnat autorului necitit. Premiera a avut loc aproape 60 de ani mai târziu, la 31 mai 1895, într-un spectacol în aer liber. Leonce – un prinţ candid, visător şi plictisit… Ingenua Lena – o prinţesă răsfăţată, uşor derutată. Tinerii cu sânge albastru fug de acasă pentru a scăpa de căsătoria aranjată dintre cei doi. Eroii poveştii decid în mod separat să scape de acest aranjament. Totuşi, nu reuşesc să fugă unul de celălalt; se întâlnesc întâmplător fără să se recunoască şi se îndrăgostesc. Cei doi decid să le joace o farsă părinţilor şi se întorc în regat pentru a-şi uni destinele. Costumaţi în ei înşişi, realizează că, de fapt, soarta le-a luat-o înainte şi că au îndeplinit chiar dorinţa părinţilor lor.

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Si dupa doua ore am iesit din sala cu am amestec de DA si NU

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DA pentru ca am redescoperit, dupa atati ani, ca pe scena pitesteana pasiunea, dragostea de joc si sufletul pus in fiecare vorba rostita pe scena inca exista si mana de actori pe care i-am vazut duminica m-au facut sa aplaud cu sufletul. Vasile Pieca, Dan Andrei, Ramona Olteanu, Gabriel Gheorghe, Mirela Dinu, Mirela Popescu, Adrian Duţă, Puiu Mărgescu, Tudoriţa Popescu, Cristina Caragea şi Marius Pieca au reusit pentru aproape doua ore sa ma faca ma gandesc serios ca destinul exista dar nu in varianta cu o singura usa de acces.

DA pentru ca, de multe ori rostirea din monologurile actorilor ma ducea cu gandul la ceva jocuri shakespeariene neduse din pacate de script pana la capat. S-a creat insa duminica iluzia  personajelor care se joacă şi, ca nişte copii neastâmpăraţi, îşi strică jucăriile fatal sortite, pentru a-şi găsi propria libertate.

DA pentru ca scriptul, putin cam alambicat pentru o duminica seara, era adus la viata de o mana de actori cu har care jucau si se jucau pentru o sala insetata de actul in sine. Cu ochii la scena si la derularea putin cam dezlanata a intrigii uitai ca a trebuit sa stai cu hainele in brate pentru ca teatrul nu are garderoba, ca decorul saracut, asa ca de serbare de sfarsit de an, iti aduce aminte ca teatrul primeste inca bani de la bugetul local.

NU pentru ca nu am inteles optiunea echipei pentru piesa lui Buchner, in afara poate de faptul ca s-a mai jucat in tara si a primit cronici bune de la “specialist”. Stau si ma intreb daca in fata invaziei de prost gust de pe micul ecran si de pe screen-ul calculatoarelor nu ar fi fost mai inspirat sa aduci pe scena pitesteana un text curat, simplu, direct care sa umple sala, sa te faca sa razi sau sa gandesti si sa puna in valoare mai bine actorii. Poti sa te joci de-a filozofia teatrala cand ai sala plina si publicul se aseaza cuminte la coada la bilete. Altfel risti, cum s-a intamplat duminica, sa ai “obositi de actul teatral” care sa se ridici si se plece in mijlocul replicii.

NU pentru ca regizorul a ales sa limpezeasca complicate replica cu glume, costume si recuzita a secolului XXI. Nu cred ca era nevoie sa arati ca idea intrigii este actuala aducand o drona pe scena, a carei prezenta nici acum nu am inteles-o pe deplin. Franturile de muzica rock, insertiile de atitudine ale unora dintre personaje si costumele penduland intre classic si haute-couture nu m-au convins. Poate singura clipa care a smuls un zambet de la subsemnatul a fost aducera obsesiei “selfie” in jungle povestii.

NU pentru ca desi finalul a fost inspirat si ar fi putut ridica, de unul singur, sala in picioare, cu actorii ca niste stalpi sprijinind teatrul si lumea in care traim, asezarea lor pe cutii de carton a prabusit iluzia asa cum se naruieste imaginea lui Mos Craciun cand un copil neastamparat jucandu-se prea mult cu barba lui ramane cu ea in mana.

 

Celebrity Cruises 7 Night Greece & Turkey on Celebrity Constellation sailing on 08/23/2015

•August 31, 2015 • Leave a Comment

20150824_131012As we just come back from our 7 Night Greece & Turkey cruise on Celebrity Constellation (sailing on 08/23/2015), I decided to write down an objective review for those readers who would love to start cruising with Celebrity but somehow got confused with all the contradictory reviews published almost everywhere.

I never cruised with Celebrity before and even if this year I already booked 7 cruises I decided to have a go. It was a 7 Night Greece & Turkey cruise on board Celebrity Constellation starting from Venice and visiting Dubrovnik, Kussadasi, Mykonos and Corfu. I took the decision to choose a medium value stateroom just to stay on the safe side in case this cruise liner was not my coup of tea.

My and my partner we were in an Aquaclass Cabin – stateroom 1110, on the 11 deck

Celebrity Constellation Overview

Celebrity Constellation

Celebrity Constellation debuted in 2002 as the final ship in Celebrity Cruises’ Millennium Class, with 2,034-­passengers and affectionately known as “Connie” by its fans. Spending 7 days on Constellation, at every step, in each venues, I didn’t have the feeling that I am on a cruise ship, one of those massive floating hotels sailing all-over Mediterranean sea; Constellation manage to balance the intimacy offered by smaller ships and the space offered by bigger ships. Passengers have access to nine bars and lounges, French, Italian and bistro alternative restaurants, shopping zone and lot of public areas without the risk of getting agoraphobic.

Is easy to fall in love with the modern and exquisite deco where rich but not opulent fabrics in jewel tones mix elegantly with the abundant use of marble and wood accents throughout public areas. The atmosphere is not like any other cruise ships we’ve been before but one with personality, filled with grand spaces that flow nicely from one to the other

Accommodation

AquaClass Stateroom 1110

Our option was an Aquaclass cabin to stay on the safe side in the balance value for money-comfort-services – and wasn’t a bad option at all. I have to say that from outside Constellation look very impressive with an incredible number of balconies due to the fact that about 60 percent of its accommodations feature verandas.

AquaClass Stateroom is, apparently, among the most popular choices on all Celebrity ships a kind of a spa-inspired cabins. The Celebrity website introduce the AquaClass stateroom having floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors opening to a private balcony large sitting area private bathroom with Hansgrohe massaging showerhead 100% Egyptian cotton towels complimentary use of bathrobes minibar 32-inch flat-screen TV direct-dial telephone and voicemail thermostat-controlled air-conditioning individual safe hairdryer and 24-hour room service. Pretty accurate but:

  • most of the Aqua Class staterooms aft on Deck 11, including ours (1110) are beneath the basketball court on Deck 12, and above the Seaside Grill on Resort deck. Quite noisy sometimes
  • Hansgrohe massaging showerhead not an amazing addition as couple of days the water pressure made impossible of using all options of the device.
  • the Egyptian cotton towels looked sometimes a little bit tired like the complimentary bathrobes which for sure need a replacement

I was very impressed with the fact that our room steward (Cruz excellent in all aspects) was changing the fruit basket daily but not very impressed with the odd looking and lack of quality healthy drink placed in our room on a daily base.

Quite happy with the storage space even if the cabin has the size normal for a balcony cabin on other ship. The best feature was with no doubts the balcony: due to an ingenious design the balcony looked bigger than others and have enough space for 2 chairs, 2 small tables and a footrest – perfect for a relaxing afternoon.

Bottom line – AquaClass cabin is a very good investment for the space offered and the amenities,  if you can see beyond the oversold amenities and add-ons going on-board with not so high expectations.

