The new Discovery Princess ship, which began sailing out of the Port of Los Angeles in March, includes an amenity that’s a new trend for cruising: A game show designed to appeal to a broad swath of passengers.
The ship, which debuted with trips to the Mexican Riviera and California Coast, includes an on-board version of the show “Deal or No Deal,” with passengers as audience and participants in a nearly 1,000-seat auditorium.
Such TV-like game shows are becoming popular in the post-pandemic version of cruise ships. Game shows are familiar to passengers, and many are curious about what it would be like to be a contestant on such a show.
“It is about bringing something that people know and enjoy,” said a spokesperson for Princess Cruise Lines in Santa Clarita. “I would say that it is fun for everybody.”
Discovery Princess can accommodate more than 3,600 passengers. She is the sixth and final of the Royal class of ship from the cruise line. The ship has now headed up the Pacific Coast to begin a season of seven-day Alaska cruises from Seattle, making her the newest ship sailing in the Alaska region, according to a release from Princess.
Aaron Saunders, news and features editor at CruiseCritic.com, a Ewing, New Jersey consumer website that follows the industry, said the ship is an evolution in the cruise line’s design with some rearranged dining venues and an upgrade to the décor to make it more sophisticated, he added.
What one sees throughout Discovery Princess is a finetuning of the company’s product to have the bars, lounges, entertainment and dining options that passengers really want, he said.
“The ship does a great job of catering to that,” Saunders said. “It is a nice comfortable ship without being overly showy.”
The game show format represents the latest entertainment offering from Princess in the crowded cruise market. Earlier this year, the company announced its MedallionPay system of payment would extend to onshore attractions, and last year the company announced onboard gambling.
With “Deal or No Deal,” for a fee of $25 to $50, cruise passengers can play the game either as a chosen contestant or from the audience. The players have a chance to win up to $1,000 or even a free cruise.
“We know that game show formats traditionally are popular with our guests and we’re excited to bring this popular one onboard,” Denise Saviss, vice president of entertainment experience for Princess, said in an email.
Princess will produce the shows in conjunction with TimePlay Inc., a gaming technology company in Toronto. It also makes the game available on the Majestic Princess, Regal Princess and Sky Princess cruise ships.
Aaron Silverberg, senior vice president for TimePlay, said that Princess decided to get in on “Deal or No Deal” after seeing the success its parent company Carnival Corp. & plc had with the game on some of its other cruise lines, including Carnival Cruises.
“Then the pandemic hit and that put everything on a very long pause.” Silverberg said. “As we came out of the pause, that is when we started deploying on some of the Princess ships. They recently announced that they are happy with it and decided to roll it out fleet wide.”
The game operates much as it did when airing on different networks from 2005 to 2019.
In the televised version, a player chooses a briefcase at the start of the game that carries a cash prize of between one cent and $1 million. The player does not know what the cash prize is until the game concludes.
Over the course of the game, the contestant eliminates other cases from the game, periodically being presented with a “deal” from an unseen person called the banker to take a cash amount to quit the game.
Should the contestants refuse every deal, they open the case they selected at the outset and win the amount in the selected case.
The onboard version of the game allows a player to win up to $1,000. Guests in the audience who purchase a game card also work toward achieving eight matches to win up to $1,000 or a free cruise, according to Princess.
TimePlay licenses the game from Endemol Shine Group, the owner of the show, that is now known as Banijay, after being acquired by the Paris-based international content producer and distributor.
The cruise line provides the employees needed to run the game, Saviss said in her email.
“The cruise director and our lucky gaming host, Fortuna Luck, host the show and we have six teammates supporting the show behind the scenes,” she said.
The show runs in the 980-seat Princess Theater, with TimePlay providing the technology needed for the game, which lasts about 45 minutes.
Saunders at CruiseCritic.com, said that the trend in the cruising now is to have different activities on board the ships.
“This may not appeal to everyone but there are certainly enough people that are like, ‘I am curious; if I find myself without something to do at 2 in the afternoon, I’ll go check this out,’” Saunders added.