Before the fires, fumes, and filth issues covered in the media, I said a loud and resounding ‘HELL NO’ to sailing with Carnival in the future after my friend’s wedding cruise in 2010.
I remember it like it was 2 hours ago:
There I was awakened in the middle of the night sailing the ocean blue on Carnival Liberty to the dreaded queasy feeling. I sat on the edge of the bed in total denial of what was about to happen next.
Each end of my body was confused. It didn’t know whether to insert my head in the toilet or place my butt on it. Between my butt cramping and my throat retching, I wondered if day 3 was a prediction of the next 4 days on the ship. This wasn’t seasickness, my friends. It was what I labeled ‘the 2 hour Norwalk virus.’
Thankfully, I was ‘pill prepared’ for the trip. I ended up feeling better after I chomped down on several Pepto-Bismol and swallowed 2 old Compazine (anti-nausea) pills. Things were going well until I developed strep throat that progressed into a never ending sinus infection. Terrible, just terrible. The Carnival Demons just wouldn’t let me live!!!
Despite this, I got to witness my bride-friend commit her life to her love; however, in hindsight, I should’ve taken a clue from her best friend who left the ship AFTER the reception. She was smart.
Sista Asks: Have you ever had a bad cruise experience? What happened?
I was uncertain about sailing again on the smooth jazz cruise after my 2011 trip, primarily because…I really didn’t care for the Holland America cruise line…at all. (Backtrack here to read why). Now don’t get me wrong, I am not singling out Holland America, because you couldn’t pay me to go on another Carnival cruise either and this was before they made headlines in the news. The only cruise line I’ve had a positive, memorable experience on was Royal Caribbean (I’ll get to this story in the future, too, ha ha).
When the 2012 cruise line choice (Holland America again), ports of call (same as 2011, except St Barths instead of St. John) and the artist announcements were made for the sailing in 2012, I was like ummmm…no. As much as I loved the music and meeting my favorite artists, I couldn’t justify going again…until curiosity killed the cat (and my wallet).
I decided to just casually browse the website one day and to my amazement, they removed some artists (that I didn’t want to see) and ADDED THREE that I absolutely had to see- Peter White, Brian Culbertson and Euge Groove. Unfortunately, the ports of call and the cruise line didn’t change, but these three added artists made up for it tremendously. What’s even more special is I interviewed one and had my own personal serenade from another!!!
Brian Culbertson and me, agai
I wasn’t able to get a ‘snap snap’ with Euge Groove around the ship, but that’s okay. Two out of three certainly isn’t bad.
In addition to taking pictures with my two favorite smooth jazz artists, I was lucky enough to interview one and have a wonderful song played to me by another. Check out the videos below!!!
Some of my other favorite smooth jazz/ neo soul artists that were on the cruise I was able to harass (j/k) for pictures included:
Eric Darius and me
Rahsaan Patterson and me
Brian Simpson, Music Director of the Smooth Jazz Cruise
You all love me, right? Well, I love you all, too, and I respect your opinion about this crucial decision. My first, solo voyage to Roatan was super rushed due to last minute arrangements and uncertain time off availability on my job. I was trying to figure out how to cram activities into 3 full days when I saw this submarine expedition and I was soooo stocked about it! Problem? Well, I didn’t have that much time and definitely not enough money (the cheapest expedition was $400). Well, I am headed back to my love soon and will be staying for 2 weeks (I WILL get it in, ha ha)! I am going to make sure my time in Roatan will be fulfilling to the max this time.
Okay, here’s where I need your overflow of love for me. I consider myself pretty adventurous (hey, remember I did the sea plane tour of Roatan AND I travel solo), but this expedition makes me super anxious and I haven’t even reserved anything yet! Click here to see what the heck has me shook up.
As you can see, you can do a variety of deep sea tours. I am only considering the 1,000 feet tour at this time because it’s $400 and I will be that deep in the sea for only 1 hour and 30 minutes. The six gill shark tour would be AWESOME, but…that joker’s $1500 AND you are in the sea for about 5-9 hours! No sir/ma’am, that’s okay. The pictures are enough
So what say you? Should I do it? Should I just imagine doing it? Would you do it? If so, which expedition would you choose? Would you be scared, like I am now? (I can literally see myself tearing up entering into this joker.) Check out the praise reviews herefrom tripadvisor.com.
If you’ve ever booked a cruise or any other trip online, you’re usually able to access the website, select your options, pay the cost, and instantly receive a confirmation. Imagine my shock when I tried to do just this to book my first, 2011 smooth jazz cruise. I honestly thought I was overlooking something, some page, some direction, SOMETHING, but I wasn’t. At that time, in order to sail on this wonderful cruise, you had to send emails and/or call the cruise coordinators.
