Cruise days 4-5

Wednesday dawned and we didn’t. I think it was the latest we slept in, but we finally got to breakfast. Jill grabbed the very last Eggs Benedict for me, and we ate quickly. We have a poster of BNL at home with an page on top of it with their signatures I got when I saw them in Boston in 2000 (on a flight itinerary, the only piece of paper I had with me, while Chris only had a birthday card with him). I thought maybe we’d get a chance to have them sign it after their headlining show, but on the ship heard that was a bad time, and it was easier to find them during the day. So I was going to stalk them during their workshops that day, but we got started too late for that. I decided to carry it around with me anyway.

Jill found a spot near a window in Bar City to read and knit, and I went up to the manager’s panel and asked some questions about digital distribution. When I came back down, the BNL box set panel was going on (Jay, the compiler, was playing tracks off his laptop but the set probably won’t be out until next year). While the songs were playing Tyler was there providing commentary, and he was eventually joined by Jim. I chatted with them briefly after the show and got them as well as Andy’s signatures. Jill went to get lunch and then watch a Warren Miller (which was supposed to have an Ed Q&A that never happened), and I went out on deck to get a good spot for the BNL covers set. It was not very organized, but pretty cool in spots, a great cover of “Immigrant Song” and a moving cover of “What A Good Boy” by Kevin’s brother Sean (who was also his bone marrow donor).

I quickly made my way to the lounge to get a good spot for the Vanity Project, Steve’s side group – Jill joined me right before it started. His partner on the record, Stephen Duffy, was not there, but he’d recruited the Odds to back him up. It was fun to hear the songs live – apparently he’s played some of the songs solo (we saw him do one when we saw him in 2004), but the only band shows have been on the cruises. Jill wasn’t as into it as I was, and left to change for dinner. I joined her and we headed over to one of the main rooms. I had the sausage and pasta, while Jill had the turkey, then we headed out and caught the rest of Thinbuckle, Kevin’s group. I snagged him after they finished, then we went back to Bar City to see some of the Brothers Creegan, who had Ed on drums. We tried to find Ed after the show but he vanished, so we headed upstairs to the Chocoholic buffet.

Brothers Creegan

It was ok, so we finished there, and finally headed over to the theater to catch the end of Great Big Sea (finally heard “Company Of Fools” on the ship). Not that they weren’t good (they were in fine form), but it was our last chance to catch the BNL side projects. We stayed in the theater and snagged some excellent seats to catch Kevin McDonald & Dave Foley (from the Kids In The Hall). They had Craig Northey with them to do music, and had worked up a hilarious series of skits. Both Jill and I were laughing hard, the good news is the whole group has a green light for a new TV series.

Kids In The Hall

Thursday morning we were docked in Key West. We were supposed to be in Great Stirrup Cay (Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas), but a cold front had made that a difficult port to get to land from, so we bundled up (the cold front was here, too, but the water was calm) and headed out on the town with our friend Suzanne. The irony was after we got off the cruise, our first stop was Key West, but we figured that just gave us an extra half day (and we had a guidebook already). It was a half day because we didn’t end up making it in to town until 12 (we also had to change timezones the previous night) and left at 4. But we made the most of it, heading directly to the Hemingway House, then the southernmost spot in the continental U.S. (ironically we could have stopped in Hawaii at the southernmost spot in the U.S. but it would have taken close to an hour to get there and back just for a picture). We looked at a couple restaurants and settled on Upper Crust Pizza, based on Boston style and greasy but tasty. We wandered around a little more looking at restaurant options for the next night, then got back on the boat.

southernmost spot

We’d made reservations for the French restaurant, but got a call that the management team had taken it over, so we switched to the steakhouse. It was probably better, as the theme for the night was 1920’s gangsters, and the name of the place was Cagney’s (the other themes were 1988 Prom and Nerds, but we didn’t participate with them). I’d picked up a hat in Key West and wore my tux without the tie, while Jill wore a dress and a wrap. The dinner was very good, I had a filet mignon and Jill had a NY strip. After dinner we took our time getting to the theater.

Jill and Kerry

This was our big show night, and it didn’t disappoint. Sarah McLachlan opened (with a band that included Jim & Tyler), and tore through all her hits, including some jaw dropping duets with Butterfly Boucher. She said she’d had laryngitis for eight weeks, but you could hardly tell. BNL themselves were great, pulling out lots of rarities and hits (“Jane”, “Everything Old Is New Again” and “Call And Answer” were my favorites). It was late after the show, and Jill headed for bed while I packed. But the music wasn’t over, and I headed out to catch a little of Acid Wish with their all star guests. It was pretty entertaining, but it was loud, late and I was tired, so I headed for bed (never got to Steve or Ed, but it’s ok, I’ll get ’em sometime).

Sarah McLachlan

All cruise photos here.

