Playboy Jazz Cruise: Galaxy of Greats Shine On Caribbean
My wife and I have taken a lot of cruises over the years, in fact three jazz cruises. Holland America is one of our favorite lines, and we were happy to be on the Westerdam. This spacious ship was christened in 2004, and is one of the line's largest with a capacity of 1,848. Nearly half the cabins have balconies. The ship decor is exceptionalfrom the colorful glass floral bouquet that fills the ceiling of the Vista Dining Room to the glass ship sculpture that dominates the Atrium, a revolving piece that catches the eye from each level of the vessel.
While dining in the Pinnacle (the upscale alternative dining room), just off the Atrium, diners can admire a collection of lighted art panels that also provide room separation. The Vista Dining Room, the ship's main restaurant, offered outstanding steaks, lamb, and prime rib. People also praised the fish and vegetarian dishes.
The Jazz Cruises organization charters the entire ship. Thus, all facilities are available for jazz events, certainly a big advantage for a cruise such as this. This is the eighth year since the company's inception, and Executive Director Michael Lazaroff points out that this is his group's 24th such cruise. In the next 12 months two Jazz Cruises are scheduledthe ninth annual "straight ahead" event, November 8-15, and the Smooth Jazz Cruise, January 17-24, 2010. When asked if there will be another Playboy Jazz Cruise, Lazaroff says, "We will hold the next one in 2010... it is hard to get this high-level of talent...every year. So we're planning for one every other year."
During the voyage, our ship was at sea three days and in port four. When off-board, there was a wide variety of excursions offered. Many went off on their own or stayed on and kicked back. onboard.
First stop was San Juan Puerto Rico. We chose to go on a walking tour, shopping and browsing in the old city. (We spotted a van full of Miller's young band members on their way to explore San Juan's famous San Cristobal Fortress.)
Our stops at St. Barts and Nevis were perfect for beach-goers and island explorers. We're snorkelers so we took local catamaran cruises. On the last day, the ship stopped at idyllic Half Moon Cay, its own private island, where we had a barbecue.
Back from the beach, we slid into the Lido Deck Jacuzzi as a farewell concert by the New Birth Jazz Band was in progress. There we were, floating in the water while the band was playing an up-tempo "A Closer Walk With Thee." Ahthe jazz life on the Caribbean.