Dinning

As an AquaClass guest you have access to a special restaurant – Blue. Again a little misleading from Celebrity: “clean cuisine”. That can put off some guests, like myself, who just want to enjoy a special and divers culinary experience, thinking that you will get only healthy, low calories, steamed food even in holiday. That’s wrong, very wrong as Blue is quite an amazing option for dinner. Although there’s a preconception by many passengers that the menu is full of flavourless vegan-type dishes in small portions, the reality is that the chefs manage to dinners that are palate pleasing and reasonably good for you. Can’t forget the delicious escargots de Bourgogne, the frog legs, chilled soups or dream like stakes. A typical dinner menu would start with appetizers like the amazing braised beef short ribs followed by a soup or salad course (my favourite was the Waldorf salad). Entrees include anything you want from veal and beef, to game hen, prime rib and fish. Superbly presented and served every evening. The entire atmosphere was exactly as described on Celebrity website: Blu – Intimately elegant, yet fresh and modern. The only downside was the slow service: if the restaurant was busy you needed around 2.30-2.45h to complete de dinner even if around your table you have a small army of 2 hosts, 1 waiter, 1 assistant waiter and 1 sommelier. But the quality of the food made the waiting worth it. The modern feel to Blu’s décor transcends to food and presentation and you  forget that you’re on a cruise ship and feel like you’re out at a contemporary restaurant.

Only once we tried the breakfast in Blue – maybe to healthy for us and again a little bit slow. Funny but useless the idea to have a “tableside muesli service”: if you want to stay fit and healthy I think that a short walk to the buffet to create your own muesli will not kill anybody.

Blu features open seating and reservations are not required. Cruisers can dine anytime between 6 PM and 9:30 PM. Quite a good idea that idea to get a pager if your table is not ready and avoid waiting in a line in front of the restaurant. The lines in front of San Marco Restaurant (the main dinning venue) were funny: men in tuxedos and ladies in elegant gowns waiting in a 10-15 people line for 20 minutes reminds me of a Tarkovsky movie.

The buffet is like anywhere else; good ideas to have different stations with different dishes but unfortunately the timings for meal was wrong. On board they have strict timings for different meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks (afternoon or late) which remind me of a summer camp or a Spanish all-inclusive resort. For example if you fancy a snack after 11.00pm you lost the battle: nothing open, nothing available apart of the room service – with an announced waiting time of 30-40 minutes. We tried once, after spending some time in the night club to order something and after 45 minutes, around 2am we needed to cancel the order and jump in bed – maybe that was the healthy option offered by AquaClass stateroom!

And twice we had lunch in the main dinning room – San Marco. Was empty and we expected a quick friendly service but, again, Celebrity needs some work in this area: an army of waiter were walking around – in search for the missing polite smile maybe – and the lunch took 2h again.

Room service is very good with an improved menu in AquaClass stateroom. Annoying is just the policy of calling the room to check if “everything is fine with the room service”; even if at the beginning that impressed me quite a lot, couple of times we got the phone call before the breakfast arrived which destroyed completely the feeling of “personalised and carrying service”.

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San Marco lunch

San Marco lunchBlue dinner

Public Areas

The heart of Constellation’s public areas is her Grand Foyer, a rectangular, three-deck atrium dominated by a backlit onyx stairway that glows beneath you.
Grand Foyer

Starecase in Grand Lobby

The elegant Reflections venue on Deck 11 serves as an observation lounge for readers and a quiet place for dance and craft classes by day, but it’s also the official gathering place for very good clubbing music.

Reflections Lounge

Entertainment venues include the three-deck Celebrity Theatre in the bow; the modern 900-seat theatre is where most of the major entertainment action takes place. The banquet-style seats are comfortable enough for the nearly hour-long programs, and the small tables positioned along the rows of seats are handy. We enjoyed there couple of nights watching the ship’s shows.

celebrity theater

We didn’t used the contemporary Rendezvous Lounge, Fortunes Casino as was not a lively atmosphere when we passed through.

Constellation also got a Martini Bar (our favourite space even if sometimes crowded and most of the time understaffed) – a combination of booze and entertainment with the bartenders flipping and juggling bottles of top-­shelf vodka and gin in time with disco music. Finding seats around the main bar during peak time is a challenge, as is getting a bartender’s attention. One of our fellow passengers told me that if you plan to be a regular at this bar, a tip the day you come aboard of $20 or more may result in better service throughout your cruise.

Martini BarDSC04458DSC04459Martini Bar before openning

The comfortable Café al Bacio and Gelateria for specialty coffees and ice cream was a little bit too crowed for us and the Cellarmasters wine bar, was most of the time empty.

Cellarmasters wine barRendezvous Lounge

20150829_111755Café al Bacio

Entertainment

Celebrity has a favourite list of entertainers, musicians and singers from England, which tried hard to be too alternative and less entertaining. The overall quality was far under the similar acts on other cruise liners. If you add the loud and weird background music on-board you will understand why we preferred to spend our evenings in Martini Bar.

Talking about background music: was funny to have breakfast in Blue around 7.45am and being bombarded with loud alternative sounds; was hilarious that that time in the morning one of the songs was related to “sex on the beach”, “push it harder” or “orgasm”. Maybe this is modern luxury – music sex and … scrambled eggs!

Reflections club is a great place…but the DJ manage to kill it; my partner and I love dancing but the disco was club music aimed at 18 year olds (not many of them on the cruise). When we spoke with the DJ with some request he ignored as in a very impolite way and after the second went back to his favourite music: clubbing. Was quite weird that a DJ doesn’t realise the need to change the rhythm when the dance floor is empty for most of the time and quite full for one song or another. Therefore we preferred the parties in Martini Bar.

The shows were a big disappointment. With such a great venue as Celebrity Theatre and the level of quality advertised by Celebrity you expect something much better than on other ships. But we were wrong again. Apart of some acts, guest entertainers, the Celebrity productions remind me of an end of season show of a mediocre acting school.  The costumes, the lights, the sound and the stage production were great but didn’t manage to raise the level of the cast: chubby dancers, singers with a “BGT audition” voices and scripts insulting the IQ of the audience.

One night we decided to watch the Elrya – the most acclaimed and newest Celebrity production, described as a “sensual, seductive and dreamlike” stage performance and rated 18+.A show launched in April and prepared in the new Royal Caribbean Production Studio. “Our (rehearsal) space is even bigger than Cirque du Soleil’s,” Thomson-Foley-a former dancer turned cruise director turned entertainment boss, said. Unfortunately the size doesn’t matter in showbiz. The entire performance remind me of a bad casted pantomime in Blackpole for a stag’s and hen’s parties. What was the need for the vulgarity and the poor quality of the stand-up drag moments? What was the need of killing massive songs with poor voices? Fortunately for all on stage the performance was on a cruise ship and not in a real theatre…the critics will kill the show after the first night. On the Constellation you can re-cover in the Martini Bar.

The Cruise Director and his staff was “Carnival style”: great jokes if you are half-drunk, activities who try hard and unsuccessful to be funny, their entire presence around the ship (even on television) was dull and over the top.  When you search for modern luxury you don’t expect to find officers playing water polo in their uniforms or pub style competition…on a cruise ship yes, you do!

Swimming pool by nightPool area

OK, that’s enough for now…quite a long review but the only reason is that I enjoyed cruising with Celebrity and I am sure that they can do better and they have to if they want to be “modern luxury”.

So,

Why I liked our Celebrity Constellation cruise?

  • Superb food, no compromises in quality and presentation
  • Elegant and modern look like ship with all the facility that you expect from a cruise ship but keeping a sense of intimacy and class
  • Very good room steward – Cruz (staterrom 1110) and an all the time polite smiling bartender – Milos (Sunset Bar)
  • Excellent bar concept – Martini Bar
  • Amazing selection of drinks (no mass produced cocktails)

Why I didn’t like our Celebrity Constellation cruise?     

  • Slow service all around the ship maybe due to the under staff cutting costs policy
  • Not a 5* service overall with a tired attitude and “we’ve done that for the last 6 months” smile
  • A fantastic venue (Reflection Lounge) killed sometimes by a “playing music for myself” DJ
  • Low quality and profile entertainment with a waste of money and energy for a mediocre result

When I looked back I realise now that was not exactly their slogan “LUXURIOUS. MODERN. UNIQUE”. It was a nice cruise, a little bit overpriced, with fellow guests trying to balance their spending and expectation with the only solution of enjoying their vacations.

