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70s Rock and Romance Cruise - discussion and questions


Honolulu Blue
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We were thinking of doing flower power but not that crazy about that lineup but there back to back so we will see, already rebooked our royal suite for rock and romance weird that it is a Wednesday to Wednesday cruise. 

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Made it to the ship. The additional test came out NEGATIVE again, of course. I went to the terminal first, then boarded a shuttle to the testing location (ground floor of a mostly unused parking garage), did the swab thing (self-administered but watched), then boarded another shuttle back to the terminal. I thought this all could have been better handled.

 

The rest of check in went all right. I got to unpack, do the safety briefing thing, and eat at the buffet. I'm ready to boogie!

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On 2/26/2022 at 12:26 PM, Honolulu Blue said:

Made it to the ship. The additional test came out NEGATIVE again, of course. I went to the terminal first, then boarded a shuttle to the testing location (ground floor of a mostly unused parking garage), did the swab thing (self-administered but watched), then boarded another shuttle back to the terminal. I thought this all could have been better handled.

 

The rest of check in went all right. I got to unpack, do the safety briefing thing, and eat at the buffet. I'm ready to boogie!

Agree it definitely could have been handled better . But at least no masks needed on the ship.

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On 2/28/2022 at 9:21 PM, George C said:

Agree it definitely could have been handled better . But at least no masks needed on the ship.

 

Exactly right.

 

I'm at the airport, not a lot of time until my next adventure. I promise I will explain more about what happened. Until then, please settle for these random pictures.

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Since I'm up and at 'em at this random Orlando hotel early the day before The 80s Cruise, I would like to discuss the food conditions and what it was like to choose early concerts and late dining.

 

One option StarVista gave us was the choice between early concerts (6:30 PM) and late dining in the MDR (8:30 PM), and late concerts (9:00 PM) with early dining (6:00 PM). I thought that, with the way I liked to live my life, that the former option was the better way to go. I would have more time to digest the concert goodness and have less time to obsess over what would happen there. And I figured the available dining options would better suit me.

 

As I already mentioned, I chose early concerts and late dining. I'm sure I made the right call. The concerts were the highlight of every day for me. The food I mostly filled in as I had time and inclination to eat.

 

Breakfast was around 8 each day for me.in the buffet. It was not very busy at that time, but the longer I stayed, the busier it got. One day I saw a group of red shirt StarVista employees dining together. I didn't linger long enough to figure out what they were plotting. I just found it curious that they were either having a planning meeting in the open, or they were chummy enough to break bread together. I saw StarVista employees dining alone or in pairs at other times also.

 

The food, by the way, was very good, though I never had anything fancy. It was of similar quality to other breakfasts I've had on the Summit on previous cruises.

 

I had one lunch on embarkation day in the buffet. It was busy, but not outrageously so. Good food as always. It was fun hearing stories about past and future themed cruises.

 

Every day except one I had dinner in the buffet. The food was great and varied by my limited palate. There was never much of a crowd (I think I beat most people there after the concerts, and probably most of them were happier in the MDR). In addition to the odd StarVista employee, I saw some crew having dinner here.

 

One afternoon I ordered a burger and cake from room service. Unlike Princess, I did it the old fashioned way - by phone. Also unlike Princess, where I consistently got food within 15 minutes, the time from order to knock was a more leisurely 20 minutes. That's still not bad, all things considered.

 

A couple of times I got some drinks from the buffet to cool off and rest after the show by the pool. The buffet was officially closed both times, but the self-service drink station was available. As you'd expect, there were few others here at this time of day.

 

I didn't ever dine in the main dining room (MDR) or any of the specialty outlets.

 

The one bad thing about the buffet was that it was 8 decks up from my cabin on deck 2. It was always a hike to get there by stairs and my body didn't appreciate it, at least in the short term. Perhaps next year when this pandemic is truly in the rear view I'll take the elevator.

 

Because I don't do food pictures, you'll have to settle for more random concert pictures. The top one is Expose. The other one is the New Stylistics.

 

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Now I will cover the concerts I went to in more detail. Here I will also cover other similar and related activities.