Cruise days 1-3

I woke up Sunday and went down to the lobby to take advantage of the free wireless for a while. Then I went back up after Jill woke up, we checked out and took a cab to the port. We stood in a number of lines, but soon were aboard. We got some lunch (love roast beef sandwiches on pretzel rolls), then got schedules and started planning our strategy. We went to our lifeboat drill shortly before the ship left, then Jill dashed to the pool deck to grab a good spot while I went to the cabin to drop off the life vest and grab my camcorder. We had to wait an hour, but it was worth it as Barenaked Ladies put on a good show. A couple of older favorites (“Alternative Girlfriend” and “It’s All Been Done”) and a nice cover (“Rio”) made me happy.

no pictures, busy videoing!

After the show Jill grabbed a spot in one of the lounges while I dropped our stuff at the cabin, then we watched the Super Bowl. We got a helmet full of beers and they had a buffet of hot dogs, pizza, wings and nachos. There were a lot of Steelers fans, and some Cardinals fans – we were just hoping for a good game. Fortunately we got one, as we were disappointed we were watching the ESPN feed and didn’t get any of the commercials (we even had our 3D glasses). Happily we did get the Boss at halftime, which was pretty fun as most people were singing along and cheering. Jill ducked out during the fourth quarter to get a good seat in the theater and missed the Cardinals come back, only for the Steelers to pull it out at the end.

I didn’t even stay past the Steelers scoring, as there were only seconds left in the game, and Great Big Sea was scheduled to start right then. Luckily for me they were a little late, and I found Jill and got a drink. She had seen Sloan and thought they were good, so I’ll try and check them out. But Great Big Sea brought the rock in a big way, with a bunch of their crowd pleasers (“Captain Kidd”, “Paddy Murphy” and “When I’m Up”) and random selections of covers and teases, including a full cover of BNL’s “Lovers In A Dangerous Time”. That did it for us, off to a long night of sleep.

Great Big Sea

We were awakened Monday by the announcement that the Barenaked photo would be taken on deck on a few minutes. Did we participate? You’ll have to look at the picture and find out for yourself. We got some lunch after showering, then I went and lined up for the BNL Snacktime show (their most recent CD is for kids). Jill ended up joining me, and we headed in. The show was fun (we brought CDs from cruise artists to play in rental cars, and this was one we’d listened to several times). It wasn’t just kids songs, we also got “Grade 9”, “One Week” and “If I Had $1000000”, as well as an appearance with ex-Lady Andy Creegan (brother of Jim).

We headed over to the Blue Lagoon lounge to gorge on fatty foods (potato skins, spinach and artichoke dip and Buffalo wings) as after that we had a beer tasting at the beer and whiskey bar (they also have a martini bar and a wine and champagne bar). It was fun, we got to try hefty portions of 6 beers and then got a full one of our favorite (I liked the Coopers Brewery Original Pale Ale while Jill liked the Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale). There was also trivia and we each won a t-shirt. Next we needed to head up to the Spinnaker Lounge for the GBS fan club show.

We’re not in any fan club like some people were – apparently if you put the band down as one of the reasons you booked the cruise, you got tix (I guess I did – I can’t remember). But it was fun – they wanted to do something different, so everyone got solo turns (yes, Chris and Murray too). It was mostly songs we didn’t know, and covers we did. One shocker was it was the first public performance of “Dance” from their last CD. Pretty cool, and getting into the show means we get four days of GBS in a row (there’s probably at least one reader of this that would like to join us, maybe someday we’ll get her on a cruise).

We had time for dinner, so we headed into one of the main rooms (it’s freestyle dinner, so you go whenever you like). I had a watermelon salad and Jill had an asparagus and scallop starter and a glass of Prosecco, both good. Then I found out something cool – you can order the beers from the beer bar in the dining room, skipping their usual so-so selection. So I had a bottle of the Nut Brown Ale with my duck (great pairing) while Jill had a nice Chianti with her Beef Wellington (but no fava beans).

We left right after dinner, as the Weakerthans were playing upstairs. I’d brought two of their CDs with us, and we’d both liked them, so we wanted to check them out, and this was the only time we could catch the beginning of their set (this cruise has so many scheduling conflicts for me, it’s like Falcon Ridge on steroids, thank goodness for the the two days in port). They were very good, but loud, and Jill had lost an earplug, so we left a little before the end of their set. We looked around at the dessert options and didn’t see anything we liked, and went back to our room. Jill found a cheesecake we both liked from room service, so we got that (some of the restaurants cost money, but room service doesn’t). We watched some of the first night’s BNL show on the TV (they have to divide the cruise into three parts for the big theater on show – we’ll be attending the last one on Thursday), then got to bed as we’d be up early the next day.

Tuesday we woke up in Cozumel. We got dressed, got some quick breakfast and headed off the ship. To our surprise, there was no wait like we were used to, so once we got to the start of the pier, we had a while to wait. But eventually we were picked up by Sand Dollar Sports, and took taxis to their nearby shoreside location. We had a short class on Snuba, then were soon in the water. Jill wasn’t able to stay down the whole time because she had trouble clearing her mask, but I saw a lot of creatures, including an eel and a seahorse. We went back to the ship after that, had some lunch, then I went on deck to read while Jill went to nap, then I came down for a shower and joined her.

