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UDC 23, 80s Cruise, and beyond - my musical journey continues

Honolulu Blue

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The top of page 4 is an excellent place to start my adventure. This will cover my pre cruise travel, the hotel, and boarding. Future posts will cover the rest.


We had a nasty little ice storm in southern Michigan on Wednesday. I never lost power, though many other Michiganders weren't so lucky. Here's how bad things got at its peak on Thursday:



We got a glancing blow here. This is what it looked like near where I live:



Things were better by the time I left on Friday morning, but you can see why I wanted to get away.


I had a Southwest flight (insert scary noises) to Miami through Nashville. Thankfully, all legs were eventless - though one of the gate agents at Metro noted that she was still without power. 


Nashville seemed like a nice smaller airport. I wouldn't mind stopping there again sometime.


After arrival at MIA I searched for the hotel. Miami International Hotel was right inside the airport, which was the convenience I wanted on this trip. It was a bit of a hike from where we landed. Unlike last time I was here, there were only a couple of people in line and my wait at the desk was only a couple of minutes. They gave me my key and told me about the breakfast voucher my booking earned me. I'd have to pick it up at the desk the next morning. I'll tell you about that meal a little later.


My room on the 5th floor was small by modern hotel standards with only a twin bed. I could lie in bed and almost change the channels on the TV with my feet. The bathroom was surprisingly roomy and well stocked with toiletries and towels. Overall I thought it was a good room and met my needs. It cost $190 for the night, which surprisingly was one of the lower rates I saw for the Miami area.


The breakfast was at Air Margaritaville, which was across from the check in desk from the hotel. I had eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast, butter, and water. It was good, well worth what I paid for it (just the tip). Thanks guys.



After cleaning up I left the hotel and took a Lyft to the port. I was a little worried that I didn't pick to the right terminal, but I picked exactly the right one. And the Summit was already there. Rideshares are expensive these days; I paid $36 for this one. Ouch.


Also ouch was the considerable line I found myself in to enter the terminal. The COVID-19 test and vaccine checks were done outside by StarVista Live staff. My passport, ID, and boarding pass were checked at various places as I wound my way to the ship. I didn't have any particular issues, though again I wish I had printed out my boarding pass.


After I got onboard I went to the casino for my brief briefing (I had watched the video back at the hotel). They checked me in. I hope it takes and I don't have to do this again. 


Then I dropped off my bags at the room. I briefly met my cabin steward who gave me some instructions. I hope he doesn't think too ill of me; I'm never at my best on embarkation day. 


By 11:30 I made it to my "secret" hiding place and started working on this post, among other things. This is the earliest I've ever been onboard any ship. I'm not even hungry yet. I'll eventually go feed myself at the trough.


Next I'll cover the rest of day 1 and possibly a bit of day 2.


Edited by Honolulu Blue
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Greetings from Key West! While I have 5g access, let me wrap up the rest of day 1.


They gave me a free lanyard along with a bunch of other gifts:













The second to last item is a mat - most useful for not sitting on the bare grass during the KC and the Sunshine Band concert. I'll discuss that more later.


They did give us more written instructions on this concert. We don't have any reserved seats as a group. This surprised me. But with early access to the amphitheater just for us, it shouldn't be an issue for me to get a seat. And I do want one, because that mat is smelly.


We left on time (4 PM) and arrived here on time (7 AM). We were cleared by 7:20. I barely felt anything midship on deck 2 in my interior cabin. Good job Captain Dimitri!


I'll do the Taylor Dayne concerts in a separate post.

Edited by Honolulu Blue
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I had a hefty post on the Taylor Dayne concert all ready to go, but it was wiped out. My fault. Here are the highlights:

* I thought she was good

* She played my favorite song from her third

* She went into the crowd to sing one of her songs

* The concert was short - only 1:03

* Theater was close to full

* Some left early - I don't know why

* I saw the second concert in my cabin on the live feed

* It was mostly the same Taylor, but...

* She skipped a song! That made this second concert only 58 minutes.

* I went to the OVC between shows

* It was up to expectations - good selection, good quality


My next post will cover the Key West experience - including the KC and the Sunshine Band concert. Meanwhile, here are some pictures.IMG_20230225_192134.thumb.jpg.2a6225b54fe448aac752aa784c5b85cf.jpg







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This is a quick post to explain some things and try out some things. I'll go into much more detail in a few hours.


