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Published: February 12th 2015
Fun times in the Caribbean
We consider ourselves very fortunate, as we have been to each of the 50 states in the U.S. and 55 countries around the world. This of course makes us mere babes in the field of travel because so many of our friends have been to 75 or 100 countries. Our goal is to someday reach 100 countries but alas, we are in no hurry. It will happen. The shared goal is to enjoy the journey, each country, each experience and each new person.
From time to time we chuckle when friends or fellow travelers go off on tangents about how to travel. Some, if not many can get rather condescending. We find the ego a funny thing when it comes to this subject. From reading hundreds of travel blogs on this site and in travel magazines we chuckle when people talk about authentic travel. From our perspective, we don’t have a clue what this means. Is there such a thing as “unauthentic travel?”
We postulate that it has something to do with the travel being pure. Oh damn, there we go again. What is pure travel? We’d certainly like someone to explain it to us.
Peace to all
We think of going to the wilds of Papau New Guinea to see some of the exotic tribes but the minute we show up has the dynamic has changed? At that point is it still authentic travel? If I sleep in a king size bed with high thread count sheets instead of a sleeping bag or a dorm room within a hostel, have we sold out? Even if during the day we see the same things and talk with the same people?
We think what it means is that some travelers want you to travel the way they travel. Everyone’s ego allows them to believe that their trip has been “the best”. That can mean slow travel, fast travel, back packing, flash packing and the list goes on.
We will leave this to each of you to sort out. To each his own… and all that. And besides, the real thrust here is simply to get out there and have a look around, no?
We believe that one form of travel that gets an immediate emotional reaction from many people are cruises. In our experience everyone has an opinion about them even if
Chacchoben Mayan Ruins
Near Costa Maya, Mexico
they have not been on one and often times because they have not been on one! (in our opinion) We admit we are guilty.
Back in the day, Merry Jo went on a Caribbean cruise in 1986 with 26 friends and family. It was fun but she left feeling like she had not seen any of the locations the ship stopped and said she probably wouldn’t go back unless it was with a big group of friends again. In 2002, we took an Alaskan Cruise and it was perfect. You could enjoy the glaciers from your cabin balcony and the stop at the port gave you enough time to feel like you’d seen something of the towns and villages.
A bit of history here, as we’d heard about this blues cruise several years ago and because of our hesitance “to cruise” we didn’t go. Honestly our egos may have gotten in our way! There, we said it. We called ourselves out. Feeling all stuffy and such, we didn’t want to be associated with the “cruising set”. In our minds it was a negative. Yes we are guilty of the very thing we laugh at
Strong player and singer.
others for. Guilty as charged, your honor!
Anyway, long story shortened a bit, we ended up booking this trip with our friends from Australia, Dave and Denise. We had a blast. From the minute we showed up in Ft. Lauderdale for the Blues pre-cruise party until we dragged our sleepless selves off the ship a week later we had nothing but fun. Sheer, unadulterated, do what you want when you want….fun!
So, at this juncture, if you are turning your nose up at a cruise the way we have all we can say at this point is ……get over yourself! Cruises are great! They’ve got cruises for so many interests and places to go…..it’s mind boggling how the cruise industry is catering to the interests and needs of so many these days.
The ship is a small city that will meet all your needs, with outstanding service, good food (and lots of it), shopping, spas, a borrowing library and much, much more. If you want quiet there are plenty of places to be alone, to get away from all the people. If you want action it is there for the taking.
Keeping the beat for Tommy Castro and the Painkillers.
You can find exercise, massage, food, music and people. You can even stay connected, as they have a computer lounge as well. This cruise offered a blues photo workshop, a culinary demo with Taj Mahal and a songwriters workshop. Many blues guitars and t-shirts were sold and auctioned off.
The Blues Cruise is casual all day and all night. If you have shorts and a blues hat you are appropriately dressed for all events. What would pass for a formal night on many cruises translates to dress up night on this cruise. We had Mardi Gras, Captain Neptune’s Sea Creatures and Pirates of the Caribbean Night. Costumes and parades a plenty and yes awards were given. We participated in Mardi Gras Night as the Travel Blog Big Beat Band. Remember, “we’re gettin’ the band back together!”