 

During the Ultimate Disco Cruise, I went to concerts by Kool and the Gang, Expose, Russell Thompkins Jr. and the New Stylistics (matinee, 1:30 PM), KC and the Sunshine Band, The Jacksons, and The Spinners. Those were all in the main theater at 6:30 PM, except the one matinee. In addition, I saw the Ex Chic ladies and Urban Guerilla Orchestra by the pool in the afternoon.  

 

I also saw shows by Expose and The Spinners in my room through the ship's live feed. Yes, they broadcast the video of the concerts to the room. I thought this was wonderful, as a pandemic contact-minimizing tactic, a way to review shows before I would get to see them live, and a way to maximize my time. 

 

I thought Expose's show on TV was disappointing, but much better live. I'm not absolutely sure why; it could have been any number of several things. They didn't play my favorite song from them ("When I Looked At Him") at either show.

 

The Spinners put in a high quality performance both times.

 

I saw the Q&A live in the Sky Lounge with the ex Chic ladies, The Spinners, and Family Stone. I also saw portions of recorded Q&As on TV with KC, Robert "Kool" Bell, and The Spinners. Those were fun and at times funny.  KC was praised by one of the fans for coming and wanted him to come back again next year. KC basically said thanks and didn't commit. That seemed like a missed opportunity. KC and the Sunshine Band are an iconic disco band, and if they're not there, it's just a dance cruise, IMHO.

 

Where was I? Oh yes, the pool concerts. It wasn't that hot (one day was 80, the other 82) and not too humid, all things considered, but with the sun out, I could see how those conditions could be punishing for both the musicians and the fans. The fans, of course, had seating options that were either partially or fully covered. I was impressed by how well all the musicians coped. Fans too, I suppose. I didn't see or hear of anyone requiring medical attention in that area. By the way, I was on the pool stage seating both times. The weather didn't bother me. The sun made camera view finding extremely rough to the point where I basically pointed the camera where I hoped to shoot and hoped I got good pictures. Generally they came out all right. But I'll let you decide in the photos below.

 

One last pool story... at their live show I saw, Expose noted their displeasure at being placed by the pool on the initial schedule. They mentioned female issues. I can understand how it wouldn't have been great for them. But I actually like their slower songs, and those wouldn't have played very well by the pool.

 

There were concerts in other locations and at other times, but I didn't attend them. You'll have to find someone else to tell you about those. ☹️

 

There was piped in music all over much of the time. There was karaoke. There were DJs. And there was Studio 55, StarVista's attempt to clear out the MDR and make a nightclub out of it. That wasn't my scene, so I never partook.

 

Overall I thought all the concerts were great in their own ways. As I expected, this was an excellent way to hear great music from several different artists in a compressed period of the with only a minimum of running around. Thumbs up, way up! 👍

 

I'll close this with the two photos I promised from poolside. One is the ex Chic ladies, one is UGO.

 

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Posted (edited)

Since I have a little extra time and my mind is still spinning (thanks in small part due to The Spinners 😁), I'll cover the elephant in the room - protocols as told to us and followed in practice.

 

I did a test using the Abbott at-home proctored test two days before the UDC. I had previously ordered some to handle my testing needs for this cruise and others in the future. Then, as I mentioned above, StarVista made all passengers take a test just before embarking. I also took a test at MCO (Orlando) yesterday in order to embark on The 80s Cruise tomorrow. All those tests were NEGATIVE. I didn't hear of any positive tests on the ship, which doesn't mean there weren't any.

 

Once aboard the ship, masks were optional everywhere onboard for passengers. We were provided two cloth masks by Celebrity. Us passengers were asked to bring them in case we needed them in port. Since I didn't go into either port, I don't know how strictly this was enforced. I had been to both Cozumel and Costa Maya on the Summit in September, so it was an easy decision for me to stay on the ship.

 

The Celebrity crew were still required to wear masks, and all crew I saw wore them everywhere. The StarVista staff weren't required to wear masks, and mostly didn't. A small percentage of passengers wore masks in every location - 1 to 2% if I had to put a figure on it. Nobody made a big deal out of anyone wearing or not wearing one, which is as it should be.

