2011 APHC At Sea Boston-Montreal

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Notes from your cruise host

July 25, 2011

Dear Friends,

I trust that all of you have returned home in fine fettle from the cruise from Boston up the St. Lawrence, your spirits renewed by a week of camaraderie and sea air and brisk walking and a smorgasbord of musicianship including the Quebecois bands with their dancing fiddlers Olivier and Pascal. And that gorgeous day and night in Quebec City, a little slice of Europe set in North America. I met a woman who never left the Maasdam for one moment and loved the whole week: she walked two miles a day around the promenade deck and read a couple novels and took naps in her cabin and attended a few shows and met some people with whom she felt an instant rapport, and all this was a welcome respite from her job working with troubled young women in desperate circumstances. And I heard about some young women on the ship who danced until 2 a.m. and talked until dawn, took a nap, went kayaking or biking, showered, and were ready to dance again.

The beauty of a cruise is the way it creates a small community of men and women who are free to pursue happiness as they like and still stick with the group, the young and agile, the post-young, the people in their extremely late fifties, an odd assortment like any other family.

My main regret afterward was that I didn't get to meet more of you. I saw a lot of familiar faces from past cruises and I did get to meet Betty the neurologist whose specialty is strokes and who herself recovered from a serious one a few years ago — in part, thanks to meditation, she told me. I asked her if, during her recovery, her great knowledge of the malady that had hit her was a comfort or a source of agony, and she said without hesitation, "A comfort." That idea sticks with me. I met dozens of people with stories to tell and wanted to meet more — we writers easily slip into utter isolation — and for the next cruise we need to plan some sort of Open Podium and give our listeners the chance to speak.

Don't know where the next cruise goes but hope it'll be in March when we northerners despair for warmth and sun and, as always, you will be the first to know.

And thank you for coming along to French Canada. Your company was what made the week so memorable.

Garrison Keillor


May 26, 2011

Dear Companions:

Around our house, the word CRUISE is popping up on a daily basis since, as it turns out, the CRUISE is going to be my family's sole vacation venture this summer. Daddy travels more than enough in his line of work to want to fly somewhere for fun, thank you very much, so July 9-16 is a big week for us, after which we return to St. Paul to listen to the water sprinkler and watch the sun set over the Mississippi.

The "Prairie Home" season winds up in Tanglewood in the Berkshires on July 2 so we have a whole week in which to wend our way across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to be in Boston in time to board the ms Maasdam with the Shoe Band and the Royal Academy of Radio Acting and Le Vent du Nord and Genticorum ----- the two Quebec bands joining us ---- and the humorist and lexicographer Roy Blount Jr. ---- plus Peter Ostroushko and Butch Thompson ----- AND the amazing close harmonies of Storyhill ----- PLUS the astonishing reunion of the old Hopeful Gospel Quartet. Plus our fine team of naturalists who are joined this cruise by the botanist Lytton Musselman of Old Dominion University, a man who actually LOVES PLANT LIFE though he is not himself in a vegetative state.

One of the beauties of cruising is the romance of the sea, especially to us Midwesterners, who look forward to some rain and fog off the rockbound coasts, and then there is the effortlessness of the whole thing. Backpacking is a fine thing and one should not let a lifetime go by without sleeping on the ground, but for a true Family Vacation, one that includes toddlers and geezers, a ship is a wonderful place. You progress slowly up the coast and up the St. Lawrence with time to sip your coffee, read a book, listen to music, converse with interesting strangers, and (if the mood strikes you) to sit and brood. There is no rule against brooding.

I look forward to seeing you on the top deck as the Maasdam pulls away from the pier and we all stand and sing the national anthem, America the Beautiful, My Country 'Tis Of Thee, Home on the Range, and any other songs you all mostly know. And if you have Pointed Comments to make about my so-called retirement in June, 2013, that is okay, I can take the ribbing.

My rationale ----- in case you're interested ----- is that it's better to step down while one is ambulatory and Compos Mentis, especially if one wants to have a say about one's Successors, which I do. I want this old radio show to go on and on. The show started out in the summer of 1974, inspired by a visit to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and also by a number of fine parties at my house in St. Paul at which people gathered and made music for the fun of it. That spirit of collaborative light-heartedness is the heart of our show. And it's also the spirit of this cruise.

See you in Boston in a few weeks.

Garrison Keillor


October 12, 2010

Dear Friends & Fellow Listeners:

You may have heard wild rumors of a Prairie Home Summer 2011 Cruise and I am here to confirm them. We are indeed sailing from Boston on July 9 to the Canadian Maritime Provinces aboard the ms Maasdam. The itinerary is as follows:

July 95:00pDepart Boston
July 107:00a – 3:00pBar Harbor, Maine
July 118:00a – 5:00pHalifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
July 129:00a – 5:00pSydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
July 13Scenic CruisingThe Saint Lawrence Seaway
July 14arrive 7:00aQuebec City, Quebec, Canada overnight stay
July 15depart 4:30p
July 16arrive 7:00aMontreal, Quebec, Canada

The cruise takes us to magnificent Acadia National Park and along the rocky coasts (with, we hope, a misty day or two) to Halifax, a gala overnight in Quebec, and winds up in Montreal where you might consider extending your vacation for a few days. It’s sort of France without the jet lag.

The fact that my Keillor ancestors landed in Nova Scotia from England in 1774 and that the name still commands respect there was not a major factor in the decision.

As always on our cruises, the Prairie Home cast will join us, along with guest performers representing the cultures we travel through, and the Glee Club will assemble daily, and a crack team of naturalists will describe flora and fauna and geology for the benefit of us English majors, and there will be dance instruction, and a storytelling evening, the All-Cruise Talent Show, and the Last Night Dance in the Crow’s Nest.

I love these cruises. The salt air, the sea light, the friendly company, the music all over the boat, the stars at night, the slight vibration of the ship that lulls you to sleep at night, the early morning walks on the promenade deck, and the chance to sit in a deck chair and read a good book. It’s all good.

If you’re in the mood, explore this website for all the details.

Onward —

Garrison Keillor

Cruise Bulletin

We had a wonderful time on the cruise, and we hope you did too. We've posted a journal of daily updates — notes, photos, and videos — that captured our time at sea and on stage. You can also visit the archive to hear the best of the cruise performances on the July 23, 2011 show.

Cruise episode»
Daily cruise journal»

A Prairie Home Companion Cruise is produced by Prairie Home Productions and presented by American Public Media. Ship's registry: The Netherlands.
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