Great report as usual! I'm glad the new Hulk sounds as intense as the old one. I was afraid it would be tamed somewhat on the transitions during the track replacement.
It's too bad you didn't like Dragon Challenge. It's my favorite of the B&M inverts (both sides) after Banshee and that is even when they aren't dueling. I find the rides to maintain the intensity the whole way except Ice's ending. I especially love the zero-G roll and airtime hills on those coasters.
^I'd say UO's between a rock and a hard place with Dragons, but given the metal detectors you'd think they'd be able to duel again. That queue though...thank god we got FJ and its queue to make up for it (JMO). What's there is still far better than yet another 3D dark ride. It'd be cool if they could finally get wing riders right.
Anyways, your pics are outstanding! I assume you'll be taking pictures of Pandora?
Great photos and insight as always! I feel a lot like you do about IOA. Theming ranges from spectacular to Chinese-knockoff depending on the area and attractions are still a little sparse for a nearly twenty year old park. I usually take one day to hit the best of both parks. That's all you need once you've already visited unless you go on an overly busy day.
Canobie Coaster wrote:It's too bad you didn't like Dragon Challenge. It's my favorite of the B&M inverts (both sides) after Banshee and that is even when they aren't dueling. I find the rides to maintain the intensity the whole way except Ice's ending. I especially love the zero-G roll and airtime hills on those coasters.
It's interesting that I've heard that opinion from a few other people too, but these just didn't excite me at all. Can't remember the last time I did a lap on a B&M invert and said "yeah, that was alright, moving on..." I'm sure if they were dueling, I'd have had more fun, and waited for the front row to get the full experience!
Card wrote:Please never stop taking photos. Awesome stuff as always. Your long exposure shots of Hulk are the stuff of legends. Also, bonus points for nabbing a tricolored heron in the park (wonder why it's not in breeding plumage?).
I am coming to you for all my bird identification questions in the future! I could not figure out what that one was -- initially thought little blue heron, but the eye color was clearly wrong. You nailed it!
dreynolds1982 wrote:As you said, really it's pretty easy to do both parks in one day depending on crowds, especially if you're by yourself as almost every ride has a single rider line. If the barks aren't busy and you avoid the water rides (as I do as well b/c they really do get you soaked) IOA almost becomes a half day park. The only downside to doing both in one day is IMO it really does give you media-based attraction burnout, hitting one after the other after the other.
Exactly why I think I'd skip several of them. My favorite of the simulators were Spider-Man, Minion Mayhem, and both Harry Potter rides (if they count). I guess I'll be adding in Fallon, Fast and the Furious, and whatever else they come up with on my next trip there (probably not any time soon) and that's plenty of simulators for one day.
AUWent wrote:Anyways, your pics are outstanding! I assume you'll be taking pictures of Pandora?
I will, some day! Probably won't be planning a WDW vacation for at least another year or two, most likely 2019 or 2020. Can't wait because Pandora looks great, and when the Studios refresh really gets going, it will definitely be worth the trip.
Alright, as promised, the fifth and final segment of this trip report is going in a different direction. In fact, it's a direction I've never gone before.
For years I've said that there's one common type of vacation that I had virtually zero interest in. For years I've told people, "no, for all the traveling I do, this just doesn't suit the way I like to do things."
I went on a cruise.
So, obviously, there's a catch. Something different. Like...
Why is there a stage on the pool deck?
And what's this flag at the bow of the ship?
Welcome to Cruise to the Edge!
Your mascot is a fish that can play guitar /and/ cowbell at the same time.
Themed cruises have become quite popular in the last 5-10 years, essentially serving as a floating convention for fans and enthusiasts of various hobbies and interests -- even very esoteric interests, in some cases. Concert cruises are a big part of this, with cruise events for just about any genre of music you can think of. Cruise to the Edge, which takes its name from the 1972 Yes album Close to the Edge, is a themed concert cruise for fans of progressive rock. This was CTTE's fourth sailing, and first time on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas.
