This year marked our fourth voyage on Cayamo, the annual floating folk / blues / americana music festival hosted by Sixthman, aboard the Norwegian Pearl. The lineup on board for Cayamo 2012 included the likes of John Prine, Lyle Lovett, Keb Mo, Buddy Miller, Shawn Mullins, The Belle Brigade, Enter The Haggis, and The Ryan Montbleau Band…just to name a few. Aside from non stop music coming from all corners of the ship, we also had the pleasure of stopping off on Cayo Levantado, St. Maarten, and St. Barthelemy (St. Barts).
Our trip this time was a bit more special than previous years, as it was our official honeymoon, having just gotten married on Feb 2! Every time I return from this incredible “Journey Through Song”, I begin to count down the days until the next one. Here’s a summary of our trip, so you can understand why.
Each year, as we check in for the trip, we’re handed a program (in addition to badges & special show tickets) that will be a critical guide to keeping track of the ginormous list of shows scheduled for the trip.
We kept careful track of which shows we attended during the cruise by circling them along the way…my count at the end of the trip was 56 shows…and all without breaking a sweat!
Sunday, February 5th
We were early birds checking in for our first day…hitting the check in line about an hour before it opened. We were not alone.
Beth Wood welcomed everyone onto the ship with a pre-embarkation show at 12:30, which we missed, unfortunately…met a couple of really great gals during our required safety briefing (Mary Ann & Susan, from Toronto), and then we were off to enjoy the Sail Away Show with The Belle Brigade (one of the new acts I was most excited to see…they did not disappoint!) on the pool deck.
This first day was a bit tempered for me for a couple of reasons:
1) My first application of the Scopolaimine patches (critical for keeping me from being seasick) kicked my ass, and I was stupid-drowsy…though not drowsy enough to skip the first on-board cocktail to celebrate the start of our trip.
2) It was Super Bowl Sunday. Not being a huge sports fan, I was a bit disappointed that 3-4 hours of our evening would be taken up by the Super Bowl, which Scot was not about to miss, given that the Patriots would be playing. My disappointment deepened when I learned that the coverage Norwegian would be offering included no commercials. We managed to find a comfy spot in the Bliss lounge, nonetheless…and frankly, I was so drowsy, I really didn’t care what we were watching. I ended up retiring to bed early & hoping that the drowsy side effects of my patch were only temporary.
Monday, February 6th
I woke up to our first full day at sea excited…and awake, thank goodness, no more nasty patch side effects…
The schedule above illustrates why, as newcomers to the Pearl, it is critical to get to know the layout of the ship quickly, specifically…where each of the stages are in relation to each other…if you want to see all the acts you’re dying to see. This was our second time sailing on the Pearl, so we were good to go.
Favorites from this day included Ryan Montbleau, Chuck Cannon, Shannon McNally, and of course, the Bell Brigade, for which we had landed “bonus tickets” for the front row. Sadly, at that point in the evening, my “patch drowsy” had returned, so when excited fans took over the front part of the theater to dance, we were total lame-o’s and moved back a few rows to see over their heads. I simply couldn’t get myself to stand up, let along wiggle my booty. The show was awesome nonetheless!
We ended the evening with what would become one of many late night shows-turned-into-jams in the Atrium, this time, led by the soulful Sarah & Christian Dugas. Here’s a great video from that show, courtesy of fellow Cayamo guest, Barb:
Tuesday, February 7th
We awoke off the shores of Cayo Levantado, a small resort island off the coast of Samana. It felt great to spend the day with our toes in the sand, and to explore the island a bit getting to know my camera a little better.
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There was also a bit of shopping to be done…to my dismay. We had somehow missed that there was a “tie-die” theme night coming up mid-cruise, and Scot was tickled to have the opportunity to buy something so he could participate. The wannabe fashionista in me was a bit horrified, but the “10 year old who just got a puppy” look on his face was priceless.
We sailed away to the music of “Buddy Miller and Friends”, which included Sarah and Sean Watkins siblings, Jim Lauderdale & more. Another incredible night of music followed, punctuated by an incredible performance from The Civil Wars, who left the ship the next day to attend the Grammys, where they won Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance.
An impromptu “bar band” style jam assembled late night in the atrium, with many of the artists on board joining in to indulge their guilty music pleasures.
