It’s not everyday that I find myself at a luxurious cruise ship casino with Ringo Starr playing the slot machine next to mine but aboard Seven Seas Navigator’s Beatles 40th Anniversary Tribute Cruise, such experiences were commonplace. The night before, in fact, I chatted with John Lennon at the Navigator Lounge while George and Paul hovered shyly nearby.
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises sprinkles a variety of theme or “Spotlight” sailings throughout its ships’ regular itineraries with topics ranging from wine to chocolate. Being a dedicated follower of the British rock invasion, Seven Seas Navigator’s Beatles 40th Anniversary Caribbean theme sailing sounded exactly like my cup of English Breakfast tea.
For seven days, it was “Here Comes the Sun,” as Joe Johnson, host of the nationally-syndicated Beatles Brunch radio broadcast took his show on the road—or should we say the waves?—for a seven day magical mystery cruise that combined the delights of an intimate 490-guest six-star ship and sun-drenched ports like Key West, Grand Cayman and Cozumel with the legendary music of the world’s greatest band. Rockin’ the boat in the best sense, Joe orchestrated events that traced the colorful history of the Beatles while Revolution, a Beatles tribute band that looks and, more importantly, sounds identical to the Fab Four provided a spectacular audio and visual backdrop.
Now, I’ve been on theme cruises before, or at least I think I have. The problem is that often the theme of a sailing is so deeply buried among traditional activities that it’s difficult to locate it. Not so aboard Seven Seas Navigator. While non-rockers aboard were treated to plenty of traditional entertainment fare, the Beatle beat permeated the sailing with classic tunes piped in over the decks’ sound system, Beatles films featured 24/7 on one channel of our in-suite TV, and all sorts of activities that brought Beatlemaniacs a chance to win Beatle CDs, DVDs, books and more by naming that Beatles Tune, correctly answering some tough Beatles trivia (do you know what day of the week the Beatles first arrived on American soil?) or simply getting lucky in one of many raffles.
When the sun went down, the real party began, most often kicked off by Revolution as they took the stage in the Seven Seas Show Lounge or, in one instance, in a dazzling “unplugged” set by the swimming pool. As the “Early Beatles,” dressed in the familiar black and white of their first Ed Sullivan Show appearance, Revolution launched into the hits that first triggered the arrival of Beatlemania to our shores. Fast forward a few leisurely days at sea (and about 5 years worth of Beatles history) and, once again, we are treated to a rousing performance, this time with each member of Revolution decked out in the colorful military satins of the Sgt. Pepper era; another costume change, and we are all transported to Abbey Road.
With every function, the originally small but staunch Beatlemaniac contingent grew until pretty soon lounges and showrooms were overflowing for every performance and Beatles-themed activity. “When I first boarded and discovered this was a Beatles cruise, I was furious,” an older gentleman told me during a poolside performance of the faux Fab Four. “I probably wouldn’t have booked this sailing. But we thought we’d poke our heads into the Sgt. Pepper show the other night and we’ve been following the theme ever since. It’s really turned into an unexpected treat.”
And how could it not? A lovely ship, fabulous food, a week of sunshine and a Beatles concert nearly every night!
“I’ll be back again,” I say. “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
By Judy Cuervo