Many people here at TPR have probably been on cruises, but perhaps not on one like this, so I'll explain a little bit about how things worked. First off, this event is a full charter, which means that the entire ship has been bought out exclusively for CTTE. Most of the standard parts of the cruise experience are still the same -- the standard free buffet and main dining room, the more-expensive a la carte restaurants, the casino, the shops and bars, and one port stop (which I'll get to later). The big difference is that the ship is turned into a music festival, with multiple stages, and over two dozen bands/musicians on board. Across the four main days of the cruise, each band did four events -- two concerts, a Q&A session, and a meet and greet photo op. Most of the concerts were 60 minutes in length, but the headliners and a few other bands were given longer sets. A centralized merchandise stand sold CDs/DVDs and shirts for all of the bands on board. After midnight, a guest-led concert session closed things out, with people signing up in advance to rehearse and perform songs in front of the crowd. Progressive rock is a genre of music that attracts lots of highly-skilled amateur musicians, so it was nice to see them get a chance to cover some of their favorite songs. Finally, you never know what surprises you might find. One night, I ran into one of the cruise's more popular musicians (Neal Morse) sitting at a piano in a bar, leading sing-a-long Beatles covers. Totally not part of the schedule at all, but a fun little bonus.
For most people on board, the priority was to get to as many concerts as possible, which often led to a rather busy schedule. That meant that several of the standard cruise amenities -- the casino, the nicer restaurants, and even time at port -- were taken advantage of much less than on a normal cruise. Honestly, the host waiting outside the fancy steakhouse looked rather bored. But when people have come from all over the world for this event, they want to get their money's worth out of the music. Aside from simply getting to see the musicians in concert, being able to meet them and interact with them is a huge perk in the experience. The vast majority of the musicians expect and enjoy this interaction, and I had some nice conversations with several of them. I'm not big into getting pictures with people, but I did get a few autographs, including this full-band signed copy of the 2016 album Falling Satellites by the British band Frost*. Yep, Frost* bandleader Jem Godfrey drew a picture of a vintage Jupiter 8 keyboard on the cover!
With about 2000 people on board, and 24 bands, you're probably looking at 1/16th of the people on the ship being professional musicians. You really do run into them all over the place!
Before I get any further ahead, here's the full lineup of musicians on the cruise.
The full list of musicians on CTTE, minus Scott Henderson, who was scheduled but didn't show up for some reason. Way to go, Scott Henderson.
There are probably only a few artists on this list that most people have heard of. Yes, Kansas, and Genesis' I am too stupid to spell Steel Vengeance so I'll just write SteVe and pretend I'm being cool Hackett are world-famous, and served as the headliners on the cruise. Drummer Mike Portnoy, formerly of Dream Theater, has his hands in just about everything in the progressive rock universe. Some of the bands on CTTE have been around since the 70s, while others formed during prog's renassaince in the 90s, and a few bands are even younger than that. One of the best things about this lineup is the diveristy -- both in musical style and in country of origin. The musicians covered a wide array of progressive styles -- jazz-rock, progressive metal, neo-prog, world music, folk-prog, in additional the classic progressive rock styles popularized in the 70s. I count 10 different countries represented by the musicians -- USA, UK, Sweden, Japan, Argentina, Switzerland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Austria, and Iceland. I might even be missing one or two. As for the guests, the clientele for CTTE definitely skewed older and calmer, probably with a remarkably low rate of alcohol consumption and debauchery compared to the average concert cruise. It's not that prog rock fans are teetotalers, rather it's simply because it'd be difficult to truly appreciate the majesty of a 9-minute long neoclassical-funk-metal instrumental breakdown in 9/8 if you're sloshed out of your gourd.
There were four main stages/venues on the ship. The first one is going to look pretty funny for anyone who's been on the Brilliance in its normal configuration.
This is the pool stage, the cruise's only outdoor venue, and one of the two biggest venues. The stage is set up on the starboard (right) side of the ship, with everything behind it on Deck 11 turned into a backstage area. The pool has been completely covered over to create the main standing-room area. Getting up front was my preference, but the views from the Deck 12 balcony (which completely encircle the stage) are also pretty great.
