Growing up as a teenager in the 80s was a lot of fun, so who wouldn’t jump at the chance to re-live it all over again on a cruise?
The clever people at Floating Festivals realised there was a big demand from all those who were missing the big hair, outrageous fashion and brilliant music of that iconic decade – and to help us celebrate it, they created a Throwback 80s cruise.
When you’re rocking your favourite look from that era, pretty much anything goes. I went back to my mod days with a two-tone outfit on night one, while my friend channelled her Club Tropicana past in a loud Hawaiian shirt and suitably 80s garish make-up.
Too much? No, not nearly enough. As we stepped out into the atrium of Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, we were surprised and delighted to see whole gangs of people dressed in matching 80s outfits that looked absolutely fantastic.
Our favourites included burly men doing their finest Freddie Mercury, complete with high heels and Hoovers, a gang of Richard Geres from An Officer and a Gentlemen, half a dozen Pac Men and a posse of mums and daughters dressed to the nines as Robert Palmer’s backing band (how they managed not to smile, just pouting when anyone walked by, is still a mystery to me).
The whole scene felt like a friendly fancy dress party, with everyone stopping off to admire each others’ outfits. The atmosphere was electric with hairspray, cheap jewellery and enough make-up to put Boots out of business. And that was just the men.
But a retro fashion show at sea was only the beginning. We were all here to see the bands from our youth, and Friday night kicked off in style with UB40. Yes, we might be in our 50s and 60s, but we haven’t forgotten our 80s dance moves, we still remember
all the words, and soon the crowd was yelling along to Red, Red Wine. Happy days indeed.
The night was still young, and Club Tropicana beckoned. Decade revivalists Coyote’s 80s Mixtape were on stage blasting out some classic tunes from Toto, Tina Turner and Prince, swiftly followed by a great DJ set from mullet legend Pat Sharpe (sadly, without his signature haircut these days).
Everyone went a bit bananas, singing at the top of their voices, necking pina coladas and bottles of Corona and remembering the sheer joy of their 80s youth.
The following morning there were more than a few sore heads on board, but having left the dance floor at a relatively sensible 1am, my friend and I decided to step off the ship and look around Le Havre.
There’s always one port call on the Throwback cruise – last year it was Bruges – and although the destination isn’t really the point, this was my first visit to Le Havre, and I was impressed.
I loved the amazing Brutalist concrete cathedral (not to mention some melt-in-the-mouth croissants and excellent coffee), though quite what the well-dressed locals thought of the sudden influx of Brits in pink legwarmers is anyone’s guess.
Back on board there was real excitement in the air as everyone headed off to get ready for neon night and a chance to see the legendary Sister Sledge live. The crowd glowed brightly in the dark and the band played a killer set with disco favourites including We Are Family and Lost In Music getting everyone to their feet.
Running these cruises over the weekend is a great idea, as everyone really goes back in time, remembering what it was like to live (and dress up for) the weekend.
By Sunday night, everyone on board couldn’t wait to see Tony Hadley play live. During the day we’d been kept entertained by the brilliant Bootleg Blondie (complete with real Blondie drummer Clem Burke) and 80s comedian Bobby Davro hosting a crazy round of bingo. But make no mistake, Tony was the big attraction here.
And boy, did he play a great set. Opening with Spandau Ballet’s first single, To Cut A Long Story Short, he had the crowd in raptures with spine-tingling renditions of Through the Barricades, True and Gold. His voice is still amazing and he’s a great raconteur, too, even stopping to congratulate one couple who had got engaged on the ship.
Channelling our 80s New Romantic selves, my friend and I were up and dancing from the very first song – as were the Oompa Loompas behind us.
As you’d expect from a Royal Caribbean ship, our cabin aboard Explorer of the Seas was great and the food was plentiful and tasty, but this cruise is more about the sheer joy of getting dressed up with your mates, having fun and celebrating one of history’s best decades for fashion and music.
Beg, borrow or steal a ticket for next year’s Throwback, and I’ll see you on the dancefloor…
Get on Board
Get on board Floating Festivals 3-night ‘Throwback – the Ultimate Festival at Sea’ aboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, featuring The Jacksons, Marc Almond and Jimmy Somerville, departing 1 October 2020, from £599 floatingfestivals.co.uk