Of course far much better than Costa or MSC but a long, long way to Regent or Viking! So Celebrity you still have time to act and be where you want and deserve to be. You will have another go soon…

Thank you for a nice week.

Tendering in Mykonos

MA UITAI LA EUROVISION !

•March 12, 2015 • 1 Comment

Nu folosesc de obicei perfectul simplu !

Titlul este doar inspirat de … “istetul” si originalul logo purtat de participanti la finala nationala EUROVISION 2015: “Ma vazui la Eurovision !”

Am lasat sa treaca putin timp sa ni se linisteasca adrenalina si nor-adrenalina din sange legate de evenimentul musical de duminica. Nu de alta, dar pasiuni ca anul asta, tocmai de Ziua Femeii, nu am mai vazut de pe vremea gemenelor de la INDIGO care-si strigau durerea ca nu s-au calificat in finala de acum cativa ani.

Pe scurt a fost bataie mare pentru snitzel-ul musical European. M-a uitat linistit, obiectiv si cu doza de veronal luata in prealabil la ingreistrarile de pe sit-ul TVR+ asa ca ne putem pune pe tocat…Mai intai cu melodiile si mai apoi si cu zgomoteala cu pretentie de show tv.

Cantarile mai intai ! Si nu o sa incep cu obisnutiul mioritic “Ti-am zis eu….!”. Recitind postul anterior am vazut ca am avut dreptate si ca am dat cu bata in balta doar o data sau de doua ori.

Asadar in ordinea numerelor de pe tricou:

  1. De la capăt – Voltaj

Muzică: Constantin Gabriel , Goia Călin Gavril, Cristescu Adrian, Alstani Victor – Răzvan, Păduraru Silviu – Marian / Text:  Constantin Gabriel , Goia Călin Gavril, Cristescu Adrian, Alstani Victor – Răzvan, Păduraru Silviu – Marian

Nu e prima oara cand o spun: melodia este foarte buna, videoclipul imi aduce lacrimi in ochi de fiecare data si s-a numarat printre favourite. Ceva s-a intamplat insa la Craiova si asta o spun plasandu-ma departe de toate versiunile teoriei conspiratiei de la Selectia Nationala. Calin a cantat mult mai bine la finalul serii decat in concurs. Si melodia a reusit sa bata statistica potrivit careia in istoria Eurovision-ului melodia cu nr. 1 in concurs nu a castigat niciodata. Inceputul mut – sau partial mut, gratie comentariilor surprinse de microfoanele de ambianta ale TVR-ului, nu mi-a placut. In general o melodie este motorul unei campanii umanitare (asa cum au fost “We are the world” sau “Do they know it’s Christmas”) si nu invers. Iar Calin a “sutat” crezand ca marcheaza la fiecare ocazie avuta. Si i-a mers pentru ca romanul cu suflet mare a votat crezand ca este mai bine pentru mamica cu ursuletul sa stea in tara pe mai nimic decat pe un salariu minim in strainatate. Si da, ma puteti pune la zid pentru opinia mea ! Daca nu ar fi asa, cum de avem diaspora, tovarasi ?

Este o melodie care merita sa pleca la Viena 100%. Ce va face acolo ramane de vazut. Varianta in engleza nu m-a convins…versurile nu se inteleg…suna mioritic…iar Europa ma indoiesc ca s-ar sensibila la mesaj. Plus ca varianta de trupa rock middle-age nu prea mai are cautare. Dar cu siguranta o s atrecem de semifinala. Sa dea Domnul sa ma insel. Oricum la Viena votez cu ei !

  1. Dragoste în lanţuri – Băieţii

Muzică: Mihai Postolache, Ştefan Adrian Marin, Liviu Vârciu, Marian Stavar / Text: Mihai Postolache, Ştefan Adrian Marin, Liviu Vârciu, Marian Stavar

Nu stiu ce a fost mai rau: atunci cand au vorbit, atunci cand au cantat sau atunci cand au dansat ? Dar macar sunt, vorba unuia dintre ei “fresh si frumosi” – ca de, gusturile nu se discuta. Baieitii cred ca au fost legati in lanturi la cabina de machiaj terminand rezervele de produse cosmentice ale TVR-ului pe un semestru. Pacat insa ca atunci cand au parasite scaunul din fata oglindei au uitat sa isi ia si vocile cu ei. Noroc cu fetele care dadeau din buric pe scena in spiritual traditional romanesc. Dar adevarul este ca am fost avertizati de ceea ce urma sa vina live de la Craiova: in promo baietii au cantat a capella. Si a fost sufficient pentru o ureche muzicala sa se ridice si sa ia o bere din frigider. Cu cat mai departe frigiderul cu atat mai bine ! Culmea ca toata lumea s-a dus sa ia o bere: Baietii nu au reusit sa ia nici un punct duminica !

  1. Save us – Tudor Turcu

Muzică: Gabriel Huiban / Text: Gabriel Huiban

Uitandu-ma la Tudor incerc sa imi aduc aminte daca a castigat sau a pierdut “Vocea Romaniei”. Ceva insa ma impiedica…o fi oare tona de dermatograf ? Data trecuta miroseam un amestec Tatoo si Bon Jovi. Acum spectrul s-a largit si am regasit in prestatia live si coregrafia lui Michael Jackson (“What about us ?”) si stilul rock al anilor ’80. Ca impresie generala NU, adica 100% nu. Sau ca sa-l parafrazez chiar pe Tudor: “It’s not life, is LIVE” …din pacate ! Dar s-a clasat in prima jumatate asa ca e de bine Tudorica !

  1. Chica latina – Aurelian Temişan feat. Alexa

Muzică: Mihai Alexandru, Alexa Niculae / Text: Mihai Alexandru, Alexa Niculae

In prima variant cu care am venit in contact era Alexa feat Temisan, pe scena a fost invers…dar invers rau de tot. Mai ales cum canta in spaniola Alexa. Sarmanul Cervantes  ! La jumatatea melodie tot nu am inteles cine feature-ste pe cine. Temisan ar fi cantat mai bine singur. Are o voce sa umple toata sala chiar si cu o melodie mediocra cu un refren stupid gen “chica-chica”. Si asa a gandit si juriul pe care saracul l-au mai si aratat dupe melodie, pe principiul “sa ne facem ca muncim”…iar daca a-ti pierdut reactia cautati-o pe net. Similaritate cu melodia “Dragoste in lanturi”: se putea evita momentul dureros live daca urmaream promo-ul. Piesa era sustinuta de Adrian Enache – Q.E.D. ! Iar finalul in pasi de sarba olteneasca a fost magnific. Daca Temisan nu era pe scena chiar se batea Alexa cu Baietii pe ultima pozitie. Dar si el si-a dat cu prazul in cap la comentariul cu R. Martin; o fi fost o gluma or o prostioara determinate de emotii ? In ambele situatii a fost de prost gust. Si Chica (rimeaza cu Marciuca) s-a dus la fund (adica in josul clasamentului)

  1. My light – Rodica Aculova

Muzică: Ivan Aculov / Text: Lidia Scarlat

Genial momentul: cea mai buna dovada ca una suna inregistrarea de studiou si alta e realitatea live. Poate ca am invatat lectia, chiar daca si acum ne mai dor timpanele dupa strigatele de dincolo de Prut. Bietii mei purcelusi de Guineea Cipi si Pepe s-au ascuns sub o tona de fan la refren. Uitandu-ma la Rodicuta am realizat ca ei ii place mai mult rochia decat microfonul, ca s-a poarta mai delicat cu ea. Si de frica ca o va incasa acasa pentru ca a maltratat bunatate de melodie a inceput sa-si perieze sotul/compositor ca poate poate o iarta. Dupa prestatia ei live de duminica  (demna de un invitat international pe scena Festivalului Callatis) nu ma pot intreba daca fata a ajuns la repetitii sau a pierdut autobuzul.  Oricum a pierdut punctele…pe toate !

