This past week, I had the most amazing time on board the 17th Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage cruise. It was the cruise that almost wasn’t for me because I left my passport at home and did not discover this until I was four hours away from boarding. One of the people I was with mentioned something about a passport just in time. I was able to use my birth certificate and THANK GOD I had just run across it the week before and made a mental picture of where I put it or I probably would not be telling you how the cruise was, I would be telling you how it WASN’T. (Reminder, if you travel often and use some of the same luggage, just put your passport in it and leave it. You really can’t use a copy of your passport to board a cruise but you can use a copy of a birth certificate)
The cruise was on a different ship this time, The Carnival Dream, which was very similar to The Carnival Breeze, but with subtle differences. We left from New Orleans instead of Miami and boarding was much more efficient this time. I have not been to New Orleans since pre-Katrina so I came a day early. Downtown NOLA reminds me of NYC and I walked up and down Bourbon street with friends before we left the following day. Usually, once on the cruise, I take a nap and miss the opening talent and this year was no different so I missed Ice Cube and a few other acts but I did get to see most of the other shows.
The lineup this year was the best yet, since I’ve been attending (this is year three). Solid performances from Fantasia, (a crowd favorite) who performed three nights in a row. Ruben Studdard was overlapping in the same time span as Frankie Beverly and Maze but both shows still packed the house. Mary J Blige followed BBD, who gave a GREAT performance and even threw the crowd off when they brought Bobby Brown on stage to do a couple of New Edition songs. BBD also backed Bobby on a couple of his solo hits. Of course, then people wanted to see Ralph and Johnny Gill too but they were till thrilled with BBD and Bobby.
CeCe Penniston, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Anita Ward, Trina, Trick Daddy, the boy band nights with Sylk, Dru Hill, Troop and more and numerous comedians filled the stages over the 8-day voyage and the stops were also a crowd pleaser. We stopped in Cozumel, Mexico (where we had the added benefit of using our US phone plans free of charge) Belize and the most exciting and beautiful Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan where the legendary water fight took place. Tom even invited the inventor of the Super Soaker water gun, Lonnie Johnson (a black inventor who sued Hasbro and won 72 Million for taking credit for his invention) and he spoke to the audience on the beach about his invention.
On the ride over to NOLA from LA, I shared seating with Sherri Shephard who was not happy with the fact that my coffee spilled on her (lol). We were good after that and laughed about it on the cruise. I truly admire people who on very rare occasions can admit their shortcomings and take responsibility instead of pointing the finger at someone else. She did a great job of hosting a few of the segments on the cruise. I’d also like to say hello to Deborah Owens who did an amazing job of talking about finances on the cruise. I learned a LOT from her and will be featuring her in a “Pennies from Kevin” podcast as well as a feature story soon.
The staff of Reach Media put the final issue of RFFocus Magazine (the magazine name is changing to “All Urban Media”) in all the cabins and it was great to hear people talking about it as well as articles they found very interesting (the entire issue will be online this week). Tom and staff also invited me to a special luncheon for the VIPs and Cients where I was treated like a king. Unable to sit down for more than a few minutes to constantly take pictures with industry legends and corporate clients, I didn’t mind at all and we very grateful. I not only look forward to next year’s cruise and presenting the magazine for the 18th Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage Cruise Presented by Ford, but we will also be present at the Family Reunion event in Ocotober of this year with another magazine to be distributed to attendees.
This was the most time I got to spend with Cathy Hughes since I have known her and I finally met industry legend Dyana Williams too who I have been talking to for years. I got to see Cathy’s TV One show “Media” via a screening on the cruise and I can see the growth potential and the development of the characters coming. I look forward to watching more episodes.
I’d like thank Tom Joyner, Marty Rabb, Dave Kantor and Reach Media once again for an amazing time. More pics coming