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The Tejano Legends cruises into Caribbean Sea

Photos by Ramón Hernández

Tejanos rocked the boat during last month’s successful Tejano Legends Cruise.

Well, it was actually a ship, the Carnival Triumph, where fans stood in buffet lines with their favorite stars, sat next to them in the dining room, walked the decks, drank with them in the bars and gambled alongside of them in the casino for five days.

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As cruise event ticket holders embarked, they were greeted by CEO/Grammy award winning William “Wild Bill” Perkins and his girlfriend, María Soto, COO Jonny Martínez and his wife Diana, plus CFO Al Duarte and his wife Susie as they handed out VIP badges, a tote bag full of goodies and the schedule of events.

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The ship left the Port of Galveston at 4 p.m. on a Monday and an hour later, those that signed up for this package were being welcomed by Raulito Navaira in Club Rio, where most of the concerts took place.

The ship was somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico when at 10 a.m. the next morning, all VIPs were treated to a sneak peak, and sneak listen, to each artist – Anselmo Martínez, Jonny Martínez, Gabe Zavala, Stefani Montiel, Ricky Valenz, Max Baca, Jimmy Edward, Gary Hobbs, David Marez, Rubén Ramos and Michael Salgado — perform one to two acoustic tunes.

At 1 p.m., Club Rio opened its doors for VIP early seating and the first dance started at 2 p.m. with Robert Dorantes’ Aviso Band, featuring Chris Q on vocals, got the people dancing. Anselmo Martínez kicked things off and what a treat to hear a true living legend giving the audience a walk down memory lane with a flashback of when he, Isidro López, Chris Sandoval, Balde Gonzales, Juan Colorado and other band leaders ruled during the 1950s orchestra era.

Other vocalists were Gabe Zavala, Stefani, Vic Nash (r.n. Víctor Espinoza), Jess López of Little Joe y La Familia, Buddy De Los Santos, David Marez and Jimmy Edward.

Sylvia Soto, Jaycee Milicia and Joshua González acted as security and had the hard job of keeping out non-ticket holders since the only way to gain admission is by having booked the cruise through Xstream Travel.

The dance ended at 5:30 p.m. after which the artists stayed to sign autographs and pose for pictures. Then everyone was free to enjoy other shipboard activities.

RestaurantMenu-ReducedThe Carnival Triumph was docking in Progresso, Yucatán when they opened their eyes on Wednesday morning and it was time to go ashore. This writer had not had a panucha nor had I eaten a Gringa in a while. So I had those, than I got two cachetadas – and these, for your information are some of the local dishes in Yucatán. Other culinary delights are burritas, burritacos, salbutes and suizos.

Now here’s a piece of advice for first time cruisers. Don’t sign up for any expense excursions in advance because you’ll get a better deal at the local market place where you can bargain and get a round-trip to the Capitol City of Merida for $12 to 15; or a “4 in 1 Tour” to the salt flats, to see wild flamingos in their natural habitat, tour the Xcambo Mayan ruins and end up enjoying some time in a private beach resort before returning to town – all for an affordable $15. For those that want to stay in Progresso, start out with double-decker bus tour for $5 to determine where you want to return and hang out in.

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Cruisers who went to Progresso had to be back on the ship at 3 p.m. because the next show started at 4 p.m. in Club Rio with Calle Seis backing up Anselmo, Jonny, Raulito, René García, blue shirt, Jess and Jimmy; and this event ended two hours later with fans loudly chanting “otra, otra, otra.” However, their allotted time had expired.

God treated those that got up early and were at the Lido deck or having breakfast to a beautiful picturesque sunrise as the ship pulled opposite the Carnival Breeze ship. Across the crystal clear blue waters in Puerta Maya on the island of Cozumel in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. On another pier was the Brilliance of the Seas and the Caribbean Princess.

There was so much to do in Cozumel that some headed to Mr. Sancho’s, went to a dolphin show, went snorkeling, walked the streets of this sun-drenched shopper’s paradise or simply kicked back and basked in the sun with a cool drink in their hand.

This was a short shore day since everyone had to be back on the ship by 4 p.m. and the Grand (Tejano music) After Party started one hour prior at the Hollywood Club. However, this was an event during which BNET DJs Roland Martínez and Sandra “Catfish” Muñoz played the most popular Tejano hits until 6 p.m.

Before anyone realized it, it was Friday. Everyone had a chance to sleep late and if they skipped breakfast they were able to make it in time for the first Tejano event of the day at 10:30 a.m. This was an ‘Unplugged and Personal” session emceed by Raulito during which he bantered with David, Gary, Jimmy and Rubén and turned it into a ‘Question and Answer’ session with the audience.

This was perhaps the highlight of all the combined events because each artist opened up and the audience learned many little-known facts about each artist’s musical career and in some cases, their personal life.

The second “Unplugged” started at 11:30 a.m., one-half hour before the other ended and this one was emceed by Jonny. This time Max, Gabe, Stefani and Michael opened their hearts and bared their souls in what was another insightful look into another group of Tejano artists. This event ended at 1 p.m. – at which time VIPS were allowed to enter Club Rio for early seating for the last dance, but most opted to eat lunch and take their chances at getting good seats for the 2 p.m. dance featuring Ricky Valenz, the TexManiacs featuring Josh Baca on accordion, Stefani, Gary Hobbs, Michael Salgado and Rubén Ramos, who asked Jimmy Edward to joined him on a couple of growly soul numbers. However, the surprise of the evening came when Rubén Ramos Jr. stepped on stage to sing “Que Te Ha Dado Esa Mujer” in duet with his father.

By now, even the artists were cutting loose and endearing to see Max and his wife, Mari Baca, Stefani and Gabe get out on the dance floor. Close to the ending all the Aviso, Calle Seis and Rubén’s musicians, Rick Fuentes, Marcelo Gauna, plus others united for an impromptu jam. It was the prelude to the grand finale during which every single artist and musician came onstage. Seeing this, the fans went wild as they stampeded the club with their cameras, cell phones and iPads like an attack of paparazzi photographers.

It seemed to be like a fireworks of star, but by 6:15 p.m., it was all over, awww. However, it was not completely over as the party overflowed into the casino bar area and other bars, not to mention other regular shipboard activities.

Michael “Sycko” López and Julia Pizano did an excellent of video-graphing all the events and a video/photo package of the cruise will soon be available.

The next morning, debarkation started at 8 a.m. and it was a bittersweet sight since there was a hint of sadness that the cruise was now over, but not without providing each and every fan with a great time and many happy memories. Best of all, I did overhear many fans vowing to be back for next year’s cruise. That one will be seven days with port stops in the Caiman Islands and Jamaica.

On the way home, 30 miles north of Galveston and two hours after hitting land I stopped to eat at Kelley’s Country Kitchen to enjoy their country fried chicken and who walks in but Rubén Ramos and his entire entourage.

In closing, all this photojournalist can say is, “I’ll see you on the next Tejano Legends Cruise,” and for information on the next one that sets sail on January 4, 2015 and features Little Joe y La Familia, go to www.cruiseconnectionlive.com, e-mail [email protected] or call (512) 552-4290 or 375-5711.

Check on this and all images to see what you missed.

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