The Prairie Home Companion Cruise 2005 has just leaped off the drawing boards and into the realm of reality.
It's a one-week cruise, leaving Boston August 20, sailing to Bar Harbor, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton, and Halifax, returning to Boston August 27, aboard the ms Maasdam of the Holland America Line, with the entire Prairie Home Companion complement — the Guy's All-Star Shoe Band, the Royal Academy of Radio Actors, plus BeauSoleil with Michael Doucet, expert naturalists, historians and of course the guy who thought up this idea, me. Seven nights of variety entertainment, four days hiking and sightseeing ashore, two restful days at sea, and all of it in the company of public radio listeners in all their intelligent and fascinating and good-hearted variety.
My wife and daughter and I (we'll all be aboard) have had wonderful cruise vacations in the past and that's the genesis of the idea — it simply is fun. You're free to take part in the giddy social whirl and relentless schedule of entertainment, you're free to curl up on a deck chair with a good book, you're free to close your eyes and snooze. The rugged rocky coast glides by and in the gentle throb of the ship and the bracing sea air, your jaw muscles relax, your mind eases, you forget about the grinding cares of life and you loaf and invite your soul. There is plenty to engage the kids (the pool, the paddle tennis on the top deck, the daily HAL club, video games), and elders are comfortable and well cared-for. You can find just the right combination of laziness and exertion — scenic places to hike on shore, the big promenade deck for jogging or walking, the big well-equipped exercise center where you can walk a treadmill and watch the sea...and then, of course, there's breakfast, lunch, naptime, tea, dinner, movies, roulette, and so forth.
The cruise will give you a full day to explore historic Halifax, the home port of Canada's Atlantic fleet, and the Maritime Museum and the downtown waterfront; a day on beautiful Cape Breton Island with Fort Louisbourg (1744); a day in Charlottetown, the Victorian capital of Prince Edward Island (tea at 3 p.m.); and a day in Bar Harbor, gateway to the magnificent Acadia National Park. At each port, you'll be able to buy excursions (kayak, bike, sail, bus, etc.) or simply hoof it on your own. Aboard ship, our naturalists and historians will give us regular running commentary so we have some sense of where we are.
There will be a couple of writers' conference sessions for the poets and novelists in our midst. There will be a Trip Journal, compiled daily from the literary contributions of passengers. You'll have a chance to hear Rich Dworsky playing in the lounge, and Pat Donohue, and other stellar talents whom you've heard for years on the radio and wished you could hear more of, without interruption. We will, at some point on a day at sea, all join hands on the top deck, a line of people encircling the boat, and do a Norwegian line dance. BeauSoleil with Michael Doucet will bring an air of French fire and wit to our journey along the coast of their ancestors. I'll happily tell you about my Keillor ancestors who landed in Halifax in 1774 and spent a hard century trying to farm the tidal saltwater flats until they escaped to Minnesota. And more.
I can't think of a better way to spend the dog days of August than sailing to the Canadian maritime provinces with like-minded odd people. For more information, check the cruise website, which will be updated weekly as plans develop. I hope to see you on board.
All the best,
Special Guest Information
In addition to the folks pictured above, we've invited:
And lots of other talented folks, including:
Sample Daily Schedule
|A Prairie Home Companion Cruise is produced by Prairie Home Productions, presented by American Public Media Group