Please tell us about your first Cayamo Cruise experience!
You were quoted in a recent interview that this was your first time cruising in general.
Cruises are for old people. The fact that I was on one obviously changes that. This was my first time on a large boat that wasn't a ferry.
Were you claustrophobic? Seasick?
I have mild thalassophobia - I don't fancy something like an Atlantic crossing. I took comfort from the fact that there was land not too far over the horizon at any given point. Around day 2 the boat was rolling a bit, and I did feel a little queasy. I visited the onboard acupuncturist, and then felt fine for the rest of the trip.
Did you gamble? Bowl?
This was not a gambling crowd, the casino was empty the whole voyage. I was keen to try the self-levelling bowling alley, just to see how they did it, but missed my chances.
How were the onboard accommodations?
Our room was excellent, with apologies to those in steerage. We were treated very well by the Cayamo staff. If eating was your thing, the food was varied and very good, and you could grab something at any time of day or night.
Did you go on the organized shore excursions or explore on your own? What was your favorite 'port of call'?
We did one organized tour in Tortola, which involved a hike up the mountain (which could have been a bit more strenuous) and ended up at a beautiful beach, where the ornithologists among us were in heaven, floating in turquoise clear water, while all around us pelicans, boobies and terns were spectacularly diving for fish. In St. Croix we ended up on a shore-based snorkeling tour, which was less interesting. Great Stirrup Cay, an island owned by the cruise line, had a lovely beach with surprisingly good snorkeling.
What were the venues like aboard the Norwegian Pearl?
On the whole, good. The largest held about 900, the next about 300, but many other spaces were used, indoor and out.
For those unfamiliar, please summarize what's expected of the guest performers.
Most people play 3 shows in the course of a week. I think I counted 5 by Enter The Haggis.
Did you mainly perform solo or were you able to collude with other guest artists?
I did two solo performances, and a set with Loudon Wainwright. I managed to get Buddy Miller up in my set for a number.
Photography by: Jim McKelvey © 2011
Was there anyone present with whom you would have liked to perform but did not have the opportunity?
I was invited to sit in with John Prine, but I had sunstroke. Next time…
What were the highlights for you?
I liked the fact that everybody on the boat was a music fan, and generally they were open minded about discovering artists they were unfamiliar with. Overall, I enjoyed the experience. You have to get over the mild Las Vegas-ness and Disney-ness of the environment, and the fact that you're on a floating city, burning shitloads of marine diesel.
What changes, if any, would you like to see?
More stops! Probably impossible, because of the huge docking fees, but every time we slid past a land mass, I wanted to pull over and take a look. There's Cuba! Can't we check it out for a day or two? Haiti! Dominican Republic! Puerto Rico! Every single island in the Bahamas!
If asked to return, would you?
Yes I would.
Would you also consider other alternative entertainment venues, such as Roots on the Rails?
Trains? Even better!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
The people at Cayamo really seem to care about music. This makes all the difference.