Because serendipity usually works to my advantage, my first—and likely only—80s cruise went off with only a few glitches last week. If there was ever a time to be blissfully unaware that the world was imploding around me, this was it. One week later and the entire cruise industry is shut down—and rightfully so—over coronavirus fears.
Because so many of you had questions about my raucous, rockin’ trip to the Caribbean, I thought I’d write about the experience—the good (Taylor Dayne!), the bad (The B-52s cancelled!) and the ugly (The Jets!)
10) Newbie alert!
If it’s your first time on The 80s Cruise, you’re considered a freshman. And believe me, there’s a lot to learn. While everyone else is a seemingly experienced senior, you’re left to muddle along trying to find out the who/what/when/where of your 80s cruise experience. I’m a well-seasoned traveler, but this is not like any cruise I’ve ever been on. There are 552,919 things to do at any given moment—and it can be overwhelming. So I did what any good child of the 80s would do, I played Frogger in the casino until my anxiety subsided.
9) Pandemic schmandemic
We weren’t even 48 hours into our cruise before bands started dropping like flies due to panic over COVID-19. Headliners The B-52s and Bret Michaels both cancelled. (I get it. Safety first.) Even Midnight Star and Loverboy threw in the towel—and Lord knows they could’ve used the work. Seemingly out of nowhere, Taylor Dayne and Kool and the Gang magically appeared on the ship to pitch-hit. Both concerts were epic. Taylor nearly ripped the roof off the boat with her larger-than-life lung capacity. Kool, meanwhile, probably would have played 24 hours a day if given the opportunity. They put the entertain in entertainment.
8) Surreal life
If you want to wax nostalgic, this is the trip for you. It was one celebrity blast from the past after another. I barely had time to blink in disbelief. For instance, MTV VJ Mark Goodman asked me what floor I wanted on the elevator. Terri Nunn sat at the end of our row for the Lita Ford concert. And Grandmaster Flash fist-bumped me in the promenade. And where else are you gonna find Bow Wow Wow’s Annabella Lwin kibitzing on stage with Katrina from Katrina and the Waves? (Fun fact: Katrina got so seasick on the third day, she had to postpone her concert. “And waves is in the name of my band,” she joked.)
7) Dress To Impress
I’m not a big “theme night” person, so clearly, I missed out on packing my share of over-the-top costumes. Veteran cruisegoers got into it. I mean, really into it. My custom-made Flock of Seagulls wig paled in comparison to the ensembles I saw. My fave? The trio who re-enacted A-Ha’s “Take on Me” video. It was perfection.
6) Front and center
The beauty of each concert performance is that if you arrive early enough you can be front row, dead center for your favorite band. I was mere feet away from Katrina, Taylor Dayne and The Motels’ Martha Davis. Terri Nunn of Berlin came out into the audience and performed a song literally right in front of me. Mercifully, I missed The Jets—who were purported to be so awful that they were given the boot after only one performance. Bless their hearts. I’ll say this much, everyone sounded amazing. One of my fave moments? When Scandal’s Patty Smyth laid on the concert stage to perform a song when the boat really started rocking—figuratively and literally. “You guys can see me down here on the floor, right?” she joshed.
5) Murphy’s Law
Mercifully, I went into the cruise with zero expectations. Zilch. Nada. It proved handy when it rained for the first few days. Then the dominos started falling. Thanks to stormy weather, we only got to spend a few hours in Puerto Rico. Band cancellations kept infuriatingly occurring. And the mood on the ship became hesitant at best. Good thing it was an all-inclusive cruise. People drank to forget their sorrows—and in some cases to forget that they were even on this cruise to begin with. The only thing missing was Zima and Bartle’s & James. Uh, and Mike Reno. Bless.
4) Save Your Pennies
I’m not going to tell you how much I spent on this cruise, but it was exorbitant. Bordering on astronomical. Was it worth it? Yes and no. The accommodations were better than I anticipated as was the food. The concert cancellations lessened the trip’s value, but, all in all, it was a worthy, memorable experience. I mean, where else are you gonna hear Lita Ford tell a story about Eddie Van Halen scampering out of her bathroom window and falling several stories in to some bushes when Ford’s boyfriend walked in and found them making out? To be honest, I’m just excited that we got on and off the boat with nominal fuss and muss given the state of affairs in the world.
3) Heaven is a Place on Earth
Next year’s line-up, you ask? It’s a quirky mixed bag—everyone from Human League to John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band. A few big(gish) names are also on board in 2021. ABC, Belinda Carlisle, and Morris Day and the Time are your headliners (among others). Interested? Book early! This year’s cruise went on a waitlist by June.
2) All 80s, All The Time
Team members on board (who called themselves “camp counselors”—because, of course, they did) made sure to pull out all the stops for people to relive their youth. There were Rubik’s cube championships, shredded t-shirt contests and 80s karaoke could be found about every four feet. Plenty of band memorabilia was for sale. Remixed 80s tunes were forever thumping through every loudspeaker on the ship. I had to laugh when Animotion’s “Obsession” came on the video screen on the lido deck—as everyone collectively started scream-singing along. Loudly. At the top of their respective lungs. Who knew that song was the unifying force to bring an entire boat together?
1) Getting Swaggy With It
I gotta admit, I did enjoy the oh-so random (and ever-present) swag on the ship. From Aqua Net water bottles to cheesy neon beach towels, everybody’s suitcases were full on the way home. The Bjorn Borg wristbands were a nice touch too—as was the conciliatory bottle of wine. If I go again (uh, nvr say nvr), I will do my due diligence ahead of time. I’m sure I could have maximized my fun potential a bit better. But, hell, I chatted up Nina Blackwood. I feel like I can die happy now.