In 2015, the idea of a music cruise appeared on my radar. Mike Portnoy orchestrated the Prog Nation at Sea cruise that featured many of my favorite bands such as Transatlantic, Anathema, Pain of Salvation, King’s X and others. However, due to financial and time concerns, I ended up skipping. A decision I have regretted since.
The Cruise to the Edge music cruises featuring Yes and other progressive artists have also sailed for the past few years. While I have liked many of artists on board, I tend to prefer the heavier prog bands as opposed to the more nostalgic acts like Yes, Steve Hackett and others.
For the 2017 Cruise to the Edge, Mike Portnoy joined forces with Yes. As a result, several heavier bands such as Haken and Pain of Salvation were added to the band list. The hook was set, I made the leap and booked a cabin for the trip. While for many, the primary draw was Yes, Kansas and Steve Hackett, I signed up primarily for the lesser known artists. The main driver was that many of these bands I had not seen before and bringing them all aboard the same ship for the same week.
The original intent was to bring my wife along for the cruise. She was not a fan of the music but I figured she could relax in the sun while I watched a few shows. Though, after chatting with several on the Facebook forum for the cruise, we decided to sell her half. This turned out to be a good decision (as you will see in the future posts).
Thus, the countdown began to the cruise. Immediately, I had second thoughts. Why spend the money? Why be away for almost an entire week? Why spend a week of vacation without my family or anyone for that matter? But, since the cruise was basically non refundable, I was determined to see it through.
The cruise ship departed on a Tuesday. So, I flew down to Tampa on Monday to avoid any last minute travel issues. The cruise held a pre cruise party at a Tampa bar where John Wesley and John Lodge performed. I attended with a friend I had met at a prior MorseFest (a weekend in Nashville featuring one of the cruise artists, Neal Morse). While it was interesting to hear the show and meet some other attendees, I was tired from my trip so I headed back to get a good night sleep in preparation for the supposed frenetic pace of the cruise. Glad I did. For what I did not realize at the time, the next four days would be a whirlwind (pun intended for progressive music fans).
Over the course of the next few days, I will cover each day of the cruise in as much detail that is (hopefully) interesting and that I can recall. I will add the links for the other days to this page as well. I hope you enjoy the effort. This week of progressive music is without a doubt the best concert based experience of my life. I saw more concerts than I would see in a couple of years and, more importantly, I formed new friendships and met so many awesome people during the week. It was a huge sacrifice financially and time wise. Even more so for my encouraging spouse who stayed at home with our kids.
Next up, I will kick everything off with an exhaustive review of Day one. Please stay tuned..