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Rising with the rides: RWS’s Ryan Stana on how the cruise and attractions industries are reimagining entertainment | Planet Attractions
     

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Rising with the rides: RWS’s Ryan Stana on how the cruise and attractions industries are reimagining entertainment

With the attractions and cruise industries seemingly closer than ever before, RWS CEO Ryan Stana speaks to Planet Attractions about what that means and the steps we can take to bring these two powerhouses under one metaphorical roof






If there was one thing that stood out at this year’s Seatrade Cruise Global event in Fort Lauderdale, it was the obvious influence that the attractions industry is having on the cruise sector.

As each year goes by, more and more, the cruise and attractions industries are aligning, with customers expecting much more than a bed at sea. Now, they demand an immersive experience with enhanced attractions, F&B and entertainment options, with these offerings needing to cater to each and every visitor demographic.

As each Seatrade event takes place, more and more, words like “immersive experience”, and “themed entertainment” have become more common vocabulary among attendees. And they’re not just referring to their time at sea. In addition to creating an adventure onboard, the immersive experience needs to translate to the destination, with ports of call needing to offer something beyond the average beach or resort.

Ryan Stana is not only CEO of RWS Entertainment Group but he also acts as entertainment ambassador for Seatrade Cruise Global. With RWS’s live entertainment portfolio spanning numerous platforms and sectors, Ryan, maybe more than anyone, can see the inherent synergies between the attractions and cruise sectors.

“My job at Seatrade is to make sure the cruise lines and the vendors here realise the importance of entertainment in the cruise industry,” explains Stana, who has won numerous IAAPA Awards and even an EMMY. “Cruise is very much part of the attractions industry now.”



Onboard entertainment now means more than just a stage show. It’s expected by visitors as part of the experience. Less a question of bridging the gap between attractions and cruise, Stana believes it’s something that needs to be enhanced even further than it already is.

“That gap is already bridged because cruise ships have become amusement parks at sea,” he says. “You have everything from waterslides to rollercoasters to shows, to games, to AR/VR - everything's coming to life on these cruise ships that is, essentially, an amusement park at sea.”

Beyond pure attractions, immersive entertainment and experiences are the key words when it comes to cruising trends.

“Guests and going onboard and expecting a journey and expecting a story,” explains Stana. “The way that you're able to do that journey and that story is by providing great design and great entertainment, which is all about creating that experience.”

As Seatrade continues to grow and evolve, so does the connection between cruise and immersive entertainment.

“To see the growth in the last ten years of what Seatrade has become has been unbelievable,” says Stana.

“When I first started coming here, it was your cruise ship build places, the F&B side of things, and a small part of it was attractions and entertainment. Now, attractions and entertainment has really taken over the show and people are realising how we have to cross utilise cross synergise against shows, rides, technology, AR, VR, food and beverage is also becoming entertainment. So entertainment has really risen to the top.”



Immersion doesn’t even stop at attractions, it’s a part of the entire experience, including dining. A new spectacle known as ‘F&B @ Sea’ made its debut at this year’s Seatrade Cruise Global, with the event offering an intersection of F&B, entertainment and sustainability.

“It's not just food and beverage, it's teaching food and beverage executives how to immerse F&B into your entertainment,” says Stana. “Entertainment is F&B as well.”

When it comes to attractions and the wider scope of immersive entertainment, it’s a very exciting time for the cruise industry as it continues to adapt and evolve.

“From a business perspective, cruise lines and operators are starting to realise we have to synergise between entertainment and F&B. Everything coming together is not just entertainment - it's creating an experience.

“From a consumer standpoint, it excites me because visitors are going onboard expecting that amusement park at sea, so we have to be able to deliver on that.”

Showcasing exactly what it means to produce an immersive entertainment experience, RWS and MSC Cruises have turned their eyes to fitness and wellbeing, with a new programme on MSC’s Euribia debuting in May and June for teens and kids.

“When you're doing a fitness activity, that's a show as well,” says Stana. “It has a beginning, a middle and an end, and our creative team works on the fitness product just the same as they would a show in a theatre.

“People are always saying, 'wow RWS does fitness now? That's not entertainment'. And I always say to them that they’re completely wrong. It’s 100% entertainment and just like you have to have a strong actor or a strong performer, you need to have a strong fitness instructor. It's the same as being an actor.

“So to me, it's the same thing and it excites me on how we put that together. That’s showing cruise lines and showing consumers that fitness and well-being is entertainment as well.”



RWS is also currently working on a number of developments in the cruise world. Among them are new shows and music experiences for Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, activities at sea for P&O Cruises and new shows for Marella Cruises. MSC launched two ships at the end of 2022 with RWS playing a hand, while work was also just completed with cruise line Azamara, which is opening new show packages across four ships.

“It's a really exciting time for us but it's not just show product we're doing,” says Stana. “We're doing a full experience product and that's what excites me.”

While taking huge steps in recent years, the similarities and potential synergies between the cruise and attractions industries are still largely untapped. Seatrade Cruise Global had one of its largest showcasing of attractions, from both a supplier and port destination standpoint, but there is still room for significant growth in both directions.

“Everyone out there needs to realise the attractions industry and the cruise industry needs to come together because that's the future,” says Stana.

“We all have to work together to do that. With new media coming and different vendors out there like MACK rides, which had representatives in attendance at this year’s show, these are great steps.

“If we all work together we can realise the synergies between both these industries.”