What kinda back alleys mess is this? I thought, lol. I couldn’t help but wonder if this whole trip was some sort of scam; however, my excitement to finally interact with some of my favorite smooth jazz musicians and hear real, live, unadulterated tunes trumped the doubting thoughts that were plaguing me.
I did it. I sure did- I booked the cruise and thankfully, it wasn’t a scam, ha ha. The coordinators were so pleasant, cooperative and knowledgeable while communicating via both email and via phone with me. With the deposit paid, flight booked, and the final payment confirmed, I was about get my smooth groove on! *In my best country, southern voice* Come on, give me your hand chile (child), as I share my views, pictures and videos of this fantastic voyage witcha.
Maybe I Should’ve Flown Into Miami Instead… and paid the expensive cab fare to Ft. Lauderdale.
I’ve stated this ad naseum on my blog already, *here and here* but if you somehow missed it- I HATE Fort Lauderdale’s airport. I flew to it because 1.) it was my first time flying there 2.) that’s where the ship was docked and 3.)being that flights have a time mind of their own, I didn’t want to risk missing my boarding time. Anyway, you and I are hand in hand still and you are waiting to see what I want to show you, right? Right! Cool.
The performance of the first night belonged to Gerald Albright and Johnathan Butler.
Johnathan Butler performing
Played A Little Bingo the Next Day, and Guess Who I Saw? while I didn’t win any of the games, I still got my picture snap on!
This day was designated for everyone to wear their smooth jazz cruise shirts and have a little fun on the deck.
Gerald Albright and I
On Semi Dry Land(Bahamas (Nassau and Half Moon Cay), St. Thomas and Tortola)
The Bahamas. Nice island, but if you’re like me, you have been on plenty of cruises where the first stop is no other than Nassau. I didn’t get off of the ship to venture around due to the aforementioned plus in 2010, I took my mother there for her 50th birthday. I was Nassau’ed out.; however, Exhuma and Eleutra are on my bucket list, but I digress. Performers that night were the LEGENDS- David Sanborn and George Duke!
Unlike with Nassau, I looked forward to visiting St. Thomas because my girl (hey DreaDay!) resided there at the time and we were able to connect. Boney James was the musician of that night and he flew into the island for his performance later that evening; therefore, the ship stayed in St. Thomas from 8am until 12 midnight! Boney James has that kinda power, lol. Jeff Golub (super great guitarist) was in concert with Boney James that night, too.
While everyone ranted and raved about Coki Beach, I found more peace and pleasure at Emerald Beach! DreaDay introduced me to Fraco’s. It was the first time I had a snow cone with condensed milk. Still trying to figure out if I really liked it or not. Veggie Food!
DreaDay dragged me (just kidding) to her favorite vegan restaurant on the island, Natural Livitiy Kulcha and Juice Bar. Although I am not a fan of tofu-ish types of meats, it was MUCH better than the food served on the ship!
Jeff Golub and I before his performance
While the food was tasteless on the cruise, the 7 (or 8…or 9) strawberry dacquiri’s I gulped were SCRUMPTIOUS!
Still A’ Cruisin’ How could I forget to mention one crucial piece of information about why I love the smooth jazz cruise! I consider myself a true smooth jazz fan and when some unaware person tells me they enjoy this genre, but can only mention one artist which is Kenny G, I cringe. The same way I cringe when there’s a ‘smooth jazz fest’ but most of the artists are known for performing rhythm and blues. On this cruise, however, 95% of the musicians have dedicated their lives to jazz, so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment when Brian McKnight came was a featured guest performer, plus he’s known to belt out mellow tunes on jazz albums. (Run on, I know )
OH- MY- WORD!!! I have to give this performer a gold star. Now, please don’t get me wrong (especially if there are smooth jazz artists reading this entry), everyone on the cruise was wonderful, but this guy below TOOK THE SHOW! I’ve always loved Richard Elliot, but seeing him perform live was absolutely phenomenal. Readers, if you are ever in an area and he’s in concert, you must see him!
For the final stop, the ship was supposed to cruise back to the Bahamas to visit a private island, Half Moon Cay, but thanks to the wonderful wind (YAY! NOT) it didn’t happen. Instead, we circled around and around on the ocean where it was more stable. I was really looking forward to visiting this place then, but I got my chance the next year That night in the main auditorium, Mr. Marcus Miller and Miss Candy Dulfer delighted our ears to some smooth melodies.
anything that you want from me, it’s my delight tonight.’ -The Isley Brothers
The Smooth Jazz Cruise 2012
I love smooth jazz. No wait, let me rephrase that… I LUBS me some smooth jazz. I caught an ear whiff of it when I was about 6 years old via Paul Hardcastle’s Rainforest. That song resonated with everyone that heard and it definitely got people moving or at least their heads a’bobbing.
