Photos by Jennifer Kantor
Stepping aboard Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas, the fun begins.
Do I search out performing artists for an off-the-cuff interview? Hunker down in a lounge chair and let cruisers come to me? Head straight for the souvenir stand for that commemorative T-shirt?
Actually my trip officially begins with my winning a spa raffle. Yes, that’s right, I have won $100 towards a spa treatment while onboard. It’s Jen’s lucky day! All I had to do was fill out a form and dance for the coupon…
I’m already fitting in splendidly with the cruisers, especially after getting complimented by the apparent Genesis fans on my Peter Gabriel “Scratch” T-shirt. After our complimentary glass of champagne, we head for the centrum where noted DJ Eddie Trunk is setting up for his Sirius XM radio show, accompanied by the overhead sounds of Steve Hackett’s “Shadow of the Heirophant.” That’s one notable find.
After the mandatory emergency drill, I switch to my newly-acquired Yes sweatshirt (yes, I’m aware it’s 80 degrees outside, no need to remind me), grab the camera and head to the pool stage to watch Mike Portnoy (of Dream Theater fame) celebrate his 50th birthday in style. I catch a few minutes of his performance—which includes former Kansas and Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse—before racing up to floor 13 to beat the crowd and get my picture taken with Patrick Moraz. I get lost along the way but happen to see Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, King Crimson) leaving the gym after an apparent workout. That makes two.
Moraz is happy to take photos with his fans. He’s wearing his sunglasses indoors so why shouldn’t I? I quickly introduce myself and he beams in telling me he has a friend named Ira. Everybody smile!
Oh, one side note. If you see anybody on the ship wearing a “Ask me about Roger Dean” T-shirt, you should ask about Roger Dean. Turns out he’s on board, he’s showcasing his work in a gallery on floor 13, and he’s happy to do interviews. His staff now has my card.
The great thing I’ve noticed about being on a cruise is that while I’m sweating away, my Fitbit is loving every minute of it. I’ve got 13,000 steps logged in today alone.
Jen and I have SRO passes for theater shows on-board, including Yes, Kansas and Steve Hackett. Tonight, we’re seeing Yes perform their Drama album in its entirety, and 75 percent of Tales from Topographic Oceans (with some other classic tunes added in).
We’ve befriended Michael and Terri Wold of Hickory, North Carolina, who are seeing the show in the exact same position we are—from the theater bar. They say they are friends with Kansas founding member/guitarist Rich Williams. That sparks my interest. Perhaps they can put in a good word for me regarding an interview sometime this week.
Steve Howe is a technical musician but an inspiring one, focusing on each note to make sure it carries the right emotional weight. He doesn’t emote much, but when he does, it’s worth trying to capture on camera. I applaud Billy Sherwood for filling in the bass role but it’s hard not to wish for Chris Squire to still be with us.
Towards the end of the show, Terri tells Jen who then tells me Rich Williams is right outside the theater. I’m introduced to him and make my pitch – big Kansas fan, named my Elmore column after the band’s album of the same name, would love to do a 10-minute interview when it’s best for him, et cetera, et cetera.
With a laugh, Williams relates his code of “GFY” – “Go fuck yourself.” It’s entirely a joke … I hope. If nothing else, it’s the greatest ice breaker I’ve ever heard in my life. At least Williams is happy to take a photo with me. Let’s hope it’s the start of a beautiful friendship, courtesy of Michael and Terri.
The day ends with my meeting Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard, the Neal Morse Band) on the Guest Services line. Before I ask about the ship’s best WiFi packages, I ask how much of his latest album, The Similitude of a Dream, was inspired by the Genesis epic The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Turns out some but it’s also got some Tommy and Jesus Christ Superstar influence added in for musical flavor.
Excited to see Steve Hackett perform tomorrow, but maybe I’ll see him wandering around the ship beforehand!