Down in front.
Here's a closer look at the front of the pool stage area. The entire area within the wooden ledge is normally filled with water. I guess this is the "pit" -- though nobody really moshes at prog concerts. There was an attempt or two at crowd-surfing during the last show of the cruise!
From behind the stage.
A few shows had chairs set up on the pool stage, mainly for bands who attracted an older demographic.
The other large venue was the ship's Pacifica Theater, which was used for the headliners and a few other shows.
Front view of the Pacifica Theater.
Shows in the Pacifica Theater were the only concerts with assigned seating. Each cruise guest was given admission to one of the two shows for each headliner, and assigned the same seat for each show. I had an unobstructed balcony view from the right side of the stage, which I was quite happy with.
The rest of the seating area in the Pacifica Theater, about 10-15 minutes before a concert.
The third venue was at the ground floor (Deck 4) of the ship's main atrium.
Looking down at the atrium stage.
This wasn't an ideal setup for concerts, given the limited space near the stage (maybe room for 100-150 peope), but the balconies going all the way up through the atrium allowed plenty more room for people to watch.
A performance on the atrium stage.
This may have been the most picturesque of the venues, with the impressive atrium stretching way above the stage.
Try not to get vertigo.
The last of the four venues was the Colony Club, a bar/lounge on Deck 6 at the back of the ship.
Watching a show in the Colony Club from about 4 or 5 rows back.
This venue had a small stage and some poor sightlines if you weren't right up front, but it honestly felt like watching the bands play in somebody's living room. A nice intimate atmosphere.
Granted, that all gets shot if the /one/ metal band scheduled in the Colony Club decides to ask everyone to stand. But standing is more fun, anyway.
Actually, getting front row in the Colony Club was usually easy, since nobody wanted to sit on the floor at the foot of the stage. Getting one of the chairs at the side of the floor near the front? That was a tougher challenge.
A view from the back of the Colony Club.
Finally, here's a sample schedule from the last day of the cruise.
The CTTE schedule for Friday, February 10.
With lots of overlapping events, it was really important to plan out an agenda for the week well ahead of time, to ensure you could get to everything at the top of the priority list. I had to sacrifice a few Q&A sessions I wanted to attend in order to make sure I got to all the concerts I wanted to see.
So, how did I do with that? I saw 18 full concerts and 5 partial concerts, spanning 17 of the 24 artists on board. I saw 186 songs performed, and rounding only very slightly, I saw 24 hours of live music. Because this is a progressive rock cruise, yes, that does work out to an average of 7:45 per song.
This was a really spectacular experience -- one that might only appeal to certain people who are really into this type of music, but that definitely includes me. Would I go again? Yes, but it depends on the lineup. I'd been following along with these cruises since the first one, but the 2017 edition included too many of my favorite bands to ignore. I'll likely be skipping the 2018 edition, but I'm absolutely hoping to go again in the future.
What follows is a photo-heavy trip report from Cruise to the Edge 2017 -- February 7-11 on the Brilliance of the Seas.
First, here's where my room was located on Deck 8. I came into this as a cruise novice, but quickly learned the advantages of booking a room on the hump (which I specifically requested). Our room was directly adjacent to the main atrium, and a 10-second walk to the main stairwell, with easy access to the pool stage.
Plus, we had a nice view of Tampa before leaving!
The first big event was the sail-away concert, scheduled to begin shortly after the conclusion of the muster (lifeboat and safety) drill. As soon as that ended, it was a mad dash to get to the pool deck for a good spot for the show. I beat the crowd and made it to the front row!
The sail-away show was one of the best attended concerts of the cruise, for obvious reasons -- it's the first concert!
Mike Portnoy (pictured here) was celebrating his 50th birthday, and was given the cruise's opening and closing slots, which he filled with selections from the myriad bands he's a member of. First up was Flying Colors.
Portnoy tosses a drumstick to a lucky fan.
Flying Colors includes I am too stupid to spell Steel Vengeance so I'll just write SteVe and pretend I'm being cool Morse (Deep Purple / Dixie Dregs) and Casey McPherson...
