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Behind the Curtain – A Home Free Cruise
March 4, 2013

People often ask us a lot of questions about our cruise ship gigs – “Do you perform every day?” “Do you stay in the crew cabins?” “Do you actually get PAID to do these?” To help answer these and other questions, here’s a snapshot from our latest cruise gig, beginning the night before in Minnesota…

Feb 9th Springfield, MN

After doing a day of workshops at the school the previous day, we perform our concert on Saturday to rave reviews.  After some brief trouble loading up afterwards (the hydraulic lift gate on our RV decided it didn’t want to work in the cold) we hit the road at 10pm and finally in bed around 1am.

Feb 10th MSP to DFW to Puerto Rico to Antigua

Up at 4:30 (sleep is for the weak!) for our 7am flight, and after picking everyone else up on the way to MSP, we arrive just in time. First stop, DFW, where we have a lovely lunch at TGIF during our 3 hour layover.   We fly out at 12:45pm to San Juan, a 4.5 hour flight plus two time zone changes, which means we get in around 7.  Dinner in the airport there, then our final flight to Antigua at 9:45.  We fly in a little put-put plane for the hour flight (Adam is terrified), and after an uneventful trip we land safe and sound in Antigua.  A short cab ride later we pull into the fancy hotel that Royal Caribbean booked, check in, and immediately fall asleep after our (long) 15-hr travel day.

Feb 11th Antigua

Around 11am we head to the docks to board.  First we have to go through customs to leave Antigua at the pier, and then we have myriad security checks to go through before we’re allowed on the ship itself, including scanners like you see at the airport and chemical swabs on our luggage looking for drugs. Finally, after only an hour or so of red tape (we count ourselves lucky, sometimes it’s taken 2-3 hours before!) we’re on, and we all head to our cabins to get settled in and then grab lunch at the buffet.  Usually our show is the next day after we board, but we find out it’s actually in two days, so we have the night to relax!  First off though, rehearsal in the guest suite (we get 3 regular passenger cabins and one shared balcony suite) before we explore the ship.

Feb 12th Tortolla

The forecast calls for a day of rain, but fortunately it ends up being sunny and bright almost all day!  We hit up the beach and then a drug store to buy some cartons of water (much cheaper than the ship) and enjoy our day.  That evening we hit up several of the lounges on board, but it’s a slow night, meaning sadly we’re the only ones in the nightclub…for the entire night.  We felt bad for the wait staff….

Feb 13th At Sea

Soundcheck at 11am.  This is the lighting guy’s first time seeing our show, so he has to design something before our performance.  Fortunately we come prepared with a lot of notes, so it’s a fairly seamless process.  We test out the sound system that Royal Caribbean has, do a full run of the show, and then head out to our various endeavors (gym, nap, buffet).  Our shows are at 7 and 8:45 and both are very well received.  We ended up selling far more cds than we anticipated, meaning we almost sold out!  Good in and of itself, but certainly doesn’t bode well for next week’s cruise.  We get on the phone with Matt and have him overnight a box to Baltimore so we’ll be ready for next week.

Feb 14th At Sea

Valentine’s Day! We spend the night watching the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers cast perform their show twice, cheering loudly the whole time.  Nothing’s more fun as a performer than having a crowd enthusiastically approving of what you’re doing!  We have a great time hanging out with the cast that night afterwards.  I may have even jumped up with the country band playing in the lounge and jammed with them on the piano for a few songs…

Feb 15th At Sea

Yikes, THREE sea days.  We’re all starting to get a little antsy to get off the boat for a bit, but alas, one more day to go.  We perform 4 songs at the farewell show that evening and finish selling off the remaining cds we had.  Since it’s the last night, there are actually more people out and about than the previous nights, so we have a great time socializing the night away (there might have been some Gangnam Style dancing…).

Feb 16th Baltimore, MD

Yay, land!  Phone!  Internet!  Once again connected to society, we have lunch at a place called Captain James Landing which has the best crab cakes I’ve ever eaten.  Pricey, but worth every dollar!  We pick up the CD box and head back to the ship.

Feb 17 At Sea

Now that a new crowd of passenger’s journey has begun, we start them off right with a Home Free show! The audience is fantastic, CDs are flying off the table, and we’re paraded around the ship on the guest’s shoulders with a rousing huzzah! Well, okay, the last part may have been exaggerated, but you get the idea.

Feb 18th At Sea

The next morning at 10:15am we do a Q&A session in the Centrum with the cruise director.  After he asks us a few questions, Adam demonstrates and explains vocal percussion, and then it’s opened up for the guests to ask.  The Centrum is 9 stories tall, and there are guests ringing it on every floor watching us!  Very fun.  We close off with a couple of songs, and then do some individual meet and greet.  Following that, I teach a dance class!  For those of you don’t know, my main hobby back home is swing dancing, and the cruise director asked if I would be willing to teach a class.  It ended up being a lot of fun; it’s great getting to do some things outside of just singing on the ship.

Feb 19th San Juan

At 3 pm the ship docks in San Juan.  We book it off the ship as fast as we can to catch our 5pm flight, and then its off to Denver by way of Houston!  We have a show the next night for Cabelas’ annual trade show convention, so no rest for the weary, one more show to go!

Feb 20th Denver

We sound check that afternoon and then perform a great show that evening.  After the show, we head up to the bar on the 27th floor of the Hyatt which has an amazing view of the city, and then head back to the first floor where we party with the CEO, the CFO, and various other VPs of Cabelas till the wee hours of the morning.  Sing a few songs, have a few laughs, and finally get to bed around 2am.

Feb 21 Denver

Time to go home! We’re worried about the weather, but it looks like we’re going to miss the blizzard that’s been walloping the Midwest. We make it home safe and sound and finally get a few days off before it all begins again somewhere else. It’s a lot of work, and it’s tough being away from home all the time, but you couldn’t ask for a more rewarding and unique job.


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