This year’s 80’s Cruise left from Port Canaveral on Saturday, March 5. We tested for covid, as was mandated, on Thursday afternoon, March 3, in Bristol. This was exactly one month after we had both tested positive for covid in February. We flew into Orlando on Friday, March 4 – there’s no airport in Port Canaveral, by the way; we had to have ground transportation and took an Uber the 45 minutes or so to Port Canaveral from Orlando on Saturday morning.

There were so many wonderful moments on the cruise. There were some rough spots, too. For a second consecutive cruise for us, the winds at sea were horrendous. This year, it was so bad, however, we couldn’t even dock in Nassau, The Bahamas. This messed up the schedule for the rest of the week, which frustrated me tremendously, as I spent hours making out lists of who we would see, when, and where, before we embarked on our journey. My plans were trashed from the get-go of the trip. We ended up having to cancel both of our shore excursions in St. Thomas because Paul Young’s performance got moved to the evening that we were docked there – and I was not about to miss Paul Young! Although he was not on the original lineup for this year’s cruise, the announcement that he was taking John Parr’s place a few weeks before we sailed thrilled me! I always loved his voice – and his looks – in the 80’s. In fact, I stood in line for two hours in order to make sure that we would be on the front row. I hated missing a beach trip and a sunset catamaran sailing in St. Thomas, but I was front and center for Paul Young’s concert. I’ve been asked how he sounded. I’ll be honest – he sounded better in the 80’s; he still sounds okay, but things have changed since back then. He looks spectacular, however, and is genuinely one of the nicest celebrities I’ve met. We ran into him and his lady friend numerous times throughout the week, and he never failed to be cordial, to us or anyone else who approached him. I got his autograph on a greatest hits CD, and also had my photo made with him. And when he sang “Everytime You Go Away,” I cried, remembering how much that song meant to me as a teenager. Real life is good, though, because my husband stood there, wrapped his arm around me, swayed back and forth with me, and sang it with me on the cruise, making reality far better than any school-girl fantasy I ever had!

The first night, we ended up in line behind a friend of mine from grad school at the University of Tennessee. We joined Rachel and her husband on the second row for A Flock of Seagulls, and Russ and I caught/picked up three guitar picks that were tossed out into the crowd.

In addition to meeting the superbly fine Paul Young, I was able to meet a few other celebrities on board the cruise ship that week. I managed to sit in the second row of Belinda Carlisle’s interview by Lori Majewski; I was lucky enough to get Belinda to sign her 1986 self-titled album (Belinda), which featured Andy Taylor, then freshly on-his-own former Duran Duran lead guitarist on an awesome guitar solo on her smash hit “Mad About You” and exchanged a quick hello and thanked her. She still looks and sounds amazing – she just sings an octave lower now.

The day we docked in St. Thomas (Tuesday), was an exciting one. While we strolled the streets and checked out the shops, we saw members of the Sugar Hill Gang, and they seemed really cool with people stopping to pose with them – so I did. Master Gee and his wife were so accommodating! She heard me speak and asked if I was from North Carolina – I smiled and said we live in Tennessee, so close; she revealed that they live in North Carolina, and she found my accent “familiar.” As we stood in line to get back on the boat to grab a late lunch, a new band was boarding in front of us. We ended up on the elevator with two of the gentlemen and two other cruisers. The other couple asked the guys who they were, which saved me from doing the same. One of them answered, “Johnny Hates Jazz. ‘Shattered Dreams?’” I lit up! “I love that song! That whole album was amazing!” He seemed impressed that I knew any other titles, as I specifically mentioned “I Wish That I Could Turn Back the Clock.” Well, this was enough to motivate me to be on the front row for their show in Studio B, as well as on the front row for their interview with Lori Majewski the following morning. Russ and I got to meet them after the interview and secured their signatures on the ship program for that day (since the on-board store had sold out of all of their JHJ merchandise). I had my picture made with each of them (and that bass player, Calvin Hayes, is soooooo nice – I shared with him that forgetting to send in that Columbia House card the month I got their album was one of the happiest accidents of my life – he laughed and said he loved that).