...and Neal Morse, who (along with Portnoy) is also in the second band to take the stage: Transatlantic.
Also including Pete Trewavas (Marillion)...
...and guest appearances by Daniel Gildenlow and Ted Leonard.
There was one thing I was worried I'd miss during the opening concert -- the passage under the Sunshine Skyway bridge at the mouth of Tampa Bay. Thankfully, the timing worked out. As soon as the concert ended, I rushed up to the front of the boat, and was immediately treated with this view.
The Sunshine Skyway is one of my favorite bridges, but I never in a million years thought I'd get this sort of photo angle, let alone at sunset.
It's essentially an impossible shot to get unless you're on a cruise ship exiting at the right time.
A wider shot including the front of the boat.
Sunset over the Gulf...
...and under the Skyway.
The illusion of "we're gonna hit this, aren't we?" is fairly convincing.
A look back at the bridge as we headed out to sea.
A view back at the bridge from Deck 12. With that done, it was time for more concerts!
Focus journeyed from the Netherlands for the cruise.
Their lead guy (Thijs Van Leer) plays flute, organ, and yodels.
Haken, a quickly-rising progressive metal band, makes their first of several appearances.
An ode to 1985.
When you're playing prog with an 80s influence, key-tars is back in style.
Day 2 -- February 8, 2017 -- Southbound at Sea
There weren't many breaks in the schedule, but I found a few minutes to head out to the helipad at the bow of the ship.
Translation: quit it, Kate and Leo.
The view straight ahead.
Here's District 97, a jazzy prog-metal band from Chicago.
Vintage keyboards are an important part of prog.
District 97's vocalist is Leslie Hunt, who was a contestant on Season 6 of American Idol.
Went for the "behind the stage" view for The Neal Morse Band.
Neal's most recent album is a 2-hour concept album, so the storytelling aspect even involved a few costume changes. The band split the album up in halves between their two concerts.
Bassist Randy George.
Guitarist Eric Gillette.
Playing in the atrium: Electric Asturias, an all-instrumental band from Japan.
For all the Japan lovers here at TPR, know this: of the bands I was unfamiliar with coming into the Cruise, these guys were my favorites, and I came away as a fan. Not only that, but they were very nice people and having a blast on the cruise. They even brought their own fans -- friends and family from Japan who made the trip with them.
Yes is a band famed for many reasons -- as prog trailblazers in the 70s, for a short string of radio hits in the 80s, and for having more lineup changes and internal conflict than just about any band I can think of.
The legendary I am too stupid to spell Steel Vengeance so I'll just write SteVe and pretend I'm being cool Howe.
Geoff Downes, who was in The Buggles. Yes, those Buggles.
Singer Jon Davison, who is very very very happy to see you.
A bit of a sad note. Singer/bassist John Wetton was scheduled to be on board, but he lost a battle with cancer just a week before the cruise. Wetton was a famous figure in the prog community -- he'd played with just about everyone, but was best known as the lead singer of Asia. A close friend and associate of many Yes members and alumni, the band paid him tribute during the encore of their set.
I've heard from many people that Cozumel isn't a very exciting port, but I was determined to make an adventure out of it. There was just one problem -- one of my favorite bands was scheduled to play at 2 PM, so I only had about five hours to spend, and I wanted to take a tour around the island. To make the most of my time, I opted to hire a private driver. It wasn't the cheapest solution, but it got the job done, and I saw just about everything on Cozumel that I wanted to see.
A wake-up view over Cozumel from the balcony of my room.
Exiting the Brilliance (right) with the Rhapsody parked on the other side. From here, I met up with my driver, and we started a whirlwind tour around the island.
The first stop was a small cenote (El Aerolito) -- a natural spring found in the limestone.
We headed to the south end of the Island to visit Punta Sur, whose translation is unnecessary.
Punta Sur is a government-managed ecological park, sort of like a municipal park or state park would be in the US.
The main attraction is the Faro Celarain lighthouse -- my #1 thing to visit on Cozumel.
But first, I also visited a tower built over the lagoon on the inland side of the southern tip of the island.
