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Set sail with Strictly Come Dancing themed cruises


As this season’s series of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing grips the nation, we find out just how much fun you can have on a Strictly Come Dancing themed cruise with the stars of the hit series on board

Strictly Come Dancing stars Janette Manrara and Aljaž Škorjanec

Strictly Come Dancing stars Janette Manrara and Aljaž Škorjanec

Six good reasons to go on a Strictly Come Dancing themed cruise


  1. Meet the stars - The dance professionals enjoy exploring the ship and hanging out in the sunshine just as much as you do. ‘It’s wonderful the way in which the dancers mingle with everyone,’ says guest Charlotte Walker. ‘We bumped into Kevin and Karen Clifton and sat next to Camilla Dallerup and her sister on the sunloungers. They’re all so friendly and happy to stop and chat or let you take photos. It’s those little moments that make Strictly Come Dancing themed cruises so special.'

  3. Watch the professionals - The evening showdance performances featuring the Strictly Come Dancing professionals are packed out for good reason. ‘The Strictly Come Dancing Showcase staring Ian Waite and Camilla Dallerup was mesmerising,’ says guest Jane Morton. ‘Their hour-long show, complete with funny stories and personal insight into their work, includes magical performances of the American Smooth, Cha-cha-cha, Waltz, Samba, Paso doble and an exquisite Rumba finale. Their partnership was a thing of beauty. Once was not enough. I saw the show again the following evening.’

  5. Face the music and dance- Whether you’re an experienced dancer or a total novice, you can enjoy a wealth of classes and expert tuition on board. By day and night, you’ll find the opportunity to make new friends and try a few new moves. ‘I’d not danced before,’ says 26-year-old guest Emily Rose Wilkin. ‘But I decided to join in a dance class and give it a go. I got really in to it and went along to all the dance classes and even entered the dancing competition. I learned so much and met so many lovely people. It made the cruise for me, it really did. I’ve made so many friends who I think will stay with me for a long time.’

  7. Get inside Strictly - With an array of Q&A sessions and other hosted events with the dancing stars, you can find out everything you ever wanted to know about Strictly Come Dancing. Popular past contestant Russell Grant, who struck up a legendary partnership with Flavia Cacace, reflects on his time on board Britannia. At his A Day in the Life of Strictly event, he took guests through the typical daily training regime: ‘It was just so lovely,’ he says. ‘Guests want to know all the Strictly stories, about Flavia and me, about the costumes, the songs, our routines, the dancing… Everyone is so immersed and curious.’

  9. Score a perfect 10 - ‘We were quite nervous about dancing our jive in front of the judges,’ says 12-year-old Tilley Eve, who together with her sister Pollyanna won the Strictly Come Dancing competition for guests. ‘When we’d finished our routine, Arlene [Phillips] and Aljaž [Škorjanec] gave us perfect 10s!’ Arlene said that she was looking for technique and that we had pointed our fingers, put lots of bounce into the jive and really pushed off to achieve our jump. Aljaž was really impressed with our jump at the end. He liked it a lot and asked if he could use it in one of his routines.’

  11. Take home a sparkly dress - Susan McFarlane is now the proud owner of the little pink, red and black dress worn by Pixie Lott in the 2014 series of the show having secured the highest bid for it at the Macmillan Cancer Support fundraising event on board. ‘It’s a wonderful cause and it means a great deal to us, so I was happy to go high to get the dress. I’m a huge fan of the show and I loved Pixie Lott’s performances. She just looked as if she was really enjoying herself. It tops off a fabulous cruise. If you’re a Strictly fan, I definitely recommend a Strictly Come Dancing themed cruise.’

Find out more details about 2017 Strictly Come Dancing themed cruises >

Theresa Hewlett, seamstress and studio manager at DSI London

Theresa Hewlett, seamstress and studio manager at DSI London

Secrets of the sparkles

Theresa Hewlett is studio manager, pattern cutter and seamstress for DSI London, the company who makes the fabulous frocks you see on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing. She also looks after the collection when it comes on board for P&O Cruises Strictly Come Dancing themed cruises, where you can see the dresses up-close in the Atrium and modelled in the theatres of the ships. We caught up with Theresa on Britannia.


