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Holland America expands B.B. King's Blues Club to 5 ships in 2014

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Several years ago, I was driving through the Mississippi cotton fields looking for juke joints. I wanted to hear some true Delta blues.

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When I pulled into the teeny town of Indianola, I got a real surprise. Pulling up at the same time was the ultimate bluesman – B.B. King himself. Turns out that Indianola is King’s hometown, the place where he is honored with a fascinating museum. He stops by there every once in a while.

Just happened to be my lucky day to meet him.

What does that have to do with cruising? Well, the beautiful Holland America cruise ship ms Eurodam has been saluting B.B. King in a special way this year. For a first, the Eurodam transformed the ship’s Queen’s Lounge in March into B.B. King’s Blues Club for five nights each week on cruises.

The club has proven so popular that the Holland America Line will expand it to five ships in 2014. Not surprising at all to me. I really enjoyed the B.B. King’s Blues Club on the ms Eurodam. Hope I get to experience it in 2014 aboard one of the new ships – ms Noordam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Westerdam and ms Zuiderdam.

In additon, “Live from B.B. King’s” will headline one night on the ship’s main stage in the Show Lounge.

“The B.B. King’s Blues Club on Eurodam is packed full every night and is one of our highest-rated entertainment offerings,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president of marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. “By expanding it to other ships in the fleet, more of our guests will be able to enjoy these talented musicians and their engaging performances.”

The music and excitement that comes direct from Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn., thrills guests when world-class musicians from the B.B. King Blues Club Band create a dynamic sound to get the crowd energized. The eight-piece band features two vocalists backed by a drummer, bassist, guitarist, sax player, trumpeter and organist.

Each ships’ Queen’s Lounge will be trimmed with portraits of the Memphis Blues legend, illuminating the prominence of Memphis blues and its influence on everyone from Sam & Dave and Otis Redding to The Rolling Stones and Neil Diamond. A special stage will be crafted to resemble a Memphis nightclub with hanging guitars as a backdrop. Exclusive specialty cocktails from the land-based clubs also will be served, featuring the tasty, rum-based Lucille and Rock Me Baby concoctions mixed with different fruit liqueurs and juices.

“We couldn’t be happier that this collaboration will be featured on several ships in the Holland America Line fleet,” said Tommy Peters, B.B. King’s Blues Clubs’ CEO. “We always knew it would be hit on Eurodam, but the guests have embraced the show and its success has gone beyond our expectations.”

I am a big B.B. King fan and will share with you two interesting tidbits I learned when visiting B.B. King’s hometown and his Memphis club. Exclusive specialty cocktails from the land-based B.B. King’s Blues Clubs are part of the shipboard experience. If you want to try one at home, here’s a recipe for the rum-based Lucille.

And here’s the story of why B.B. King names all his guitars “Lucille.”

Seems King was playing an Arkansas bar on a winter night in 1949 when punches began flying between two men. In the melee, a barrel of kerosene being burned for heat tumbled over and everyone fled as flames engulfed the road house. But King plunged back inside the inferno to save his guitar.

He later recalled, “I almost lost my life trying to save my guitar.”

To remind himself never to do anything so risky again, he renamed the instrument after the woman whose charms had set off the fight.

Her name, of course, was Lucille.

The B.B. King Lucille Cocktail

2 oz. coconut rum
0.5 oz. blue Curacao
1.5 oz. orange juice
1.5 oz. pineapple juice

Mix all ingredients together. Add ice. Shake and pour. Or blend and pour. Garnish with a pineapple wedge. Sip while listening to B.B. King sing the blues.

For more information: Visit www.hollandamerica.com

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