 

What about social distancing? I never went in the elevator, so I couldn't judge what was happening there. But the theaters weren't full any time I went. Most shows looked to be about two-thirds full, with Kool and the Gang doing a little better (around 80%) and Expose and the matinee each doing a little worse (around 50%). I arrived about 15 minutes before each show and could usually find a seat in the center and 8 to 12 rows up. Ticketmaster would sell seats that close for premium prices. Even in the seats I had, I usually had a couple of feet between me and my fellow attendees. Of course, there were places where people were squished far closer together, like the front rows and the aisles near the stage.

 

At the KC and the Sunshine Band show I attended, the gentleman next to me decided to sleep through the last half hour of the show. 😴😴😴 And yes, he was sleeping and not dead - I watched his chest heave in rhythm and he woke up when the show ended. On so many levels this made no sense then, and it still doesn't.

 

Other than some small social distancing signs and what I've mentioned above, the pandemic was barely mentioned. Many of the bands mentioned their struggles during this time. And Jason, our cruise director, noted that 1) the number of people on this cruise was down from 2020 (no specifics given) and 2) the status of this cruise was in flux as late as a few weeks ago.

 

I didn't see anyone in hazmat suits. I didn't see any quarantine/isolation rooms. I don't know where they were. The captain didn't mention COVID at all.

 

Let me put up a couple of pictures of the KC and the Sunshine Band and you can decide for yourself if you could sleep through this.

 

 

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Edited by Honolulu Blue
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I'm still in Orlando but due to head out in a few hours. Let's tie up some loose ends.

 

* I did decide to make a booking for next year's UDC in the same cabin. I enjoyed myself thoroughly, think I will enjoy myself just as much next year, thought the cabin was fine, and am willing to fade the $100 risk that I will want to or have to cancel. The StarVista rep made booking for next year easy. It wasn't busy when I went. I don't know how many or what percentage of people booked for next year, but I heard plenty of chatter about it.

 

* The service was generally up to my standards for and expectations of Celebrity.

 

* The cabin was served twice a day when I allowed it to be. Sometimes the service was late and I decided to just roll with it.

 

* No towel animals, but turndown service came with a chocolate on the pillow. All things considered, I prefer the chocolate. Does this make me a bad person? 😎

 

* One odd thing is that I didn't meet my cabin steward until day 3. She seemed nice enough. I'll chalk it up to coincidence.

 

* Demographically this was an interesting crowd. I estimate it was about 75% white, 20% black, and 5% other. My other cruises have been considerably whiter than this. I enjoyed the diversity.

 

* Most cruisers seemed to be between 40 and 70. No kids by charter rules. 

 

* Most were couples, though there were some parent-child groups and groups of friends. And yes, there were other singles like me. We could probably have used a meet up.. 

 

* This group seemed healthier than average for cruises I've been on in the past. I saw relatively few walkers, scooters, and wheelchairs. I guess dancing and dance music keeps you young and healthy. Good to know! 👍

 

* I felt distinctly underdressed in this crowd, especially in the evenings. Most days had themes and they were followed by many of the passengers. I tried my best to match my t shirts to the themes, but this was not a t shirt wearing crowd in the evenings. I would have been better off with standard long sleeve dress shirts. But I wear those most days to work, so that would be boring for me. Another option that some of the guys chose was aloha style shirts. I have one aloha shirt, from Hawaii. Maybe I will bring it along next year.

 

* StarVista gave us lots of gifts. I got a UDC t shirt to start. It was light blue and very nice. I wore it the next day, and so did many of my fellow cruisers. A few had and wore shirts from past years (black and yellow).

 

* Other gifts - a tote bag, a small speaker, a large compartmented wallet (more useful and elegant than I make it sound; I'll attach a picture), and a postcard.

 

I'm struggling to think of additional points that I want to bring up, so I'll leave it here. I'm so happy l took this cruise. It was so much fun. If any of you are on the fence about doing this, then let me push you strongly towards DOING IT! 

 

Next stop, The 80s Cruise. But first, pictures of Kool and the Gang and my mystery organizer.

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Congratulations on booking next year , we did same for our rock and romance, still thinking of booking flower power for next year, since there back to back , not sure if we want to spend the money since we would definitely go for a suite again . We got similar stuff on our cruise, enjoy and keep posting.