Jill and Kerry

After we got up, I went up on deck and snagged a prime railing spot for the GBS show, the windiest show I’ve ever been to. The boys were in fine form, breaking out every marine themed song, and letting us know (repeatedly) of Alan’s fetish of fish and chips. We also finally got to hear their cover of “Good Girls Don’t”, which they had been doing during their summer shows last year, but got cut from their Wolf Trap show (because they were co-headlining and had slightly shorter than their regular time). After that Jill went down to get ready for dinner. I was already dressed and wandered around, which is how I found that Mike Evin was performing with Jim Creegan, Andy Creegan and Tyler Stewart in Bar City. I let Jill know, and we delayed our dinner by 15 minutes to catch the rest of that entertaining show.

We had dinner at Chin Chin, an Asian restaurant and one of the ones that cost extra money to go to ($15). We made the most of it, splitting the pork barbeque buns, crab wontons and spring rolls as appetizers. I tried the egg drop soup, but that was the biggest disappointment of the vacation – they added corn to it, giving it a corn chowder taste and nothing like an egg, I barely got through two slurps. Thankfully the orange spiced beef Jill had and the spicy braised beef I had were very good (and mine had some really hot smoky chili peppers). We finished off the meal relaxing and listening to Gaelic Storm finish soundcheck and start playing in Bar City below us before we went over and watched some of it.

We headed upstairs and got some coffee (well, a double shot of espresso and ice cream for me), then headed out on deck to check out some of Sloan. They’d opened for GBS the first night, and Jill had seen some of it, but I missed and wanted to see a bit. It was even windier than earlier, and they’d cranked up the volume to compensate, so we didn’t stay too long. That was a good decision, as it meant we caught most of Kevin McDonald’s (Kids In The Hall) almost solo show (he was accompanied on guitar an vocals by Craig Northey). It was a funny mixture of songs and stories, about the Kids In The Hall and his alcoholic father. We wandered around, ended back at the cabin and watched a little of the BNL show on the TV, then went back up to see some of Butterfly Boucher. She was good, but I was getting tired and we left about halfway through to head to bed.

Sunday’s schedule

The cruise started yesterday, and at $.75/minute, I doubt I’ll be blogging and surfing with the frequency I have (though I’ll probably go online briefly), so I’m posting this in advance.

You can go here to get a view from the front of the ship.

I’ll leave you with yesterday’s schedule (complete one is here):
4PM: leave port
5PM: Barenaked Ladies
6:30PM: Super Bowl
10PM: Great Big Sea

I think we’ll have some fun – be back soon!

Hawaii day 9 and Miami

Our last day in Hawaii didn’t consist of too much activity. We got up and checked out, then headed into town on Ali’i Drive, the first time we’d taken it since it’s not the way to go if you’re in a hurry. We eventually found our way to an OfficeMax where I printed our boarding passes (having a laptop along is nice, but no printer was tricky, so I transferred the pdf American sent me to an SD card), then we found Kona Bay Books – brother store (literally) to Hilo Bay Books and made a couple dropoffs and purchases. I picked a shopping center at random for lunch, and Jill decided on Island Lava Java, where she had the chicken quesadillas and I had a turkey sandwich. I tried to find a place that served macadamia nut pie, but the location of the place I found was vacant – I did buy a Hawaiian shirt nearby, though.

The last thing we needed to do was ship back the books we’d read but wanted to keep, so we found a post office and did that. With nothing else to do, we headed back to Starbucks, I surfed and read while Jill knitted. We had to turn the car back to Enterprise at 6, so I dropped Jill and the luggage off at Kona Brewing Company, parked the car and walked back. We had to wait a while for a table (there were some inside, but it was just too noisy), but we had already decided what to order when we were seated and got our food quickly. We split a salad to start (I’ll miss Maui onions, they’re sweet and tasty) then split a Commander Cook pizza (pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and ham). The pizza was a little soggy due to all the toppings, but still pretty good. The star of the show was the beer – the Pipeline Porter (made with Kona coffee) and Wailua Wheat were just outstanding. After dinner we had a taxi pick us up and drop us at the airport, and we were soon fast asleep and bound for LA.

In LA I went to withdraw some money from an ATM and discovered my ATM card was gone. I reported it lost, and there are no charges against it – I think I might have left it in an ATM machine in Hawaii. Only problem was trying to get a cab that took credit cards when we got to Miami (the guy that stopped got a decent tip for the effort). We checked in to the downtown Hilton and relaxed for a little while before showering and getting ready. The restaurant we were headed to was in the Design District, so we headed down early to check it out. But there was only a single gallery and a couple shops open on a cool Saturday night, so we headed in early to Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink and sat at the bar. We enjoyed some cocktails and fried hominy as we chatted with a local woman who was in DC for the festivities as well, then headed over for our table at 7. The food was exquisite – I had the wood roasted double yolk egg to start, then the pork shoulder, which was so tender it was falling apart. Jill had the wood roasted grouper and fingerling potatoes, which she enjoyed, then we shared banana and lemon ice creams and cherry sorbet to finish (she liked the banana but my favorite was the lemon). Then we caught a cab back to the hotel, and we called it a night as neither of us had gotten that much sleep on the plane.