The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise
I am still stunned with amazement by my trip to The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise to the Carribean this January 2011. It is a beautiful feeling being out on the high seas I can tell you. We were spoiled by the people who ran the ship and so entertained by Roger Nabor who put together the first one of these cruises way back in 1995. He has perfected the trip. I remember talking about it in my publication, The Blues Audience newsletter, and one of my earliest subscribers, Nancy Weston, picked up on it and went and told me how wonderful it was and that I should go. She is now a 16 year veteran of the cruise. I was a “virgin cruiser,” guest of one of the musicians, Cheryl Renee, who played in the piano bar at night, along with Mitch Woods, Dave Keyes and Eden Brent, it was the late night jam hot spot.
It was amazing how big the ship is and how many people it holds. We were 2,100 strong with all our gear, and the crew was over a thousand. The crew took care of us like we were royalty! It was luxurious! The crew called me “Madame.” We traveled 2383 nautical miles from Florida to St. John’s in Antigua/Barbuda to Cruz Bay on St. John, Virgin Islands to a private island called Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. At sea when we didn’t see land for 2 days! I remember sighting a seagull as we approached Antigua and I said “Land Ho!” out loud. The water was a lovely color, out at sea, and in port the water was that turquoise green one associates with the Carribean, beautiful.
I brought a pose-able Popeye (that I got in my stocking for Christmas) with me on the trip. Cheryl was busy playing very late at night and so Popeye and I had breakfast together, we went and sat out in the sun together at the pool. Cheryl and Popeye and I went to a cocktail party and met all sorts of people Nancy knows. She has made so many friends with over the years aboard ship, they meet up sometimes at other Blues Festivals on land.
We anchored at St. John Antigua and spent the day on the island. I took a tour of the Island that ended up in a little bar and we were offered a complementary drink. I tried the 151 proof rum drink, Popeye had a local soda called Ting. That was where I lost him. That drink went right to my head and I must have left him in that little bar. I bet they are enjoying his company. I am sure he will have a long life on the island. Waaaaaaa
The ship, The Norwegian Lines Eurodam, sports all sots of old black and white pictures from the 30s and 40s of elegant rich people with their nautical gear, with their sunglasses standing on deck or posing in a deck chair. Pictures of the Captain and crew that really lent a nostalgic days of old feel to the whole trip.
We received lovely gifts on our beds during the day. A schedule of the days events, from music to cooking classes with Janiva Magness and Taj Mahal. An insulated bag with the LR&BC logo on it, magazines, newspaper clippings, an insulated cup, mardi gras beads, chocolates, and the crew arranged towels into the cutest critters with little googlie eyes, nice touch.
The ship was clean and elegant. Our cabin had a nice veranda. There were three beautiful sit down restaurants and an elegant buffet.
The darlings of the trip were Trampled Under Foot with the brothers/sister trio of Nick, Kris and Danielle Schnebelen. Nick sang, played slide on his National Steele (left handed) with a really gutteral, rootsy feel, at the same time played drums (Kris is the drummer). His sister, Danielle, made a splash with her beautiful singing and bass playing (also left handed).
Also it must be noted, Rick Estrin with Kid Anderson, his guitar player, put on a very energetic shows with Kid dancing, jumping and even rolling on the floor with feet up in the air, all the while playing the heck out of his guitar.
I was impressed in the participation of the long time cruisers. They really know how to pack costumes for the trip. There was a “Gimme Back My Wig” parade and there were a few groups who had organized their costumes and “The Gold Diggers” had seven blonde wigged gals with a “rich man” and they each had a little shovel spray painted gold as part of their costume, it was impressive. Roger thought so too, because they won the prize for their efforts. Michael Burks looked good in his wig. The Mardi Gras night, parade and outfits rivaled the real thing! It was a display of color and frivolity.
THere was a lot of drinking and laughing and dancing and general kidding around, I met lots of nice people and saw a lot of performances that knocked me out. I took over 500 pictures and I would put up more if it didn’t take so much time. But I really have never had a vacation like this, I didn’t have to work at a booth, and when it came time for the wig parade, Maribella Blue gave me a very shiny wig to wear, it was itchy but I was glad to have a chance to chime in and be a wig wearing gal, lots of fun.
Roger gave out awards at the end of the trip. Prizes for the Wig Parade, the Mardi Gras Parade and even one for the biggest bar tab. The nice man with the biggest bar tab, incidentally, bought me and his wife lunch on St. John, Virgin Islands – The Shipwreck Bar- where Mitch Woods played outside, it was very cool.
This was an award winning door on our cruise and you can see one of the old black and white pictures in the background.
If you want to immerse yourself in live Blues music, spend a week in the most beautiful January weather aboard a ship (there is also one on the Pacific ocean on October) that brings a nostalgic feeling of the glamour of the high seas, this is an investment in your future happiness.