I broke down and got the basic Internet plan for the rest of the cruise for $54. The good news is, as others have reported, Starlink is up and running. The bad news is that it's severely throttled:



I had a great day in Key West, despite it mostly being about these guys:



I skipped out on the ex Chic ladies by the pool in the afternoon, but I did keep my evening dates with Ashlie Amber...



And Cara Lee



All three concerts were wild and wonderful in their own ways. More about these and other stories soon. Stay tuned.

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Let's see, where was I? Oh yes, describing my day in Key West. Be patient; this could take a while.


After a good breakfast and some knocking around, I went out about 10:30. That was the time StarVista Live told us the shuttles would be starting. I didn't want to have to settle for a lawn seat, so part of the plan was to get out early.


I followed the crowd and actually got on the first shuttle to the amphitheater. We got off and joined the (at that time short) line for us from the cruise ship to get in.



This was about 10:45. Much of that time was spent listening to the others in line and their stories about this cruise, other cruises, and their lives beyond this experience.


Half an hour later they let us in. I scoped out the seating situation. Half the seats were reserved for our group. The other half were for the locals that bought tickets. There were a few covered seats on the berm and some lawn space beyond that. I ignored them and headed to the main seating area. I actually got a nice spot in row 4.




We had a DJ entertain us for about an hour until the main event. They actually premiered a new KC and the Sunshine Band single for us. I thought it was pretty good.


KC and the Sunshine Band played for us for about an hour and 20 minutes. They played most of the songs you know them for. And yes, they played my favorite song from them, the relatively obscure "I Like to Do It". A lot of the stories and jokes KC told were familiar from my last experience with him at last year's UDC. 




P.S. I thought the dancer on the far right was a stunner. She didn't photograph well because she's such a lively dancer that I always got her out of position.


They brought up George McCrae to sing his big hit (which KC wrote) "Rock Your Baby".




Before I forget, I'd like to thank the lady next to me for sometimes dancing with me. She had decent moves and she had the good manners to not LOL at my attempts to shake my booty. No pictures of her, sorry.


Like all good things, this concert came to an end. This really was a good show, worth all the extra hassle and energy I put into it. Did I mention that the sun was beaming down on me the whole time? Well, it was. It was only about 80 outside and there were occasional cooling breezes, but it was still an exhausting experience.


There was a long line for the shuttles back, so I decided to walk back to the ship. I must have taken the scenic route, because it lasted longer than expected.


Half an hour later I made it back to the cabin. I skipped out on the ex Chic ladies because I was so tired. I was sorry to do this, but I wanted to save myself.


By sunset I was ready to mingle again. I had dinner in the OVC and again I had no issues finding things I liked. One of many nice things about the Cafe is there are lots of windows where you can see random things like this:




I spent some time talking to a cruise buddy I had previously met in that KC and the Sunshine Band line. We split to go sit in separate sections but hooked up here. We discussed our musical plans for the night. They didn't match up, but I was able to point her in the right direction for what she wanted to do.


After seeing her off, I killed some time before the Ashlie Amber concert in the Sky Lounge. I arrived 15 minutes early and quite literally hady choice of seats. I chose one in row 2. At show time the lounge was full - 300 or so Whitney Houston fans looking to be entertained.


And I don't think any of us were disappointed. We'll, I was, kind of - "So Emotional", my favorite song from Whitney, was played early but got cut short.


As for the rest, Ashlie showed a big voice and a diva-esque presence. I wouldn't be surprised if bigger things are in her future.




She was another singer that went into the audience for a song, but she moved too fast for me to capture it. Sorry.


Moving along, I went back to my refreshed room to plan out the next day and wait for my date with Cara Lee, who would be doing Cher in the Rendezvous Lounge.


The Rendezvous Lounge turned out to be an open area with more distracting background noise than normal. I arrived 15 minutes early and again I had my choice of seats. I chose row 3 center. It took a while for the front row to fill. I'll tell that story a little later.


I was greeted by a gentleman who had sat next to me at the Ashlie Amber show a couple of hours ago. He had seen Cara Lee twice before. That he was seeing her again seemed to be quite an endorsement.


This was a different experience in that there was no band behind Cara here, just a backing music track. She did quite well. I was quite entertained. The most fun I had was when she picked a random guy out of the stands and had him play Sonny Bono on "I Got You Babe"




I suppose "Gypsies Tramps and Thieves" is my favorite song from Cher. Cara played it and did a fine job with it.


