Back to the 80’s Cruise Highlights | Navigator of the Seas, RCI

As a huge 80’s music AND cruising fan you can imagine my delight when invited to review a Back to the 80’s cruise onboard Navigator of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean International ship.

Back to the 80s cruise review

Over the last few months, whilst counting down the days until the ship sailed, 80’s hits have blasted out of my speakers and my postman has been busy delivering 80’s fancy dress costume accessories to my door. (I **may have got a little carried away shopping online!). 

Last week it was finally time to head to Southampton to join the ship along with my huge bulging suit cases, my very excited youngest son, Claire from Tin Box Traveller and her two daughters.Back to the 80s cruise review

So how do I even begin to review the largest retro festival ever to take place at sea?  With 35 80’s music acts onboard and over 100 hours of performances I can’t share everything with you but I can share the highlights of our memorable week afloat reliving the 80’s.

Back to the 80’s Cruise Highlights

The onboard atmosphere – I spent three years working at sea and hand on heart I’ve never experienced a cruise quite like this one. All passengers onboard had one thing in common – a love of 80’s music. Even when talking to strangers whilst sharing a lift or ordering a drink at a bar the conversation flowed easily.  Everyone loved chatting about their favourite acts, the costumes they wore and the songs they performed.

There was a buzz around the ship from our arrival in Southampton until a week later when we returned.  The first passengers we spotted as we embarked the ship were dressed as characters from Hi-de-Hi in yellow blazers and white shorts.  During our first lunch we found it very amusing that YMCA village people were wandering around the buffet table.  Whilst some passengers arrived in fancy dress, others wore it just for the themed evenings and a few seemed to wear neon all week.  There was no set rule, just a fun and relaxed atmosphere onboard.

Back to the 80s cruise review

The 80’s acts – The line up was awesome! No expense was spared in ensuring that all genres of the 80’s were covered.  Many of the acts had been flown in from Australia to join the ship and most were onboard for the entire week.  The headlining acts – Tony Hadley, Belinda Carlisle, Kim Wilde,  Martin Fry from ABC, Sara Cox, Go West and Mike Read – performed/spoke throughout the cruise at least twice to ensure all passengers had the chance to experience their performances.

Back to the 80's cruise review

I thoroughly enjoyed singing along to Belinda and Kim’s sets who both covered their most popular songs and some newer ones too. It took me days to get Belinda’s ‘Heaven is Place on Earth’ out of my head and I’ll never forget the face of the guy sat next to me as I attempted to sing along with Kim to ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On!’

I’m embarrassed to admit that I contemplated staying in the hot tub around the pool deck rather than attend the audience with Mike Read. (Sorry Mike!). Thank goodness I changed my mind as he was truly fascinating to listen to.  During an entertaining hour he described his career as a broadcaster, best-selling author of 36 books and songwriter.  He compared his role as a song writer to that of the essential role an engine room plays on a cruise ship.

It was interesting to hear about his experience writing songs for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Cliff Richard and hilarious to hear him describe the disappointed faces searching for Prince Charles when he attends Princes Trust events in his honour, through his role of charity patron.  Mike was very happy to answer questions from the crowd and even shared secrets of his time in the jungle from I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here.  The session ended with a huge round of applause,  after a woman stood up in the audience and thanked him for using his radio show to raise the spirits of the soldiers on foreign soil during the war.  What a guy!

The Can’t Get Enough 80’s Rivers of Neon Party hosted by DJ Sara Cox was brilliant fun.  It took place on the Royal Promenade in the middle of the ship to huge crowds, (wearing neon if you hadn’t guessed!).  Sara was hosting from on a bridge above so everyone had a great view, even when the crowds started bouncing up and down to Madness, Prince and Whitney.

Back to the 80s cruise review


My favourite act was Tony Hadley… what a legend!  His performance was incredible.  He literally did not stop dancing, joking, smiling…  He clearly enjoyed every minute of his first ever performance at sea.

He joked about the captain being drunk as the ship was rolling around so much and chatted in between every song.  He had a brilliant rapport on the stage with his musicians/backing singers and wished his fans happiness whilst swigging on a JD and coke brought to him by his number one fan onboard, George who came to the front of the stage to hand Tony his well deserved drink.

There was a sea of light in the audience as everyone attempted to record his performance using their mobile phones.  The funniest moment was a duo with the female drummer to the song Barricades.  It was amusing to watch as they had to hang onto each other as the ship rolled… of course being pros they didn’t miss a beat!  He then treated us to a performance of his new song – Tonight Belongs To Us, an old favourite – Dakota, and of course his finale – True Gold which truly was gold.

The headlining acts were supported by smaller acts and some tribute acts too.  My favourite tribute act was Rebecca O’Connor, from the Tina Turner Show.  Rebecca was the only act we went to watch twice, I could have watched her every night.  Her show was energetic, upbeat and featured realistic Tina Turner outfits from tight leather skirts to gold glitzy dresses.  Rebecca had incredible stage presence, she was a delight to watch and dance along to.  We had the honour of meeting her and her band and I couldn’t resist asking how she managed to do all of her costume changes.  Her band were quick to point out that there was no time for modesty back stage!