  1. Love won’t run away – Blue Noise

Muzică: Diana Moraru, Elena Moroşanu, Ana Cristina Leonte, Mihail Grigore, Bogdan Tudor, Denis Bolborea  / Text: Diana Moraru, Elena Moroşanu

Nu am suficienta cenusa in semineu ca sa mi-o pun in cap si sa recunosc ca am gresit in postarea anterioara. Blue Noise au fost IMPECABILI. Au reusit sa ma tina aproape toata durata melodiei iar vocile le-au fost perfecte. Daca TVR-ul avea ceva sange in … carul de reportaj aceasta era melodia care ne putea reprezenta onorabil: profi, interesanta, diferita ! Bravo, jos palaria. Chiar daca le-as da cu palaria in cap regizorului artistic si a celui de montaj care au ratat la secunda inspiratul inceput. Cat zaibar la liber a dat Tanti Olguta ? Dati mai putin sa ajunga si la cameramani care sigur “dadeau” cadrele care trebuia. Alo Antena, se aude ?

  1. Still alive – Ovidiu Anton

Muzică: Linda Persson,  Ylva Persson, Peter Hageras/Text: Linda Persson,  Ylva Persson, Peter Hageras

Ovidiu a fost a doua greseala a mea. Si el a fost foarte bun, mult mai bun decat inregistrarea. Si are o voce care umplea sala. Plus ca piesa a fost ridicata fantastic de prestatia vocala. Ce conteaza ca mi-a adus aminte intreaga punere in scena de Meat Loaf. A fost mult peste nivelul serii si si-a meritat cu prisosinta a treia pozitie pe podium. O singura mentiune: look-ul de calau medieval gata sa o scurteze de cap pe Anne Boleyn in curtea Turnului Londrei. Asa ca un sfat: ori iti iei un stilist ori in executi pe cel pe care-l ai, Ovidiu. Echipa din carul de transmisie e tot la zaibar comutand cadrele la fractiune de secunda dupa efectele special de scena. Oare de ce au mai cheltuit banii ?

  1. Superman – Lara Lee

Muzică: Robin Lynch, Niklas Olovson /Text: Milica Fajgelj, Tami Rodriguez, Nicole Rodriguez

Fata a recunoscut de la inceput ca a muncit “o luna” la piesa, interpretare, pachetul visual si asa mai departe. Imi aduc aminte ca Loreen marturisea ca a muncit aproape un an. Si rezultatul s-a vazut; si intr-un caz si in celalat. Dansatorii erau parca dintr-un alt film. Si pacat ca Lara a inceput bine, dar de emotie sau lipsa de experienta live, vocea s-a fasit ca Superman dupa ce a dat cu ochii de kriptonit. Bine ca nu a castigat. La echipa de pe scena va dati seama ce mare ar fi fost gasca plecata la Viena pe banii din abonamente cu catel, Liana, purcel, Iuliana si alte rubedenii tv ?

  1. Secret place – Super Trooper

Muzică: Daniel Alexandrescu, Radu Fornea, Pavel Petricenco / Text: Daniel Alexandrescu, Tudor Man, Pavel Petricenco

Stiu ca nu a placut nimanui si ca au fost jos de tot in clasamentul final…doar Baietii i-au intrecut ! Dar mie mi-au placut. Si ei pe scena si melodia. Ar fi putut ce-I drept sa lucreze mai mult la cum au umplut scena, dar a mers si asa. Chiar daca imi aduceau aminte de Skamp din 2001 sau Daz Sampson al englezilor din 2006. Asa ca nu sunt de accord cu ideea ca inregistrarea a fost buna, iar variant live proasta din lipsa de voci. Nu sunt de accord, dar putem negocia !

  1. A million stars – Luminiţa Anghel

Muzică: Andrei Tudor/ Text: Cristian Faur

Nu avea nimeni nici o indoiala ca Luminita are o voce mare, ca meodia este stralucita si ca prestatia va fi de nota 10. Asa a si fost. Si totusi de ce nu Luminita la Viena ? S-ar putea da multe raspunsuri si s-ar putea crea multe teorii ale conspiratiei, unele chiar cu un sambure de adevar. Prefer insa sa va spun nu de ce MI-A PLACUT “A million stars” ci de ce NU MI-A PLACUT prestatia echipei la Craiova:

  • Pachetul general nu m-a impresionat. Dansatorii erau ridicoli chiar daca foarte buni sip e jumatate dezbracati, dar nu aveau nici o legatura cu melodia si starea extraordinara a Luminitei. Piesa e suficient de mare, vocea Luminitei e imensa…nu aveai nevoie de nimic sa umple scena (uite exemplul Conchitei ). Trebuia ceva de WOW, la final cand piesa crestea…ceva simplu si wow…asa cum a fost imaginea cu viteza redusa si zapada de la “Euphoria”
  • Despre machiaj si vestimentatie ce sa spun…erau profi dar atingeau perfectiunea pe linii care nu aveau nici un punct de intersectare. Ce-I drept nu a ajutat nici lumina si nici miscarea camerei. De ce sa plusez pe ceea ce imbrac cand vocea ma imbraca mai bine? Si la prim plan Luminita arata de parca se incrunta la stelele pe care le numara. Vazusem pe net o poza inainte de finala cu un face-painting si un machiaj superb. Nu imi spuneti ca iar si-a bagat Liana Stanciu coada, ca nu cred ! Nu toata lumea cade in cutia de contur ca ea !
  • “Social media” este o arma extreme de puternica daca stii sa o folosesti intelept. Si alegerile prezidentiale au demonstrate-o. La “A million stars” a fost exact invers. Abuzul de mesaje de sustinere, promo-uri postate si shar-uite mi-au amintit de Ponta si Candy Crash
  • In plus romanul este istet si nu sporta sa il calci pe coada. Daca tele-votantul s-a sensibilizat la mesajul umanitar la Voltajului cu siguranta la parade de “il stiu si pe…”, “il salut si pe…” a ridicat spranceana si nu telefonul !

Dincolo de orice melodia avea sanse sa treaca fara dureri de cap in finala sis a ne plaseze undeva in primii cinci daca nu chiar pe podium. Cu conditia ca Luminita sa fie EA – sincera, puternica, profesionista, curata – fara alte adaosuri tv-eriste sau de mai stiu eu unde. Si sunt convins ca daca ar fi mers mai departe echipa ei ar fi corectat mult si ar fi iesit aproape de perfect la Viena.Daca…

  1. Nowhere – Cristina Vasiu

Muzică: Cristina Vasiu, Daniel Costache, Dan Andrei Deaconu /Text: Cristina Vasiu, Daniel Costache, Dan Andrei Deaconu

Cum spuneam acum cateva zile o piesa de mijloc de clasament chiar daca ne-a asigurat Cristina ca a fost “conceputa special pentru Eurovision”. Mi-a placut insa coregrafia, ca vocea si melodia au cam maltratat microfonul. Geniale interventiile fetei de la manichiura si a prietenului de culoare care i-a urat Cristinei “GO,  NOWHERE !” ( pe audio virgule nu s-a vazut). Ceea ce s-a si intamplat ! Cat despre domnii din regia de emisie……tot cu zaibarul…altfel cum sa uiti ca steady-cam-ul ar fi fost perfect pentru artificiile de balci din fustita ?

  1. We were in love – CEJ

Muzică: Victor Thell, Aleena Gibson, Maria Smith /Text: Victor Thell, Aleena Gibson, Maria Smith

Singura melodie cantata cu adevarat in engleza duminica seara. Si singura melodie care avea aerul de Eurovision…nu spun ca a fost cea mai buna…spun doar ca suna de acolo. Si mi-a placut si “Multumesc”-ul in romaneste de la finalul filmuletului de prezentare. Au cantat bine live si era si normal la experienta lor. A avut insa TVR-ul grija sa le mascreze prestatia cu unghiuri neinspirate si comutari de camera anapoda. De parca iti doreai s ate intorci la finele anilor ’50 cand Eurovisionul se transmitea la radio !

Una peste alta clasamentul a aratat asa cum speram eu in postarea precedenta, cu foarte putine surprize. Daca te uiti in urma cred ca a fost una dintre cele mai reusite editii ale Selectiei Nationale Eurovision.Asta din punctul de vedere al valorii melodiilor si vocilor din concurs. Despre show-ul tv. Asta e o alta poveste.