The outfits are amazing. Do you feel proud when people see them?

It’s so lovely that people appreciate what we do when they see the dresses up close. The dances can be tough on the costumes but I think that’s when everyone realises they’re the real ones and not copies. The fashion shows with the Headliners dancers wearing the dresses are great. There’s a bit of dancing involved, and this brings the dresses to life. The dresses always look better on a body. There’s nothing like seeing them in action. They’re designed to move.


Can you take us through the making of a Strictly dress?

When we meet the celebrities for the first time, we measure them, photograph them, then we make mannequins to their size, so we don’t have to bother the stars with fittings midweek. Vicky Gill designs all the Strictly dresses for us. The design is given to the pattern maker; the style is cut from the fabric, sewn, and then sent to the dancers for fitting. After that it’s passed to the decoration department for final embellishment. We have 23 staff in total making up the dress and tailoring departments, including 12 machinists.


How do you decide on the themes?

If there’s a waltz, it’s going to be romantic. Vicky has to bear in mind that the whole show can’t be all black or all pastel, and she also has to consider the order of the dances – you don’t want two blue frocks one after the other. For Strictly, we aim to get a frock out in two days because it then has to go out to be stoned as well – every rhinestone is put in individually by hand. Feathers are really labour intensive. The pros always ask, ‘Can I have a feather dress?’ And we say, ‘Maybe, but just one!’


What types of dresses are most popular with contestants?

Most girls will ask for a black dress because it’s slimming. But some of them fall in love with the frothiness and prettiness of it all and say, “Actually I don’t want black.” They have to be happy with what they are wearing, so in the fittings we try on lots and lots of frocks. The dance dictates the dress really – if it’s a Charleston it’s got to be a fringed number, and a Waltz is a big skirt. But this isn’t always the case. For example, for Caroline Flack, who won in 2014, we did a couple of ballroom numbers with a long fringe, which she loved.


Do you ever get ‘wardrobe malfunctions’?

Even the really strappy dresses, they look like there is no material there, but there are lots and lots of straps and everyone is really tightly fastened in. Most often, on the live show, we have hooks, but we will oversew them so they don’t pop open. Karen Hardy’s microphone famously got caught up in her tassles dancing the Salsa with Mark Ramprakash, but that wasn’t our fault!


What happens to the dresses afterwards?

The dresses go back to DSI and many get sold on, others are donated to good causes. Alternatively, we dismantle them and they get reworked for future dances or series – you wouldn’t recognise them.


Do you have any favourite dresses?

It has to be Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s ballroom dress: it was blue, 1930s themed, just panels and a bit of gathering. It had hardly any stones on it, actually, and was very plain and lovely.


Take a sneak peak backstage on Strictly Come Dancing themed cruises >



St Petersburg in Russia features on a Strictly Come Dancing Themed Cruise



Feeling inspired to set sail on a Strictly Come Dancing themed cruise?

Next year’s Strictly Come Dancing themed cruises take in a host of FAB-U-LOUS ports of call. When you want a break from the non-stop fun on ship, a world of history, culture and local attractions await you on shore.

There are four Strictly Come Dancing themed cruises to choose from in 2017, all departing from Southampton. Three take in some of the best-loved destinations in the Mediterranean: Spanish beauties include Alicante, Barcelona, Cartagena and Valencia. Italian classics include Florence/Pisa (tours from Livorno or La Spezia), and Rome (tours from Civitavecchia). French favourite Cannes makes a glamorous appearance and Gibraltar gets its moment in the spotlight, too.

If you’re more in the mood for a Baltic adventure, join Britannia as she takes in some of Northern Europe’s finest cities, including Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo and Bruges (tours from Zeebrugge).


Find out the full details of Strictly Come Dancing themed cruises 2017 itineraries > 

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