Our Blues Cruise

Here we are leaving home. Tom is wearing his blues cruise sweatshirt.

Here we are on a layover in Salt Lake City.

Here is our view from our Fort Lauderdale hotel room when we arrived after midnight. I had a gin and tonic in celebration after a very long day.

This is the view the next afternoon from our ship’s cabin. It was the maiden voyage for the Holland America Nieuw Statendam.

Then we finally got to listen to the amazing music. This is Eden Brent, her husband and Leon Blue.

This is Popa Chubby.

This is Janiva Magness.

This is Victor Wainwright and The Train.

This is The Train’s trumpeter in the crowd at the aft pool.

This is Taj Mahal.

This is the beautiful blue Caribbean waters the next morning.

And here is Half Moon Cay. We snorkeled there, walked the beach, relaxed, and ate BBQ.

Then we returned to the ship for more music. We started with Monster Mike Welch. Sadly his music partner Mike Ledbetter had died suddenly just before the cruise. So Curtis Salgado stepped up to join him.

Then we watched Tab Benoit. He was a great musician and quite funny.

Here is our Monday Sunset.

And the best door decoration on the trip. When you walked by the skeleton played.

One really nice thing about this cruise is that you get to see new artists that you have never heard of before and be blown away by them. This happened with Vanessa Collier.

We were on this cruise with our friends Pam and Tommy. Pam bought me a Pain Killer cocktail during Vanessa’s show. And it was tasty.

Then we headed to the mid-ship pool to watch the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. We sat at the edge of the pool with our bare feet in the water. We enjoyed the music and watched the alligator floating around. Kenny is loud so we used ear plugs.

Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers started off our Tuesday. A favorite young artist of our Kingfish joined them.

There was amazing art on this ship. The only item I took a photo of was this needlepoint display.

Here is our Tuesday sunset.

Then we got to enjoy Christone Kingfish Ingram in his own performance. He walked and played in the crowd around the mid-ship pool and came right by us. We have seen him before at Winthrop and will again. Plus his first album is coming out in May.

Then we got to see Tab Benoit again, this time with better seats.

Wednesday morning we arrived at St. Thomas. Tom and I took an open air taxi to Coki Beach. It was a memorable and somewhat scary ride. But Coki Beach was magical. The snorkeling was amazing. Our server Mama brought me Funky Monkey drinks and Tom got rum and Cokes. The people watching was fun. And I had the most amazing fried snapper meal and Tom had very spicy Jerk chicken.

We returned to the ship and started our evening with the amazing the Keeshea Pratt Band.

The Monster Mike Welch returned with special guests Curtis Salgado, Danielle Nicole and Victor Wainwright.

We are enjoying ourselves.

Then came The Lowrider Band with Lee Oskar on harmonica.

We ended our incredible Wednesday with Popa Chubby.

On Thursday morning we arrived at St. Maarten. Tom and I walked into Phillipsburg and had coffees. We then walked through town and waited a long time for a bus to Marigot on the French side of the island. The bus was crowded with well dressed and Spanish speaking locals. We walked around what is left of Marigot after Hurricane Irma and finally found Enoch’s. There I had a lovely Caribbean meal. We walked around more failing to find French cider at 95 degrees. Finally we gave up and took a taxi back to our cruise ship. But the driver told us more about the hurricane and the recovery which was fascinating and gave us more understanding of their struggles.

We returned to the ship. There we finally got seats to see the young phenom Jontavious Willis. He was later joined by his uncle Oscar Wilson.

Then we saw Irma Thomas.

And Tommy Castro.

On Friday morning we started out with a panel of older blues musicians moderated by Rev. Billy Wirtz. There was Bobby Rush, Benny Turner, Leon Blue, Scrape Iron and Latimore. Their descriptions of their early touring challenges was fascinating and hilarious.


Then I went to the Harold Brown cooking class. He is a member of the Lowrider Band and showed us how to make his grilled lamb chops and greens. He had some amazing stories to tell as well.

Then we listened to Eric Johanson with Tab Benoit on drums.

Then it was to the piano bar with Leon Blue and Rev. Billy Wirtz.

Next was the autograph signing. Tom bought a blue cruise poster and had most of them sign it.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Noah Wallace:

Eden Brent:

Vanessa Collier:

Eric Johanson:

Rev. Billy Wirtz:

Popa Chubby:

Scrap Iron:

Janiva Magness:

Victor Wainwright Band:

Jontavious Willis:


Keeshea Pratt Band:

Taj Mahall:

Monster Mike Welch and Curtis Salgado:

Then I went back to the piano bar and watched Carl “Sonny” Leyland. Jontavious joined him for two sings, one regarding the Cannonball train and another regarding tuberculosis.

Then I watched Barry Cuda and Billy Wirtz.

On this cruise we tended to stay on west coast time so we were often up late. We started having a midnight snacks. On this Friday night a couple of dinosaurs joined us.

Here are some photos of our cabin after six days.

On Saturday we attended a discussion and music moderated by Dick Sherman regarding Chicago blues.

There was Oscar Wilson,

Mark Hummel,

Deitra Farr,

Lil’ Ed,

Benny Turner,

And Bobby Rush.

Next came The Victor Wainwright Band. The horn section came out around the pool to play.

I was sitting and talking with a nurse. She was one of the dinosaurs and won best costume. Here is her tattoo.

Pam got her T-shirt snipped.

We got to see Mike and Curtis again with Pam and Tommy.


Kingfish and Vanessa joined them.


Tommy Castro also joined in.


Then I went to see Kelley Hunt at the piano bar.

Then I stayed for Billy Wirtz. I love his comedic music.


Then we saw Gracie Curran.


And that was the end of our blues cruise. We disembarked Sunday morning. It was an amazing experience of great music and companionship.

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8 Responses to Our Blues Cruise

  1. Jeanne says:

    Wow! That was quite a trip!

  2. Aurora Day says:

    WOW. Best digital diary ever. Thank you. Your experience helped me to definitely put it on my bucket list. Saving my pennies already. Thanks again looks amazing !

  3. Chick Ganz says:

    That was a very cool way for us to enjoy your time there…..I kinda went thru and thought “I was at that one…or, how’d I miss that…..thank u……

  4. Diane cruikshank says:

    Looks so fun and beautiful!

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