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HB -- glad that you had a good cruise, and thanks for posting your review. After the sudden cancellation of our last January's 'jazz cruises', I'm so relieved to hear that charter music cruising is still alive and well! That gives me tremendous hope for next year's Blue Note at Sea sailing (1/13/23 - 1/30/23) -- which I believe still has good cabins available, if anyone is interested.🙂🤞🎶

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16 hours ago, wwcruisers said:

HB -- glad that you had a good cruise, and thanks for posting your review. After the sudden cancellation of our last January's 'jazz cruises', I'm so relieved to hear that charter music cruising is still alive and well! That gives me tremendous hope for next year's Blue Note at Sea sailing (1/13/23 - 1/30/23) -- which I believe still has good cabins available, if anyone is interested.🙂🤞🎶

 

Thanks for the kind words and thank you for the heads up on the Blue Note at Sea.

 

Yes, charter music cruising is very much alive and well, as I will spotlight in my 80s Cruise notes to follow.

 

Let's see, where was I? Orlando, I guess. One of the weaker portions of my plan was that I needed to get from there to Port Canaveral. I found, prebooked, and prepaid for a shuttle to take me all the way there for what I thought was a nice rate.

 

Anyway, the time of my shuttle came and went. 15 minutes later I called the shuttle company. Their voice mail was full. 🤬🤬🤬 I thought I was in real trouble. But I got a callback immediately from them. The lady there was apologetic and wanted to make alternate arrangements for me. I said all right. Time was ticking and I had visions of The 80s cruise sailing off without me.  😢

 

15 minutes later, I found out what the alternate arrangements were - they would call an Uber for me, at their expense, and have them pick me up at the hotel and drop me off at the ship. That was one of the things I thought I might have needed to do, so I had priced it out on Lyft (I don't use Uber - long story). Depending on the usual factors, it's a $70-100 ride. Plus tip.

 

A few minutes later, the driver came. He was friendly and obviously knew the area. I finally got to Mariner OTS at 12:30, only about 30 minutes past my scheduled appointment time. I threw him an extra cash tip because he performed well in what must have been an extraordinary situation for him.

 

I'll get back to the ship in a moment, but the shuttle company is asking for a review, and I'm finding it surprisingly difficult to do. Obviously I got a fantastic glass of lemonade out of what was a bunch of lemons for both of us. But it's obviously an unsustainable business model to provide $100 ride shares for... quite a bit less than $100. So I would hesitate to recommend them for that reason. But if they're willing to treat me, random customer from a faraway state, this well, it says a lot about who's behind the organization and how far they're willing to go above and beyond the minimums of customer service.

 

OK, back to the Mariner. The boarding process was more efficient than my clumsy brain and paperwork could handle. Still, I got on the ship in near record time.

 

The room was ready, but I had a couple of errands to run. First I had to stop by the MDR on deck 4 to finish my emuster. I did that, but apparently it didn't take, so I had to redo it two hours later. The second errand was to stop by the Windjammer for lunch. This was my first Jammer stop, since I had never been on Royal Caribbean before. My notes:

 

* Good food

* Lots of variety

* Very large area

* What thrift store did they get their chairs from? Those things weren't in fashion in 2002, when the Mariner was built. The chairs were in decent shape (from what I saw), but they contributed to a depressing, cheap diner/cafeteria experience

 

On to the cabin. It was another interior. Sadly, Royal doesn't have any kind of bridge cam on the TV, so I had to go out to get any view of daylight.

 

There are several channels dedicated to The 80s Cruise, its schedule, and selling cruises for next year. I liked the background music a lot, since I was so familiar with it.

 

There are three channels dedicated to 80s movies.

 

Filling out the TV feed are a few house Royal channels, some news channels (MSNBC, CNBC, FOX, BBC), three ESPN sports channels, and two other sports channels.

 

The first concert on the first night that I went to was ABC. I thought the pre concert entry process was a little inefficient. There were reserved seats for those who booked them very early back in 2020. They could walk right in and take their seats. Fine. Then came those who didn't have reservations but wanted to come early. There was a line for us, and in this case, it was substantial and snaked through the casino. On this day I was offered a singleton seat in the center of row 7 between large groups of reserved seats. It looked good to me, so I took it. It turned out to be pretty good. You'll see in the photo.

 

I liked ABC back in the day and I liked this concert. They played all the songs I expected them to play (including "Poison Arrow", my favorite from them), and some of the songs I missed from them sounded pretty good. I'll have to do more research when I get back home.