While on board we made lots of friends, to say the least, met some interesting and colorful characters and enjoyed ourselves more than we could have imagined. Please enjoy the photos. They also offered a leave your hat on/wig on night and pajama night. Yep, let your hair down and be what you want.
be amongst a wide demographic of people all gathered for one purpose; their love of the blues was a wonderful experience. Debbie from Vegas, her friend Stephanie from Salt Lake City and the brothers from Quebec, all of which shared our musical joy dancing on the Lido Deck. Let’s not forget Ralph from Chicago, the self-annointed “Mayor of the Lido Deck,” or the “Daves” (see our previous blog). Everyone we encountered was pleasantly intoxicated by the musical surroundings, some enhanced perhaps by the numerous alcoholic choices and, uh…other things…..but come on man, it’s the blues!
You see the artists on ship a lot and get a chance to interact with them. One evening MJ was hanging out in the spa pool and was joined by Popa Chubby and his wife. By all accounts, the conversation was pleasant and enjoyable discussing politics and healthcare. The Dancing One couldn’t resist and was present as well, garnering a man-hug from the bluesman. He was beaming afterward! Another time, Dave was riding an elevator and Keb’Mo’ got on with other cruisers. A man turned to him and thanked him for a nice performance. Keb’Mo’ didn’t miss a beat, looked at the
Mardi Gras Night
man and asked him if he’d seen his sex tape. The man was apoplectic. Dave thought this was incredibly funny and told Keb’Mo’ after the man got off the elevator that he definitely stoned the guy….good times!
Now, there were three ports of call (remember, this really is a cruise ship) and we did get off the boat. On our first port of call, we ambled off the ship in Costa Maya, Mexico, which essentially was created for cruise ships. We pre-arranged a bus trip to some Mayan Ruins. Within a few minutes, we got busy taking photos and were immediately separated from our guide and the group. Whoops…..no worries. We took our own tour and made it back to the bus in plenty of time.
Next port of call: Honduras. Of course we would like to describe some great adventure we had on this beautiful island off the eastern coast of the country, but that would be a bold-face lie. We made it to the beach bar and two jewelry stores where Denise and Merry Jo fed the economy. They now have lovely new jewels to help them remember their Blues Cruise. We
Love my curls
did have a few local adult beverages at the waterfront bar. But by the Travel Camels’ criteria we have indeed been to Honduras. We left the ship, walked on land and made a purchase. Dave even bought a refrigerator magnet to add to our collection. Such intrepid explorers we are…..not!
Next stop, Grand Cayman: We stayed on the ship. Truth is, we were exhausted from staying up all night listening to music and needed some rest. Dave and Denise impressed us as they went in and had a look around.
A bit of history here: We spent 10 days in the Caymans for our honeymoon in 1994 and decided we would take a pass. From the view on ship we can tell you it has grown enormously in the past couple of decades. The shoreline looks different. It is far more populated, with lots of high rises and we know 7-mile beach is no longer 7 miles because of storms in recent years. We may go back in the future but we imagine it will be on a dive trip just like the last time we were there. Great memories….
a little rest, the sailing continued, as did the non-stop activities. A day and half sail put us back where we started, seemingly in the blink of an eye. That’s just how it goes when you’re having that much fun…..along with sadness as our time with the Dancing One and Denise would be coming to an end….and so it goes. We’ll have to find a way to be in their company again soon. The rest of this blog is only for serious Blues fans, as we will provide an abbreviated impression of each performer on the ship. These are our personal views and opinions. This may help you in the selection of some new music.
Taj Mahal Trio & special guest Roger Glenn- Taj Mahal played guitar, multi-instrumentalists and vocals, Roger Glenn on woodwinds, flutes, vibes, Bill Rich on bass and Kester Smith on drums. We’d had the good fortune to see them perform last year in Napa and it was great seeing them again. Taj is revered in these circles and deservedly so.
