Feel good party at sea

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By Jamie Kuser

We recently went on a musical journey back to the 1970s when Kathy and I embarked on the fourth year of the 70s Rock and Romance Cruise, aka the “Feel Good Party at Sea” with 2,000 of our “friends” on board the Celebrity Infinity.
It was a week filled with concerts, fellowship, eating, dancing, stories, celebrities, Q & As, demonstrations, panel discussions, contests, costumes, friendships and live music.
StarVista Live, the folks behind this cruise and several other themed music cruises, knows how to transport people back to a time of great music and relive old memories.
As many of you may know, I attend and cover a lot of concerts here in Southwest Florida as part of my job, but this cruise is so much more than a regular concert. Yes, the nightly concerts in the main theatre are nice (since the venue holds only about 1,000 people). We saw performances by Jefferson Starship, America, Cheap Trick, John Lodge (Moody Blues), Randy Bachman (founder of The Guess Who and BTO), Don Felder (formerly of The Eagles), Jason Scheff (formerly of Chicago) and Todd Rundgren. What’s not to like about that.
But wait, take that one step further. On this cruise you get to meet them, talk to them, get autographs and photos with them and hear the stories behind the music. This cruise is like having a back stage pass or VIP badge all week long.

Edgar Winter, Todd Rundgren, Don Felder and John Lodge take questions during one of several panel discussions on the cruise.

StarVista Live is very particular about who they choose to be on the ship each year. The artists must be willing to perform and interact with the fans. They don’t just do their gig and lock themselves in their cabin (StarVista executive producer Alan Rubens would not permit that to happen). Thus, we get an ultimate ‘70s experience. I lost count how may times I ran into Todd Rundgren, Jason Scheff, Burleigh & Mary from Ambrosia or Jerry & Dewey from America in the buffet line. (Hey, they have to eat, too.) And they are all so gracious to take a moment to talk to passengers.
Okay, so you think that sounds pretty awesome so far. Well, there’s more.

Jason Scheff, former lead singer of Chicago

Besides the main stage concerts, the ship has a smaller venue that holds about 400 people called Constellations Lounge. This more intimate venue was perfect for performances by Ambrosia, Rita Coolidge, John Ford Coley, Peter Beckett’s Player, Stephen Bishop and Pablo Cruise. Some of the tribute artists also performed in this space. In this venue, your seated only feet away from the stage. You almost feel like you are on stage with the artist.
Of course, you can’t have a rock music cruise without concerts on the pool deck. That stage was active day and night. Edgar Winter Band did both of their shows on that stage, while others did one inside and one outside.

Burleigh Drummond of Ambrosia presided over the wedding ceremony for Joe and Shannon Puerta on the pool deck stage.

There was even a wedding ceremony/concert on the pool deck for Joe Puerta (of Ambrosia) and Shannon Killala.
The smallest venue (Rendezvous Lounge) holds about 230 folks and is perfect for some of the tribute bands, music trivia contests and Family Feud game shows between passengers and celebrities.

Randy Bachman, John Ford Coley, Cory Lerios (of Pablo Cruise) and cruise host Joe Johnson after a panel discussion.

By the way, this year’s tribute artists were top notch. Three returning favorites were Bees Gees Gold and Queen Nation. Tribute newcomers included ABBA The Concert, ZZ Twist and Lets Zep. Other star performers who helped fill the musical gaps of bands not on board included LSB Experience, Hal Bruce, Joel Mason, The Newbees and the Bad Ass Brass Band, Kimberly Sunstrum, The Jukebox and All You Need is Love.
Finally, the panel discussions each morning were phenomenal. The first panel featured Randy Bachman, John Ford Coley and Corey Lerios from Pablo Cruise. Next panel was Jefferson Starship, America and Stephen Bishop. Then came one with Don Felder, Edgar Winter, Todd Rundgren and John Lodge, and the final featured Ambrosia, Peter Beckett, Rita Coolidge and Maxine Nightingale (who stowed away from the disco cruise).

Now for the best part, they are doing it again in 2021 (Feb. 27 – March 6 out of Miami). So far, the lineup includes Foreigner, Air Supply, 10cc, The Guess Who, BJ Thomas, WAR, Jim Messina, The Family Stone, Melissa Manchester, Pure Prairie League, Peter Asher and Badfinger … just for starters. It just went on sale to the general public a few days ago (alumni get first shot), and you can get on it before it sells out again. BONUS: Book your cabin and use the promo code “Happenings” and save a few hundred dollars. Call 844-355-Rock or visit www.rockandromancecruise.com/happenings.


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SWFHappenings Magazine is the best news source for local arts, music, theater and all around entertainment events.

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