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Thursday, Sep 21, 2023

Game Show Ship

Princess Cruises brings ‘Deal or No Deal’ aboard with passengers as contestants and audience.

Get ready vacationers to play “Deal or No Deal.” 

Santa Clarita-based Princess Cruise Lines has brought the popular game show to its newest ship, the Discovery Princess.

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 on-shore 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, Ontario, Canada. 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.”


Television format

The game operates much as it did when airing four seasons on NBC, two seasons in syndication and one season on CNBC from 2005 to 2019. Actor and comedian Howie Mandel was the host for the show. 

In the televised version, the players choose a briefcase at the start of the game that carries a cash prize of between one cent and $1 million. 

Over the course of the game, the contestant eliminates cases from the game, periodically being presented with a “deal” from 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 have purchased a game card are also working towards achieving eight matches to win up to $1,000 or even a free cruise, according to a release from 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.

“We have the license for the cruise industry,” Silverberg said. “Once you have the license at that point we can sign up a lot of different lines. We are on four now.”

In addition to Carnival and Princess, the company makes its games available on ships operated by Royal Caribbean Group, in Miami, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holding Ltd., also in Miami. 

The cruise line provides the eight 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. 

The show is run off a tablet in the production booth and the person just presses a button connected to the lighting and its starts the game, Silverberg said. 

“Our system takes care of the audio and visual,” he added. “It is not too heavy on the operational side.” 

Aaron Saunders, news and features editor at CruiseCritic.com, a Ewing, New Jersey consumer website that follows the industry, said that the trend in the cruising now is to have different activities on board the ships. 

On the Discovery Princess and other Princess cruises ships there are movies shown in a pool-side amphitheater; original musical productions; entertainers, including magicians, singers and instrumentalists; and an art gallery and auction.

“Deal or No Deal” is a way for Princess to bring the game show concept to the high seas and is one more way for a cruise line to diversify its entertainment and ensure there is something for everybody, Saunders said. 

“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. 

New ship

The new Discovery Princess is based out of the Port of Los Angeles and can accommodate more than 3,600 passengers. She is the sixth and final of the Royal class of ship from the cruise line. 

Discovery Princess sailed on a series of Mexican Riviera and California Coast voyages from March 27 to April 24. 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. 

Saunders, of CruiseCritic.com, said there was nothing groundbreaking about Discovery Princess. Instead, it’s more of 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.”

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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