Tommy Castro and the Pain Killers –
Tommy Castro Guitar & Vocals, Randy McDonald on
Cruisin' with Derrick
Repeat cruiser. Probably seen a few things in his day.
bass & vocals, James Pace on keyboards and vocals and Bowen Brown on drums. Now we lived in the San Francisco area for 3 years and had wanted to see them perform, but our work schedule never meshed with their performances dates. We finally tracked them down in the Caribbean. They rocked the pool deck and other venues. Our opinion is they are better for open air and big venues. Tommy also “orchestrated” a Legendary R&B Revue, which included Samantha Fish, Danielle Nicole and Tasha Taylor along with Keith Crossan and Nancy Wright on saxophone. Great live stage performances and everyone seemed to be having a great time playing together.
Keb’ Mo’ on guitar and vocals, Michael Hicks on keyboards, Stanley Sargeant on bass, and Casey Wasner on drums. Keb’Mo’ has a special stage presence partnered with a smooth voice and great lyrics. Deserving of accolades for his body of work. We saw him twice….simply great.
Mr. Sipp ’14 IBC Band Winner- Mr. Sipp vocals and guitar, Jeff Flanagan bass & vocals, Damien Strauder keyboards, organ & vocals, Stanley Dixon on drums. Wow- they are amazing. We loved listening to them and
Is Honduras Safe?
Uh....we think not!
hope to see them again soon. He puts on a great show and in this venue was able to interact with the audience and get them jumping! A very personable man who appreciates his audience and makes you feel glad you came to see them. He also jammed in the Crow’s Nest at night on more than one occasion. Peterson Brothers-
Glen Perterson Lead vocals and guitar, Alex Peterson vocals, bass and violin and Christopher Neal on drums.
These boys are 18 & 15 and seem to be taking the blues world by storm. We were taken aback by their skill and loved the drummer. He is a good balance to the group. They are from the Austin area and bet you’ll be hearing a lot more about them in the near future. One morning we were listening to them in the Crow’s Nest and in came Mr. Sipp, Nick Black, and Tasha Taylor. This is who they wanted to listen to on their time off. We think these boys have arrived!
Charlie Musselwhite - Charlie on the harp, Matt Stubbs on guitar, Steve Froberg on bass and June Core on drums. Charlie is a
6AM in Crow's Nest
Pajama Party with the blues!
classic old time blues man who is seemingly always smiling. His music is pure blues.
Heritage Blues Orchestra Quintet – With Bill Sims Jr. on guitar, Chaney Sims on vocals, Junior Mack on various guitars and the dobra, Vincent Bucher on harp and Barry Harrison on drums. This was a unique act and we can tell we thoroughly enjoyed the approach the music took. Chaney has a wonderful lilting melodic voice you will always remember. Great feel and vibe.
Shemekia Copeland - Shemekia Copeland vocals, Arthur Neilson on lead guitar, Ken”Willie” Scandlyn on rhythm guitar, Kevin Jenkins on bass, Robin Gould III on drums. Shemekia was the first concert we attended on the ship after the virgin party. Wow, talk about a set of pipes. She earned herself a standing ovation. This lady can sing the blues and you’ll feel the emotion.
Roomful of Blues- Chris Vachon on guitar leads a group that’s been playing continuously for over 35 years. Philip Pemberton sings, Mark Earley plays baritone sax, Doug Woolverton has the trumpet, Rich Lataile the alto sax, with Rusty Scott on keyboards, John Turner on upright bass and Chris Revelli
Horns, horns and more horns. Sassy, upbeat and very entertaining. Well-polished act that was a crowd pleaser.
Matt Andersen- Matt is a guitarist and singer from Canada and we kept missing his show. We caught him on the last day of the cruise and were sad we had not seen him sooner. What a voice! Excellent. Great songwriter. We will be listening to more of his music.
Samatha Fish – Guitarist and vocalist along with Scot Sutherland on bass and Go-Go Ray on drums. Serious blues from the young lady. She also joined Tommy Castro for a few sets.
Poppa Chubby – Popa on guitar, Dave Keyes (one of the famous “Daves”) on keyboards, Francesco Beccaro on bass and Andrea Beccarr on drums. Dave’s favorite act. A simply great guitarist who could simply sling the hell out of his worn, but strong guitar. A rocker/bluesman who really leaves it out there on stage. Played a fantastic version of “Over the Rainbow.” Saw him three times and he also backed Dave Keyes in the Piano Bar one evening. Find a way to see this guy!