 

Sunday we were scheduled to dock in Nassau. As we approached it, we took a sharp turn away. The seas were too rough and the winds too high, according to the Captain. Fair enough, so we wouldn't stop there, and we would proceed straight to St. Thomas.

 

After a leisurely day, I settled in to see Paul Young at Studio B, the alternate theater here. But Gene Loves Jezebel was the band that came out. Bait and switch! ECP staff warned us there would be changes on this day, but I never could find out what changes they actually made. Except, perhaps, for this one. So I did something I never had done before and walked out. Nothing personal, of course.

 

Monday was another day at sea and the day for Dire Straits Legacy. This was a tribute band on steroids. They had three members who were in Dire Straits. They also had Trevor Horn, who was in Yes for a while. Trevor took some time to play and sign "Owner of a Lonely Heart" for us. That was the clear second favorite to the one Dire Straits song we all know.

 

Today we're making our way to St. Thomas. There will be much to do today, so I'll save the reporting of it for another time. I'll add some random pictures to close things out for now.

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13 hours ago, George C said:

Autograph CDs from rock and romance cruises 

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Thanks for sharing. I'm only a little jealous, I swear! 🤩

 

Formal autograph sessions have been scarce on the UDC and TEC so far. I could find them here and there around the ship, but I struggle to find someone in these groups who I'd really want an autograph from. I didn't bring any CDs this year; maybe next year will be different.

 

Moving on. Today is going to be very busy with three concerts, so I think I should cover yesterday while I can.

 

Not much happened before The Human League concert at 6:30. I ate breakfast, posted some, sent several emails, and caught up on my reading.

 

Human League's (male) lead singer impressed me with his vigor. He constantly went back and forth, and side to side across the stage - often while singing. It also made him tough to shoot from the not-so-cheap seats.

 

Because of the way the reserved seats worked out, I had to sit slightly right of center and about 10 rows up. Poor seats by my standards 😁, but Ticketmaster would still charge an arm and a leg for it.

 

The show started with the theater roughly half full - mostly consistent with the other main theater shows on this cruise. The ship itself is more than half booked, I'm fairly certain. Perhaps the other guests are finding other, better ways to occupy their time? There is karaoke and at least one other concert going on at the same time, but still. 

 

I thought The Human League did a good job. They grabbed hold of the crowd early and never let go. For their last two songs before the encore, their biggest hits, just about everyone was out of their seats and dancing or whatever. Even I got into it, though I very much doubt it will appear in the highlight video.

 

Let me close with some pictures from the concert. I assume you guys know what St. Thomas looks like.

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There were no formal autographs sessions on our rock and romance two weeks ago , just as well I forgot my CDs that I had for that cruise, I imagine things will be back to normal next year.

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23 hours ago, George C said:

There were no formal autographs sessions on our rock and romance two weeks ago , just as well I forgot my CDs that I had for that cruise, I imagine things will be back to normal next year.

 

Thanks for sharing. I also hope things will be normal next year. Things are looking good so far. 👍

 

Okay, this is the day after my three concert day, so let's talk about that.

 

The first one was from tribute/cover band Trial By Fire. This had a totally heavy metal theme that I thought could be interesting. They played songs from Motley Crue, Megadeth, Skid Row, Iron Maiden, and Metallica - among others. The highlight for me is they played RATT's "Round And Round". Good song, executed well by the band. BTW, we'll be sure to hear another Geico commercial song later on in this cruise. Overall the concert was in line with expectations. It was in one of the smaller ones theaters, with maybe 200 people showing up. Full capacity seating was about 500.

 

After that show, I immediately lined up for Night Ranger. I flowed in and got a row 8 seat. They played a couple of Damn Yankees songs, which I was not amused by; and skipped my favorite song from them, "Goodbye".  Despite all this, I thought they put on a very good show. They noted they were on the Kiss Kruise a few months ago.

 

Last, but not least, was John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band. Mr. Cafferty did his best to put on a high-energy and entertaining show. I had forgotten what great saxophone they featured in many of their songs. They played all the songs I expected them to play and a few pleasant surprises. They closed with "C-I-T-Y", my favorite song from them. Another excellent show.

 

Three shows and a quickie dinner in under 5 hours. What more could I ask for?