Since this is an ecological park, I was hoping to see some of the local wildlife.
Also got a view over the waters of the lagoon.
Looking north toward the rest of the island.
Looking south over the small boardwalk near the tower.
Looking east at the dusty, bumpy road along the beach.
The lagoon was an interesting mix of mangroves and stunted tree growth.
I found some birds, too. I have no clue what they are. Card, I'm going to need your help here!
Most of them never came near the tower, so it was hard to see the details.
I did get a shot of this one in flight.
This is what I really came to see -- Cozumel has crocodiles! I only saw one, but I'd read that there are lots of them in the lagoon.
Next, it was time to climb the lighthouse, Faro Celarain.
This was a bit of a different experience than the typical lighthouse in the US.
To start, the inside is completely concrete and not hollow.
Next, to get outside at the top, you have to crawl through this tiny two-foot-tall opening. I don't think this would fly in the US.
Most US lighthouses have the lens room set above the viewing platform, but it's on the same level here.
Finally, the railing here is not among the higher lighthouse railings I've seen.
The view? Spectacular. Should probably also mention this was my first time ever seeing the Caribbean Sea, which was as aqua/blue/teal/whatever as advertised.
Looking over the lagoon.
A view southwest toward the blue waters.
Easy access to the beach. There's another difference -- this lighthouse is /very/ close to water level, while most US full-size tower lighthouses are built a little further back.
Waves on the open sea.
A small Mayan ruin. Not much, but it's something.
The distance to wherever.
Hey, there's the lagoon tower I was just at the top of.
Punta Sur does have some beachfront area for those who just want to lounge around, like that place a ways in the distance.
Way, way in the distance -- almost 15 miles away -- the cruise ships docked on the west side of Cozumel. One of those is mine!
At the base of the lighthouse, there's also a museum. It's small, but does a good job explaining the history of Cozumel and its lighthouses.
Back at ground level and making the short walk to the water.
Cozumel's coast is intermittently rocky, and it was fun to watch the waves crash in.
It might be dangerous to get much closer.
Nonetheless, it was fun to watch.
Cozumel is also known for snorkeling, but that's an activity I'd never tried before.
A look up the north side of the beach, with the lagoon tower off in the distance.
More local wildlife!
Iguanas are very common on Cozumel, and I saw 3 or 4 of them.
They seem pretty docile.
Another species native to Cozumel, and all of Mexico. As I learned in 2015, the slug bug / punch buggy game is a guaranteed bruised arm in this country.
From Punta Sur, we made a drive up the road that traverses the east side of Cozumel. A lot of tourists probably never make it to this side of the island, but it was a really beautiful trip -- essentially following the beach the whole way. This side of the island has no electricity -- after Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, the infrastructure was never rebuilt.
My next stop was El Mirador, an area with some very interesting rock formations out into the sea.
One of which has a flag planted on the top of it, which is always a good landmark for photography.
Essentially, this is a spot on the beach where elongated rocks jut out from the beach about 100-200 feet into the water...
...which makes for some more good "crashing waves" photos.
Some of the rocks even form complete archways over the water.
Walking around on top of the rocks is not easy -- they are jagged and full of holes. An easy way to twist an ankle, or worse.
More scenes from El Mirador.
Another big wave crashes in.
North along the Caribbean coast.
Can't complain about the weather, either. Actually, in my entire 21-day vacation, I only experienced rain for about an elapsed 20 minutes.
Water pours off the rocks.
Sea spray high into the air.
Water and rocks and stuff.
I should also mention that El Mirador, like several spots on the east side of the island, does have a few tacky tourist facilities surrounding it. It's easy to ignore them and simply head out to the water.
Another big splash.
Neat place, good for a quick visit.
Next, we made our way into San Miguel, Cozumel's municipal seat and largest city by far. This was an interesting sight -- an airplane turned into a library / computer lab!
Very resourceful, I think.
We headed to downtown San Miguel and stopped to eat at La Choza. I'll be honest here: if I had more time to research this trip, I would have loved to find a real out-of-the-way locals place for lunch. That's a little more my style. That's not to knock this place, though, which was still quite good.
