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Pearl Time For The Legends

You know, those of us who have seen Legends In Concert on the Norwegian Epic should have known it would find a new home. We should have known it wouldn’t work as well in Europe, where the Epic has been since spring and where it will stay until November 2016, because Europeans don’t seem to take as readily to “tribute” acts as North Americans.

Legends in Concert-MJ copyWe should have known that Legends in Concert was sunk when a passenger pointed out last month on Cruise Critic that the show was cancelled during her cruise, with no explanation from Norwegian. In the fine print of the cruise line’s website, you can find (eventually) that the last show was September 20.

But we didn’t.

The good news is that Legends in Concert is moving to the Norwegian Pearl. Now the Pearl’s no Epic — a little more than half the size — but the theaters are probably much more comparable. Clearly, Norwegian had to find a home for this show once its five-year run on the Epic was over, or risk losing it to another cruise line.

Would that matter?

Norwegian is consistently cited for having the best entertainment at sea, often winning awards for it from the people who create awards. That goes for the Epic, too. It can’t be a coincidence that Norwegian has been at or near the top of the entertainment category for the last five years (the Epic is five years old) and that Legends in Concert has been a fixture on the ship.

PearlWe’ve seen Legends in Concert twice on the Epic. We weren’t expecting the shows to be winners, but they were. The “tribute acts” included some performers who were favourites (Rod Stewart, Jimmy Buffett) and some who weren’t (Michael Jackson, Britney Spears). All were good.

On the Pearl, starting…now, the tribute acts are Madonna, Elton John and Tina Turner. Well, two out of three isn’t bad…and you can guess which two.

In the news…

• Norwegian Star's propulsion problem takes ship straight to Tampa
• Doug Ward's 2016 Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ship Guide released
• Smaller Maasdam to replace departing Volendam in Australia

Today at portsandbows.com: Second American river cruiser for Pacific Northwest

Crown Princess
7 nights
November 28, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas
Inside: $504
Cost per day: $72

Standing on the Sidewalk, Waiting for…?

We were standing outside the terminal at Los Angeles International, waiting for a bus to take us to a car rental lot. Another passenger from our flight was waiting for the same bus, which was in no hurry to get there. He struck up a conversation.

While we recognized immediately he was from England, we didn't recognize him for who he really was.

That would be "Michael Jackson."

We'd just left a cruise ship, the Norwegian Epic, where we'd seen another "Michael Jackson." Two years before that, on another cruise, we watched yet another "Michael Jackson" in concert.

All of them are "tribute artists" who keep the music of the King of Pop alive, and entertain an audience that misses the deceased super star. But what are the chances that in four days you would meet two of them, without even trying?

On the Epic, the performance we saw was the artistry of J Lucas (left), who does this sort of thing for the world-famous Legends of Concert. We'd seen him the previous night in a brief, impromptu performance alongside Slam Allen, the bluesman who entertains nightly at the Epic's Fat Cats lounge.

About 24 hours later, when J turned into MJ, he was terrific as a tribute act. Later, he told us he studied Michael Jackson tapes intensively for six months before embarking on his new career. That was in 2009.

The MJ at the airport is quite a different story. His name is Navi, he's from the Caribbean, lives in London and does 250 shows a year, all over the world. We'd talked for about 10 minutes (yes, the bus was late) before he told us enough about his travels that we had to ask what he did for a living.

"I'm in the music business," he said. "It's kind of hard to explain, so let me show you."

And here, on the sidewalk outside LAX, we watch a snapshot of his impersonation on his smartphone (as much as you can tell from a 30-second preview, he is spectacular). And if you don't believe a guy standing at an airport waiting for a rental car bus when he tells you he plays Michael Jackson, check out his website: www.kingofpop.co.uk.

And here's the kicker. He used to work for the real Michael, originally as a decoy because there was enough of a facial resemblance that he could, and later as a legitimate impersonator who is articulate, affable and — clearly — approachable.

Sometimes, life can be really surreal, can't it?

Norwegian Epic
7 nights
January 19, 2013
Miami (return): St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Nassau
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71

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