 

And now for a few pictures. Remember, fault the photographer and not the subjects.

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Thursday's report:

 

After breakfast I went to Lori Majewski's Q&A with Belinda Carlisle. There were some interesting tidbits shared in among the noted highlights of Ms. Carlisle's career. The audience was given the opportunity to ask some questions, and they did. I couldn't think of anything suitable to ask. When it was over, I notice Belinda was signing things for people near the stage. So that was an unscheduled opportunity for an autograph for those that wanted one.

 

Several hours passed before Berlin's show. My memories of Berlin in the 80s were limited compared to any number of other bands of the era. But their impact on this 80s Cruise and ones in the past (I think they've been on all of them so far) is outsized, in part due to the influence of their lead singer Terri Nunn. She's been around at various events acting like a part of the entertainment crew. Oh, and she's quite a performer on stage too. At some points she seemed to be noticeably short of breath. I took it hard when she announced that this might be her last cruise.😢 I'm sure others that knew her better took it even harder. Best wishes, Terri, wherever you go and whatever you decide to do. Truly I hardly knew you. By the pool at, they actually started with my favorite song from them, "No More Words".

 

After short pit stops for dinner and rest, I went to Studio B for Paul Young's concert. And yes, this time the schedule was correct - it was Paul Young that took the stage. He did a very good job. His voice has changed since his heyday. I think it's gotten huskier. That often happens, of course, but it was more noticeable with him for some reason. The crowd was scattered, but he generally kept their attention. I'm feeling a bit of the effects of being one of Paul's unpaid backup singers, but never mind. This is part of why I came here and attended these shows.

 

Today is the last full day of the cruise. There will be more things to report and I will do so in good time. In the meantime, let me share some photos. Ms. Carlisle is on the left in the one on the bottom.

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Posted (edited)

While I have a few minutes (my flight home has been delayed), please allow me to discuss yesterday's adventures.

 

After a leisurely breakfast at the Jammer and some to do tasks done, I decided to wait in line to book this cruise for next year. It was about a half hour wait as they didn't have too many personnel dedicated to this task and it was the very last day the booking on board perks were available. I got a ECP electronic pager thingy which I turned in when my number was called.

 

Booking itself didn't take too long. I knew what I wanted and how much it should cost. The numbers lined up and now I have the equivalent of a car payment for the next year. 💰💰💰

 

Is it worth it? Funny you should ask that. I agonized over this decision all week, and even before then. Suffice it to say that I went back and forth many times. Now that I've pulled the trigger I don't have any regrets, but neither am I ecstatic about it. I'll have fun, and it should all work out. We'll see how it goes.

 

This was a day dedicated to disembarkation instructions. They seemed simple and straightforward enough, but the execution was a little scrambled. I hope to cover that story tomorrow.

 

The day moved on and it was finally time for Belinda Carlisle to sing to us blue card holders. And I have to say she put on quite the show. She was another one that moved around the stage quite a bit (though she didn't go out into us unwashed masses like Ms. Nunn did). She sang her own hits, the Go-Go's hits (except for "Turn To You" - too bad if that was one of your favorites), and went into the deeper catalog for some gems. My favorite song from her, "Circle In The Sand", came early.

 

That would have been an excellent point to stop, but I had one more concert I wanted to see - and still wanted to see after Belinda thrilled me.

 

A Flock of Seagulls was doing their show in Studio B. There was no seating in front of the stage, presumably so anyone who cared to come up could dance with ease. Mission accomplished; the floor slowly filled with dancers as the songs got hotter and the band encouraged such. I preferred to stay in my seat, then dance near there. This was another show with about 200 attendees for an arena that could seat 500. They played my favorite, "Wishing", second to last.

 

That was it for my experiences on The 80s Cruise itself. In the next few days, I'll cover disembarkation, tie up some loose ends, and compare the two cruises.

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Edited by Honolulu Blue
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Okay, it's time for me to discuss disembarkation day and tie up some loose ends.

 

I got up early to pack and generally prepare for the long day to come.  I surprised myself with the ability to pack all my stuff into my hand tote and carry-on.  I guess I've gotten good at this over the years.  After I packed, I went to the Jammer for my last meal on the ship.  It was as busy as I had seen it.  The food was still good.  