I'd describe La Choza as a local restaurant that caters to tourists. It's a big step above all the tacky "margaritas the size of a bathtub" places along the main strip -- La Choza is a couple blocks off the water. Definitely a bit more authentic a menu, but a lot of "we just got off a cruise ship" people sitting at the tables!
Though heavily infested by tourists and stores/restaurants I had no interest in, I did want to take a walk through downtown and the waterfront. Here's a statue of Benito Juarez.
A tower in Cozumel's main square (Parque Benito Juárez).
A dancing fountain at the center of the square.
At the middle, Cozumel's Punto Cero -- the island's "zero point" for surveying/measurement purposes. Actually, the real zero point is at a nearby intersection, but they decided this was close enough for commemorative purposes!
A street scene along Av. Rafael E Melgar in Cozumel.
A monument to Cozumel's coral reefs.
Some neat detail on this art.
Fish and coral!
Also, a nice place for a view along the waterfront.
Looking distantly to the northwest tip of Cozumel.
Looking south at Cozumel's main ferry dock...
...with boats heading over to mainland Mexico.
Also, a pirate ship. Why not.
Time was getting short, so I made my way back to the boat. I saw almost everything I wanted to see on Cozumel. One exception is the San Gervais ruins just east of San Miguel, which are the largest Mayan ruins on the island. I wouldn't have minded taking a little more time to see the other neighborhoods in the city, either. From everything I've read, Cozumel is actually a pretty safe place -- which is not necessarily true of the port cities across the water on the mainland.
I guess this is how they hold these large boats in place.
I did not cross the red line. I may have stuck a foot on the red line.
Arriving back on the boat just after 130PM, I still made it to the pool deck just in time to get a front row spot.
This is Spock's Beard -- named from the Star Trek episode where an alternate-universe Spock had a beard. They owned the distinction of being my #1 favorite band that I'd never before seen live. Check that off the list!
Guitarist Alan Morse (brother of Neal Morse from earlier photos) plays his guitar without a pick.
Bassist Dave Meros.
Ryo Okumoto and Ted Leonard.
This band is known for hamming it up on stage.
That's especially true of Al...
...and Ryo, who sometimes plays his keyboards like this.
I should also mention that the pool stage was by far my favorite place for photography, because the natural sunlight made things much easier for a photographer with lower-end equipment! At night, the pool stage probably had the best stage lighting, also.
It was great to be able to actually take pictures of concerts, and not worry about getting TSA-style strip searched before scanning your ticket.
A quick look at two other parts of the ship I was excited for. First, the rock wall -- which was never open.
Second, the 9-hole mini-golf course, which was completely self-serve!
Not an awful course, but I mean, I'd just played a bunch of Congo River and Smuggler's Cove courses, so that's an unfair comparison.
A look down at the port area where we docked -- which I walked in and out of as quickly as I could.
Very, very busy security.
I just have to say -- if you're cruising to a new place, and you get off the boat and go to Senor Frogs or Margaritaville, you're doing it wrong. Seriously, there's a whole world out there. Go see it. Even if you just do a cruise-organized excursion, get out and do something!
A view north along the western Cozumel coastline.
San Miguel is kind of hidden in this view thanks to the curvature of the coastline.
Looking south, which is less densely populated, but has several all-inclusive resorts.
Next up was the second Neal Morse Band show, again featuring Mike Portnoy on drums.
Is he looking right into the camera?
Mike was the busiest musician on the boat, playing about five hours of music in four days!
The sun starts going down as we leave port.
The moon rises over the clouds as we head north.
Next up was Kansas, who haven't been through as many lineup changes as Yes, though it's getting close.
Everyone knows Kansas for their handful of gigantic smash hits, but they've always been a progressive rock band at heart.
What makes them unique is their incorporation of violin to their blend of heartland rock and progressive influence.
My right-side balcony seat proved advantageous when lead singer Ronnie Platt came up for a verse!
Kansas actually released a new album last year, and it's quite good. After some lineup changes in 2015 and 2016, they're in better musical shape than they've been for decades.
