The ninth installment of the star-studded Rock Legends Cruise, which originally was supposed to take place sail in February 2021, but was postponed because the COVID-19 pandemic, finally sets sail today from Port Canaveral, Florida.

One of the nautical rock extravaganza’s headlining acts this year is Deep Purple, and the famed British hard-rock band’s founding drummer, Ian Paice, tells ABC Audio that this is the first time his group has ever played this type of event.

Asked how he feels about doing the cruise, Paice explains, “I’m not trying to get any pre-formed ideas about it. I’m sure it’ll be very nice to spend a week in Florida in the middle of winter on a boat where I don’t have to work too hard, and I can wander off to a bar whenever I feel like and have a nice exotic tropical drink.”

To warm up for the cruise, Deep Purple played two gigs in Florida this past week, which were among the band’s first live performances since the pandemic began in 2020. Since that time, Deep Purple has released two studio albums — 2020’s Whoosh! and last year’s covers collection Turning to Crime.

Paice says the band likley won’t include too much material from the new albums on the cruise, noting that the performance time is limited and “the people on that boat are gonna want to hear those classic songs.”

Deep Purple currently has no other U.S. shows scheduled for this year, but Paice says, “[A]ssuming that everybody is fit and healthy and still wants to do it…then [the band will tour the States in] 2023.”

The Rock Legends Cruise IX runs through February 18, and also features Styx, Don McLean, ex-Eagles guitarist Don Felder, Blue Öyster Cult and many more.

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