We also saw the guys from Living Colour several times in the Windjammer Café, up on the 12th deck. Again, they were really open to conversing with cruisers, so I asked the lead singer, Corey Glover, if I could get a pic with him late one night when Russ and I had stopped in for a midnight snack. (It wasn’t until I got back down to our room that I realized that I had done so while wearing my pajamas! Ugh!) And I can never say enough about the amazingly talented Dave Schulz, keyboardist for Berlin. He carried the entertainment through some trying times on the 2020 cruise, when several acts had backed out at the last minute and there were lulls in entertainment on board. His charisma and genius creativity gave birth to a phenomenal jam session where members of various acts on board gathered together unofficially and made magic happen! The good times continued this year. Berlin isn’t on the cruise next year, but Living Colour will be back; Brian featured Corey Glover heavily in the jam session, so I’m hoping that Corey will carry the flame to the West Coast for the 2023 Cruise and keep the tradition alive.

While the lineup for 2022 was stellar, there were three shows that we did not stay through for their entireties. Two of the bands just weren’t ones either of us were familiar with, other than their names (Dramarama and Gene Loves Jezebel). We left Cameo’s show, too. I don’t know if I need to chalk it up to a shaky beginning or if they really sounded that bad, but after about two songs, we looked at each other and said, “Um, no.” I did hear that they did a great job on “Word Up” and “Candy.” I just couldn’t sit through the rest of it to get to that.

We only got in one excursion because of the weather and changes that were made to the schedule. St. Maarten in the Virgin Islands. We’d never been there, and it is truly gorgeous! Roughly half of the island is French and the other part is Dutch. We went on a bus tour with a knowledgeable and personable guide, who wasn’t afraid to shoot straight when asked tough questions. We had noticed some signs about equality and access to land on the French side. When Russ asked him while we were stopped at an open air market, he told us that there had been problems in the recent past with the French coming from France and just taking their land, land that the citizens there on St. Maarten had farmed and lived on for generations. Just because France owns the island nation, people came and tried to claim that land. I can’t imagine how hostile that would be to live and fight through. Even though we didn’t set foot on a beach, we did have some gorgeous views of the sea and some beaches, and mountains. And iguanas. Everywhere, huge iguanas in treetops. And on roadsides. And in stands where you could stop and pay to feed them. There were also cacti all over the place, which really surprised both of us. It didn’t seem an arid enough environment to support such vegetation. But it was indeed beautiful, and, if we ever get back there, I would love to get to one of the gorgeous beaches. (Probably not one of the topless ones, though – the world just isn’t ready for that kind of shock, lol!)

We put a deposit down on the 2023 Cruise before we even knew what the musical lineup would be. It leaves out of L.A. next year, and hits three ports in Mexico – we’ve never been to any of these locales, so we’re very excited to see and do all that we can while we’re traveling next year. We hope to build in a few extra days to explore and visit in L.A. Fortunately, I was thrilled with the lineup for next year, too. I’m sure it will change. Probably a few times. But right now, it looks like it could be the best one yet. There are two bands on the list that I know almost nothing about – EXTC (it’s part of the band that was XTC, from what I could gather), and China Crisis (I’ve never heard a thing about that one at all). Next year’s artists include (in no particular order), Devo, Bret Michaels, The Church (CANNOT WAIT TO HEAR “Under the Millky Way Tonight!”), Kim Wilde, Morros Day & The Time, Howard Jones (TOTALLY GEEKING OUT), Living Colour, Jody Watley, The Smithereens, Vixen, Cutting Crew (they sooooooo better pull out “One For the Mockingbird” when they perform), Midge Ure, John Parr, and Autograph. And the 80’s cover band called Jessie’s Girl. Only about 46 weeks until we set sail! Yeah, I’m already counting down!

Chrissie and Russ
Caribbean Ocean