"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rombello Cruise

Well. we just couldn't pass it up.  Despite just getting back from a quick trip up to New England, working one day and then  flying back out that night, we headed south to board our second music cruise of the year.  The company, Sixthman, who organized the Best Cruise Ever musical voyage that we took back in late April/early May (see previous blog post: ) offered us a deal as previous cruisers that we couldn't afford to not accept ($298 ea. including tax!) for another one of their four-day music cruises out of Tampa, FL, to Cozumel, Mexico, and back. packed full of bands performing throughout the trip. 
Welcome to Rombello!

Thursday, September 29, 2012:  The lovely city of Tampa wished us a "bon voyage" again as we headed out of the same port on the same ship, the Carnival Inspiration, that we had taken on the last music cruise.  Bonus points if you can find the large "T" (for Tampa, I suppose) among the downtown buildings.  Wonder if that was done intentionally?

 Michael Franti & Spearhead, who happens to be one of our favorite live acts, kicked off the trip with a sail-away concert out on the Lido Deck.  Their recent hit "The Sound of Sunshine" never sounded better or felt more appropriate as we got underway under blue sunny skies with warm temps and with the beach balls a-flyin'.

 Our favorite "new-to-us" band we discovered on the Rombello Cruise was Gaelic Storm, an energetic and musically-adept Irish band.  Appropriately, here they are above ending their first set in the bar on the Lido Deck.  That's showmanship and drunkenness all at the same time, folks!

How do you like our new family Christmas card?  He's our boy and we are so proud of him!  One of our favorite performers, Brett Dennen, hosted a wine tasting and although we did this same type of tasting on the last music cruise with Jimmy Stafford, lead guitarist of the band, Train, and the wine offered by Carnival pretty much sucked (as it did again here), it was still a great chance to meet Brett and talk with him one-on-one about wine (even the crappy kind), his music and his upcoming show in Nashville that we were looking forward to seeing after the cruise.  Brett was funny and charming as the guest host and he and the ship's dining room maitre'd and wine representative, Omar, made quite the comedy duo.

Hmmm, is The Old 97's song, "Big Brown Eyes"  written by lead singer, Rhett Miller, pictured above with my brown-eyed girl about someone in particular??  It sure looks like it from these beaming smiles.  We got to meet Rhett briefly before his first show on the boat in the small nightclub venue, the Candlelight Lounge.  He was winging it solo on this trip without the rest of the 97's and his one-man-and-a-guitar performances (we saw all three) were impressive, not to mention he had the help of his great voice in accompaniment.

After the wine tasting, Brett Dennen took to the Lido Deck stage for an early evening performance.  We believe Brett may have had a lot of complimentary wine during and after the tasting we attended with him because it wasn't one of his best shows in terms of performance....i.e. we think he was sloshed!

Saturday, October 1, 2011:  We didn't have any luck securing an excursion for our stop in Cozumel before the cruise, so we stood in the excursion trip line on the boat (with Brett Dennen again!) and chose what looked to be an interesting cave tour and swim at Rio Secreto over on the mainland near Playa del Carmen.  It turned out to be one of the best excursions we have ever done.  It's a privately-owned cave system discovered only recently back in 2008.   The half-mile hike, wade and swim through this underground wonder was simply amazing.  The tour was very organized and went smoothly.  Hats off to Carnival Cruise Lines for providing such a great tour since our past history with some ship-sponsored excursions have not been that great.  Since personal cameras weren't allowed in the cave, I can't take credit for this incredible (and accurate) shot above.  I borrowed it from the website blog of Legacy Travel.

After the tour of Rio Secreto we strolled around in Playa del Carmen a bit and wondered into Tequila Town for a drink.  Who knew there were so many kinds of tequila!

As we boarded the ferry back to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen, this beautiful Caribbean storm popped up on the horizon.  It never affected us which added to our record of perfect weather during this trip.

Rhett Miller once again took the small stage on the back of the cruise ship on the Serenity Deck as we awaited to depart from the Cozumel port.  He gave another energetic performance even as the Carnival Elation headed out to sea behind him.

As the sun was setting and we got underway from Cozumel, Rhett Miller finished his set with flair and style.

Despite the fact that our favorite band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, were performing the headlining  7 PM show in the ship's huge Paris Lounge, we opted for a more up-close-and-personal experience with Gaelic Storm in the Candlelight Lounge.  We think we made the right choice as the band put on one hell of a show while all along taking good-natured jabs at "Franteeeee" for playing at the same time upstairs and stealing their crowd (which you couldn't tell since the place was packed).  After the performance which again ended in the lounge bar,  of course, we got a chance to meet lead guitarist, (and possible Keebler Elf?) Steve Twigger.

Well, here he goes again.  After telling us in the excursion line the day before that all he wanted to do in Cozumel was "snorkel a little, get drunk and eat a bunch of guacamole" - we think Brett Dennen did just that.  Donning his bathrobe from his cabin and a Captain & Tennille-style hat, Brett gave another less than stellar late-evening performance after we departed from Cozumel/  There were a lot of slurred lyrics and awkward fumbling pauses between songs.  He was hammered, folks.  Some people just can't handle Mexico I guess  (been there, done that, I confess)

We caught an energetic late-night show by JJ Grey & Mofro in the Paris Lounge to end the evening's musical journey.  Grey's booming voice and dynamite backing band were a treat to see and hear.  We had heard good reports of these guys and their live show, but had never seen them before..  Now we know what all the buzz is about.

Well after midnight and with his show in the main lounge over for hours, Michael Franti was still out and about in the open public areas of the ship posing for pictures, signing autographs and just being one of the nicest people you will ever meet.  Here he stops and poses for a picture with me and John and Jessica, a couple from Charlotte, North Carolina, that we befriended on the cave tour and hung around with the rest of the cruise.

Sunday, October 2, 2011:  Our last day at sea consisted of an afternoon and early evening of acoustic-style performances out on the Lido Deck with almost every band taking the stage for short sets as we lazed around the pool and cruised back toward Tampa.  The now-infamous Brett Dennen gave an intimate set back on the Serenity Deck and seemed to be more himself albeit probably hung over, but he was still all smiles and happy to pose for pictures as the sun was setting on the day and  another great music cruise.
ADDENDUM: Thursday, October 6, 2011 - We saw our boy, Brett Dennen, again (sober this time, thank goodness, we were starting to worry about the kid!) put on a great show as the headliner at the fifth week of Live on the Green in downtown Nashville.  Link below is part of his great performance.  We had VIP tix that gave us unlimited drinks and great food from B & C BBQ (their buffalo chicken grits were outstanding!) as well as up close viewing of the stage.  Before Brett's set we also saw some good performances by Rayland Baxter (performing with his legendary father, Bucky Baxter) and Nashville's own, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors.  Thanks to our newly-married  friends, Nate and Ginny, for attending with us.  Congrats, guys!



Craig said...

I saw two T's... a white one and a black one. I guess the white one counts?

Rob and Ashlee said...