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Rising with the rides: RWS’s Ryan Stana on how the cruise and attractions industries are reimagining entertainment | Planet Attractions
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Rising with the rides: RWS’s Ryan Stana on how the cruise and attractions industries are reimagining entertainment

With the attractions and cruise industries seemingly closer than ever before, RWS CEO Ryan Stana speaks to Planet Attractions about what that means and the steps we can take to bring these two powerhouses under one metaphorical roof





If there was one thing that stood out at this year’s Seatrade Cruise Global event in Fort Lauderdale, it was the obvious influence that the attractions industry is having on the cruise sector.

As each year goes by, more and more, the cruise and attractions industries are aligning, with customers expecting much more than a bed at sea. Now, they demand an immersive experience with enhanced attractions, F&B and entertainment options, with these offerings needing to cater to each and every visitor demographic.

As each Seatrade event takes place, more and more, words like “immersive experience”, and “themed entertainment” have become more common vocabulary among attendees. And they’re not just referring to their time at sea. In addition to creating an adventure onboard, the immersive experience needs to translate to the destination, with ports of call needing to offer something beyond the average beach or resort.

Ryan Stana is not only CEO of RWS Entertainment Group but he also acts as entertainment ambassador for Seatrade Cruise Global. With RWS’s live entertainment portfolio spanning numerous platforms and sectors, Ryan, maybe more than anyone, can see the inherent synergies between the attractions and cruise sectors.

“My job at Seatrade is to make sure the cruise lines and the vendors here realise the importance of entertainment in the cruise industry,” explains Stana, who has won numerous IAAPA Awards and even an EMMY. “Cruise is very much part of the attractions industry now.”



Onboard entertainment now means more than just a stage show. It’s expected by visitors as part of the experience. Less a question of bridging the gap between attractions and cruise, Stana believes it’s something that needs to be enhanced even further than it already is.

“That gap is already bridged because cruise ships have become amusement parks at sea,” he says. “You have everything from waterslides to rollercoasters to shows, to games, to AR/VR - everything's coming to life on these cruise ships that is, essentially, an amusement park at sea.”

Beyond pure attractions, immersive entertainment and experiences are the key words when it comes to cruising trends.

“Guests and going onboard and expecting a journey and expecting a story,” explains Stana. “The way that you're able to do that journey and that story is by providing great design and great entertainment, which is all about creating that experience.”

As Seatrade continues to grow and evolve, so does the connection between cruise and immersive entertainment.

“To see the growth in the last ten years of what Seatrade has become has been unbelievable,” says Stana.

“When I first started coming here, it was your cruise ship build places, the F&B side of things, and a small part of it was attractions and entertainment. Now, attractions and entertainment has really taken over the show and people are realising how we have to cross utilise cross synergise against shows, rides, technology, AR, VR, food and beverage is also becoming entertainment. So entertainment has really risen to the top.”



Immersion doesn’t even stop at attractions, it’s a part of the entire experience, including dining. A new spectacle known as ‘F&B @ Sea’ made its debut at this year’s Seatrade Cruise Global, with the event offering an intersection of F&B, entertainment and sustainability.

“It's not just food and beverage, it's teaching food and beverage executives how to immerse F&B into your entertainment,” says Stana. “Entertainment is F&B as well.”

When it comes to attractions and the wider scope of immersive entertainment, it’s a very exciting time for the cruise industry as it continues to adapt and evolve.

“From a business perspective, cruise lines and operators are starting to realise we have to synergise between entertainment and F&B. Everything coming together is not just entertainment - it's creating an experience.

“From a consumer standpoint, it excites me because visitors are going onboard expecting that amusement park at sea, so we have to be able to deliver on that.”

Showcasing exactly what it means to produce an immersive entertainment experience, RWS and MSC Cruises have turned their eyes to fitness and wellbeing, with a new programme on MSC’s Euribia debuting in May and June for teens and kids.

“When you're doing a fitness activity, that's a show as well,” says Stana. “It has a beginning, a middle and an end, and our creative team works on the fitness product just the same as they would a show in a theatre.

“People are always saying, 'wow RWS does fitness now? That's not entertainment'. And I always say to them that they’re completely wrong. It’s 100% entertainment and just like you have to have a strong actor or a strong performer, you need to have a strong fitness instructor. It's the same as being an actor.

“So to me, it's the same thing and it excites me on how we put that together. That’s showing cruise lines and showing consumers that fitness and well-being is entertainment as well.”



RWS is also currently working on a number of developments in the cruise world. Among them are new shows and music experiences for Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, activities at sea for P&O Cruises and new shows for Marella Cruises. MSC launched two ships at the end of 2022 with RWS playing a hand, while work was also just completed with cruise line Azamara, which is opening new show packages across four ships.

“It's a really exciting time for us but it's not just show product we're doing,” says Stana. “We're doing a full experience product and that's what excites me.”

While taking huge steps in recent years, the similarities and potential synergies between the cruise and attractions industries are still largely untapped. Seatrade Cruise Global had one of its largest showcasing of attractions, from both a supplier and port destination standpoint, but there is still room for significant growth in both directions.

“Everyone out there needs to realise the attractions industry and the cruise industry needs to come together because that's the future,” says Stana.

“We all have to work together to do that. With new media coming and different vendors out there like MACK rides, which had representatives in attendance at this year’s show, these are great steps.

“If we all work together we can realise the synergies between both these industries.”


 



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