Fancy dress themed evenings – Of course it wasn’t all about the 80’s acts. Passengers had the chance to relive the 80’s by dressing up too.  Our first fancy dress evening was on the third night, we were invited via the ships newspapers to dress up in neon in preparation for the party hosted by DJ Sara Cox. The atmosphere on deck was utterly brilliant.  Everyone onboard had made a huge effort. There were some incredible wigs and the most outrageous outfits.  These two Scousers wearing shells suits were my favourites…

Back to the 80s cruise review

On the 5th night we were invited to dress up as a 80’s icon.  Can you guess wh0 Claire and I were supposed to be?

Back to the 80s cruise highlights

If you’ve guessed Madonna (with a rather dodgy hair do) and Cheetara from the ThunderCats you can help yourself to a virtual gold star!

It was fun walking around the ship and seeing other passengers dressed up.  There was a Wally & Wendy from Where’s Wally,  a few Tina Turners, a Freddie Mercury and of course some Baywatch Babes.

Chance to meet the stars – One of the most exciting features of the cruise was the chance to meet with the stars during an autograph signing session on the second to last day.

It was a popular event which attracted a huge line buzzing with excitement outside the theatre doors.  Souvenir autograph books were on sale for a rather reasonable $24. (I overheard a few passengers comment that they hoped to sell the souvenir books and make money from them!)

Back to the 80's cruise autographs<

Most of the 80’s acts were onboard all week and if you kept your eyes peeled you would see them around the ship. We spotted Mike Read having lunch and Sara Cox grinned at Claire and I as we sat sipping wine in the hot tub. (I’m sure she approved of our style!).

Everyone had tales of Tony Hadley spontaneously bursting into song in the piano bar and enjoying a drink with passengers.   As you would expect some stars were happier than others to mix with passengers.  Tony Hadley was undoubtedly the hero of the cruise.  I won’t mention names of the stars who kept themselves hidden away in their cabins… (although Belinda Carlisle and Kim Wilde were the only ones not to attend the autograph signing session so you can reach your own conclusion!)

Final thoughts, Back to the 80’s Cruise Review

It was clear that much thought had gone into organising the entertainment schedule so that all passengers onboard had an equal chance of seeing the acts and getting good seats.  All of the acts performed at least twice and all of the headlining acts were colour coded so you were allocated a slot to watch their performance.  Showing your matching coloured card gave you priority to enter the theatre first, after which passengers who wished to watch a repeat performance were permitted to take a seat.  It was an excellent policy which meant we never had to queue to watch an act, or fight to get a good seat!

So would I recommend a themed music cruise with Cruiseco?

100% I thoroughly enjoyed it and wouldn’t think twice about going on one again.  We honestly had a blast and loved watching all the acts.  There was a real camaraderie onboard from wearing fancy dress.  The cruise attracted a different clientele to whom I imagine would normally cruise with Royal Caribbean.  This was my first RCI cruise so I am speculating however, I spoke to a lot of first time cruisers during the week who had been persuaded by the heavily discounted prices and 80’s cruise acts.  It was a week of partying and socialising whereas I would imagine regular RCI cruises are more about the sightseeing and dining experiences.

For me, the only downside of cruising during a themed music cruise was that it replaced the regular onboard entertainment.  We didn’t get to experience any of the Royal Caribbean West End style musicals, ice skating shows etc as all the venues were taken by the 80’s cruise acts.  This of course means that I’m now pestering my husband to let me book a cruise for us all!

Would you be tempted to book on a themed music cruise?  What theme would you most likely enjoy?

Whilst Claire and I were onboard the Back to the 80’s cruise we published daily postcards on Cruising with Kids.  You can check them out here…
Day 1: Embarkation Day & Kim Wilde,
Day 2:– Sea Day & Mike Read
Day 3:  Bilbao & 80’s fancy dress for DJ Sara Cox neon party
Day 4: Vigo & the Mockingbirds
Day 5: Lisbon & Belinda Carlisle
Day 6: Meeting & watching Tony Hadley perform
Days 7&8: Sea Day, Bee Gees Show & Saying Farewell!

You can read my full review of the Navigator of the Seas here – Navigator of the Seas with kids: Everything you need to know

Disclosure – We were invited as guests to join the Back To The 80’s Cruise in return for this honest review.  Cruiseco have no plans at this time to repeat the Back to the 80’s cruise departing from the UK however other music themed cruises by Cruiseco, which depart from Australia, can be found here –

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Back to the 80's cruise review with Cruiseco onboard Navigator of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International. A one week cruise from Southampton to Vigo, Bilbao and Lisbon. The largest retro music festival at sea with 35 80's acts and 100 performances!