 

We docked at Port Canaveral at around 7:15, but it took another hour to get the gangway out and get clearance.  That gummed things up such that it made Royal's planned disembarkation procedure a big old mess.  The way they had it set up, most people would stay in the cabins until their tag number was called.  Then they would come down.  But by 8, I hadn't heard any announcements, and this was when I was scheduled to get off.  Since I had already packed and already fed myself at the trough, I just left.  I followed the line back, back, back, out onto the promenade deck, and finally found the end of the line all the way near the front of the ship.  It wasn't too hot, but I was dressed in my warmest and bulkiest clothes, and I was feeling what heat there was.  

 

The regular ship cruise director Mark (as opposed to our charter cruise director J.T., who handled the vast majority of the announcements this week) finally announced that we could get off, and finally the line started to move - a little at first, then more or less steadily.  We walked across the promenade deck again, through the ship, into a small portion of the middle deck of the MDR, then onto the promenade on the other side, and finally checked out.  Then I went into the terminal and did the face showing thing for immigration/customs.  I got a check mark and went out into the ground transportation area.

 

This started part two of the disembarkation process.  I was off the ship, but more adventures awaited.  I went to the GoPort check-in area, which was a short distance from the ship.  There was a short line there, and another longer line nearby for people boarding a shuttle bus to the airport.  I and the people around me waited and waited as buses went by and were filled with luggage and people.  To their credit, I got good information and reassurance from the GoPort employee who advised us throughout the long process.  And it was long - from off the ship to on our way to the airport took about an hour.  The trip to the airport itself only took about 50 minutes - despite having a bit of a rain storm on the way.

 

Meanwhile, at Delta headquarters, my flight to DTW was delayed once, twice, three times for a total of 2 1/2 hours.  I saw the AdventHealth testing site on the way to my gate, but I didn't need to test at that point, so I passed it on by.  MCO was BUSY BUSY BUSY, and it was made worse in the area by my gate because there was too little seating for the size of the size of the planes they were trying to board.  And the kids... but never mind that.  Anyway, the plane did eventually fly and land.  I made it home.

 

And that was the end of my great adventure.  I had a wonderful time.  Highly recommended.

 

And now for the loose ends:

 

  • I had a total of four flights on this trip.  All were delayed by at least an hour.  I don't think I've ever had a run where everything was delayed like this.  I'll chalk it up to bad luck, but stuff like this doesn't encourage me to travel elsewhere.
  • I had a real problem hearing announcements from my cabin on the ship.  I had to prop the door open in order to hear them.  I could have missed any number of announcements because I slept through them or was other occupied.  Sorry.  The announcements I could hear OK in the public areas, subject to background noise.
  • I'd estimate mask areas by passengers in public areas at 1-2%.  The Royal Caribbean staff always wore them.  The ECP staff mostly didn't.  The entertainers never did while on stage.
  • I didn't hear about any COVID-related announcements and didn't hear any COVID-related rumors from the other passengers.  I didn't see any crew in hazmat suits or find out where the isolation cabins were.
  • The inside cabin on the Mariner was similar to my cabin on the Summit.  This cabin on the Mariner had more shelves, drawers, and cubbyholes.  The Summit had more convenient plugs and USB ports.
  • The bathroom on the Mariner had several items I need to discuss.  First, this was the first cabin anywhere that I felt I had inadequate counter space.  There was a sliding two-piece circular door, which was nice.  But it cut into the bathroom space, which found me bumping elbows occasionally.  And the Mariner has a mystery goop container as the only cleaning option by the shower.  My room on the Summit had separate containers for body wash, shampoo, and conditioner - much more civilized, IMHO.
  • I went to 9 concerts total:
  • Main theater - ABC, Dire Straits Legacy, Human League, Night Ranger, Berlin, and Belinda Carlisle
  • Studio B - Paul Young and A Flock of Seagulls
  • Star Lounge - Trial By Fire
  • I could have gone to more concerts, but they were either too late or in locations that I didn't like
  • I would have liked more matinees and early concerts, but I understand the rock and roll crowd doesn't like to get up that early
  • The 80s Cruise was not short on gifts for its cruisers - I got a T-shirt, a mini lunch box, a small tote bag, a water bottle, a lei, an 80s Cruise baseball cap, and some sunglasses
  • My cabin steward made some towel animals for me some days.  These are noted and appreciated.
  • On the indoor promenade on deck 5, there were four video game machines.  Despite the names on the outside, each were programmable with 60 different games from Space Invaders to Pooyan.  I gave Frogger a whirl one day and did not do well.  Maybe I'll hit these harder next year
  • I didn't hear an official passenger count, but it was sure busy in most of the public places.  I heard a mention of 3000 guests on the 2020 edition.  That was near the start of the current pandemic.  If I had to guess at a count, I'd say it was close to that this year, which would put it at 75-80% of capacity.  Which wouldn't be bad all things considered.
  • Former MTV VJ Nina Blackwood was MIA.  The other former MTV VJs Alan Hunter and Mark Goodman seemed to cover for her.  She's scheduled to be back next for next year's cruise.
  • 80s band Living Colour was a last-minute addition.  They played in several places and are scheduled to be back for next year's cruise.  They're not my thing, sorry.
  • I saw a couple of live feeds with Living Colour in Studio B and joining Berlin in the main theater.  So the technology was there.  I would like to see them implement it more widely and advertise it more.
  • I had Stream Internet access for the last four days of the cruise, which cost $100.  I was a little disappointed.  There were some definite times when I couldn't get through to the Net at all, and all the time it was a little laggy.  I could stream on YouTube if I could tolerate 360p at best and sometimes worse.  Overall I thought the Net experience was roughly equal to the ones I had on the newer Carnival ships (Horizon, Breeze) before the pandemic, and inferior to the Internet experience I had on the Regal Princess in December which covered roughly the same territory.
  • Demographic split looked to be 95% white, 5% everything else.  This is more typical of the cruises I've been on
  • For next year's lineup, I'm VERY EXCITED to see Howard Jones, Morris Day, Jody Watley, and Autograph.  I think Cutting Crew and John Parr will be worth seeing.

