My husband is our guest blogger today! He recently went on the Outlaw Country Cruise on the Norwegian Pearl. Here’s his trip report – enjoy!
I’m an outlaw. Yes I am. I was baptized and immersed by Outlaw royalty like Steve Earl, Rodney Crowell, and Roger Alan Wade. “Snake farm, it just sounds nasty. Snake farm, it pretty much is. Snake farm, It’s a reptile house. Snake farm. Uuuggghhh”; If you know these words, then you’re an outlaw too. If not, come with me on this journey and you will soon know the legend named Ray Wiley Hubbard.
Have you ever thought about vacationing in the Gulf of Mexico on a themed cruise? Me either, but in 2018 I did just that. Twelve months earlier my best friend Justin cruised on the 2nd Annual Outlaw Country Cruise, a music festival themed to represent the musicians onboard that frequent the airwaves of the Sirius XM Channel that bears the same name. Now mind you, I don’t frequently listen to Outlaw Country but Justin insisted that this would be a great cruise, with awesome music, and my loving wife and awesome travel agent, Tammy, viewed this as an opportunity to experience a ship in the Norwegian Cruise Lines fleet. They were both right!
Me and Justin on Deck 12 for the Sail Away Concert by The Mavericks
The 3rd Annual Outlaw Country Cruise was based on the Norwegian Pearl and is one of many themed cruises coordinated by Sixthman Productions who’s responsible for other themed cruises such as The Walking Dead, The Kiss Kruise, Keeping The Blues Alive, Pitbull After Dark Party, Kid Rock’s Chilln’ The Most Cruise, Brantley Gilbert’s Kick It in the Ship Cruise, and more. Apparently Sixthman contracts with Norwegian Cruise Lines to host these cruises for a month or two during the winter months. The Pearl was based out of New Orleans for this cruise; boasting capacity for 2,394 passengers, 15 bar/lounge options, and a casino…making it the perfect size ship for any themed cruise.
When you think New Orleans, you think Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras, and one of the unexpected benefits of this Outlaw Country Cruise was the ability to arrive the day before setting sail and boarding one night early, essentially using the Pearl as a hotel. Once aboard, passengers were allowed to disembark and tour New Orleans Sunday evening or Monday morning to sightsee or eat at any one of the fabulous restaurants downtown. The only challenge is, the port is eight to ten blocks from downtown, making it a bit of an inconvenience to walk to when the weather forecast was calling for rain as it was during our stay. (Hint: The 4th Annual Outlaw Country Cruise will depart from Tampa, FL in 2019)
The Mississippi River was foggy the morning of our departure
Because this was a themed cruise, the pool deck was retrofitted with the main outdoor stage, but another pool and whirlpool was on the option end of the deck for anyone wanting to get wet during a concert.
The musical genre was represented by 16+ musicians. In addition to the artists mentioned in the opening paragraph, some of my favorites included Jesse Dayton, Nikki Lane, Elizabeth Cook, Blackberry Smoke, and The Mavericks.
A daily schedule allowed us to plan our musical travels from venue to venue
Musical performances were staggered all day long in five different venues: Stardust Theatre, the Pool Deck, the Atrium (O’Sheenan’s overlooks the Atrium), Bar City, and Spinnaker Lounge. While at sea, music would begin at 11:30 am and usually conclude around 1:00 am on the Atrium or Spinnaker stage.
Blackberry Smoke on stage in the Stardust Theatre
Elizabeth Cook performing in the Atrium
One of the craziest and most surreal locations on the ship was the Bliss Lounge. This is where me and Justin attended a guitar playing session by Ray Wylie Hubbard, who before the cruise I only knew as the guy who sang the crazy song “Snake Farm” but Ray is a great story teller and his songs are really cool.
Bliss Lounge – complete with bowling lanes (not shown) and a four-post bed in the background– not sure what that’s supposed to be used for?
Synonymous with cruising is eating! And the Outlaw Country Cruise is no different. The Pearl is outfitted with 16 dining options (of which 12-13 were available during the Outlaw cruise). We always ate our breakfast at the buffet in the Garden Café, our lunches and late night snacks in O’Sheenan’s, and our dinners in the Summer Palace. Believe me, I was skeptical about what the food quality might be on a themed cruise but we ate everything in sight and enjoyed every bite! For more detailed pictures and notes about the Norwegian Pearl’s restaurants, and food options, visit my review of the Norwegian Pearl here.
Summer Place Dining Room – Available for dinner every evening
Seafood Crab Cake in Summer Place – unbelievably delicious
Justin said this pork chop was tender, juicy, and perfect
What good is dinner without dessert – this Lava Cake dessert was a perfect finish
Garden Café Buffet – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner everyday
And if you’re into the bar and casino scene, you have 15+ bar options and a casino equipped with plenty of slots, roulette wheel, blackjack, and poker tables
The Outlaw Country branding was everywhere, including the blackjack table
Bar City was the site of many intimate concerts; Magnums was conveniently located to keep our beverage topped off
In all, this Outlaw Country Cruise was a fun, great experience, and one that Justin and I plan to repeat in 2019. If you’re looking for more details on the Norwegian Pearl like the Mandara Spa or fitness activities, visit my review of the Norwegian Pearl here.