Here's a second appearance for Haken, on an extremely windy pool stage.
Also, some experiments with photography in the night-time stage lighting.
Vocalist Ross Jennings lit up in blue.
Drummer Ray Hearne under the lights.
Keyboardist Diego Tejeida, usually smiling.
Bassist Conner Green.
Guitarist Charlie Griffiths.
Guitarist Richard Henshall.
His .strandberg* guitar is one of the strangest I've ever seen -- the frets are intentionally jagged (called True Temperament) which hurts my head just trying to think about playing it.
Day 4 -- February 10, 2017 -- Northbound at Sea
The last day of concerts starts with another show by Spock's Beard.
Dave Meros on bass.
Alan Morse still hamming it up on guitar.
Reflections on Ted Leonard's guitar.
Ryo Okumoto is always having too much fun.
Ryo and Al share a riff.
Ryo plays to the crowd.
Next up was I am too stupid to spell Steel Vengeance so I'll just write SteVe and pretend I'm being cool Hackett, legendary guitarist from Genesis -- you know, before all their radio hits in the 80s. His show consisted of both solo material and Genesis classics from the 70s.
One of I am too stupid to spell Steel Vengeance so I'll just write SteVe and pretend I'm being cool Hackett's bandmates is Nick Beggs, who wears a kilt, and was in Kajagoogoo, thus making him automatically one of the most awesome people on the ship.
Perhaps the most fun show of the cruise was Frost* -- yes, the asterisk is part of the band name.
Bandleader and keyboardist Jem Godfrey is a pop music producer from the UK. That gives Frost* its defining key -- they blend modern pop production and styles with progressive rock tradition. The guy on the right is Nathan King, also a member of 80s funk/jazz band Level 42, and brother of their virtuoso bassist Mark King.
Frost* is also one of the few bands to play nearly-completely different sets in both of their shows, and I was glad I got to see both of them.
But what happens when there's a glitch and the keyboard has to be rebooted?
You take a nap.
You lay down on the job.
You're on a cruise, so why not?
If you're the drummer, you pretend to pack up and leave! These guys made some of the best music of the cruise, but their take-nothing-too-seriously attitude was a memorable factor.
Finally, we get back to Mike Portnoy for the final concert of the cruise. In fact, Mike liked this picture so much, he took it from my Twitter account and used it himself without attribution! Fantastic!
First up was a another one of Mike's older projects called Liquid Tension Experiment...
...featuring King Crimson / Peter Gabriel bassist Tony Levin on bass...
...and also on Chapman Stick.
The band's original guitarist and keyboardist were not on board, so Eric Gillette (Neal Morse Band) filled in...
...along with Diego Tejeida (Haken) on keys.
The last segment of the show was the first ever complete performance of the 12 Step Suite, a five-song hour-long work that Mike penned for Dream Theater regarding his battle against alcoholism. This concert featured three vocalists, including Daniel Gildenlow...
...and Ted Leonard.
Eric Gillette was back, as was Richard Henshall and all of Haken minus the drummer.
That includes Conner Green...
...and Charlie Griffiths, along with the previously pictured Diego Tejeida.
A fantastic show -- and a very metal way to end the cruise.
The last note had been played, the last band took a bow, and Cruise to the Edge was complete!
On the morning of arrival in Tampa, this was the first scene out the window when I woke up on February 11. Not bad.
My trip did not end here, as this was before I made my way to Orlando, but my trip report will end here. It's fitting that a vacation with some time in Mexico will be my segue, as I will soon get back to work on a report from the 2015 TPR Mexico trip. My apologies for the lack of roller coasters in this segment of the TR, but hey, it was actually Robb who convinced me to post it so I guess I've got my excuse!
Thank you for reading. Seriously. These aren't quick hits, and I'm sure not everyone has the time to go through the whole thing, but I appreciate those of you who do. Until next time!
These specialty concert cruises have been popping up a lot lately, seems like every other week or so I get an ad for a new one on social media. Seems like a lot of fun if you're really into the bands playing.
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