Words from the Sea of Tranquility (or not)

Ed: Live from the high seas of the Caribbean, our special correspondent checks in with an update of what cruising in the time of Covid-19 is really like. – R

By Chrissie Peters

No Mistakes (Revisited)…

In my last blog from Explorer of the Seas, I reported that there had been a few mis-steps, but that I firmly believed that, as the lyrics to Patty Smyth’s song suggests, there are no mistakes. Wow! Have the past 24 hours tested my faith in that belief! This blog won’t focus on the negative aspects of what have transpired, I promise, but, in the spirit of full disclosure, I want to be honest about what has gone wrong.

Just hours after I sent the blog post to Rhonda, an announcement came over the ship’s PA system, including into our staterooms, which typically only happens during emergencies or major events. It was the Activities Director, JT. Within 60 minutes of each other that afternoon, cancellations had been submitted to the entertainment company responsible for the cruise, by Bret Michaels, The B-52’s, and Midnight Star. That’s right. Two more headlining acts had decided not to show up, we’re all guessing because of this admittedly unknown business with the coronavirus, although we were never given official reasons. And quite honestly, I don’t think that anyone really cared; many people, myself included, felt like we had just been robbed. The B-52’s was the main reason my husband signed on for the cruise; Russ is not the 80’s music lover that I am, so that was a really big let-down.  

I felt indignant that we were told to just keep enjoying the party and other activities going on. Yes, there is more happening than one person can possibly do, but let’s face reality: those big-name performers are the big attraction on this smorgasbord. Everything else is really good sides and gravy! I understand that they have to be cheerleaders, if for no other reason, than to keep stampedes from occurring. But I did not want them to tell me to continue feeling joyous, especially when, two hours earlier, we had just laid down $800 in non-refundable money for next year’s cruise. I thought, “I just lost all faith in your company and I’m tied down for next year now, too.”

When The Going Gets Tough…

Dinner was a mixed bag of people at our table being bummed, but not wanting to bring down everyone else’s 80’s buzz, which was really what I needed. People who understood my disappointment, but realized that we are out here, regardless, and that there is still (at least for the moment) some amazing talent aboard this big boat with us, and that makes us pretty lucky people! 

So we went to see Katrina (formerly of Katrina and the Waves), who put on an amazing show, interacting with the audience on a great personal level in Studio B. Then, we experienced one of the highest-energy shows that I have come across, since Chic opening for Duran Duran. I cannot say enough about the positive energy and showmanship of Kool & The Gang! Robert “Kool” Bell plays bass in the band named for him, and has been doing so for more than 50 years! Forget Bret Michaels, The B-52’s, and whoever else for a few minutes and let that sink in! The man is a legend, and for great reasons. You don’t achieve that sort of longevity in the entertainment business without talent and something special! They played hit after hit, did choreographed dance steps onstage that were a cross between what you saw from the old Motown legends to the two lead singers doing more current simultaneous “mirror” moves that made you ooh and aah at their flashiness and difficulty (especially to someone like me, who often experiences Danceaphobia)! 

We stayed up extra late to catch Tony Hadley, just in case he decided to jump ship when we docked in San Juan today. For various reasons, some personal and therefore not worth mentioning, the others just my opinion and probably not worth mentioning in order to avoid offending anyone, I wasn’t as wowed by him as I wanted to be. Some people behind us remarked that it was like seeing Tom Jones in Vegas, only not as good, before they got up to leave. To be certain, though, he held many audience members in his sway. He just wasn’t my glass or three of Jack Daniels, but he still has a magnificent voice. To his credit, he makes himself very available to guests on the cruise, and loves holding court, sharing stories, answering questions, and just having discussions at all hours. And, especially in the face of the coronavirus, I find that mightily impressive.  

Sing Blue Silver (Linings)…

The weather has been miserable since we left Miami on Sunday, high winds, rain, water from the onboard pools rolling out onto the deck in crashing waves. So, any outdoor concerts have had to be moved inside, postponed, or canceled. Today, the weather caused us to arrive in San Juan more than three hours late, so all excursions were canceled and people received onboard credit for those missed activities. Russ and I were here last spring and had decided against an excursion, so we weren’t impacted. Except for being confused about when other things were happening. Meanwhile, we enjoyed an early interview with Annabella from BowWowWow by fellow Duranie, Lori Majewski, and a super-charged concert from Taylor Dayne. The entertainment company lined up The Wailers to come aboard for a late-night show tonight in San Juan. I think that they will probably leave the ship before we leave port at 12:30 a.m. But I’m impressed that the company is still scrambling to make things good for us, to try to fill in gaps as best as they can. And I hope to catch Berlin’s piano player in a piano bar jam late tonight. You don’t get that opportunity every day! 

What Happens Tomorrow…

Well, at this point, I have given up trying to plan anything, really. We receive a daily print update, but there seem to be PA-system updates that conflict with those in some way or another. For now, I’m trying to go with the flow, take it easy, and not be too surprised by anything that happens, good or bad. In the end, it still beats being at home, stressing over things that I have no control over there. In the end, it’s all going to be okay. 

Chrissie Anderson Peters is an author who lives in Bristol, TN, with her husband Russ, and their five feline children. She fell in love with Duran Duran during the video to “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” She was 13, and came late to the party, but she’s staying until they kick her out.

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