Tuesday, April 22, 2014

BACK ON DRY LAND AGAIN

Part of the reason I took a break from blogging was that I had a second cruise smack dab in the middle of April that was going to make the month too hectic for the A to Z event (and I really was feeling stale with the reviews).








Cruise To The Edge was a lot of fun, although not as well executed as the prior cruise, which was a bit surprising considering it was in its second year.


The ship was bigger, and there were probably twice as many passengers.

For the environment, the ship was pretty similar, although I thought Norwegian beat MSC for customer service. 

The staff were friendlier, the buffet time restricted with a far limited selection, and the ship's communication was horrible.

Norwegian posted scheduling changes by the elevator banks, and MSC expected you to go to the sixth floor concierge to ask about them. They had an electronic schedule that was in all elevators and all over the decks, but I guess the technology to update a calendar on a computer has not been invented in Italy yet.

I am even less impressed with the Cruise To The Edge team (who also run Monsters of Rock and The Moody Blues cruises).

The organization of the concerts was awful. And that is being nice. 

Most of them started late (I do not remember that being an issue at Progressive Nation At Sea), a few more than an hour late.






The headliners (Yes, Marillion, Hackett, UK) were in a theater similar to the one on the Pearl, but you were given a color-coded lanyard (blue or pink) and could only go to the show of your color. 

Now with twice as many attendees, maybe this was necessary, but it would have been nice to know before shelling out the cash thinking you'd see each band twice. It also would have been nice if they made sure that non-headlining bands had at least one show that did not conflict with each color-coded group. Heck, it would have been nice if they'd mailed out the band schedule before Saturday noon.

You also were assigned a seat, with the VIP cabins getting the first ten rows, and the rest of us peasants being assigned seats in the order booked. 

And yet, during the shows, there were empty seats all over!  For the last two nights they started letting people take the empty seats, with the VIP's getting first dibs. 

Being a VIP was a big deal on this ship-they had a couple of private concerts, a private restaurant, prioriy seating....they paid twice as much but their butts got well-kissed.

There were several scheduling conflicts attributable to this process.If you had a pink lanyard (I did), IOEarth was scheduled to play at the same times as the Yes and Hackett shows, so you basically could not see them unless you bailed on one of those. Needless to say, I missed IOEarth, and was very disappointed.

We got rain on Tuesday. Presto Ballet was scheduled for a 12 noon start, and the staff ordered the crowd to clear the pool deck at 12:30. 

I went back to my room, and when I got to the Renaissance show at 2pm, was told that Presto Ballet had played at 1:30.

No communication of the change.

Same thing happened that night-Queensryche went on at 8:25 (for their 8pm show) although we were told all pool shows were cancelled. I caught it because I'd eaten dinner late.


Because of the Presto Ballet schedule change, I would have had to skip UK to see their other performance. I ended up leaving UK after 45 minutes to catch the last 45 minutes of PB.

I was lucky enough to see Moon Safari's first show (because of all of the schedule changes), but wanted to see the "blue" Marillion performance and skipped Moon Safari's second show. 

Marillion


Marillion started over an hour late, so I probably could have seen most of the second Moon Safari performance.

I did not mind that the weather caused schedule changes, but I was pissed that the schedule had conflicts because of the blue/pink groups-I was able to see everyone at least once on PNAS.

The bands were great. I could have passed on Yes, having seen the show last summer (and already having a ticket to a show in August), Hackett was remarkable, Moon Safari...WOW.

Moon Safari


UK was just so-so....as much as I love Wetton's voice, Jobson kept talking about "the history of the band," and let's face it-it was a side project four decades ago. 

That's what swayed me to leave UK early to catch Presto Ballet-they are a band with a history and a future.

Presto Ballet


Saw both Queensryche shows-not bad, but would have rather seen them playing "Mindcrime" with Geoff Tate fronting. Saw both Renaissance shows, and that was a neat trick. Caught a few minutes of Stick Men on my way to something...unusual live performance. 

Patrick Moraz was also one who started an hour late so I left his show as he started to catch Three Friends. Their show was in an odd-shaped lounge, and was so crowded I could not see them, but they sounded great.

I was able to see all or part of 21 concerts-fewer than on PNAS although the cruise was one day longer. I could have seen more had it not been for the lousy administration of the event.


Don't get me wrong-I had a good time and I am glad I went. But the Progressive Nation cruise set a high water mark (pun intended) that Cruise To The Edge did not come close to.


Going on a cruise is a luxury, going on two was a one-time event.

Highlights-Marillion, Moon Safari and Hacket (that order).

Lowlights-the poor execution by the Cruise To The Edge people.

Chances I'd pick one of the three cruises this management team puts on for a vacation next year?

Slim to none.

Remember when I said I'd be taking April off from posting?

I lied!




10 comments:

  1. When we lived in Augusta, there were a group of ladies my mom knows who cruise together a lot. I am *almost positive* they always cruise Norwegian now (after having tried several different cruises). I don't cruise because of my vestibular problem with my ears, but I can appreciate what you are saying here. Your money would likely be better spent picking and choosing the bands you want to see. Sorry that the communication system was so lousy on this venture.

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    1. Robin-

      Actually my money was spent picking and choosing bands-each cruise had bands that I would have had to travel to the east coast to see, and when I figured the cost of multiple plane tickets, hotels and rental cars, the cruises (final cost roughly $2K each) were not such a bad deal. And each cruise had bands that were pleasant surprises.

      So still well worth it to me, but I would not take two cruises in the same year again-too much else I want to see in the world!

      I still gotta go to Hawaii-been wanting to do that since Magnum PI premiered!

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  2. I still can't quite figure out whether to congratulate you or console you. I mean, it sounds like a pretty fun experience, but the music scheduling also sounds like it was an absolute nightmare.

    I've never been on a cruise. I've heard people say they love them and people say they hate them. I'm not sure where I'd fall. For now, though, especially as a guy who can't swim... concerts on land seem okay with me.

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    1. I don't know that I'd do a cruise without the music-think I'd get bored.

      Most concerts on land start late-I may not have thought anything was wrong had I nothing else to compare it to....

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  3. Sounds like a steaming mess interspersed with highlights that made it bearable- hey, kinda like my job! Except with music.

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    1. I may have come off too harsh-had I not taken the other cruise, I probably would have called this one perfect.

      But once you see an event pulled off virtually without a hitch, to have one so full of miscues makes it seem so much worse!

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  4. I figured cruise ships had things down to more of a scheduling science. There is no good excuse for what you had to deal with. For that matter, I don't think any concert should start late. That's something that used to annoy me about a lot of the concerts I used to go see. I'm a stickler for time. It's especially the case when there are other scheduled events coordinated.

    I don't know that I'll ever do a cruise, but who knows. Maybe someday I'll have an excess of money to spend on things like that.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

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  5. I didn't even realise you could go on a cruise festival, so to speak. I would totally be in on that ... and hopefully would have a better experience than you did on this one! But at least you got to see some great bands.

    I love Queensr├┐che. Heard "Eyes of a Stranger" over the PA last night while waiting for Skid Row to come on stage. :)

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    1. I think Skid Row was one of the bands on the Kiss cruise...I do not know who started the idea, but it is a good one.

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  6. What an awful experience!
    After the settlement, no chance we'll see Tate with Queensryche again.

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