The front row did eventually fill and we got people dancing to some of Cher's greatest hits.




After the show was over I went to sleep.


My next post will cover the events of today. I've got some Earth Wind and Fire on mimd, among other things.

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18 hours ago, George C said:

Thanks for updates we have seen Cara Lee many times and she always puts on a good show . She did background vocals for a Peter Asher show also.

Thank you for following along. I'm starting to become a bigger Cara Lee fan. Maybe I'll see her again on future sailings.


Speaking of future sailings, let me start with that. Our CD Jason always gives us a morning message that's available to watch as a VOD on the ship's TV. This morning part of it was about the UDC's fate. To make a long, mostly circular story short, StarVista is disappointed by our sales, they want to try some things and put the pressure on us to drum up support somehow (few details yet), there's a small chance it could be added to the schedule sometime in '24, better chance for '25. No commitment and no promises.


I like the UDC and look forward to seeing what they plan to change. If I like what I see, I'll book it whenever it is. Otherwise it's given me some wonderful memories.


Memories like an afternoon by the pool stage listening to Queen Nation. This was another recommendation from @GeorgeCthat worked out well. I liked them even though they didn't play Queen's most famous song (understandable; they knew their audience liked to dance and that would have put some of them to sleep). They also played too many of their newer songs, which I didn't like.  But I got a good seat and even recorded pieces of a couple of their songs. They're definitely not ready for prime time, so don't look for them to be published anywhere, ever.


The pictures were all right, even though I did some pointing and praying. It helps that I got some nice seats.


BTW, my favorite Queen song is "Another One Bites the Dust" and they closed the show with it.






I chilled out for a few hours and then it was time to see the Al McKay Allstars. Mr. McKay was a founding member of Earth Wind and Fire. They put on a great show. The theater looked full and they got the people standing and dancing. 


Two songs from EW&F stand out for me - "Serpentine Fire" and September". They opened with the former and saved the latter for their penultimate song.






That was it for me, other than planning out today.


We traveled through the night and got to Cozumel a little before 7. We've been cleared for a couple of hours. I haven't left the ship yet, but plan to stretch my legs later on. I don't have any excursions.


We do have company. Off in the distance I saw some cruise ships, and right next to is this behemoth:




That's all I have to say for now. Thank you for stopping by. I'll continue this adventure tomorrow.

Edited by Honolulu Blue
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Bonus coverage!


I stopped by the future sales desk earlier this morning. Unlike regular Celebrity cruises, this one is set up to only sell future StarVista Live cruises. Since this one has no future ☹️, they had little to sell. And as I went by there, the agents were like Maytag repairmen sitting around and talking to each other. There was one gentleman that stopped in who got part of the memo about the UDC being canceled for next year. I didn't stick around for his full answer.


Anyway, they had some nice banners around advertising their music charters. I recognize the band on this one:




I found a business card advertising next year's Rock and Romance cruise. Here's both sides of it:





This ends my bonus report. I'll follow up tomorrow with how the rest of this day went.

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Posted (edited)

Today we're heading back to Miami. For most on this cruise, it's the end of their adventure. But for me, it's merely the end of the beginning.


Reviewing my day in Cozumel...


I went onshore briefly to take a few pictures and see the sights, such as they were.




If you look very carefully, you can see the Ruby Princess tucked in behind the Carnival Valor. Two stories here:


1) I'll be on the Ruby next month on another musical adventure - it also goes to Cozumel

2) My first cruise was on the Valor way back in 2014. It didn't go to Cozumel.


I meandered through the day until I got the chance to see Boogie Wonder Band by the pool at 4. They're a general disco eta tribute band from Canada of all places. They fit in a lot of songs and put on a high quality, high energy show. It was impossible for me not to boogie along. Here are some of the pictures that weren't ruined by my dancing:






Not too long after this, The Whispers played in the main theater. Recall that they were a last minute replacement for Billy Ocean. The theater wasn't quite full for the show, but it was pretty close. We did have one special guest - let's call her the neon butterfly lady:




Sorry, this was the best I could do here. She really did look better in person, even from a distance.


Anyway, The Whispers put on a good show, and the crowd got into it once they found songs they could recognize.






Also, I noted a few posts ago that Taylor Dayne's late show was 58 minutes long. This show clocked out at only 57 minutes. Quick but lively.


