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Dave Koz and Friends Cruise - Barcelona • Ibiza • Alicante • Málaga • Casablanca • Seville • Lisbon. Caution - long post! :)

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If you like the genre - it is a crazy good time. Just came back from a really fun trip. We extended our time in Barcelona and Lisbon to really start and finish with a flourish. Food and wine heaven - particularly if you like seafood.

Food Tableware Ingredient Recipe Seafood

Squid, octopus, paella, all kinds of fish, cured meats, tasty vegetables, sangria and markets that offer up all kinds of fun stuff.

Normally I'd bring a ton of camera gear on a trip like this but this wasn't a photo trip and my wife along with our travel companions probably weren't interested in waiting around for me to change lenses so I went with a minimal kit.

When it came time to pack an email from the cruise team mentioned that there is a passenger talent show called "So You Think You Can Jam" :)

Thought about it for a couple days and figured - "why not". British Airways allows an instrument carry on of up to 31" so I brought along my trusty YAS 62 S and figured that it couldn't hurt to bring the same horn that Dave plays.

The cruise line is Holland America. Was pretty good. Not amazing but not bad either. Plentiful food - sometimes really good. Sometimes rather mediocre but we were definitely never hungry.

There are two nightly shows on the main stage and numerous smaller venues where someone is almost always playing.

Theme nights like all white attire and Superhero :D nights were entertaining.

Richard Elliot killed it - a very polished show and sounded excellent - big fat robust tone. A very fun twist with the EWI - he used it to channel Roger as a talk box. Straight up funk from Zapp. Loved that.

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The lovely and ever so funky Candy Dulfer was fun as you would expect.

The excursions were a mixed bag - some outstanding and some disappointing. We've never done a cruise before so if you're looking to really get a feel for a place IMO a cruise is not the way to do it but the cruise is a full on musical buffet on the water.

Finally got to see Maysa live which was a treat in addition to cjazz mainstays like Michael Lington, Norman Brown, Rick Braun, Peter White, Mindy Adair, Shiela E, Candy Dulfer and Richard Elliott. Total immersion.

New young talent like Adrian Crutchfield and Vincent Ingala (who played tenor, drums, guitar and sang!) really were terrific too.

Rick Braun up close and personal:

Pretty cool swag for guests and a particularly fun one for me.

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Finished 2nd which would normally make me pretty salty :D but the winner was truly "the total package". She was lovely, very polished on stage and channeled Whitney Houston better than I have ever seen anyone do. A worthy winner.

A funny story about the talent shows - the couple next to us on night after the 2nd round of the show said "we think you should win but you have no chance" I was intrigued of course by this. They said "we've been on 11 jazz cruises and there's nepotism".

Apparently on the Warren Hill cruise - who wins? His daughter, Olivia.

On another cruise in FL who won? Marcus Anderson's brother - and of course Marcus was the host of the show. She mentioned a few other similar instance too.

Entered on our cruise:

Michael Lington's dad who played a fine tenor sax and the kid who was on "America's Got Talent" playing the saxophone - Avery Dixon had his brother on board and he was a contestant. The mom of one of the main stage performers, Rebecca Jade was another contestant and she has a moving gospel style.

TL;DR - if you like the genre - you'd love the cruise. And bring your axe.
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A few more shots…

Time Out Market in Lisbon - must visit. Huge food court. Hand made sangria and all kinds of food but stuck with the seafood.

Beautiful sunrises.

The vivacious Mindy Abair

Another must visit: La Boqueria Market In Barcelona. Incredibly good stuff there.
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Thanks, Kenneth! It was a trip of a lifetime. I didn’t see anything relating to attending these cruises as a passenger so figured this thread might be of interest to someone.

We did discover that the repeat cruisers vastly outweigh the first timers such as the better half and I.
The cruises are wildly popular. 2024 destination is Egypt. It sold out in 30 minutes even with the lineup TBD.

I’ve been on the waiting list for this cruise for a long time and only got in through a crazy free for all call in at a designated time.

From a business standpoint it is a brilliant move. Clearly in the general marketplace the popularity of jazz in any form is at an all time low. The audience is aging.

Why not take your product upscale via cruises etc.? Can’t leave out Norman Brown - he lit up the stage and even taught a Tai Chi class on deck. :)
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Proof that we are the envy of a few trumpet players 🤣 View attachment 153781 View attachment 153781
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As someone who has begun planning work travel assignments and vacations around where the good open mics/jams are, I will take this post in deep consideration if I ever decide to cruise. If mostly want to play though. Not really interested in contests anymore, just wanna have fun playing with new people.
The trip was really fun but I wouldn’t view it as a floating open mic/jam session. I suppose I could have asked to sit in on the smaller stages/late night stuff but that isn’t really what this cruise is about.

iIRC Warren Hill had some kind of sax symposium that was supposed to have all kinds of opportunities to jam but I don’t recall any specifics nor did I attend.

The contest is pretty fun though! :)
The food looks great!!!
hehe... our travel companions are total foodies so they had all the Barcelona and Lisbon places to eat lined up. Gastro heaven.

Boat food was ok. Certainly plentiful and available at crazy hours.
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