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Malt Shop Memories Cruise
Making Memories Aboard Eurodam
Nov 2-9, 2014

Jan & Dean's Beach Party Poolside

by Linda Coffman

There are still advantages to being a Baby Boomer. While wonderful things happened when we were growing up—men walked on the moon!—there was even more excitement during our teenage years. Movies (Rebel Without A Cause, American Graffiti) and television shows (Bandstand, Shindig, Hullabaloo) were dedicated to us and of course, there was our music, which exploded on the national scene when Dick Clark began hosting American Bandstand on August 5, 1957. “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it” became a teenager’s mantra. It’s still the clarion call for Baby Boomers to take the floor to dance to the Oldies But Goodies by the many talented artists of the Malt Shop Era that we all loved.

Our music was simply the best—in fact, it still is and it’s stood the test of time. Along with that good beat that you could dance to, you can understand the words and many of us remember them fifty-plus years later as we get pleasure from singing along as we rock on. Aboard the Malt Shop Memories Cruise we can do all of that and even more as so many of the best artists we enjoyed gather in one place—at sea—to entertain us as well as meet and mingle with their fans.

Miss Brenda Lee poses for
Cruise Diva

What would it be like to turn back time to the 50s & 60s to go to another sock hop and dress up for another Prom? Just ask any of the passengers who sailed on Malt Shop Memories Cruise 2014 aboard Holland America Line’s beautiful Eurodam. Not only were we able to do all of that, we attended concerts every night starring some of the best-loved artists of our day—Dion, The Temptations, Brenda Lee, Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits, Lloyd Price, Jan & Dean’s Beach Party starring Dean Torrence; Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, and an evening with the Beach Boys. Also on board were Matthew and Gunnar Nelson in remembrance of their father, Rick Nelson, the legendary Teenagers, Little Peggy March, and Al Lil Fats Jackson. Of course no Malt Shop Memories Cruise would be complete without the Elvis Tribute Artists. Eurodam was transformed into a sea-going hang out for those of us who remember spinning 45 records on our turntables and dancing in our socks.

When our pre-cruise package arrived in the mail we found everything inside we’d need to get ready—luggage tags, information sheets, and tee-shirts that we were invited to “decorate” to compete in a contest during the first deck event—the Tee-Shirt Party where the music by Jan &
Dean’s Beach Party was hot and the drinks were free. There was also an invitation to join our shipmates at a pre-cruise party in Fort Lauderdale the night before we embarked.

Hallmarks of every Malt Shop Memories Cruise (2014 was the fifth annual sailing) are activities and the opportunity to interact with the artists. The level of passenger participation was high and Miss Brenda Lee was so accessible that she seemed to have met everyone on board and during her shows gave shout-outs to those celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. A walk down any accommodations passageway on Eurodam demonstrated that those of us who remember malt shops, 45 records, drive-in movies, and poodle skirts hadn’t lost our creativity and many cabin door displayed inventive door decorations.

MSM Emcee Jerry Blavat Hosts
the Tee-Shirt Party Poolside
Some of the most popular events were “Backstage Pass Live TV Interviews” and Q&A sessions with the artists that were hosted by our cruise director, Dane Butcher and our host Jerry Blavat, the iconic Philadelphia DJ. Well attended were a Cajun cooking demonstration by Lloyd Price, interviews and Q&As with Dean Torrence, The Temptations, The Drifters, Brenda Lee, and others. “Adult” malt get-togethers were also on tap, as well as a special renewal of vows ceremony hosted by Lloyd Price and a “women only seminar” presented by Little Peggy March and Miss Brenda Lee.

We enjoyed ports of call and warm and sunny sea days filled with dance lessons, discussions hosted by numerous artists, Twisting on Deck, a Hula Hoop Competition, The Gong Show, Adult Malts and cocktail hours hosted by the artists, a Cher tribute show, trivia contests, comedy hours with Joe Piscopo, the Buddy Holly Show with George Trullinger, and karaoke. Nightly concerts were the highlights, along with a poolside Back to the Beach BBQ and the sock hop featuring Al Lil Fats Jackson, as well as a Pa-JAM-A Luau Under the Stars, a wild and crazy costume party, and “Prom Night” with the crowning of Prom King & Queen by Jerry Blavat. Passengers really got into the theme—poodle skirts and ponytails were the fashion statements for the sock hop and many broke out their prom dresses as well. Sadly, I could only wish that my prom formals from 1960-something still fit.

Ashore with Lois Reeves Jackson,
our Vandella BFF
Mel & Jerome of The Drifters
Count me among the major Elvis Presley fans onboard. To celebrate the music of the 50s and 60s—the Malt Shop Era—and the King of Rock ‘n Roll, there were SEVEN Elvis Tribute Artists on hand to entertain in The Jungle Room—Gino Monopoli, Jay Zanier, Dwight Icenhower, Mark Anthony, Austin Irby, Jeff Lewis, and Pete Storm. In addition to entertaining, they were generous with their time, posing for photos and chatting. Just like the real King would be if he were on board.

While our time aboard was enjoyable, it was also informative. Dion hosted a presentation of “The Winter Dance Party,” a documentary film made for the Rock ’n Roll Hall of Fame Archives, and shared his remembrances of “The Day The Music Died” when Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens were killed. After that horrible plane crash in February 1959, stories have varied over the years about what really happened that fateful night. Dion revealed that he won the coin toss and was to have been on the plane, but gave up his seat to Richie Valens who was unaccustomed to the frigid Midwestern winter weather and fell ill on the bus that had no heat. In Dion’s words, it was the “The Day The Music Exploded” and, thankfully, the music lives on.

Signatures of every Malt Shop Memories Cruise are pillow gifts and every night we found such tokens of appreciation as terrific souvenir books, caps, tote bag/backpacks, thermal cups, and posters. Of course there also were cute towel animals fashioned by our Eurodam stewards awaiting us. It was like having a birthday every day!

Once again, Mel and I had a fantastic time on the cruise because we’d been sharing the experience with an entire ship full of like-minded people. We were a community who’d make similar lifestyle choices, had a lot in common (in addition to our ages), and were fun to be around. That’s the beauty of a theme cruise aboard a full-ship charter. And, of course there was the music and the opportunity to enjoy the artists we all love.

This was our fourth Malt Shop Memories Cruise and thanks to StarVista LIVE Entertainment, which has a great lineup of entertainers for 2015, we hope it won’t be our last! Check out the Malt Shop Memories website for hundreds of photos and to book your cabin for 2015.

If you missed them, here are links to Cruise Diva's daily blogs posted during the cruise:

The Malt Shop Memories Cruise 2014 Sets Sail
Malt Shop Memories Cruise—the British Invasion
Malt Shop Memories Cruise “Beach Party”
Malt Shop Memories Cruise Rocks the Fun
Malt Shop Memories: Music, Music & More Music
Malt Shop Memories Up Close
Malt Shop Memories Cruise—A Lasting Memory

Photos ©

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