And that's it. I think Kool and the Gang will be the only show for me today, so I'll report on that tomorrow. Until then, try not to be too jealous. 😁

Edited by Honolulu Blue
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Hi guys. I survived the trip off the ship and made it to Miami airport.


First, Celebrity gave us instructions to meet in the Rendezvous Lounge at 7:25. This was for self disembarks. Then last night they changed the time to 6:30. Great, I said to myself, we're arriving extra early.


We'll, not exactly. I went to the lounge but we hadn't yet docked. In the meantime, I met a couple who was a veteran of a couple of UDCs (like me) and an incredible 10 Soul Train cruises. I also met an alumnus of my old university. He even stayed in one of my old dorms.


We also were graced with the presence of the lead singer for Queen Nation. No pictures of this encounter, but this is the guy at work:



Maybe I'll see him again next year?


Eventually, at about 7:30, our line started to move. I was among the first 30 passengers off. That's one of the nice things about how Celebrity treats me - they allow me to be one of the first people off.  I choose NOT to think it's by design.


I did the face recognition thing and got a quick thumbs up. I did a foolish thing and didn't preregister for a shuttle. There didn't seem to be any handy rideshare pickup options (another mistake was not researching this beforehand), so I stood in the taxi line. I got a good driver and we made good time, but the trip cost $45 (with tip). Yikes!! I don't think my trip to San Pedro from LAX is going to cost that much, but we'll see.


From where I was dropped off I had to walk a long way to get to a checkpoint that would take unwashed peasants like me. The walk through security wasn't too bad. I think I was part of a trial - I had to walk with a completely random partner while a little doggie and his handler checked us for... Whatever. We were clean and continued on. My DL scan went well, and that's where my good luck ran out.


It took a long time to get through the rest of security, partly because the scanner didn't like my belt and I had to fix that.


After getting through that, I had a very long walk to my gate. I'm used to Detroit Metro providing a monorail and/or moving sidewalks for something like this. But MIA had neither of these conveniences. 


Sorry. Let's go back to yesterday. Not much of note happened besides the Kool and the Gang concert. And what a concert it was! This might have been the best concert I've ever been to, ever, in my life. Here are a couple of pictures.






This closes the book on my Ultimate Disco Cruise. It's future may be in limbo, bit I'll always have the memories.


Next time I'll cover the rest of today and possibly part of tomorrow as part of my coverage of The 80s Cruise.

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I'm onboard my flight to LAX, so let me give a quick update on COVID-19 onboard the ship.


There were no reports of anyone having it. I didn't hear about anyone who was quarantined. I don't know where the red zone was, if it existed.


The Captain didn't mention it in any of his announcements (he only made one that I heard the whole voyage). Masks were worn by fewer than 1% of passengers and fewer than 5% of crew. The performers never wore them.


I'm hoping for a similar lack of news on my next cruise. 🙏

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Sorry for disappearing for a couple of days. I've been busy and internet has been in and out.


Let's start with the journey to LA in American. It was a nonstop 6-hour flight. This was my longest flight in a very long time. It went very well. My body held up better than I thought it would. I suppose it helped that I kept myself busy.


I landed at LAX and took a free shuttle to the rideshare pickup site. It was only about 5 minutes to ride there, but loading, unloading, and filling the shuttle took twice that.


My Lyft driver was exceptionally quiet, a man of very few words. I didn't mind. Traffic was bad on the 405 and he had to maneuver through that. Better him than me. It cost about $65 to get to the Crowne Plaza, including tip.




The Crowne Plaza was a decent enough hotel, suitable for ordinary use. This was one of the home hotels for The 89s Cruise and they had some banners ready for us. I especially liked these two as it reminded me of where I had just been.




I spent an eventless night here. I couldn't get on one of the hotel's shuttles to the cruise port (I think it was $5.50 per passenger), so I took another Lyft. The terminal was less than two miles away, but the journey was twisty and I was unfamiliar with the territory, so I didn't want to risk walking. In a life filled with decisions both good and bad, this was one of the better ones. The ride only cost about $11, including tip.


Some nice cruisers gently guided me to where I needed to go. This would start a sequence of stops and starts.




The terminal itself was the same as the one Princess used when I boarded the Majestic Princess last year. I didn't expect that. My opinion remains the same - it badly needs a redo or a flat out teardown and rebuild.