Si sa vedeti de ce…

Transmisiunea in direct a inceput foarte sus: un generic percutant si ideea momentului de deschidere cu toti concurentii pe scena cantand “It’s a miracol” chiar a dat bine, putin poate anii ’80 dar mi-a placut. Nu am inteles insa unde au fost regizorul artistic si cel de emisie care comutau camerele complet aleatoriu, pe final de fraza muzicala, ratand prim-planurile solistilor cu o dexteritate demna de invidiat. Si eroarea asta a continuat cu o cascada de greseli de regie artistica, de montaj si de productie de zile mari.

Oare a cui a fost idea cu filmuletele de prezentare. Regulamentul Eurovision mentioneaza ca piesa muzicala din concurs trebuie sa aiba maximum 3 minute, nicidecum cartea de vizita. Erau niste filmulete lungi, fara nici o idee care scadeau ritmul transmisiei, te faceau sa te ridici si sa umbli terchea berchea prin apartament pierzand inceputul melodiei.Doua explicatii posibile: ori trebuia justificat salariul echipei redactionale si contabilele TVR-ului numarau minutele ca, la o eventuala re-evaluare de personal conteaza cate minute de emisie tv ai facut. Ori genialul producator/prezentator/redactor/crainic Iuliana Marciuc avea nevoie de o pauza mai lunga sa-si adune gandurile si scriptul blond pentru decupajele urmatoarei melodii. Noroc cu glumele involuntare scapate la montaj in filmuletele cu pricina: “suntem fresh si frumosi” spuneau Baietii ori “am muncit o luna” marturisea Cristina ori mesajul de sustinere venit direct de la muzeul Antipa pentru cei de la Voltaj. Daca te uitai la ceas in timpul transmisei ai fi vazut ca au trecut vreo 15 minute de la inceputul live-ului, daca nu mai mult, pana s-a cantat prima melodie. Asa o fi  moda acum, sau trebuia doar umplut un spatiu de emisie si justificate niste cheltuieli ? Iar nu am inteles de ce fiecare participant tinea mortis sa ne explice ce a vrut el sa transmita prin melodia din concurs. O fi festivalul asta pentru blonzi, ca d’aia imi place mie!

Prezentatorii nu au fost rai, s-au inscris cu succes in trendul de valoare mediocra a TVR-ului din ultimii ani. Evident ca timisoreanul ar fi fost bine sa inteleaga ca nu e politicos sa iei replicile sau sa sari peste fraza partenerei din Oltenia mai ales cand esti la Craiova. Sau sa arati cu degetul mai tot timpul. Evident ca Flori – obsedata de sufrageria ei (poate ca sta fata intr-o garsoniera si viseaza la o largire de spatiu) si pronuntarea verbului “a fi” cu un E extrem de enervant, ar fi trebuit sa uite de promovarea decolteului si a propriilor picioruse si sa roage pe cineva sa-i scrie niste intrebari inteligente. Apropo Flori draga, CEJ au cantat la Brandenburg Tor = Poarta Brandenburg din Berlin si nu “in Brandenburg”, asta daca te mai intreaba cineva. Din culise Ioana si-a facut treaba cu responsabilitate, recitand niste fraze indelung repetate, fara nici o greseala dar si fara nici o personalitate, asa cat sa-i fie bine si cald la intoarcerea la Bucuresti.

Tropaiala juriului pe scena facea parte din ritualul TVR. De data asta insa i-au plasat intr-o camera din care imagini erau difuzate din cand in cand  ca sa fim siguri ca nu au adormit si ca vor lua o decizie la locul faptei. Despre compozitia juriului nu vreau sa imi dau eu cu parerea. Desi si Anca si Mihai erau, sentimental vorbind mai aproape de Voltaj decat de Luminita Anghel. Si exact pe invers, musical vorbind, era Bogdan Honciuc. Singurul ca desprins din alt film era Viorel Gravila. Dar orice juriu are doza lui de subiectivism.

Scena sunt convins ca nu arata rau…Iuri Moroianu scenograful este un baiat inspirat, proiectiile din fundal erau legate intr-un fel de melodii si luminile lui Piti cadeau bine. Important era sa fii in sala. Pentru ca de acasa tot efortul lor si masacrarea unui buget, pe pariu, destul de important, a fost distrus sistematic de ce s-a vazut pe ecran. Chiar duduia Marciuc nu a invatat nimic de la Dan Manoliu? Omuletul asta respira productie tv si chiar daca numai ai sta in birou cu el si ai asculta numai, tot ai invata ceva. Imi aduc aminte cum la editiile trecute, Manoliu si echipa lui scriau, repetau, inregistrau, vizionau si iar filmau cadru cu cadru; fiecare comutare sau miscare de camera avea un rost, spuneau povestea melodiei. Producatoarea in cauza nici nu a auzit de asa ceva si amestecand personalitatea unui regizor artistic cu temperamentul regizorului de montaj a produs o nemaipomenita ciorba cu pretentie de show tv. Nu am simtit o secunda schimbarea de atmosfera pe scena, relatia proiectii-melodie, s-au ratat mai toate efectele special si miscarile de camera imi aminteau de o Mamaia din ani ’90. Oooops dar poate ca asta e explicatia. Iuliana Marciuc nu a inteles ca nu mai este crainic-prezentator ci producator. Oricum era prea ocupata sa faca poze cu mobilul si sa le posteze pe Facebook, sa vada lumea ca munceste.

Alta lectie “de furat” de la echipa care facea foarte bine Eurovisionul in anii trecuti: recapitularea pieselor trebuie sa fie facuta din refrenul melodiilor cantate. Asta a invatat-o pana si Almasan cand s-a dat cu Eurovisionul la circ. Anul acesta recapitularea a fost facuta pe ochi frumosi: la unii s-au ales partile foarte bune, la altii gafele si momentele cand vocile o luau pe aratura. Si nu e frumos ca va doriti transparenti, nu-i asa ?

De obicei timpul creat pentru votare este umplut cu ceva inedit, interesant, special. Aduceti-va aminte de Lord of the Dance al irlandezilor. La noi trebuie sa aduci un invitat strain si sa cheltuiesti si bani pe deasupra. Si nu orice invitat; cineva care sa fi iesit de mult de pe lista agentiilor de impresariat si care sa poata fi luat la pret rezonabil. Anul asta ne-am procopsit cu Ruslana. Fata mie mi-a placut dar nu prea a facut mai nimic dupa castigarea Eurovisionului. Sau nu am auzit noi. Decat sa fi dat banii pe un moment cu iz politic, neadecvat oricum pentru Eurovision, nu ar fi fost mai interesant sa gasim ceva pe plan local? De ce nu ansamblul “Doina Gorjului” sau “Rapsozii Oltului” cantand participarile romanesti la Festivalul Cantecului European in stil propriu. Tot a dansat Alexa o sarba la sfarsit de Chica Latina. Ruslana putea veni la un concert origanizat alta data sau cu alta ocazie. Drept dovada la concertul aniversar Eurovision 60 de la Londra, Ruslana nici nu apare pe lista invitatilor oficiali, chiar daca a castigat. A venit la Craiova drept consolare.

Si iar ne izbim de lipsa totala de professionalism a producatorilor. Chiar nu le putea sopti nimeni in casca prezentatorilor ca Ruslana nu a terminat. Eu inteleg ca Marciuc si Ghitulesc alergau dupa ultima doza de zaibar ramas de pe urma sponsorizarii locale, dar ce naiba nu se prindea nimeni sa salveze situatia? Sau nu era chestia asta in desfasurator? Nasol atunci. Si uite asa am avut parte de ineditul schimb rapid de imagini scena-public-scena, cu o Ruslana plangand si un prezentator zambind tamp si neintelegand ce se intampla. Propun dl. Zgabercea sa includeti de acum ca si conditie de angajare in TVR limba rusa….si sa o puneti in comisie pe tovarasa si prietena de detasament Sandulescu ca doar ea se pricepe.

