I was completely blown away by the concerts on this cruise. After just the first night of performances I was ready to sign up for next year's cruise. I commend the Tom Joyner staff for choosing truly talented entertainers that know how to deliver an incredible show. These concerts took place in four venues throughout the ship: The Lyric Theater, The Imperial Lounge, Studio B, and The Viking Crown Lounge.
Containing about 1500 seats, The Lyric Theater is the biggest venue on the ship yet people would stand in line for over an hour waiting for the doors to open. Traci and I normally showed up around 20 minutes before show time and were normally able to walk right in and find good seats. We saw Chaka Khan, Eddie and Gerald Levert, Brian McKnight, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, The Tyler Perry Show, and the Superstars Of Comedy in the Lyric Theater.
Studio B is ordinarily an ice skating rink and the place where the Royal Caribbean entertainers perform ice skating shows. However, on the Tom Joyner cruise, the ice was removed and the area was used as a dance floor. In addition to the dance floor, Studio B has several hundred seats and a stage. The concerts held in Studio B began at 2 a.m.. We saw Morris Day And The Time, The Gap Band, and the New Jack Swing Concert featuring Troop, Al B. Sure, and Keith Sweat in Studio B. Many of the entertainers that performed earlier in the evening would show up after their concerts and hang out on the dance floor or get invited on stage to jam. I'm not sure when the Studio B concerts ended. Traci and I normally stayed until 4 a.m. and then returned to our cabin exhausted, but the concerts were still going strong.
The Imperial Lounge is a much smaller venue with comfortable arm chairs and couches surrounding a small dance floor. The lounge probably holds no more 150 people so we always arrived there at least 30 minutes before show time. We normally got great seats but there were times when we were turned away because the lounge was full. In these cases, we would come back to try our luck at the midnight show or come back the next evening, if possible. We saw After 7, Freddie Jackson, and Regina Belle in the Imperial Lounge.
The Viking Crown Lounge was the smallest venue. I don't think this place seats more than 50 in the viewable area and 30 in the overflow lounge where the performance can only be heard - not seen. Kem performed two shows per night in the Viking Crown Lounge from Sunday through Friday. People stood in line for up to two hours and sometimes only made it to the overflow. I refused to spend my vacation standing in line that long so Traci and I were turned away every night because the lounge was full. Finally, on the last evening, Traci and I showed up about 45 minutes after the midnight show began. We were able to make it into the standing area of the overflow lounge and eventually into the viewable lounge as people began leaving the concert early to stand in line for the Gap Band. We were so tired of standing in lines by the end of this cruise.
Every concert I saw on this cruise was awesome. The performers definitely brought their "A" games. We loved it.
There were also two groups that didn't perform in the theaters or lounges, but they were by no means less talented. One night after I finished my snack at the midnight buffet, I wandered up to the pool deck to find the source of the incredible smooth jazz I was hearing. It was C.O.C.O Brown and the Phat Cat Players featuring Mike Phillips. All I could say was "Wow!". This group was playing some of the best fusion and smooth jazz I've ever heard. Mike Phillips was playing his heart out on the saxophone. This group was so good I ran back to my room to get my camcorder and to wake Traci up (she didn't budge). Unfortunately, by the time I got back up to the pool deck, the band had already finished their set.
Another memorable performance was electric violinist, Michael Ward. His band was set up in the lobby of the ship one afternoon. As he started to play very nice smooth jazz, more and more people started to gather in the lobby until the place was packed. Just when I thought the music could not get any better, Michael Ward announced he is from New Orleans and he was going to show us how they do things down there. They started to play some New Orleans romp music and everyone went wild. The beat was so infectious that there was no one standing still. People were dancing everywhere. I even saw a man in a wheel chair waving his arms to the beat and working up a sweat. I think the audience reaction even surprised the band. I could see them grinning at each other almost in disbelief. continue...