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.
Outta there and Onto the Ship!
All Cleared, Waiting to Set Sail
Walking Around the Ship, and Guess Who I Saw?
The performance of the first night belonged to Gerald Albright and Johnathan Butler.
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.
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.
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.
Many times, the artists would congregate surprisingly on stage or in smaller venues on the cruise and perform as duets, trios, or multiples!
Do you want to see more video footage of this cruise? I gotcha below