I guess I'll call it quits here.  Thanks, everyone, for following.  I'll make a new thread with my new musical theme cruise adventures planned for next year.  I'll add a link here when it's ready.

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Nice write up during the cruise week and after....I was in no mood to do that and just went with the flow of our group, we pretty much saw the same shows except skipped Cafferty. I guess you did not watch Modern English--IMHO they were phenomenal outside during the tshirt party, totally was into them. Also surprisingly how much I enjoyed the Dramarama show as well.

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21 minutes ago, Latitude Adjustment said:

Nice write up during the cruise week and after....I was in no mood to do that and just went with the flow of our group, we pretty much saw the same shows except skipped Cafferty. I guess you did not watch Modern English--IMHO they were phenomenal outside during the tshirt party, totally was into them. Also surprisingly how much I enjoyed the Dramarama show as well.

 

Thank you kindly.  I had a lot of time on my hands and managed to procure Internet access, so the trip reports weren't that big a deal.  John Cafferty and the BBB were very good, IMHO - I didn't see a bad show on the cruise.  I'm not surprised to hear Modern English and Dramarama were good, but I just know the one song from ME and wasn't curious enough about the rest to sit through their show.

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We have VIP tickets to a concert Sunday that includes a meet and greet with several former rock and romance artists, Todd Rundgren, Christofer Cross, Badfinger and a former lead singer of Chicago.

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Here is a picture with us with three rock and romance artist from last nights concert , Todd Rundgren told us he liked our rock and romance shirts, others were Joey Molland from badfinger and former Chicago lead singer who was on our last two rock and romance cruises.

image.jpeg.6fcf26c325b1fbf6d652beab84fa136c.jpeg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks HB for such detailed reports -- they're really appreciated! I had friends on both Rock and Romance and UDC and they reported heavy Covid outbreaks -- over 100 from R&R, and at least a few dozen on UDC, if Facebook polls are to be believed. I think most people had symptoms and tested positive after the cruise, rather than when on board. A friend of mine got Covid on the UDC and ended up giving it to the relatives he stayed with following the cruise. I'm glad everyone on this thread seems to have avoided it. I did two music charters this winter, the Outlaw Country Cruise and Cayamo, both Sixthman offerings on the Norwegian Pearl. There was little mask wearing but also no widespread reports of post-cruise Covid. 

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