I was on the ship and checked into the muster station by noon. Welcome to The 80s Cruise!




One small problem with boarding so early is that the cabin wasn't ready until 1. And unlike some other cruise lines I've been on, they didn't allow access to drop off bags.


But there was actually a solution to this... I happened to be one of the few cruise ships remaining with an honest to goodness library. It was conveniently located on deck 7, where I would be staying. I've hung around here a lot the past few days, and plan to do plenty more 




1 PM came and I dropped off my stuff, unpacked, and went through the usual blizzard of paperwork. Then I went to lunch at El Loco Fresh near the pool. I had a pork and a chicken fajita. Pretty good, but I couldn't find any nearby seating. So I had to go into the Solarium to eat and rest. Nice place. Less noisy than the surrounding area  I also took a few random photos of the pier area.




We took off right at 4 and headed to Puerto Vallarta.


That evening we were entertained by Howard Jones. He was very good. My favorite song from him is "No One Is To Blame"and he played it in the middle.




I stayed up for a couple of extra hours after the show to witness the Super Special Announcement that they were having. I'll address this in the next post.

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Posted (edited)

The Extra Special Announcement I alluded to above was an announcement about the lineup for next year's cruise. Since I had a hold on this cruise already, you could say that I had a stake in this.


I went to Promenade to witness what the hubbub was all about. Eventually they quit beating around the bush and Gabe us the news. To make a very long story short, here's what they announced:





They first announced people I didn't care for and I worried about where things were going. Then came SHEENA EASTON and I thought they might be able to salvage things. Then I heard STEPHEN PEARCY and thought this might be a good lineup after all. 


And it did turn out good, IMHO. Besides the two I just mentioned, I'm looking forward to seeing 38 Special, Air Supply, Debbie Gibson, Ray Parker Jr., and Wang Chung. 


I guess ECP can keep my money. 🏧💰🤑💲


The next post will cover yesterday's events.

Edited by Honolulu Blue
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On Saturday, day 2 of this cruise, we sailed along Baja California at around 19 knots.


I visited the Behind the Music interview with Morris Day. It was revealed that he had some new music out now. I'll have to check it out. There were other tidbits revealed during the show. Mr. Day signed autographs for a few minutes after the interview, but I was too far back in line and didn't get anything. Oh well. ☹️




Later on I saw the special heavy metal show by tribute band Trial By Fire. I liked this more than I thought I would, considering most metal bands aren't of interest to me. They played RATT'S "Round and Round", among many others.




In an executive decision, I skipped out on the Cutting Crew show that evening. I felt fine, just didn't want to go. Maybe I'll see them again on some other cruise.


I didn't allow my cabin steward to turn down the cabin last night. He left more paperwork for me in the mail slot, along with a note to pick up my daily gift at ECP guest services.


BTW, I did meet him the first day and saw him in the corridor one other time. 


I broke down this morning and bought Internet access for the rest of this cruise. It cost $120. The good news is we have Starlink access onboard. The bad news is speeds are erratic. These are two tests I took within a few minutes of each other:






I also purchased two excursions - one each for Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. This cost me $74 in total. I'll tell you about those as I do them.


This concludes my early report. Eventually I'll cover the Morris Day and the Time concert.

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I apologize for being a little late with this post. Busy day, tried to work everything in.


I'll cover day 3 of the cruise - yesterday - and get to day 4 on the morrow.


This was our second day at sea on our way to Puerto Vallarta. We traveled at around 19 knots the whole day. I didn't feel much of it.


Breakfast in the Jammer was quite good.


Later on I picked up my daily gift from ECP guest services. Here it is:




I went through the rest of the day until the Morris Day concert. This was purple night and formal night. I would say most guests were either one or the other. Some combined both, which impressed me.


Also impressive we're Morris Day and the Time. They got the crowd out of their seats early and kept them out with their music and showmanship. They did a great job. I expect this will be the best concert I see onboard this week.










They didn't play "The Latest Fashion", my favorite song from me. I didn't expect them to. They also didn't play "Donald Trump (Black Version)". Tii siin for that one, but they did play several other songs from their back catalog that I didn't expect them to get to. It all worked very well.


I had dinner and retreated to the cabin after the show.


This morning, like magic, we were docked in Puerto Vallarta. Nice city, more impressive than I expected. I had an excursion here to see various sights in town. I was part of one of several groups that met in the main theater so we could get off the ship in an organized fashion.




