Kent's Blog

Apr 07, 2018 – First Week

It’s hard to believe that I have been at sea for a week. It seems both longer and shorter. There is little sense of perceived time for me. My cell phone clock (with alarm) is my friend.

4 Wednesday night was a variety show, in which the three previous acts did 15 minutes of material in each set. We received the music at rehearsal and read it down. I was thankful to have created patches for the synth – they were put to use again. Both shows ran long (as expected – 15 minutes?!?) and were well received.

I picked up my passport to disembark into Singapore the following day (many ports do not require you to physically have your passport, ship’s identification and screening will do), waking up bright and early to beat the lines. I subsequently learned that it was my turn in the rotation for in port management (IPM – a small crew must remain on board at every port). I was fortunate to be asked to play two sets of solo piano in the Grand Lobby, alternating with a house solo pianist. Passport returned.

5 Thursday started with much practice in preparation for my solo sets. They were well received by my musical director, some of the purser’s staff, and inquisitive guests. I changed into business casual clothes for the lifeboat drill – at over 90°F outside on deck 7, it was not comfortable. Afternoon rehearsal was for our Welcome Aboard Show (lovingly abbreviated as WABS). This included a Motown medley with click track for the song-and-dance troupe. Again, glad for those patches. We also played four charts to back our guest artist, a jazz trumpet/vocalist.

I had learned of the death of a dear teacher, colleague, and friend – without his field trips, I would not have visited Montreal, continued to return there (my favorite city), or joined the ship through my Montreal agent. No sleep in that overnight – Thursday’s sets were played on fumes.

6 Friday brought about 15 hours of much-needed sleep. I slept through our stop at Port Keland, Malaysia. With temperatures still the same (just one season here), I enjoyed the air-conditioned berth (it’s small, clean, and lots of A/C), until it was time for the passenger Muster and life-jacket drill. This evening’s act was a MalletKat player (which he promotes as “XyloSynth”). We received charts at 5pm rehearsal – they were everything from The Who to O Fortuna from Carmina Burnaby, a rock version of the Shaker Tune, selections from Carmen, Flight of the Bumblebee…. Quite an eclectic mix of well-arranged charts with well-scored tracks, all with slick packaging and showmanship. (It’s not magic if you know how the tricks are performed – but the attention to detail was impeccable). Standing ovations for him at both shows.

7 Saturday had an acrobatic act in the theatre, so we had no rehearsal scheduled, and two Dixieland sets to play at 7:45 and 9:45 in the lounge on Deck 7. The tunes were a combination of written and head charts, including a darling arrangement of Peter and the Wolf (note to self – find it online for the Onion River Jazz Band). I had a small, white, Yamaha baby grand to play. This was my first time on a white piano – the glare was disconcerting at the start, but I got used to it (but I won’t live down playing that instrument). The sets were attended by about 80-100 each set and were enthusiastically received. I was pleased with my playing – I was in one of my wheelhouse.

My roommate and I got off the ship after morning training and lunch to see what Penang, Malaysia had to offer. Again, hot. We took an overpriced (but air-conditioned) taxi around the island. We visited Burmese and Thai Buddhist temples that were situated across the street from one another (not unlike a holy McDonald’s and Burger King). From there, we tasted some coffees and chocolates (no sale, coffee in single packs not beans – and chocolate in the heat…) – the white coffee and coconut coffee were excellent, fresh. We then found a beach attached to a hotel (hotel is private, beaches are public here). My roommate enjoyed the water (I should have worn the swimsuit). Pictures of Penang (and of the ship) are on my Facebook site.

Tonight brings two sets of jazz in the lounge. We’ll read (or sight-read) Real Book heads.

As an aside, we’ve had some fleet-wide Wi-Fi issues that are resolved, for now. Wi-Fi at sea via satellite is inherently slow and spotty, and purchased in both 250/500/1000 MB packages and a 28 day social media package. If you do it right, you can communicate by voice-over-Internet, check email, and lurk on Facebook for under $100 a month. You must turn off the MB packages when you are not using them and log onto social media packages first – both could be expensive learning curves.


  1. YB

    Learning the ropes…what an experience 🙂

    1. Kent Baker (Post author)

      I’ve learned much. Arranging is where it’s at.


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