TRAVELOGUE: Couple cruises to jazz through Caribbean
It’s one thing to crank up the volume on your iPod or radio for your favorite song, or to join tens of thousands of other fans to see your favorite musician in concert.
It’s quite another to greet that artist in person, to pose for pictures, to sip a martini together.
That’s what Daily Sentinel Graphics Editor Robert Garcia and his wife, Dolores Pitman, discovered in January during the 14th edition of the Smooth Jazz Cruise, a weeklong contemporary Caribbean jazz cruise Holland America Line bills as “The Greatest Party at Sea.”
The trip took them to four different countries. They sampled rum in Puerto Rico and sipped drinks in lounge chairs of Half Moon Cay on the cruise line’s private island. But the highlight was the cruise itself — and a handful of the passengers, in particular.
Candy Dulfer, Boney James, Peter White, David Sanborn and others — these are the performers whose music Garcia played when he hosted a jazz show on KAFM. And these are the performers he and Pitman could chat with in the buffet line or greet in passing on the ship.
“These are my heroes,” Garcia said. “We all have our own kind of music that moves us, and this is the music that moves me.”
He said it was the best vacation he’s been on — one he intends to repeat at some point in the future.
Names: Robert Garcia and Dolores Pitman.
Hometown: Grand Junction.
Where did you go? Departed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Half Moon Cay, Bahamas; return to Fort Lauderdale.
When did you go? January 2014.
How long there? One week.
Best meal? The dinners each night in the formal dining area were diverse and exquisite. Enjoying such delicacies as escargot and lobster was a treat for this couple from the Rocky Mountains.
Best deal? The prices in St. Maarten were amazing. Everything from conch fritters, a traditional Bahamian recipe that is made with shellfish that is delicious but hard to find outside the Bahamas, to covered seaside bars offering mojitos and piña coladas, to tropical clothing and jewelry. Make time to check out the deals.
Best time to visit? January. That’s when that cruise sets sail. The weather was great. Never once did it rain or get too windy.
One travel tip you’d offer: Make a point to partake in as many of the ship’s activities as possible. There will be plenty of time to rest once you’re home.