Sebastian was our tour guide. He was a young one.




Javier was our driver who expertly guided our big yellow bus through some sometimes twisty, narrow, and cobblestoned streets. 


We made some stops in the downtown area.










This was supposed to be a 4 hour excursion, but we were out well over 5 hours. I was surprisingly exhausted when I got back and immediately took a power nap.


When I woke up, we were about ready to leave town. Goodbye PV. Maybe I'll be back.


My next post will cover the rest of today, including my next concert experience.

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Posted (edited)

The big event of yesterday evening was the concert by Autograph.


First, some background (mostly for me). Autograph was part of the Los Angeles hard rock/metal scene that emerged in the 1980s. Some I'm a big fan of (RATT and Quiet Riot), some I can't stand (Poison and Motley Crue).


Autograph was one of the good ones, IMHO. I have their first album, "Sign In Please" and enjoyed it. Their one big hit on the pop charts was from this album. I'll talk about it more later. They played three other songs from this album. Random notes:


1) They didn't get much of a reaction from the crowd - no bigger than the songs from their later albums

2) It took them 5 songs to get to their first one from this album. I was starting to wonder if I was in the right place.

3) I practiced recording video with these songs. This was not prohibited; only in the main theater is filming not allowed. Don't expect it to appear on social media now or ever. As a videographer, I'm very glad I have a day job. 😁

4) On one, "Send Her To Me", the lead singer straight out asked who had heard of it. I screamed as loud as I could (it's a good song). There were maybe two others who did the same. Sometimes I wonder who comes to these concerts and why.

5) Which leads me to two other points. First, attendance was lower than I expected - only about 150 people in an arena that fit about 500. A considerable number were by the stage (no seats out front this time; I sat in the bleachers) 

6) The lead singer also asked how many were born in each decade by voice vote. As you'd expect, the 60s and 70s were near even. But I'd say about 10% we're from the 80s and 5% from the 90s. 😮 I assume they're children of the true fans and were dragged kicking and screaming. A couple of people confessed to being born in the 50s - like Sting confessed in one of his more obscure songs. 


Let's see... What else... The singer did his best to try to engage us by singing along, swaying our hands, etc. Sometimes the results seemed weak, but that's partly because there were so few people around. And they were introduced by former MTV VJ "Downtown" Julie Brown.



My favorite song from them is their big hit from 1985, "Turn Up the Radio". They closed the show with it.


Overall I thought the newer songs they played were pretty good. I'll have to research them more. 


The band was good and they played well. This was a good concert and I'm glad I went. Here are some random photos:






Today we'll be in Cabo San Lucas. It's a surprisingly busy day for me. I plan to chronicle it tomorrow.

Edited by Honolulu Blue
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Posted (edited)

While I have some extra time and space, let me discuss what has happened so far this morning.


We're at our anchor point for Cabo San Lucas.



They just started calling tender numbers. My excursion is later.


I went to the ECP Q and A session way up on deck 14 in the Cosmopolitan Lounge. This was very interesting, very informative, and better than I expected. 


JT the cruise director hosted and passed around the Mike so they could ask the senior available staff some questions.




From left to right we had Brett (hotel director), Chris (executive director), and Joey (production director). They had very interesting stories. All, including JT, had backgrounds in the cruise and/or charter business, and have been with ECP for a while.


Yes, JT does work for the charter. Keep that in the back of your mind; I'll come back to it later.


Two questions were asked by JT first as they had been asked multiple times over the cruise. First was how they pick the ship and the itinerary. No surprise here - everything counts and it gets worked on quite a bit in advance.


The second question was what they do the rest of the year. They mentioned decompression immediately after this cruise, then on to work on other cruises - either planning or operating them.


Then came my questions, two of them. I started with the Mariner moving to Galveston next year. Chris said the 2025 cruise would probably stay in the Caribbean, but didn't commit to anything beyond that. Everything is in the cards and I was asked to stay tuned.


My second question was about solo pricing. They offered only a 50% single tax when I booked. It's also available for those who booked here, but there's an overall limit on how many cabins they will sell to single travelers. Interesting.


We had about 50 people in the lounge, and a good portion of them asked other questions on various subjects or gave the ECP staffers compliments. 


