Blues Cruise Brings Music and Relief to Storm-Damaged Islands
A popular Holland America Line "Blues Cruise" to the Caribbean continued as scheduled this year, despite damage from the 2017 hurricane season, and its organizers brought live music and fundraising drives for the affected communities.
The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise board the Koningsdam, operated by Holland America under charter to organizer Roger Naber, embarked on its 30th annual voyage in February with over 25 music groups and 2,500 passengers on board. Despite the severe hurricane damage from September 2017, Naber chose not to abandon the original itinerary that he had agreed upon. Rather, he brought the Koningsdam to islands in need of hurricane relief and tourism dollars. While she was in port, LRBC worked with local tourism departments to put on free shoreside music events with popular blues bands, inviting locals and cruise ship guests to attend.
In Tortola, the local Rotary Club and the port agency worked with LRBC to produce a concert with the Legendary Ils Sont Partis Band and the Deanna Bogart Band. One of the passengers worked with his own local Rotary Club and other cruisers on board to raise $23,500 at the three-hour concert, with proceeds to benefit the rebuilding of a local school. Fundraising efforts continue with the Rotary Club through a grant matching program sponsored by the Canadian Government for the popular tourist island, which sustained severe damage to more than 90 percent of the island during the 2017 hurricane season.
"Whenever possible, the LRBC likes to share in music and cultural exchanges with the local people and places we visit. Our cruisers share a mutual love of music as well as an appreciation for the uniqueness of each destination," said Naber.
The next Blues Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean departs Ft. Lauderdale in February 2019 to visit St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay aboard the Nieuw Statendam. The voyage is already sold out.