One thing I have not been able to do in the last 50 years is to travel in the fall.
When you’re broadcasting NFL football, you’re out of action basically from August through December.
You can’t really go anywhere when you have prep during the week, travel on Fridays and don’t return till late Sunday night or Monday if you have a game on the west coast.
If you fly back late Sunday evening after working a Rams game for instance, you get back early Monday morning.
It’s called a red-eye folks.
And it’s not fun.
But now, all bets are off.
Since I’m retired I can go anywhere anytime.
And so we did.
Jamie and I went on a cruise to ports in Greece, Italy and Spain.
If I zero in on the one compelling highlight of the cruise experience, it was the music onboard.
It was uplifting, stirring, and exhilarating.
Not all the travelers on a ship go to all the evening shows that are presented.
They pick their spots. And that was the case here.
But, for the first time we saw them all, and they all were home runs.
There was a variety to every musical performance which I will outline.
There were six singers who sang and danced their way to utter joy.
As we discovered, they were selected individually and in short order had to either sink or swim as a group.
They were three talented women, all from the UK, I believe, teamed with three men, not all from the UK, but armed with the ability to sing together, and dance together.
As it turned out, they all meshed together. Brilliantly.
The performances ranged from the opening show accenting the Swing era from the early 1930’s right up to today’s interpretations of that style of music, to an evening devoted to the world’s most famous Italian opera and classical crossover music.
You’d be amazed at how opera has influenced the songs we all have come to know and love.
In between, the ladies on stage paid tribute to the likes of Streisand, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Etta James and other legends, as well as a solo show where a talent named Carlo Pavan covered Motown hits, pop, and jazz classics.
Then there were sessions highlighting show music from the West End in London to Broadway.
That included the best of My Fair Lady up to Les Miserables.
The great lyricists were honored, and the final show was all about the Blues.
But there’s more.
Every afternoon and evening, there were two individuals who filled the air with delightful song. And they were still going strong when midnight struck.
A young classical pianist named Natalia, and an equally young guitarist named Charlie entertained those who just wanted to relax in the various lounges with a variety of melodies.
Natalia played popular standards. The kind we more mature folk hum to ourselves all the time, and many others which we don’t but wish we did.
Charlie sang and played ballads from the great artists of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
When he combined the harmonica to his guitar strumming, it was special.
Natalia, from Kiev, in the Ukraine, and Charlie, a Welshman all the way, even combined for duos which were breathtaking.
Charlie, for example, who grew up in a small town in Wales, knew exactly what he wanted to do in life, when his father took him to see Bob Dylan at Britain’s Wembley Stadium when he was eight years old.
It reminded me of my father, talking me to the Polo Grounds and teaching me sports reporting when I was eight.
I knew then, that’s what I wanted to do as well.
To top it all off, on the final night, we saw for the first time what everyone was raving about throughout the cruise.
At an aptly named restaurant called the Silver Note, Kim and Didi, a duo who performed love songs, cabaret-style also with exceptional lyrics made dining perhaps the most pleasant on the trip.
Didi at the piano, and Kim, with the vocals, sitting on a stool in front, put a smile on our faces as we took our next bite.
There is nothing better in life than hearing the music that appeals to you.
It sticks with you, and brightens the day, and lifts you up.
When you go on as cruise, the big moments are always the ports of call where you disembark and see places and things you’ve never seen before.
The excursions were all fascinating, for sure.
But it was the music, yes, the music.
When we left the ship, we were humming some of the songs we heard on board.
For someone who regards music as highly as I do, that will be the top remembrance of the cruise.
Next week, back to the world of sports. The vacation is over.