* They're probably not going to do outside excursions with artists again. Too much can go wrong with outside vendors, and they're happy with the on ship opportunities provided.


* There are more cruisers here from the east coast as compared to the west coast. The shift between last year and this year didn't change things much.


* This cruise didn't sell out, but last year's did. That surprised me, because it seems more crowded this year.


* The survey from ECP is very important to them and was mentioned multiple times. One of the acts on next year's cruise, Air Supply, was mentioned many times and they finally got them.


* They tried multiple times in the past to get Devo and they finally got them this year. They're performing tonight. No, I'm not going.


* I found a fellow passenger in a Weird Al shirt. He was nice enough for me to take a photo of him. I'm not sharing it, sorry.


Ok, now back to the UDC, Jason, and StarVista Live. Jason is not employed by StarVista; he is one of their contractors. StarVista didn't have a Q and A like this on the UDC. I think the executives and Jason would probably have been SHREDDED for reasons I've already covered. It would have been fun to see.


It's nearing time for my excursion, so I ll just leave you with a picture from the Cosmopolitan Lounge:





Edited by Honolulu Blue
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Today is a sea day as we make our way to Ensenada. Yesterday we were in Cabo San Lucas and it's time to tell you how that day went.


This is, of course, a tender port. We had to take them to the port and back.



On the way there, I saw something that I hadn't seen before. While we were sailing along, there was a crew member walking around with a tip jar. While I appreciate service personnel and the opportunity to make as much as possible, I thought this was too aggressive for my tastes and was turned off by it.


I had an excursion to see the sights in and on the way to San Jose del Cabo, about a 40 minute drive away.




We stayed in the bus the whole way there. We stopped in the central plaza and we were on our own for roughly an hour and a half. There were several places to shop and eat, and of course much to see:





I bought a few souvenirs here and eventually we left and headed back to the tender boats.BTW, this is a much more common, subtle, and all around better way to ask for what you want:




In the evening I went to one of the side arenas to see 80s tribute band Jessie's Girl. The crowd was roughly the same as watched Autograph in the same arena last night, which is to say not too many. They did get more people on the dance floor. No surprise, since they played many of the big hits of the 80s and played them well. The only act they played two songs from was Journey. I'll see a dedicated Journey tribute band on the Ruby Princess in a month.


Anyway, good job guys and gals!






That ended the exciting events from yesterday.


Before I go, I want to talk about something that sometimes happens on these cruises. Here's a sliver of today's newsletter:




I originally had the interview session with Autograph on my personal calendar. But they snuck in the autograph session with Lou Gramm and the auction at the very last minute. I'm interested in those too and now I'm torn. There's less than an hour to go, so I have to choose something soon. I should note that most of the rest of the time onboard doesn't stack events like this.


Time to go. I'll report later on today's events.

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Posted (edited)

Today we continue on our way to Ensenada. We're a few hours away.


Now it's time for me to chronicle what happened yesterday. I skipped out on the Autograph Q and A session to stand in line for Lou Gramm's autograph. And quite a line it was. It moved and I eventually got my signature. His siggy is actually clearer than mine, and I'm sure he's done many more than I have. I bought a t shirt because I didn't really have anything suitable for him to sign. 



Mr. Gramm is a very nice man. He was nice to me and nice to others I overheard in line.


BTW, no pictures were allowed anywhere in the autograph area. It was held on deck 5 in the MDR.


As for Vixen and Lori Majewski, well, they weren't Maytag repairmen lonely, but their lines were a lot shorter. I wasn't interested in their autographs.


Living Colour had an autograph session in a different location that was so last minute that it wasn't even on the newsletter. JT had to announce it.


After doing that, I had some time to watch the nearby auction. I saw auctions for paintings of famous album covers for Guns and Roses, the J. Geils Band, and Duran Duran. This latter painting sparked some lively bidding between two people. One surrendered to the other after a bid of $3300. Far too rich for my blood, but I don't judge others on what they decide to do for fun.




Later on I went to the Lou Gramm Q and A session. It was held in their smallest theater and it was PACKED.  I got there 10 minutes early and I could barely find a seat. It was standing room only by the time things started.


Mark Goodman hosted and put poor Mr. Gramm on the defensive right away with a discussion about the Foreigner that's on their farewell tour with no original members left. Then he kept up the pressure by talking about Mick Jones, his former writing partner and Foreigner bandmate. 


