Alex from Super Fi had been working hard to get us some more work and an opportunity with P&O as a guest band was too good to turn down. It was only a short one month contract so we’d be able to keep ourselves well rehearsed and not be away for the busy UK summer.
P&O was much more easy to prepare for as it turns out everything that we’d done in preparation for Disney was pretty much standard throughout the cruise industry. All that safety training at the start, the medicals etc. It was all done. Coupled with the fact that we didn’t have to fly to LA to join the Ventura made everything much less stressful.
Bigger is Better
We joined the Ventura in Southampton, not far from my home, I’d had the band round mine the previous night for a quick brush up rehearsal and party, it was a good night! The Ventura is an enormous ship. Much bigger than the Disney Wonder and much newer. The best thing about a bigger ship was our cabin size, it was bigger, a lot bigger.
Sharing on the Wonder was a bit of a squeeze but this time around there was room to move in the cabin. Hooray! A larger ship also meant larger distances to walk to get where you wanted. It seemed to take forever to get to our venues but once there it was nice to be playing with the band again and there was a bigger audience to play to.
Our job was slightly different to Disney, I guess catering for the tastes of a British crowd, on top of playing our standard party sets we played ballroom sets. It was no mean feat to learn all these ballroom songs on the fly on the ship as we hadn’t really been told what we were doing. Having said that with one contract as a band already under our belts we knew each others playing well enough by now to adapt to the situation. No-one even knew, brilliant.
The good thing about our month on the Ventura was that the itinerary’s were different and they were two week cruises so we ended up in the Western Mediterranean first of all before visiting Ireland, Iceland and Norway during the second cruise. Amazing places, all of them, offering something different. Barcelona and it’s busy cosmopolitan city life was markedly different to Villefranche, a small wealthy French village near Monaco.
My personal favourite was our visit to Iceland, somewhere you never really think about going. Reykjavik, the capital city was quieter than the smallest British village. We visited a music shop there filled with strange and wonderful stringed instruments that played very ethereal and atmospheric music and made you feel like you were sat round a log fire wrapped in animal fur toasting the evenings catch with the Vikings.
Norway and its stunning fjords were nothing short of sensational. We docked at Olden, some 60 miles inland. Leaving there was a very special experience, sat at the top of the ship in the Metropolis Bar watching it all go by and then finally entering the North Sea was a great thing to behold.
All of it was so new yet ship life seemed so familiar, settling into similar routines and enjoying the same things on board as we did on the Wonder. Ventura had a lot more entertainment on board than we were used to. On Disney we had been the only band whereas on the Ventura we were one of several acts.
I Need You
It was good to mix with all the different musicians, talk shop for a bit and generally immerse yourself in the music social bubble on board. We even got to play with Clem Curtis, lead singer of The Foundations whilst he was there. That was a crew party to remember! Build me up Buttercup and Stevie Wonder’s Superstition went down a storm that night.
It’s impossible to mention how many wonderful people we met on board. In our brief time with P&O I’d like to think that we made a big and positive impact on the entertainment on board and they’re certainly a lot of fun to work for.
No sooner had we played our first gig on board than it was time to leave. It had flown by, we had made so many good friends it was difficult to go but I had a summer with the Brando boys planned and I wasn’t going to miss it…