I climbed the gangplank and suddenly was in Lake Wobegon: that magical place on the American prairie "where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average."

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Except I wasn't. I was aboard Holland America's Maasdam, setting sail on a weeklong journey from Boston to Montreal. A ship had become a plain beneath my feet, and Garrison Keillor, host of public radio's A Prairie Home Companion, had brought along all the regulars from the show—including Guy Noir, Duane (and his mom and dad), Dorothy from the Chatterbox Cafe—plus a winning selection of musical talent handpicked by the basso profundo himself. Endless entertainment, if you enjoy that sort of thing. I do—so much so that I was willing to forgo the lazy sleep patterns that generally characterize my vacations.

"I can't believe you're getting up at 7:30," my incredulous husband said as we turned in on Sunday, Day 2. We'd shopped in Bar Harbor, Maine; sipped martinis in the shipboard Mix lounge, listening to jazz pianist Butch Thompson; downed dinner; watched the evening show. After that, we returned to the Showroom at Sea to watch our shipmates audition with Keillor for Wednesday's talent show. It was late. But Garrison's glee club was scheduled to meet at 8 the next morning. How could I pass that up.

Lynn Addison

The author, before boarding Holland America's A Prairie Home Companion cruise from Boston to Montreal

Lynn Addison

We gathered early, a chorus of 50-, 60- and 70-something fans with rusty voices, and spent the next hour—as the ship docked in Halifax, Nova Scotia—with the Lake Wobegon Glee Club Songbook open under our chins. As ever, the sopranos tried to drown out the altos, and the tenors were tentative, but the glee club was, well, gleeful.

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The days came and went. The evenings ran late, but the boomers were energized. In the wee hours of Thursday morning, I stumbled across Keillor and his trusty piano man, Richard Dworsky, with a bunch of wide-awake, mostly female fans at an unscheduled gathering in the Ocean Bar. I'd missed most of it, but I caught Keillor's personalized rendition of "Goodnight, Ladies."

Go to bed, ladies

Go to bed, ladies

Go to bed, ladies

And be careful

[pause]

with WHOM!

Those ladies were probably not the same ones up on deck at the crack of dawn each day with the ship's naturalists, scanning the waters for beluga whales or Atlantic white-sided dolphins. Those folks lined the hallways with poster-size lists of species sightings and may have risen earlier, on average, than the glee clubbers. But no matter our choice of activity all week, every one of us was firing on all cylinders as we trooped to our seats for the final show.

Cruise Saver Tip:

Go Off-Season. Try a Carribean cruise in hurricane season., or Alaska in chilly early spring.

Garrison Keillor Farewell Tour

Garrison Keillor's Farewell Tour aboard the Holland America's Maasdam

Corbis

Cruise Details

SHIP: Holland America's Massdam

DEPARTURE PORT: Boston (varies)

DURATION: One to two weeks

COST: From $3,000 per person, double occupancy