By Lee Zimmerman
All pictures were taken of The Flower Power Cruise on the Celebrity Infinity March 30 - April 6, 2019 by Alisa B. Cherry.
Nostalgia counts for a lot these days, especially given the turbulent, topsy-turvy world we live in where traditional values and old mores seem to have been forgotten entirely. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the world of classic rock, where the artists and bands that helped create a certain soundtrack for our lives still carry on and bring those fond musical memories to the fore.
Those possibilities have created a firm niche for the music cruise industry, particularly those that specialize in what could commonly be called the oldies circuit, or, to be more precise, the classic rock niche. And nobody does that better than a company called StarVista LIVE, whose most popular offering is quaintly called “The Flower Power Cruise.” Having expanded to a full week’s worth of offerings (next year the company will offer nearly two weeks of music and cruising combinations), the outing largely appeals to those of a senior status who eagerly take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect with the music of the performers they loved in their youth, thanks to a living jukebox of much beloved hits that filled jukeboxes and the radio waves in decades past.
This year’s voyage featured a generous selection of bands and artists from days gone by -- among them, Mike Love’s BeachBoys, the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Yardbirds, Tommy James and the Shondells, the Cyrkle, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Three Dog Night’s Chuck Negron, Jefferson Starship, Blood Sweat and Tears, the Family Stone, Cowsills and any number of cover bands that filled in the gaps with oldies by those who were absent due to break-ups, loss of members or other unavoidable circumstance. The crowd didn’t seem to mind as long as the music flowed, which it did most of the afternoon or evening except when the ship was in port. Nor did anyone mind that many of the aforementioned outfits were fleshed out by stringers, and the fact that the legacy lingered on in the hands of only one or two original members.
Indeed, there’s something to be said for those musicians who remain determined to keep the brand alive. Most are well into their 60s and 70s, with a handful still working the boards at age 80. While the once youthful exuberance of rock and roll might one have considered senior status at odds with its passion and purpose, it’s certainly not the case now amongst those who cling to their love of that original mantra and have aged into senior status without abandoning their initial zeal or enthusiasm.
The most dramatic proof of that premise may have come in the form of Cheech and Chong, whose anti authoritative routines and reefer toking obsession remain as unbridled as ever. In fact, there were some in the audience whose attitudes seem to have distanced them from that irreverent humor, as indicated by a less than full house for their second show.
On the other hand, the cruise’s celebrity host Peter Asher was so amiable and accessible that he came across like an old chum, offering anecdotes, songs and photos recounting his part in the British Invasion as part of the hit duo Peter and Gordon, his connections with the Beatles and his key role as producer and talent scout during the initial days of Apple Records. Charming and debonair, he seemed to be everywhere -- introducing the acts, sitting in during the shows and generally taking time to talk with fans and recount his more than 50 year career which still remains active even now.
As for the audience, suffice it to say that the enthusiasm and good vibes were equally in abundance. Tie-die was the everyday garb, often accompanied by dangling peace signs, headbands and other accoutrement that enhanced the vintage apparel. Theme nights took that trend several steps further, encouraging folks to dress like a favorite rock star or don bellbottoms that likely have been sitting in the closet for decades and then dusted off especially for this occasion. Granted, walkers, canes and electric wheelchairs were evident as well, but the number of enthusiastic dancers reflected the fact that even among seniors, energy and enthusiasm easily overcame any of the maladies or missteps that often accompany age.
Consequently, there’s something heartening about The Flower Power Cruise and the fact that it’s able to rekindle such youthful exuberance, the musical memories and not least of all, the feeling of comradery and and connection that was, after all, an integral part of the youthful culture so seeped in the ‘60s. Passengers could rejoice in the fact that they were again able to share a common bond and celebrate something that had once united a generation so long ago. It was no small coincidence that Flower Power took place over a few months prior to the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, and indeed, the photos that adorned the pool deck served to rekindle that experience as well. Not surprisingly, the couple that was pictured embraced in a blanket on the cover of the Woodstock soundtrack was also onboard, a permanent part of history that created an iconic image all their own.
Ultimately, The Flower Power Cruise provides a remarkable experience, not only for the sights and sounds, but also for the opportunity to embrace a time and place that may be decades past but still a vital and reassuring memory as well. The meets and greets with the artists, the chance shipboard encounters, the making of new friends... all of it contributed to that eternal embrace, and the ongoing optimism that accompanies it as well. Everyone ages, but as this particular outing often proved, attitude and enthusiasm never go out of style.