We sailed away on our second Legendary Blues Cruise. It’s one of those things where people say “this is our 10th cruise” or even higher numbers. It’s addicting! It’s also hard to describe how much fun it is. Many people hate cruises and I can say that we’ve been on plenty and this one is totally different. The entire ship is chartered for blues music fans and musicians. There’s no hokey cruise director or the usual shows and comedians. They have a schedule of live music that goes from early afternoon to the wee hours of the morning. I think what makes it so much fun is that everyone on board has a common interest: listening to great music!
After a day at sea we made our first stop in the Turks and Caicos. We had never been there before but it’s close to the Bahamas and very similar. The shop docks right next to the beaches so we just made our way to a nice spot with chairs and a place for lunch. There’s a Margaritaville with a giant pool and restaurant. Nah, too crowded!
The little beach shack served delicious Bahamian fare. We had a sampler of conch fritters and jerk chicken with peas and rice.
Grand Turk is known for being the landing-place for John Glenn’s space capsule after his first orbits of the earth. They have a monument with a replica of the capsule.
Our next stop was Tortola, a place we haven’t visited since our first bareboat charter in 1995. The destruction left by hurricane Irma was everywhere. We planned to just walk around Road Town but were convinced by an energetic tour guide to join a small group for an island tour. I’m glad we did because we got to see more of the destruction and efforts everywhere to rebuild. Our fellow tour mates were from the ship, including our friend’s son, Rusty!
Captain Friendly, our tour guide took us around the coast and up over the hills of Tortola. We drove through the marina at Nanny Cay where the photos of piled up boats went viral after the hurricane. There wasn’t much left at the Sugar Mill resort.
We stopped for refreshments in our tour guide’s village. Nice that he can help support his local economy!
At another stop high on the hills we had a view of Cane Garden Bay. There’s still a lot of cleanup work to do…
We saw so many of our favorite artists and were introduced to some new favorites including Quinn Sullivan, a 17-year-old prodigy on guitar and vocals. Buddy Guy is a living legend of the blues. He’s in his 80’s and can still put on a high energy level performance.
Our ship, the Holland America Konigsdam, had some interesting art including this piece that was a sheet of bubble wrap with each bubble filled with paint. They also had many music oriented floral arrangements.
And then, there’s more music. Trampled Under Foot did 3 performances, supposedly their last ones together as the group is splitting to do their own thing. Southern Hospitality featured Victor Wainwright. The Legendary R&B Revue included Tommy Castro band, Magic Dick (From J. Geils Band), Ronnie Baker Brooks & Deanna Bogart. Every night amatuers and pros gather to jam. Another person to watch for is David Julia, a 17 year old guitar player and singer from Orlando.
Our last stop was in San Juan. They were in better shape than Tortola but still have a long way to go to rebuild. We walked around town and visited the San Cristobal fort, the largest fort built by Spain in 1793 to protect their holdings in the New World.
Our last 2 days at sea were filled with music and relaxing. Nobody dresses up on the ship; in fact they have themes every night with some crazy costumes. There was a casino royale night, mardi gras, wig night and pajamas. We really enjoyed seeing Ken & Linda Kisling from our SSA days. He was the one who introduced us to blues cruising!
Our cabin steward left us towel animals every night. This one was very appropriate given my antics in Nevis! (Where’s the sun? I want to see a monkey!)
Here are some more music favorites. Skip really liked Reverend Peyton and his Big Damn Band. He plays country blues. We also discovered Colin James, a Canadian blues singer out of Vancouver. The last time we saw Deanna Bogart was at the Rams Head in Annapolis on New Year’s Eve Y2K. Kenny Wayne Sheperd is a very dynamic guitar played (also very loud!) Taj Mahal is the host of the Blues Cruise and it’s always enjoyable to see him perform.
It was another great week of the blues. We can’t wait to go again! The next cruise is in late October on the west coast. Come join us!!!