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Blues Cruise delivers post-hurricane goodwill, donations

(Photo courtesy of Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise)
A donation from the music fans is presented at the Tortola Pier Park concert
The recent Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise took an outpouring of goodwill, fundraising support and free music to San Juan, Tortola and Grand Turk.

The weeklong cruise embarked on its 30th full ship charter with more than 25 music groups to entertain fans in on-board venues.

Despite the hurricane devastation, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise CEO Roger Naber kept the original itinerary agreed upon in 2016. The sold-out Koningsdam charter carried 2,500 passengers and 1,100 Holland America Line crew to islands in need of tourism dollars. While the ship was in port, the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise organizers worked with local tourism officials to produce free shoreside music events featuring popular blues bands, inviting locals and passengers alike to attend.

At Tortola Koningsdam was met by island co-organizers the Tortola Rotary Club, port agency Romasco Group and Worldwide Cruise Associates who all came together to organize a concert. The Blues Cruise provided the music, featuring the legendary Ils Sont Partis zydeco band and the Deanna Bogart Band performing in Tortola Pier Park. In preparation for the event, Blues Cruise guest Jon Gale of White Rock, British Columbia, began fundraising with his local Rotary Club, raising $18,500 with an additional $5,000 contributed by cruisers on site during the three-hour concert.

To date, $40,000 has been raised through efforts of the Rotary Clubs and the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise music fans to rebuild the school and community center in Tortola’s Cane Garden Bay. Fundraising efforts continue with the Rotary Club through a grant-matching program sponsored by the Canadian government.

The highlight of the cruise was a large-scale land event held while Koningsdam was docked at Old San Juan. The Puerto Rico Department of Tourism assisted in securing an ideal Old San Juan location for the event while the Blues Cruise provided featured artists such as 2018 Grammy Award winner Taj Mahal, Tab Benoit and Commander Cody along with the San Juan salsa jazz band Jerry Medina.

This event was supported local businesses and service providers including Caribbean Audio with a mobile stage, sound, lighting and musical equipment, as well as services needed for the expected attendance of more than 1,000 music fans.

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