My next run in with smooth jazz was via George Duke’s ‘No Rhyme, No Reason’ when I was 15 years old. The music in that song was/is so mellow that it instantly relaxes you. Let’s just ignore the lyrics being about a married man caught up in an love affair, lol. Listening to the musical composition in this song made me yearn for more of what they call ‘smooth jazz.’
Fast forward a bit to college. I found a local radio station that played this genre of music all day and all night and I had it on all day…and all night. Whether I was studying, sleeping, eating, whatever, if I heard a song that peaked my interest, I made sure I found out the artist and the song title. I was a loyal member of BMG/Columbia music (remember them?) and I would order as many cd’s I could, through payment arrangements of course. My first smooth jazz album? Boney James’s ‘Sweet Thing.’
How does the aforementioned relate to traveling, you say? Keep reading, Impatient One.
Whenever I am not looking for something, that’s when I find it (can anyone else relate?) and that’s what happened when I was searching the internet for smooth jazz radio stations. I came across www.thesmoothjazzcruise.com from a simple browse and I couldn’t believe it. You mean to tell me, I can cruise, meet new, good people, visit other countries AND hear AND mingle with most of my favorite musical artists IN PERSON on a ship? That was it, I was sold and so far, I’ve been on two of these wonderful cruises. Here are just a few pictures to get your brain to a’wondering, ‘what did Sista Voyage exactly do on the cruise? Where did she go? What artists did she meet? Did she go alone here, too? (The answer to the latter is a big YES!!!)
Boney James performing
Me and Gerald Albright
Brian Simpson (piano), Johnathan Butler (guitar), and Richard Elliott (sax)
Me and Richard Elliot
Norman Brown performing
Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson and Euge Groove performing
Me and Candy Dulfer
Did the pictures cause you to want to know more specifics about my voyage? Of course they did, so be on the look out for my detailed entries of this wonderful cruise in this month of December 2012 to January 2013! I will hold nothing back, I promise
Oh and while you wait for the entries, go ahead and enjoy one of my video uploads of the cruise.
In the early stages of my blog, I composed a topic of airports I really don’t want to deal with. I promise you all, there are times when I try to figure out how to avoid flying to/from certain airports as much as I can. If I can’t, I make sure that my time spent in them is as minimal as humanly possible.
Surprisingly, one day while simply browsing the internet, I came across an article that revealed not ten, but TWENTY-FIVE airports in the U.S. that are considered just… the worst. Check out the Daily Beast’s link here to see if your airport made the gallery of ‘Go to the Gate, Please No Wait!’
I knew I wasn’t alone in my disdain of Fort Lauderdale’s sucky airport.
In 2003, I flew to the ATL to visit my best friend from childhood. On my way back to my hometown, we were served these crunchy, cinnamony (cinnaminny), snickerdoodle x10 biscuit cookies. Yes, my greedy butt asked the flight attendant for more I have been hooked ever since and I have even hooked others onto them. You should be able to find these cookies at your neighborhood grocery in the specialty or regular cookie aisle or you can order them directly from biscoff.com .
That was 9 years ago. I can’t say that I’ve had a memorable snack on any airline since. Can you?
Airplane delays, for whatever reason, can definitely put your mood in a damper and maybe even a tantrum. While no one likes for things to not go as planned, there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a sucky airport while you wait to finally hear your flight number for boarding. From my experience, Memphis International Airport (MEM AKA Snore City), Montego Bay’s Airport (once you get past the sweltering heat inside almost passing out from checking in, the experience gets a bit more tolerable, thanks to Island Grill, Groovy Grooper and Jimmy Buffet’s restaurant), Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Nassau’s airport top my please-don’t-announce-a-delay list.
I dislike this airport with a passion!
The layout of the Fort Lauderdale Airport is too open.
On the other hand,I am okay with the unexpected in the following airports:
Atlanta, GA (ATL)- HUGE, clean, plenty of room, inside transit to the other sections, several restaurant options
Charlotte, NC (CLT)- Similar to ATL
Detroit, MI (DTW)- Only went once, but I do remember they had this really cool water fountain
Houston, TX (IAH)- some sections are questionable, but has some similarities to ATL
La Guardia, NY- (LGA)
Miami, Fl- (MIA)
Roatan, Honduras (RTB)- Small and clean, plus they serve the BEST CHICKEN EMPANADAS!