Jurizarea si acordarea punctelor a fost asa trecuta cu vederea si cu camera. Domnu’ Manoliu de ce nu ti-ai invatat colegii eurovizioniti peste noapte cum se face in mod normal si transparent daca nu vrei sa te trezesti cu contestatii. Sau Liana Stanciu are metoda ei ? Pana la urma nu am aflat decat clasamentul televotingului si primii trei clasati la juriu. Ca e de ajuns pentru prostime.

Si vine si finalul.  Cel putin la inaltimea intregului spectacol. Adica VARZA…calita, de data asta, pentru ca mai aveau cateva minute de emisie si trebuiau sa bata recordul de greseli/minut. Celor de la CEJ nu le mai traduce nimeni si arata ca japonezii picati in mijlocul mineriadei. Din pura coincidenta, una dintre prezentatoare se plaseaza langa Voltaj poate, poate. Camerele alearga abramburite pe scena prinzand franturi de fete, margini de rochie si cadre generale. Cu o exceptie. Plina de colegialitate si solidaritate femininia, Iuliana Marciuc isi ia pozitia de producator in serios si cere cadre cu fata Luminitei Anghel desfigurata de dezamagire…si de data asta nu era machiajul de vina. Ce s-or fi gandit ei in caruletul lor de reportaj: pe Voltaj o sa ii tot vedem, dar imagini cu Luminita suparata, mai rar. Asa ca da-i frate cu prim planurile ! La cel bun sa ii aduci pe toti pe scena ? Ca, tinand cont de fetele unor, numai partasi la bucurie nu erau. Si colac peste pupaza a durat si mult…chiar mai mult decat filmuletele de prezentare, ceea ce este un record, sa recunoastem.

Finalul a fost frumos…hartiutele colorate zburau precum sperantele unora de a merge la Viena, precum barfele altora legate de calitatea sunetului sau trasurile de sfori prin culise, precum aburii de zaibar si auto-multumire a genialilor producatori. Noroc ca au curs genericele si ne-au potolit pe toti.

Acum evident ca reactiile au fost diferite. Oamenii din TVR, cei care muncesc, nu cei din birouri, au gandit ca si pana acum….adica oricum nu conteaza. Gasca de producatorii s-au auto-felicitat, auto-pupat, auto-batut pe umeri, si mare mirarea daca nu o sa curga si cu prime. Desi audienta a fost asa cum a fost; cat despre calitate ce sa mai vorbim. “Cum nu vii tu Manoliu Doamne, ca punand mana pe ei / Sa-I imparti in doua cete: in amatory si in miseii….” Daca am fi trait intr-o lume civilizata si de profesionisti dupa gafele de duminica Marciuc si Ghitulescu si-ar fi dat demisia, Liana Stanciu ar fi lasat locul cuiva care se pricepe, Liana Sandulescu ar fi iesit la pensie (in sfarsit) iar Producatorul general s-ar fi intors la gradele lui (cele din pahar, ca pe umar nu cred ca are). Ca nu poti face bascalie de Eurovision pe banii publici. Sau variant si mai corecta, cea a BBC-ului, reprezentantii Romaniei la Eurovision 2016 sa fie alesi printr-o selectie interna, fara tam-tam, ca doar se plateste participarea din bugetul televiziunii publice. Dar mai trebuie sa manance si “impinsii neamului” o paine, nu ? O singura reactie decenta, pe un site de socializare, de la un om (nu dau nume, prietenii stiu de ce) de o enervanta decenta si un exasperant professionalism. Cautati-o pe Facebook !

Finala Nationala a murit ! Traiasca Eurovision 2015 !

Sa dea Domnul sa trecem in finala si sa nu auzim celebrul “Romania nil points/Roumanie nul points” de prea multe ori la Viena.

Bafta Voltaj !

P.S.: Tocmai am citit ca s-ar coace o contestatie legata de posibilitatea descalificarii melodiei celor de la Voltaj pe motiv ca prestatia de la Craiova a durat cu 18 secunde pentru limita celor 3 minute regulamentare. Am revazut inregistrarea si asa este, mai precis 3:17:26. Am recitit si regulamentul scris de TVR, in variant bi-lingva si este correct, melodia trebuia descalificata.

E acum sa vedem cum se descurca echipa isteata Eurovision 2015, ca de litera legii trebuie respectata, chiar daca este regulament TVR.

Mare praz si EUROVIZION-ul asta !

•February 28, 2015 • 1 Comment

building-bridges-eurovision-slogan-2015-vienna

Fericiti ca am scapat de zbaterea nationala “Sfantul Valentin vs Dragobete” o alta catastrofa sta sa vina peste noi: EUROVISION-ul !

De ce catastrofa ? Pentru ca, desi avem putina istorie in spate in ceea ce priveste Festivalul cantecului European, tot nu am invatat nimic iar Romania este inca pe lista tarilor in care selectia nationala pentru concursul cu pricina inca starneste pasiuni, declanseaza certuri la gura … televizorului si restructureaza bugete. Toate cu impact minor asupra rezultatului final, evident.

TVR organizeaza anul acesta selectia nationala pentru finala de la Viena la … Craiova. WOW ! Asta da decizie soc. Ma intreb de ce tocmai la Craiova ? Dar o sa revin la intrebarea aceasta cateva randuri mai jos.

Cineva m-a rugat sa ascult melodiile din selectia nationala si sa-mi dau cu parerea. Initial am zis nu. Nu de alta dar m-am vindecat de boala asta cu euro-cantecul cam de multicel si acum, avand pasiunile agitate in cui, ma amuz si ma bucur de spectacolul anual in care descoperim musical ca Europa se extinde de la o editie la alta.

Apoi am analizat idea de a-mi “da cu parerea” – sport preferat si exersat pe meleaguri mioritice. Si uite asa intr-o seara, strangand virtual pe Skype prieteni din Spania, Germania, SUA si Romania, am achizitionat niste pizza si niste bere si ne-am pus pe ascultat si comentat. Ce a iesit o sa cititi astazi.

De la inceput trebuie spus ca impreuna cu amici virtuali am luat toate masurile pentru a elimina umbra bias-ului in cometariile noastre: nu ne-am uitat la pozele cantaciosilor, fiecare are ceva de facut cu viata lui asa ca nu semnam fisele de fani oficiali ai nici unui compositor, post tv sau cantaret, nu vrem sa producem, prezentam sau achizitionam acreditari la evenimentele legate de Eurovision. Nu avem studii de compozitie sau muzicologie, dar am vazut suficient Eurovision ca sa ne stea bine in calitatea de ascultatori/telespectatori. Noua doar ne place – in limite decente – fenomenul, ascultam si comentam.

Un amanunt important: Paul Jordan – Dr Eurovision pentru cunoscatori- spunea intr-un interviu recent ca in acutualul context al competitiei muzicale atunci cand decizi cine te reprezinta la Eurovision trebuie sa vezi si ce au ales altii, ce s-a cantat anul trecut, cu cine te bati in semifinale. Sunt trenduri si previziuni pe care cel care a construit masinaria Eurovision Romania – Dan Manoliu – incepuse sa le ia in calcul de ceva timp. Dar i-au luat jucaria si povestea asta cu previziunile si trendurile a fost uitata intorcandu-ne la amatorismul etern practicat in gradina din Dorbantilor 191.

Dar sa lasam macaielile de culise si sa trecem la melodiile finaliste.

  1. A million stars – Luminiţa Anghel

Muzică: Andrei Tudor/ Text: Cristian Faur

http://eurovision.tvr.ro/albums/a-million-stars/

Evident ca ne place: este o melodie construita inspirat, care creste, care te tine langa difuzor si care iti creaza sentimental ala de Eurovision, de eveniment, de ceva mare. Daca mai adaugi si vocea exceptionala a Luminitei si experienta ei de scena chiar cred ca melodia poate sa faca o figura buna la Viena. Mi-e teama insa ca la votul de la Craiova Luminita va pierde; e multa invidie, este idea “las-o ca a mai fost o data”. Si e pacat pentru ca “A million stars” poate aduce Romania in primele 5 la Viena. Asta daca nu exageram din nou cu coregrafia, costumele si ideea scenica atat de complicate si moderne incat nimeni nu le intelege – nici macar creatorii ei (aduceti-va aminte de Elena Gheorghe sau Cezar Oatu) Luminita va castiga la juriu dar am senzatia ca va pierde la televoting. Si ar fi pacat pentru ca melodia bate si “Let my try” si “Playing with fire” si “Tornero” – cele mai bune performante ale noastre la Eurovision.