Petersen - Lucky on piano and guitar, Tamara Peterson on vocals, Shawn Kellerman on guitar, Xavier Tatum-Jackson on keyboards, Timothy Waites on bass and Raul Valdes on drums. Lucky is another "old time" bluesman who brought a lot of energy to his gig. He is a true showman and strutted about the venue playing his guitar. Shawn Kellerman is an awesome guitar player and we also saw him jamming in the Crow's Nest. Tamara's vocals were quite good. The show seemed a bit disjointed as Tamara sang the last few songs. Dave felt that the play list should have been different, but it was a good show.
Coco Montoya - Coco on guitar, Brant Leeper on keyboards, Nathan Brown on bass, Rena Beavers on drums. Coco is a great player, composer and his quartet brings a lot of good energy to the blues. His style is straight ahead electric blues and the show was well done. Interesting to watch as he plays left-handed with the strings the opposite of a right-handed player. Catch his act at a festival near you.
Tab Benoit and the Voice of the Wetlands Allstars - Tab on guitar and
lead vocals, Cyril Neville on percussion, Chief Monk Boudreaux on trombone, Johnny Sansone on harmonica and accordion, Waylon Thibodeux on fiddle, Corey Duplichen on bass and Johnny Vidacovich on drums. Tab is a Louisiana bluesman who is a backed by a fine group. Great singer and guitar player. Tab also enjoyed the late night jam sessions in the Crow's Nest and was truly one of the highlights one evening as he hosted and kept the music flowing all night long.
Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers - Dwayne on accordion and vocals, Brandon David on guitar, Paul Lafleur on washboard, Kim Philips on keyboards, Dion Pierre on bass and Kevin Minor on drums. Add an accordion and a washboard and you've got the makings of some down deep Louisiana bayou blues. They brought energy and were a tight group. Fun to watch.
Victor Wainwright Band -
Victor Wainwright lead vocals, piano, organ, Nic Black on guitar and vocals, Terrence Grayson on bass & vocals, Billy Dean on drums & vocals. We’d never heard of Victor and his band before arriving on the ship. During the week we saw several people on the ship wearing
Chacchoben Mayan Ruins
There were many on this site.
his T-shirts so we knew he had a good following. We weren’t disappointed when we saw him perform but we’ve got to say we loved his guitar player Nick Black. This guy was in several of the pro jams and he’s got real talent! We really enjoyed Nick and look forward to seeing him again. Bobby Rush -
Bobby brought vocals & harmonica, Fred Taylor on keyboards, Dexter Allen, Kenneth Kights and Louis Rodriguez on guitars, Arthur Cooper on bass with Bruce Howard on drums. 81 years old and still performing the blues, Bobby's been doing it a long time and started out in Chicago in the early 1950's. His show was not to our liking but there was bound to be one show we didn't care for. Bobby brought out some girls who let's say had plenty to shake. Bobby sort of focused his show on this and the result was not that good. We may live in a politically correct world, but this simply wasn't something we liked.
There were a few artist we didn't have time to see or only saw a limited portion of their performance so we didn't have time to form an
Chacchoben Mayan Ruins
Lots of history.....where did the Mayans go?
opinion. We may have seen some or all of them at one of the pro jams which were amazing but they were performing with others, not their normal set. We’ve made our deposit for next January’s trip. We think they have a few cabins left on the October 2015 trip if you are interested. The Legendary Rhythm Blues Cruise happens twice a year. We questioned seasoned cruisers about whether they liked the January trip better or the October trip. Most preferred the January trip because they wanted to escape the cold winters back home. One or two people said the fall trip seems to have more west coast people on it and seems like a more laid back crowd. Some people told us they didn’t enjoy the fall trip because it is too hot and humid in Mexico in October. One couple who always go on the January trip told us they thought the musical line up was better in the fall. We have no idea if any of this is true as we are very new to Blues cruisin’.
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