On Mr. Jones, I have some bad news. They haven't talked to each other in a decade. His desire to talk to him ever again is weak. Even Mick's manager is discouraging contact, so a reunion of any kind is unlikely.


He also didn't think much of the idea of joining the current Foreigner in any capacity - as a guest or anything more permanent.


In more positive news, we should have some new Lou Gramm songs released this year. Most were based on solo material that was shelved for various reasons back in the 80s and 90s.


This Q and A was very informative and I'm glad I went.




I didn't do anything else if note yesterday. No concerts for the first time since I left town! Can you believe it? Today I definitely have a concert. Guess who I'm going to see? 🤩

Edited by Honolulu Blue
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A couple of notices I found while flipping through the app. The first doesn't affect this cruise, but I do have a cruise that stops in Colon, Panama next year.




This second one I'm sure most of you have heard about. I didn't see anyone smoke or try to smoke in public while I was out and about in that country. I have several more stops in Mexico on cruises over the next year. We'll see how it goes.



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Posted (edited)

I'm sitting at the Long Beach airport. I've disembarked and the cruise is over. But I still have some notes about yesterday and today. So let's get to that.


I got a cute faux license plate and some luggage tags as gifts.






I did the charity walk for the Wounded Warrior fund and I got some more gifts for that. The big one was a t shirt:




BTW, it was originally advertised as a mile walk. There's no way I was doing a 5k walk or run with the incentives they offered. Physically I could have probably done it, but there's always a risk there. 


The mile walk went reasonably well for me. I felt good for the most part and jogged the last half lap for the fun of it. My unofficial time was 15 minutes. It was 8 laps around a specific course on deck 12. There were a fair number of photos taken of my walk, so you might see me in a few months either in the highlight reel or the random photos that are made available after the cruise.




If you look carefully at this picture, you can see people who took this a lot more seriously than I did.


Later on we docked in Ensenada first few hours. I didn't get off the ship. 


Then, in the evening, was the Lou Gramm concert. I had been looking forward to this since he announced he was coming. I thought he did a good job and so did much of the audience. He played most of his big hits with Foreigner and a couple of solo songs. He also played some songs that weren't such big hits for Foreigner.




The one big absence from the set list was "Waiting For a Girl Like You". That was a very big hit back in 1981-82, but it was a ballad. I inferred from his autobiography that he wasn't a big fan of Foreigner's ballads and that he was a rock and roller at heart. So its absence wasn't a complete surprise. But it raised my eyebrows. There may have been some other reason for skipping it - perhaps as simple as he's played it a million times and didn't want to play it that day. My guess is Foreigner will not miss playing it at next year's Rock and Romance cruise. @George Cwill have to confirm this if I don't make it.




BTW, most of the VJs and interviewers stopped by to introduce him. I was reminded of an old joke about light bulbs.




After the concert I had dinner and went to sleep. I had a long day ahead that would start early.


I went to breakfast in the Jammer right at 6, as it was opening. I ate, then finished packing. There were some challenges, but I took everything I wanted to take. I started the long walk to disembark about 7:30 and made it outside by 8. I like that my pretty face keeps getting me back on shore with minimum hassle. 


I ordered another Lyft and made it to LGB by 8:40. It was $48 for this ride. 


That's all that I currently have to say about this trip and The 80s Cruise. It was a wonderful time and I'm already looking forward to next year's edition. Truly I'd rather think about that than thinking about all the stuff that I have to take care of both in my personal and work life. 🤪


Thanks for reading.


Edited by Honolulu Blue
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We are happy foreigner is back next year on rock and romance, I really don’t remember if they sang it on previous cruise,  One of the best shows we saw on the ship was Todd Rundgren and my wife was annoyed that he didn’t play one of his biggest hits but his concert was great. I talked to someone that said Christofer Cross didn’t play any of his hits on the first rock and romance cruise , which is the only one we didn’t attend, we have seen him many times and all his concerts were great.

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I found an interesting article from Brittany Chang of Business Insider about themed cruises and the charter cruise business.  Several charters from Sixthman and ECP are mentioned by name (including The 80s Cruise).  A Holland America rep was also quoted about their charter cruises.  Notable by their absence was StarVista Live (though HAL does some SVL charters).


TL,DR - the charter business is growing like a weed.


The article is at https://www.businessinsider.com/theme-cruise-star-trek-edm-rising-popularity-2023-3 ,

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