  1. Chica latina – Aurelian Temişan feat. Alexa

Muzică: Mihai Alexandru, Alexa Niculae / Text: Mihai Alexandru, Alexa Niculae

http://eurovision.tvr.ro/albums/chica-latina/

E ca un sprit de vara. Catchy-cum ar spune anglo-fonii, manelizanta- cum ar spune fitosii de pe la noi. O melodie pe care s-ar putea dansa toata vara in cluburi si pe plaje. Din pacate singurele plaje din Viena Shafbergbad si Strandbad Gansehaufel sunt inchise la ora de desfasurare a concursului. Ceea ce nu inteleg este de ce sa cantam in span-english ? Dupa esecul Moldovei din 2006 si experimental nefericit Mandinga nu cred ca Romania ar mai avea nevoie de o alta … aventura cu iz latino. Spania nu mai voteaza cu noi de catva ani buni; cei care mai plateau tariful televotingului s-au intors acasa, asa ca spaniola de turist gen “una cerveza por favour !” nu cred ca isi mai are rostul. Temisan puncteaza bine, rolul de macho il prinde ca tonalitate, cat despre juna din portative….da bine pe scena si in play-back. Melodia parca te-ar face sa dansezi dar te razgandesti pentru ca nu te duce nicaieri, are ceva neterminat. Cum spunea cineva este singura melodie latino care te face sa casti. E clar ca s-a pierdut undeva programarea la transfuzia de “sangre caliente”

 

  1. De la capăt – Voltaj

Muzică: Constantin Gabriel , Goia Călin Gavril, Cristescu Adrian, Alstani Victor – Răzvan, Păduraru Silviu – Marian / Text:  Constantin Gabriel , Goia Călin Gavril, Cristescu Adrian, Alstani Victor – Răzvan, Păduraru Silviu – Marian

http://eurovision.tvr.ro/albums/de-la-capat/

Asta da piesa ! Si nu e nici o surpriza pentru ca este semnata Voltaj. Un concurent serios pentru “A million stars”. Sper ca baietii sa nu adauge vreun vers in engleza si sa o lasa asa, ca suna foarte bine. E clar ca va fi preferinta televotingului si juriul ii va plasa undeva pe pozitia 2 sau 3.Deci batalia e deschisa oricum. Melodia este frumos construita, o poti vedea pe scena de la Wiener Stadthalle, este puternica, dar… dupa Conchita Wurst anul asta este o invazie de balade si voci mari la Viena deci concurenta este mare la capitolul melodii lente. Baietii de la Voltaj au o enorma experienta de scena si stiu sa prinda publicul asa ca aici nu va fi nici o problema. Pentru un grup de factura rock sa prinda un loc pe podium la Eurovision contrazice statistica…excptie facand Lordi desigur. Dar Voltajul are sanse se treaca de finala si sa fie destul de sus in finala. Ramane sa vedem cat de mult conteaza amprenta TVR-ista in finala de la Craiova.

 

  1. Dragoste în lanţuri – Băieţii

Muzică: Mihai Postolache, Ştefan Adrian Marin, Liviu Vârciu, Marian Stavar / Text: Mihai Postolache, Ştefan Adrian Marin, Liviu Vârciu, Marian Stavar

http://eurovision.tvr.ro/albums/dragoste-in-

Cred ca melodia a ajuns in selectia finala pentru ca onor juriul s-a gandit ca trebuie sa se bata cineva si pentru ultimul loc. Cantecelul se vrea de club … genul ala de club in care in cacofonia generala chiar nu conteaza cine si ce se canta. Nu prea am inteles mare lucru din cantarea Baietilor….poate o fi “in trend” dar oricum nu in ce se cauta pentru Eurovision.  Vocile sunt tipate in inregistrare deci cred ca live pe scena va fi o provocare. Daca am fi direct in finala am putea risca sa trimitem niste flacai smecheri, in haine de firma care sa danseze prin gradina vieneza….dar avem de infruntat semifinala si e riscant. “Dragostea in lanturi” nu ne-a legat mai de loc, ba chiar a fost melodia la care m-am dus sa mai imi iau o bere din frigider in timp ce fredonam THE WAY YOU ARE (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA-A_uvE1ss) melodia aleasa de danezi.

 

  1. Love won’t run away – Blue Noise

Muzică: Diana Moraru, Elena Moroşanu, Ana Cristina Leonte, Mihail Grigore, Bogdan Tudor, Denis Bolborea  / Text: Diana Moraru, Elena Moroşanu

http://eurovision.tvr.ro/albums/love-wont-run-away/

Ascultand melodia a trebuie sa le explic amicilor virtuali de pe Skype cum sunt/nu sunt autostrazile din Romania. Si asta pentru ca melodia seamana cu autostrada Bucuresti-Brasov: bine pe hartie, incepe interesant dar nu duce nicaieri si mai dai si in gropi cu regularitate. O fi sunand contemporant si unic dar cate ceva din beatbox este absolut inutil si chiar enervant pe alocuri. Au nimerit-o bine cu jumatate din titulatura grupului, si nu ma refer la “blue”. Sunt curios cu suna piesa live ca inregistrarea nu a reusit sa convinga. O vad pe undeva in jumatatea de jos a clasamentului. Oricum despupra baietilor in lanturi.

 

  1. My light – Rodica Aculova

Muzică: Ivan Aculov / Text: Lidia Scarlat

http://eurovision.tvr.ro/albums/my-light/

Interesanta melodie, puternica care lasa in urma o impresie…cu conditia sa fie si o voce in ecuatie. Aduceti-va aminte de malteza Chiara si o sa intelegeti de ce frumoasa moldoveanca nu m-a convins. Si melodia dar mai ales interpretarea pica testul “primului minute de ascultare” al specialistilor in Eurovision. In plus sa nu uitam ca Rodicuta a dat-o in bara la selectia nationala din Moldova dupa ce a cantat live. Asa ca mai avem o melodie pe care se pot juca excelentii specialist in lumini din TVR. Nimic mai mult.

 

  1. Nowhere – Cristina Vasiu

Muzică: Cristina Vasiu, Daniel Costache, Dan Andrei Deaconu /Text: Cristina Vasiu, Daniel Costache, Dan Andrei Deaconu

Am verificat de vreo 3 ori durata melodiei sa vad cat tine si m-am convins: nu e durata, este ce se canta sau cum se canta. E asa ceva ca-n Dallas sau Tanar si nelinistit: lung, monoton, fara sa faca valuri desi se vrea din noul val. Si refrenul si carligul piesie sunt annihilate fara remuscari de monotonia generala si tipata pe alocuri. Desi nu 100% de accord trebuie sa mentionez opinia unui amic virtual proaspat intors din Thailanda: e ca un masaj thailandez fara happy ending.

http://eurovision.tvr.ro/albums/nowhere/

  1. Save us – Tudor Turcu

Muzică: Gabriel Huiban / Text: Gabriel Huiban

http://eurovision.tvr.ro/albums/save-us/

Daca nu citesti cine canta ai impresia ca e un feature-ing inedit Bon Jovi cu fetele de la Tatoo. Si Tudor joaca bine toate cele trei roluri. Stiu ca voi fi pus la zid de comunitatea gay si de comunitatea fetelor cu tricouri ude chiar si cand nu ploua dar …. Pe scena la Eurovision nu se mai proiecteaza vocea in microfon de mult. Nici Loreen si nici Conchita nu au tipat ci au lasat microfonul sa capteze vocea. Iar Tudor putea din 2013 sa uite ca in competitia europeana nu trebuie sa acoperi cu vocea nici prezentatorii si nici membrii juriului ca nu suntem la XFactor.Nu stiu de ce melodia lui Huiban imi aminteste de obsedanta intrare a ungurilor din 2013: ByeAlex cu Kedvesem (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcPQGO6WZe4). Si inca ceva: cativa carcotasi ascultatori se plangeau de cat de mult intelegi din engleza cantata de Tudor. Eu nu comentez nimic ca nu ma cheama Shakespeare. Inca o melodie care va umple zona de mijloc a clasamentului selectie nationale Eurovision. Si chiar nu o poate salva nimeni !

