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Friday, January 23, 2015

Canadians dance their way to glory on Holland America's Dancing with the Stars: At Sea finals

   Out to Sea column for Jan. 17/15

   (c) By Jim and Barb Fox

   Canadians dominated as the hit TV show Dancing with the Stars took to the seas for the Champions Cruise in the Caribbean.
   Brenton Mitchell of Halifax danced his way to victory, capturing the coveted Mirrorball Trophy during a week of intense competitions on Holland America Line’s ms Westerdam.
Finalists taking part in the Dancing with the Stars: At Sea Champions Cruise on the Westerdam. (Jim Fox photo)
   Ian Alldritt of Ottawa (Nepean) ended up in second place while Caroline Chan from Vancouver was the third Canadian among 15 finalists.
   Dancing with the Stars: At Sea is one of several innovations Holland America has added to its entertainment lineup for cruisers.
   Along with the B.B. King Blues Club, the ships have greatly enhanced their stage shows with professional singers and dancers in the showrooms at sea that have LED rear projection walls and state-of-the-art digital and laser technology and sound systems.
   Back on the dance floor, the competitions were intense in the Vista Lounge with standing room only while a second showroom was opened for the overflow to watch the finals on video screens.
   For the competitors – selected from cruise guests over the past year on the cruise line’s 15 ships – the Champions Cruise was no waltz in the park.
   They endured a hectic dance-and-practise schedule during the one-week cruise, with three elimination rounds leading to three dancers advancing to the finals.
   The judging panel included Dancing with the Stars professional dancers Kym Johnson, Artem Chigvintsev and Sharna Burgess, as well as actress Sabrina Bryan.
Brenton Mitchell of Halifax with his partner Whitney Szabo.  (Barbara Fox photo)
   Mitchell, an occupational therapist at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, said he took up ballroom dancing as a hobby.
   He was selected after competing on the ms Neiuw Amsterdam and in the finals dazzled the judges by perfectly executing a waltz and tango with shipboard partner Whitney Szabo.
   Mitchell faced tough competition from Alldritt, a systems and software engineer, representing ms Zuiderdam.
   Both Canadians were clearly the crowd favourites as the competitions progressed to the finals, held on the last night of the cruise as the ship was at sea returning to Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) Fla.
Ian Alldritt of Ottawa and his dancing partner Melissa Tyler. (Barbara Fox photo)
   Matthew McGloin of New York City, representing ms Eurodam, was the third finalist.
   The Dec. 6 Champions Cruise visited the eastern Caribbean on the 1,916-passenger Westerdam.
   It sailed roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale with calls at Half Moon Cay, the line’s private island in the Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos.

   Feel like dancing?
   Due to its overwhelming popularity, Holland America Line’s partnership with the ABC show to present the onboard dancing events is continuing throughout this year on each sailing, said Erik Elvejord, public relations director.
   The shipboard program culminates with the Champions Cruise guest dance-off competition on the Jan. 10, 2016 western Caribbean sailing of ms Nieuw Amsterdam.
Brenton Mitchell of Halifax with his partner Whitney Szabo with the Mirrorball Trophy. (Jim Fox photo)
    Winners from cruises throughout this year have a chance to be chosen to receive a free cruise to represent their ship at the finals.
   There are also several special Dancing with the Stars theme cruises featuring the show’s professional dancers and celebrities.
   Those cruises feature performances from the professional dancers and celebrities who wow the audience with routines from the TV show and choreographed dances.
The Westerdam cruise ship at Grand Turk in the Caribbean. (Jim Fox photo)
   There are dance lessons with the ship’s professional dancers, a fashion show featuring glamorous costumes and meeting with the pros and celebrities to ask questions and pose for photos.
   Upcoming theme cruises are:
   - June 6: Seven-day Bermuda cruise aboard ms Veendam sailing roundtrip from Boston.
   - June 13: Seven-day Canada/New England cruise on the Veendam sailing from Boston to Montreal.
   - Jan. 3, 2016: Seven-day eastern Caribbean cruise aboard ms Nieuw Amsterdam that sails roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale.
   Previous theme cruises have featured professional dancers Tristan MacManus, Kym Johnson, Sharna Burgess, Emma Slater, Lacey Schwimmer, Chelsie Hightower, Mark Ballas and Derek Hough.
   Also taking part were television personality Carson Kressley; singer Joey Fatone,; actress Sabrina Bryan; and Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson.

   Need to know
   For more information about Dancing with the Stars: At Sea cruises: www.hollandamerica.com or call 1-877-SAIL-HAL (1-877-724-5425).


Jim and Barb Fox can be reached at outtosea50@hotmail.com
For more Out to Sea trip tips: http://outtoseatravel.blogspot.ca

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