  1. 31st May 2018 / 7:03 pm

    Ah Lisa it looks like it was the best cruise, I really think its a shame they are not doing more out of the UK as its a fabulous idea x

  2. 25th May 2018 / 5:51 pm

    Looks SO fun for adults and kids, too! I love all the colorful clothes everyone’s wearing. All that music would be such a treat. Glad you enjoyed the cruise!

  3. 23rd May 2018 / 8:22 pm

    This looks the most amazing fun! What fantastic outfits! Ithink 80s is a great theme for a cruise #MondayEscapes

  4. 23rd May 2018 / 10:50 am

    What a fun cruise! This ’80s theme is hilarious!

  5. 23rd May 2018 / 7:56 am

    I love any cruise but an 80s themed one sounds perfect. I like that the itinerary wasn’t compromised just because it was a theme cruise

  6. 23rd May 2018 / 3:30 am

    OMG your outfits are awesome! What a fun cruise to do and a great way to introduce the kids to all things 80s. #MondayEscapes

    • Lisa
      7th June 2018 / 9:58 am

      Ha ha! It was a blast Dawn. Really pleased we got stuck in and fully involved with the dressing up. It made it even more memorable!

  7. 22nd May 2018 / 7:09 pm

    It was such a fun week Lisa thanks for sharing it with me and the girls. I don’t think I’ve been so close to so many stars in such a small space. Tony Hadley was definitely my favourite too. Love his new single too!

    • Lisa
      7th June 2018 / 9:58 am

      He definitely has a few new fans;) I want to go back onboard!! Such a fun week xx

  8. 22nd May 2018 / 2:53 pm

    Oh, Lord! Don’t know if I could have survived a whole cruise, but I didn’t live it for 10 years :D Love your outfits :D

  9. 22nd May 2018 / 8:52 am

    Ha – this looks and sounds like you had so much fun!!!

  10. 22nd May 2018 / 7:55 am

    This looks so amazing! I’ve never been on a cruise but it’s definitely on my list. Not just any cruise – the 80’s cruise.

  11. 22nd May 2018 / 7:15 am

    That looks amazing, especially the sea of neon dancing around to Sara Cox. What an amazing cruise. I’m also a massive fan of Tony Hadley and so glad he is such a great guy.

    • Lisa
      7th June 2018 / 9:59 am

      I love it when stars are as nice in reality as they come across on the tv!

  12. 21st May 2018 / 7:41 pm

    That sounds like a really hilarious experience! That sea of neon outfits is quite something! #Mondayescapes

  13. 21st May 2018 / 7:41 pm

    You look like you all had a great time on the cruise!

  14. 21st May 2018 / 7:08 pm

    You had me at Rivers of neon! But fancy dress, hot tubs and Tina Turner – I’m totally sold! Having never done a cruise, this is fascinating to read and make me think I’d definitely like to try with kids in the future.

    • Lisa
      7th June 2018 / 9:59 am

      Can 100% recommend. It was an amazing week;)

  15. 21st May 2018 / 5:29 pm

    I have never been on a cruise, but a musical themed dress up party for a week sounds like so much fun!! I have been to Comic Con in Australia a few times and so I know that people are extra friendly when you are all geeking out and dressing up together, there really is a fun camaraderie. The only thing that puts me off was the mentioning of the performers almost rolling around the stage! Did you ever get sea-sick? It sounds like it was a total blast, I have now added this fun idea to my future adventures bucket list!

    • Lisa
      7th June 2018 / 10:03 am

      Ha ha the night Tony Hadley was performing was the second to last night and we were in the Bay of Biscay I believe. The performance took place right at the front of the ship and so there was a some movement. I felt absolutely fine, although I have worked at sea for 3 years so I definitely have sea legs;) I didn’t speak to any other passengers who had been ill though. I think one of the biggest misconceptions of cruising is that you will feel sea sick to be honest. I’ve only very rarely felt a little queasy and some fresh air on deck (midships is best) and a ginger ale has always sorted me out;)

  16. 21st May 2018 / 4:44 pm

    This looks an insane amount of fun! What an awesome line-up and fabulous outfits! I do hope they do another one of these.

  17. 21st May 2018 / 1:26 pm

    What a bonkers experience! As a cruise virgin I still find it hard to fathom quite how that all took place on board a ship! I loved following your tweets during the week. Great outfits too – if you’re gonna go on an 80’s cruise, you gotta go all in!

  18. 21st May 2018 / 6:15 am

    The acts that didn’t do the signing sessions might have been sea sick! I wonder if any of the performers every get sick? Love that your little ones got into the spirit of it.

  19. 18th May 2018 / 5:23 am

    hahaha the Scouse outfits!! I LOVE them!! This looks like such an amazing time!! I almost want to be on that ship with you from just looking at the pics! I do not have sea farers legs at all. You look like you had a ball and the ship looks amazing!!!

  20. 17th May 2018 / 10:25 am

    Lisa your cruise looked amazing, I will be honest I didnt think an 80s cruise would be my cup of tea, even though I love the music ! However you have totally convinced me I would love it x

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