 

  1. Secret place – Super Trooper

Muzică: Daniel Alexandrescu, Radu Fornea, Pavel Petricenco / Text: Daniel Alexandrescu, Tudor Man, Pavel Petricenco

http://eurovision.tvr.ro/albums/secret-place/

O sa radeti dar chiar ne-a placut ! Chiar daca nu stiam ca Bee Gees s-au reincarnate cu pasapoarte romanesti. Si chiar daca unii spun ca stilul disco a murit…din fericire !  Imi place si melodia si idea si joca pe portativ. Explicatia este poate legata de faptul ca mi-a placut si intrarea belgienilor din 2007 KMG’s ‘Love Power’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjs_bCKFRsg)  .Un fel de ‘80s disco revival care e vesel si diferit. Nu cred ca are mari sanse si e pacat. Si inca o data, daca nu am fi avut hopul cu semifinala as fi mers pe mana lor.  Desi daca ascultati Maroon 5 – Makes Me Wonder (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAebYQgy4n4) s-ar putea sa ridicati o spranceana, sau pe amandoua. Singurele semen de intrebare sunt legate de  ce ar putea face pe scena si cum ar suna vocile live. In rest parca ii vad in primii 5, asa daca nu isi baga Liana Sandulescu coada (cine e Liana….? …sunt doua si vorbim despre ele mai tarziu)

 

  1. Still alive – Ovidiu Anton

Muzică: Linda Persson,  Ylva Persson, Peter Hageras/Text: Linda Persson,  Ylva Persson, Peter Hageras

http://eurovision.tvr.ro/albums/still-alive/

O melodie cuminte si frumusica. Merge pentru o selectie nationala. Ma duce cu gandul mai mult la Armaghedon si asteroid dect la Viena si Eurovision dar merge…asta pentru o pozitie 5-6 in selectia nationala. Suna ca si celalalte 1001 balade cu iz rock si echipa de compoztori ar fi trebuit sa invete lectia dupa a ce au picat anul asta pe pozitia 12 in selectia nationala din Belarus. Daca proiectam melodia in viitorul apropiat imaginati-va  “Stil alive” cantata dupa melodia italienilor de anul acesta. E clar ca cineva va avea nevoie de resuscitare sa ramana in viata. E de ascultat in acelasi catalog de preferinte alegerea cipriotilor: GIANNIS KARAGIANNIS “ONE THING I SHOULD HAVE DONE” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W39Qrusgp5E)

 

  1. Superman – Lara Lee

Muzică: Robin Lynch, Niklas Olovson /Text: Milica Fajgelj, Tami Rodriguez, Nicole Rodriguez

http://eurovision.tvr.ro/albums/superman/

Daca discutam Eurovision Jr. as fi zis fara rezerve ca asta e melodia care poate.  E foarte mult Rhianna, e radio-friendly si mai are si cam mult Georgia’s Warrior (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jo83OjRw-w)  dar nu e rea. Ma gandesc cine a compus refrenul si cine strofa ca nu prea au ajuns la o intelegere si cam suna din doua filme diferite.  Sunt curios sa aud variant live si sa vedem cum reuseste Lara  sa scape de cosmarul soundului excelent de pe refren  in care vocea ei suna ca un backing timid.

 

  1. We were in love – CEJ

Muzică: Victor Thell, Aleena Gibson, Maria Smith /Text: Victor Thell, Aleena Gibson, Maria Smith

http://eurovision.tvr.ro/albums/we-were-i

Fara sa stii cine sunt autorii iti dai seama de la primele masuri ca vine de altundeva. Si suna diferit. OK mai simti gustul de Rednex dar melodia nu e rea de loc. Nu ar avea sanse la Viena si nu cred ca va trece im prima jumatate nici la Craiova. Dar este un strop de calitate inedita  in mediocritatea selectie nationale din acest an. Poate intre repetitii le dau ceva lectii si baietilor cu lanturi.

 

Asa ca vom avea o selectie nationala cu Luminita si Voltaj batandu-se pentru primul loc, cu baietii de la XFactor si Superman venind pe valul doi, o Chica pseudo-latina si blonda de la Chisinau nu foarte jos dar nici suficient de sus sa fie bagate in seama si restul….iar pe ultimul loc plasam lanturile ca tot a fost la moda “50 shades of Grey”

Cum nu mai am nici o legatura cu sforariile nationale tv am intrebat si eu ca fraierul “ De ce Craiova ?” Si mi s-a raspuns cu un singur nume “Tanti Olguta”. Asa ca am inceput sa fac sapaturi online.

Si  nu am gasit nimic cum ca Tanti Olguta face si drege in Banie si ca si-a gasit receptorul perfect in Dorobantilor 191 care incearca din rasputeri sa nu mai atraga atentia pe axa Constanta-Bucuresti mutandu-se acum pe Craiova-Bucuresti.

Nimic pe internet nu vorbeste de cum un partid prin mana tremuranda de emotii bahice si juridice ale unui producator general al televiziunii public ar forta-o pe vechea…FOARTE VECHEA profesionista tv Liana Sandulescu (cea care si-a capatat laurii cu productii extraordinare la “Ba Nu Ba Da” si Corbeanca si asta ca nu amintim numai de productiile de dupa 1989) sa devina pe langa consilier al PDG-ului din TVR si producator al Eurovisionului anul acesta.

Nu este mentionat nicaieri ca dupa evidentul success al promovarii  la Eurovision 2014 al Primului Ministru al Romaniei si din cand in cand al duetului Paula&Ovi, anul acesta sefa delegatiei Eurovision Romania – Liana Stanciu ( da, despre ea este vorba, cea de la defunctul Radio Contact al carui timbru vocal este comparabil doar cu propriile glezne) va promova cu success imaginea femeii puternice din PSD. Ce-I drept o retrogradare de PR (de la Prim Ministru la Secretar de Partid, nu ?) dar fiecare joaca cu ce are, sau macar cu ce i-a mai ramas.

Nimeni nu vorbeste online de faptul ca desi TVR-ul se vaita de lipsa banilor iar angajatii (cei ramasi sau intorsi) au inceput sa tremure din nou pe la lifturi sau la cozile deja formate la diverse clante de birouri pentru o noua restructurare, insititutia in cauza va cheltui destul pentru trecerea Oltului  si cu catel si cu purcel.Evident ca vor fi kilograme de sponsorizari pe modelul “Daca-i ordin, cu placere !” Iar orice asemanare, chiar si in perspectiva cu  out-come-ul “Zilei Internationale a Tineretului” este pur si simplu rea vointa !

Nu am dezgropat nicaieri stirea ca dupa atatia ani in care Dan Manoliu a construit cu greu si uneori cu success alaturi de o echipa excelenta o formula a selectie nationale Eurovision anul acesta laurii vor cadea cu eleganta pe fruntea inteligenta si corespunzator pregatita (Botox sau Dysport ce mai conteaza cand rezultatul…se vede) al indragitei crainice tv Iuliana Marciuc.

Toate astea sunt doar carcoteli. Studioul TVR de la Craiova este unul foarte bun si puternic cu audiente care il recomanda, notabilitatile Baniei merita si altceva decat un festival de rang doi, iar oamenii de afaceri locali sunt gata sa sprijine cultura de partid chiar daca nu mai este si de stat. Formula de prezentare sparge tiparul classic al duduilor cu pile la centru, iar interventiile din camera verde vor fi cel putin de aceeasi valoare ca si show-urile pre-selectie transmise de la Bucuresti.

Mai lipseste din ecuatie Maria Almasan ca sa fie formula completa si de succes pentru inca o selectie nationala Eurovision care sa alimenteze sperantele noastre pentru finala de la  Viena. Sau mi-a scapat mie ceva ?

The show must go on !

Si bafta ca o sa aveti nevoie !

 

 
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