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Trip Report Jazz Cruise 2017

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Jazz Cruise 2017 (Jan. 28 to Feb. 4, Celebrity Summit)

This report centers on the main reason for this cruise: The entire ship was chartered by and dedicated to Jazz. This cruise was preceded by a “Smooth Jazz” cruise and succeeded by a “Blue Note at Sea Contemporary Jazz” cruise.

For details on the ship’s features, creature comforts and services you may wish to look elsewhere, since we didn’t avail ourselves of the shops or optional restaurants etc and can’t comment.

We were there for the music, and with four or even five consecutive 90-minute sets a day, sometimes from 11:00 until 01:00 the next day, we got plenty of that. The highest quality of musicianship among the world-famous performers was matched by the level of knowledge and expertise among the passengers that kept impressing the performing musicians—they could throw out a reference to an iconic recording and be met by approving applause, spontaneously, again and again. Both the musicians and the audience knew their stuff! Most people we talked to were repeaters, some on their 14th Jazz cruise!

The performers were scheduled to appear at least three times, many played even more often and in various combinations, so with a bit of planning we could hear all our favorites even though three or more performances were happening at once in the various rooms.

The kind of Jazz we heard was not “smooth”, not “contemporary” or “crossover” or “fusion”, not “traditional” as in New Orleans “Trad Jazz” (with a few rare exceptions) or “Glenn Miller Big Band”—it was “real” Jazz, mostly modern, sometimes avantgarde.

If that doesn’t tell you what you need to know, maybe the artist names on the website will: Just one highlight for the Jazz connoisseurs: Jimmy Cobb at age 88 played just like he did on Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” in 1959 (he’s the last surviving member of that recording date)!

Embarkment in Fort Lauderdale went smoothly, even with so many pax of mostly advanced age and limited agility. Suitcases could be handed off to be delivered to the cabins, lighter items could be carried through a TSA-style security check. It all took a while but the lines kept moving.

Our cabin (pardon me, “stateroom”) was the cheapest, on Deck 2 (lowest), and we liked it very much. Ditto with the food—we only ate in the Ocean View self-serve restaurant that was always open (except for a few hours at night) and where we found the variety and quality to be excellent; but then we’re not “foodies”, and dressing up and being fussed over with table service doesn’t amuse us.

The worker bees on that ship are chosen and trained to be polite and accommodating, and it was a pleasure to hear a “Good Morning” at every turn.

The sound engineers were incredible—we heard none of that “disco” booming bass that wrecks so many Jazz festivals by masking the pitches of the Jazz bass and taking away the subtleties of the kick drum. Every note was heard distinctly—a lost art among sound engineers, so we were grateful for that!

We took the “Tale of Two Cities” tour in Belize, disembarking before 10:00 for a 75-minute bus ride each way through Belize City to Altun Ha where we explored Mayan ruins. We learned a lot on this relaxing ride on a nice, partly sunny day, and were back on board ship by about 14:30.

Final disembarking was well organized and went smoothly.

This cruise is all about the music, Jazz at the highest level, and we got what we went for! The 2018 Jazz Cruise has just been posted:

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