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Cayamo Cruise - Part 1 - On the Ship

Feb 18, 2008
Kimmy Sophia Brown

I just got back from my first cruise. I was invited by Genevieve, my best friend from high school. This was a really cool experience because it was a music cruise. A company called Sixthman partnered with Carnival Cruise line and came up with a unique floating musical festival concept. For this event they coined a neologism; the word, Cayamo. Cay meaning islands, and amo, from the Latin word meaning love. Love of islands. Something that meant “love of music” might have been more fitting, but Cayamo sounds cooler. I looked online to find the Latin word for music, but only came up with “music”. “Musicamo” sounds like ammunition you load into your musical instrument, like little shells you drop into the bell of your tuba, or perhaps carrying a Tommy gun hidden in your violin case. “Cayamo” is a much better name. Evidently they’ve done several other cruises with various bands including the Bare Naked Ladies, (which sounds like the kind of cruise many people would like to attend) and another hosted by musician, John Mayer.

But this one was a bit different. It featured headliners that are more in the  folk/rock/country category; Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Emmy Lou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin and Brandi Carlile, plus another 20 or 30 lesser known musicians slotted to perform or who came along for open mic opportunities.

Evidently, guitarist, Buddy Miller was one of the first to book the cruise. Emmy Lou, Shawn and Patty had just been doing a tour with Buddy Miller called, “Three Girls and Their Buddy”, so they were fresh from the experience of performing together. Buddy is someone that other musicians trust and love. Because he was coming, Emmy Lou Harris, Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin signed on. Emmy Lou said her first reaction to the idea of a cruise was tantamount to horror - being trapped at sea didn’t seem appealing. Shawn Colvin said that when she heard about coming on a cruise that she would prefer to eat dirt. Even though they approached the idea of a cruise with trepidation, as the experience unfolded the musicians admitted that they were having a great time and appreciated the love of the fans on the ship as well as the joy of performing and hanging out with each other.

Besides the concerts, there was the cruise itself. A cruise ship is like a floating city block. There’s the hotel part. You have your room with a little telephone on the wall. You can call the purser! You can call the info desk! You can call room service and they deliver at no charge! But if you want to call your loved ones off the ship it’s $9.99 a minute. So if you use the phone for that then you’re a nut!

They have restaurants everywhere. Open sushi bars. A pizza parlor. Buffets with lovely entrees and desserts. Sit-down restaurants with waiters. And there’s no check and no tip because it’s all figured in at the beginning. There are bars everywhere for those who want to get liquored up and spend a king’s ransom, but the catch with that is that it’s OPTIONAL. Smiling waiters carry trays of pretty drinks and hover them in front of your nose. One may politely ask, “Are you being a gracious host or are those - for sale?

Also every evening during dinner it was announced that the wait staff was to perform for us. Then “The Macarena” or some other loud, raucous piece of music was piped in and suddenly waiters were standing on tables dancing like go-go girls from the old TV show, “Hullabaloo!” Sometimes waiters and drunken diners got up to form a congo line. We were urged to join them but I couldn’t bring myself to do so.

The ship has a spa with a track, exercise equipment and massage facilities. They offer a yoga class every morning. There’s a shopping deck with a jewelry store, a souvenir store and a tuxedo/formal rental shop. They have a casino with one armed bandits and black jack tables. They have an infirmary where you can buy Theraflu for $1.95 a packet!

There are pools and hot tubs. There is a lounge for cigar smokers. And a sports bar with televisions airing programs of people wearing colorful uniforms displaying frenzied activity on grassy fields while shouting colorful language at each other. It looks completely boring but people stare at the screen and actually get excited.

There is a promenade deck with lounge chairs where you can walk around the ship in relative quiet and gaze at the magnificent ocean stretching out to the far horizon. Some folks sit in deck chairs reading. Many women were reading a current best seller that Genevieve and I are ironically both reading now too, entitled, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert - the personal account of the trials and travels of a young woman on her spiritual journey. As a result of standing in the buffet line seeing another cruiser carrying a copy, we sat down to breakfast and conversation about the book as well as music, yoga, and gurus.

The open seating on the ship was fun because love of music was a common thread. You could sit down with anybody and ask them standard questions. How did you hear about the cruise? Who was the main attraction for you? This provided a great sense of camaraderie among the passengers. When the concerts began it was all about the lovely dance between performer and audience and all the beauty shared in each glistening moment. It was all about experiencing the now, which is a place we modern people have a hard time being.

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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