Wednesday, February 8th
Ahhh…brunch on the pool deck with Sarah & Christian Dugas. It’s hard to think of a better way to start the day!
This was our day to explore St. Maarten, where we were tipped off by a local cab driver to check out the Sunset Bar & Grill…and boy were we excited to see the spectacle there. Turns out, St. Maarten has one of the most dangerous (or exciting, depending on how you look at it) airports in the world with its 7708′ runway…just barely enough for large jets to land…and the Sunset Bar & Grill sits right at the end of the runway.
We spent the afternoon, Carib Beer in hand, watching folks on the beach & in the water carefully positioning themselves for the best possible views of the underbellies of the incoming aircraft.
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Oh, and we watched some music that night too (duh), including the one & only legend, John Prine.
Thursday, February 9th
St. Barthelemy (St. Barts) was, hands down, my favorite stop ever made on any Cayamo cruise. A place of understated glamour, and probably a place I wouldn’t likely have ever visited on my own…unless I somehow win the lottery. A favorite stop for us that day was a visit to Le Select, the bar, legend has it, where Jimmy Buffett wrote “Cheeseburger in Paradise”. Photos on the wall there seemed to back up the legend…and, according to Scot, they make a pretty good Cheeseburger there too.
On the walls outside Le Select, it was fun to find the “Maine” Stickers. Check out my photos & see if you can find ’em too.
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James McMurtry provided us with the sail away show…and then we were off & running for great performances by The Belle Brigade (again!) Chuck Cannon, Holly Williams, Enter the Haggis, among others as you’ll see above…and yep…another late night jam session by the artists in the Atrium.
Friday, February 10th
With just a couple of days left on Cayamo 2012, it seemed appropriate that we spend both of them at sea…in order to pack in as much music as possible before it was over! Ryan Montbleau started the day by getting everyone dancing on the pool deck. I was SO excited that one of my new favorite artists, Callaghan, who had stowed away on the cruise with Shawn Mullins & crew (as a part of his shows), was given her own impromptu show!
The highlight for me that evening was my first chance to see Keb Mo’ live, and wow…not only was his music incredible, but he was one of the most engaging and endearing performers, both during and in between songs, I’ve seen on stage in a long time.
Saturday, February 11th
Sigh. Our last day…and we were determined not to waste it.
We knew that Shawn Mullins’ show in the Stardust would be a good one, as it’s rare that he gets booked on this big stage. What we didn’t expect was that he and the band would whip out our favorite performance on this trip. During his finale number “Lullaby”, the Sixthman crew (+ Chuck Cannon) bombed the stage wearing white bathrobes and dancing behind the band “gospel choir style”, a surprise ending for Shawn and the audience. Although video was not technically allowed in the Stardust, fellow guest Shelley, apologetically nabbed a short part of the performance on video:
I’m thinking there needs to be a clause in the Stardust Theater rules that pardons all video activity when Sixthman decides to pull of surprise stunts like this!
We followed that up with a high energy show from Enter the Haggis on the pool deck, then on into another music-packed evening. We couldn’t resist squeezing in a second show with Keb’ Mo’, and would have done it ten more times if the opportunity allowed. David Ryan Harris ended the evening for all of us, and in true late-night-in-the-Atrium fashion, played on later than his scheduled time along with the help of other friends & artists on the boat.
Sadly, All Good Things Must Come to An End
It’s always such a sad day when disembarking Cayamo for the last time. This incredible community of music lovers and musicians has become my happy place over the last few years. I’m already anticipating next year’s trip, but until then, I have some great memories (& photos) to keep me smiling.
Sadly, I was too wrapped up running from show to show to remember my camera much while on the ship. I did manage to snap a few good ones:
[do action=”insert-flickr-photoset-gallery” photoset=”On Board the Norwegian Pearl for Cayamo 2012″/]
Luckily, Cayamo has an official photographer, Will Byington, who nabs all sorts of great photos each year. Also, many other guests weren’t as neglegent as I was, so if you’re hungry for more, just visit either Flickr or YouTube & search for “Cayamo 2012″…or better yet…start saving your pennies and book a spot on Cayamo 2013! Be sure to visit www.Cayamo.com, where next year’s dates & starting lineup are sure to be announced soon.
If you were also a guest this year, I’d love to know what your favorite moments/shows were from your journey on Cayamo 2012. Feel free to add your comments below, and hope to see you next year!